Keynote Speaker

Steve Leveen

Founder, America the Bilingual; Author of America’s Bilingual Century: “The Surprising Truth About American Bilingualism: What the Data Tells Us.”

Steve Leveen is the author of America’s Bilingual Century: How Americans are giving the gift of bilingualism to themselves, their loved ones, and their country (America the Bilingual Press, January 2021). Based on a decade of research, plus hundreds of interviews with language teachers and researchers as well as bilinguals, this foundational work puts forth a new vision for America, one that Steve maintains is already coming into focus throughout the country—namely, an America where nearly all who live here speak English and another language.

In researching America’s Bilingual Century, Steve spent two fellowship years at Harvard and Stanford, interviewing some of the country’s major scholars of bilingualism. He also drew on the dozens of podcasts he began as part of ACTFL’s Lead with Languages campaign.

America’s Bilingual Century drew early praise from a host of first readers, including Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kennedy; CNN executive Calvin Sims; bestselling authors David Allen, Amy Chua and Kevin Kelly; popular linguists John McWhorter and Gaston Dorren; and Duolingo cofounder Luis von Ahn. Guadalupe Valdés, a professor of education at Stanford University, calls the book “a key must-read for our time.”

America’s Bilingual Century is part of the America the Bilingual Project, an advocacy initiative that Steve began in 2017 to help foster a stronger and healthier nation through bilingualism. The project welcomes not only bilinguals but also those aspiring to be.


Welcome, Opening Remarks and Introductory Comments

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Andrew Ross

Consortium President

Senior Director for Teaching & Learning Support, Education Support Services
Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

John Mangan

Senior Associate Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Yale University

Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl

Associate Dean of Yale College and Director of the Center for Language Study, Yale University



Panel 1: Language and the arts

Facilitated by Martha Engvall


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Andrei Kureichik

Yale World Fellow

Belarusian playwright, director, publicist, and civil activist

Sandro-Angelo de Thomasis

Faculty Member, Liberal Arts Department, The Juilliard School

Ph.D in Italian, Yale University

Born and raised in Montréal-Nord, Québec, Sandro completed his Ph.D. in Italian Language and Literature with a dissertation on Dante and medieval semiotics (Yale, 2021). Shortly after, he was hired as an assistant professor of Liberal Arts and Modern Languages at The Juilliard School in New York City to develop a robust foreign-language program. He teaches academic English for ELL, Italian and French foreign-language courses, and literature electives, such as “Dante’s Inferno.” His academic work and publications revolve around contemporary French, English, and Italian literature, poetry, poetics, and translation and have been published in various journals, such as Annali d’italianistica, Italica, and The Journal of Italian Translation. He has several noteworthy forthcoming publications, including a book-form translation of selected writings by Piero Gobetti (Agincourt Press) and translations and critical essays on Lorenzo Durante, Riccardo Held, Andrea Inglese, Antonio Riccardi, and Daniele Poletti (University of Toronto Press).

Andrew Fisher

Lector in American Sign Language, Yale University

Writer and Stand-up Comedian

Andrew Fisher is a Lector in American Sign Language (ASL) at Yale. His areas of interest are interdisclipinary approaches to ASL pedagogy, performance arts, cultural studies, and disability theory. Fisher is also a writer and performer. A Stand-Up NBC finalist, he has performed at over fifty colleges across the country.


Panel 2: Language and government

Facilitated by Hannah Kosman

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Laura Smiley

Director, Office of International Operations

U.S. Department of Energy


Since 2015, Ms. Smiley has managed the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) International Operations, which currently consists of offices in 19 diplomatic missions around the world where the U.S. Government has prioritized energy and nuclear security.

For a decade prior to her current assignment, Ms. Smiley employed her Russian language skills, serving overseas in diplomatic positions in Kazakhstan and Ukraine related to energy and nuclear security. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Ms. Smiley was a program manager in the Department of Defense overseeing several Cooperative Threat Reduction / Nunn-Lugar Program projects to eliminate the Cold War legacy of weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure in the Former Soviet Union. In the 1980s and early 1990s, prior to embarking on a civil service career, Ms. Smiley lived, studied, and worked in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and Moscow, Russia, opening a children’s clothing store and facilitating numerous joint ventures between U.S. and Soviet companies.

