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Thinking and Planning Ahead: What’s Next for International Education and Study Abroad? - Speaker Bios

Bios of the speakers of the webinar Planning and Thinking Ahead: What’s Next for International Education and Study Abroad?
Logo for the webinar series "Internationalization of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era" on a dark background. The logo consists of the name of the series with the "o" in the word education being a compass.

Planning and Thinking Ahead: What’s Next for International Education and Study Abroad? is part of the global webinar series Internationalization of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era.

See the program for the webinar.
Headshot of Robin Helms, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer of the American Council of Education
Robin Helms - Speaker

​​​​​Robin Matross Helms is the deputy chief innovation officer and principal internationalization strategist at the American Council on Education (ACE). Her portfolio includes the Internationalization Laboratory and Learner Success Lab, professional learning program development, and ACE's international research agenda.

Helms's previous experience includes program management for the Institute of International Education, EF Education, and CET Academic Programs, and faculty development program management at the University of Minnesota. She has also worked as a consultant to a number of organizations in the international and higher education fields, including the World Bank, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, and the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Helms holds an AB degree in East Asian Studies from Princeton University and an MBA and PhD in higher education administration from Boston College. ​​

Headshot of University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign Vice Provost Reitu Mabokela
Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela - Speaker

Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela is the Vice-Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategy and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign .

She received her BA in Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She received a Master’s in Labor & Industrial Relations and a Ph.D in Educational Policy Studies, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to her current appointment, she served as the Assistant Dean for International Studies and Professor of Higher Education at Michigan State University.
A former Fulbright New Century Scholar and Fulbright International Education Administrators program participant in France, Prof. Mabokela's research seeks to understand experiences of marginalized populations and aims to inform and influence institutional policies that affect these groups within institutions of higher education. Her research centers or has centered on the examination of three interrelated themes: 1) organizational change and organizational culture in higher education; 2) gender in higher education; and 3) higher education in transitional societies. She has devoted a significant part of her career over the past two decades studying these education issues in South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, Ghana, Egypt, and Pakistan among others. 

She is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of seven books and has published extensively in academic journals including Comparative Education Review, American Educational Research Journal, the Africa Education Review, and The Review of Higher Education, Comparative Education, Higher Education, among others.

Headshot of Heidi Manley
Heidi Manley - Opening Remarks

Heidi Manley is the Chief of USA Study Abroad, part of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), serving as the lead for American student mobility within the State Department.

She oversees two of the Department’s leading programs to support American students, the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program and the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program, which she launched in 2006. Heidi also has the lead for creating and overseeing a number of capacity-building initiatives to increase and diversify American student mobility, including the Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad for accredited U.S. higher education institutions, also known as the IDEAS Program, and Study Abroad Engagement Grants for U.S. Embassies and Fulbright Commissions worldwide. Heidi previously served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Global Educational Programs and in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs, where she worked on a number of initiatives under the Fulbright Program.

Headshot of Lehigh University Vice President Cheryl Matherly
Cheryl Matherly - Speaker

Dr. Cheryl Matherly is the vice president and vice provost for international affairs at Lehigh University.

She is charged with providing strategic leadership for its numerous international education programs, including study abroad, international student services, ESL programs, international internships, Fulbright programs, UN programs, Global Citizenship, and the Iacocca Institute.

Before coming to Lehigh, Matherly was the inaugural vice provost for global education at the University of Tulsa and taught in the School for Urban Education. She served as assistant dean of students for career and international education at Rice University in Houston.

Dr. Matherly’s special area of interest is with the international workforce development. Dr. Matherly received four National Science Foundation grants for the preparation of science and engineering graduates for the global workforce. She has written extensively on the relationship between employability and education abroad, including several book chapters that examined this topic in context of comparative national policies.  

She is the immediate past president of the Association for International Education Administrators, and was named Senior International Officer of the Year in 2020 by the Institute for International Education. She is the recipient of two Fulbright grants for International Education Administrators, in Japan and Germany.

She has an Ed.D. from the University of Houston, an M.S. in college student personnel administration from Indiana University and a B.A. in English literature and political science from the University of New Mexico.   

Terhi Mölsä
Terhi Mölsä - Opening Remarks

Terhi Mölsä is CEO, since 2016, of the Fulbright Finland Foundation -- a Helsinki-based, private, not-for-profit organization that collaborates with a range of government, foundation, university and corporate partners on both sides of the Atlantic to design and manage study and research scholarships, leadership development programs and internationalization services. With a life-long passion for diplomacy through education, science, and the arts, she draws on 35 years of experience in higher education internationalization and exchanges. She began her career working at the Office of Academic and International Affairs at Tampere University, Finland, where she helped launch the university’s first European mobility programs, and worked on Ministry of Education funded national initiatives. Preceding her current position she served most recently as the Executive Director of the Finland-U.S. Educational Exchange Commission.

Terhi Mölsä has worked internationally as a consultant, trainer, and curriculum developer on strategic leadership in international education, and as an author, most recently contributing to the SAGE Encyclopedia of Higher Education (2020). She has served in professional leadership positions, among others in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and is currently Member of the Advisory Council of the John Morton Center for North American Studies, and Board Member of ISEP. She holds an M.Soc.Sc. in International Relations and a B.A. in Russian from Tampere University, and certificates from, among others, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government Executive Education.

Leasa Weimer
Leasa Weimer - Moderator

Leasa Weimer is the Assistant Director of Strategic Partnerships and Initiatives for the Fulbright Finland Foundation in Helsinki. In addition, she’s a Research Fellow at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä and a member of the Finnish national team conducting an international comparative study with IIEP-UNESCO on flexible learning pathways.

Weimer has over 20 years of experience as a scholar/practitioner in international higher education, previously she served as Knowledge Development Adviser for the European Association in International Education and president of the global Erasmus Mundus Student and Alumni Association. Bridging research with practice, she has edited several international volumes, authored journal articles, book chapters, and commissioned policy papers considering the intersection of the political economy, policies, and the implementation of international higher education.

Weimer holds a PhD in higher education from the University of Georgia, U.S. and an Erasmus Mundus joint master’s degree in European higher education from the University of Oslo, Norway; University of Tampere, Finland; and University of Aveiro, Portugal and a Bachelor's double degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, U.S.