Bradley Brincka

Presidential Management Fellow – DOE/NNSA – Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence

Bradley Brincka is a Yemen Desk Officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He graduated from Ohio State University in 2022 with an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and has done extensive fieldwork among the Iraqi Yazidi ethnoreligious minority. He has served for 11 years as a U.S. Army officer and deployed to Iraq from 2020-21. He is fluent in Arabic and previously taught introductory Modern Standard Arabic at the college level.

Aaron Frost

Senior Analyst – DOE/NNSA – Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation


Aaron is a federal acquisition professional currently serving as a senior operations research analyst for the Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation at the National Nuclear Security Administration where he manages the Production Modernization and Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation portfolios. He has held positions within the Department of Defense and at the Navy’s International Program’s Office under the country program directors for Taiwan and Saudi Arabia conducting foreign military sales and biliteral engagements. Aaron also has experience with Virginia’s Economic Development Alliance collaborating with international firms in East and Southeast Asia to promote business recruitment and economic development in Virginia. He currently has a B.S. in International Business and Chinese language. During college he studied Chinese language and business abroad in Shanghai, China. He is actively continuing his Chinese language study and has recently began studying Russian, both with DOE instructors.



Panel 3: Non-governmental organizations

Facilitated by Ramona Teepe

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Graham Hettlinger

Managing Director of Higher Education Programs, American Councils for International Education, Washington, DC

Graham Hettlinger directs more than 20 overseas programs for U.S. students and scholars engaged in the intensive, immersion-based study of such languages as Armenian, Azerbaijani, Chinese, Croatian, Georgian, Hindi, Indonesian, Kazakh, Persian (Tajiki), Russian, Serbian, Swahili, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Wolof. He holds a B.A. in Government from Oberlin College, an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia, and an M.A. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Ohio State University. He has published four books of Russian literary translation, including The Collected Stories of Ivan Bunin and most recently, Childhood, by Maksim Gorky.

Robert Daly

Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center

Robert Daly, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wilson Center, has worked in U.S.-China political, cultural, and educational relations for 35 years. He has been a diplomat, interpreter, consultant, and teacher/administrator at Cornell, Syracuse, The University of Maryland, and Johns Hopkins, for which he directed the Hopkins-Nanjing Center from 2001-2007.


Panel 4: Student perspectives

Facilitated by Zach Aguilar

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Phoebe Hering

MEM candidate specializing in Environmental Policy Analysis and People, Equity, and the Environment, Yale University

Phoebe Hering is a second-year Master of Environmental Management Candidate at the Yale School of the Environment, specializing in global agricultural and forest policy. Prior to coming to Yale, Phoebe completed an Erasmus Mundus master’s joint degree in comparative literature and cultural anthropology in Perpignan, France; Bergamo, Italy; Mexico City, Mexico; and Santiago de Compostella, Spain. She has an undergraduate degree in Comparative Literature, Religious Studies, and French from Cornell University. Most recently, Phoebe spent the past summer as a policy consultant for the Departmental Government of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

Evan Hochstein

DILS – Egyptian Arabic

Evan Hochstein is a senior pursuing a B.A./M.A. in Linguistics with interests in psycho- and neurolinguistics. He has studied Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi, and has received two Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships and a Light Fellowship. His language study has allowed him to conduct uniquely crosslinguistic research on animacy in language and the mind. For four years, he has coached students to compete in the North American Computational Linguistics Open (NACLO), most recently as the chair of NACLO at Yale. In his free time he plays the carillon in the Guild of Carillonneurs.

Max Heimowitz

Max Heimowitz is a senior at Yale University studying French (Intensive) and Russian. He’s always been fascinated by languages: he not only speaks three at fairly decent levels, but considers himself a speaker of a more… musical language, too: alongside his identical twin brother Sam, he tap dances.



Panel 5: Perspectives from the business world

Facilitated by Xinyu Guan

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Dario Wolos

Founder and CEO, Tacombi

Dario Wolos was born in Elmira, New York and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, his mother’s hometown. He grew up traveling across Mexico with his family, who often hosted international guests and introduced them to Mexican food and culture. Dario’s experience spending time between Mexico and abroad instilled a passion for Mexico’s people and laid the foundation for his ambition to share Mexico’s distinctive culture and traditions beyond its borders.

Dario studied economics through high school and at Cornell University, and had internships at Magna International and Porsche AG that profoundly affected his views on company culture and branding. Prior to graduating, he joined the successful internet startup CCBN-StreetEvents, where he first built the Latin American operation and then led the development of the European Market from London through its sale to Thomson Reuters.

In 2005 at age 28, Dario returned to Mexico to launch Tacombi in the beach town of Playa del Carmen, refreshing a business plan he wrote during university. His vision for Tacombi was to be a global brand sharing a unique perspective on Mexican Hospitality, which would invest back into Mexican communities. He moved the business to New York City in 2010 and introduced Tacombi as a lively, authentic taqueria experience and limited service restaurant in downtown Manhattan. Today Tacombi has locations in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., and is an omni-channel business, including eDelivery and a fast-growing CPG business, Vista Hermosa. In parallel, Fundación Tacombi continues to scale nationally with a commitment to investing in and supporting Mexican communities.

Dario and his wife Joana live on the Bowery in New York City with their son, daughter and dog

Christophe Suchy

CEO of CASPR Technologies and President of ReSPR Technologies

Dr. Christophe Suchy was born in France and has lived in Germany, Romania, Syria, Spain (the longest), the USA and Panama. He has a PhD in Chemistry and started his first venture at 22. His latest company now has a presence in 47 countries. Christophe is a member of Young President Organization (YPO) and Chief Executive Organization.(CEO).

James Beale

President and founder of Bergstrom Press and Books

Born in Texas and grew up in South Texas and Southern Louisiana. Studied German and Russian at the University of Kansas with a BA in German/Political Science. Fulbright to the University of Hamburg and Masters in Soviet Studies. Before working in the publishing/book industry served in the USAF and taught Political Science at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Bergstrom Press publishes books for teaching/studying foreign languages and imports titles from countries across Central Europe.


Respondent panel: Where do we go from here in language education?

Facilitated by:

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Nelleke Van Deusen-Scholl

Associate Dean of Yale College and Director of the Center for Language Study, Yale University

Respondents: Yale Language Faculty

Candace Skorupa headshot Constantine Muravnik headshot Jorge Mendez Seijas Headshot
Candace Skorupa

Senior Lector I in French and Lecturer in Comparative Literature

Constantine Muravnik

Senior Lector II Slavic Languages & Literatures

Jorge Méndez-Seijas

Spanish Language Program Director

Senior Lector II & Associate Research Scholar


Graduate Students Panels Facilitators

Xinyu Guan headshot Martha Engvall Headshot Ramona Teepe Headshot Zach Aguilar Headshot Hannah Kosman headshot

Xinyu Guan

Ph.D. student in the French Department, Yale University

Xinyu Guan is Ph.D. student in the French department. Her research focuses on early 20th century and postwar French literature and film. She is interested in questions of translation, interdisciplinary approaches to literary theory and criticism, and foreign language teaching pedagogy.
Martha Engvall

Ph.D. student in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, Yale University

Martha Engvall is a fourth-year PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese. Her research and teaching interests include modern and contemporary Spanish literature, disability, second language acquisition, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and teaching with art. She is a graduate fellow at the Center for Language Study.

Ramona Teepe

Ph.D. student in the the Classical Near East specialization, NELC Department, Yale University

Ramona is a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. She is interested in language contact between Arabic and Coptic in medieval Egypt. After studying Classical Arabic Literature at the Freie Universität in Berlin, she now works on Coptic-Arabic grammars and other tools for the acquisition of Coptic as a second language.

Zach Aguilar

Ph.D. student in the Italian Department, Yale University

Zachary Penati Aguilar is a doctoral student at Yale University in Italian Studies. He received his Bachelors in Neuroscience from Brown University and his Masters in Italian Studies from Georgetown University. His research focuses on race, migration and colonialism in contemporary Italian literature and culture.

Hannah Kosman

Ph.D. student in the French Department, Yale University

Hannah Kosman is a PhD candidate in the French department. She is currently teaching beginning French and is interested in foreign language and writing pedagogy and 19th century French literature.


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