IEPM Alumni Profiles
Alexandra Foust – Class of 2014
Alexandra Foust currently lives in Jinja, Uganda and works for Akola Project, a nonprofit social business that empowers over 400 women through employment, support services, and capacity building. As the Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator, she supports organizational learning and program development, leading quantitative and qualitative impact assessments and facilitating a program for savings and loans groups. During the IEPM program, she explored interests in community-based development as well as international education policy. She has worked at Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies on the evaluation of their National Resource Center grant, in Nashville Public Schools, and for a health education nonprofit in Guatemala. Alex grew up in Virginia and holds bachelor’s degrees in International Studies and Psychology from the University of North Florida. As an undergraduate she studied post-colonial development and conducted research on cross-cultural psychology in Guatemala.
Andrew Chao-Ting Tsung – Class of 2013
Andrew Chao-Ting Tsung currently serves as Executive Director for Strategic Partnerships in the Office of International Affairs, National Taiwan University (NTU), Taiwan. In his current position, Andrew is responsible for identifying strategic partners for NTU around the world, building up relationships, connecting faculty members from both institutions, and setting up collaboration programs. He is also in charge of creating new programs and opportunities for students and faculty members of the university, including internship programs and community service programs. During his study in IEPM program, he focused on higher education policies and management, especially those related to internationalization of higher education institutions and international organizations. As a dedicated international educator, serving in different positions in the field since 2007, Andrew found the IEPM program a great way to advance and excel his vision, knowledge and skills in international higher education.
Xuejiao “Joy” Cheng – Class of 2013
Xuejiao “Joy” Cheng is currently a Technical Officer at the Global Learning Group of FHI 360, an international development organization based in Washington, D.C. At FHI 360, Joy has supported education information systems projects in South Sudan and Liberia funded by USAID, conducted education policy research for a UNESCO agency, and evaluated a college access program in three school districts in Pennsylvania. During her graduate study at Vanderbilt, Joy assisted program development at Vanderbilt’s U.S.-China Center, coordinated a campus-wide creative initiative for the Curb Center for Public Policy and Creativity, as well as consulted for Nissan America and Maldives’ Ministry of Education through class projects. Joy developed her career interest in international development during her summer internship at Chemonics International, and has since committed herself to the advancement of education quality in emerging contexts through a comparative lens. Before Vanderbilt, Joy earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Peking University in Beijing, China.
Joyce Parsons – Class of 2012
Joyce Parsons is currently a Senior Program Officer for American Councils for International Education in Washington, DC. She works primarily on the Teachers of Critical Languages Program (TCLP), which is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of Mandarin and Arabic by bringing Chinese and Egyptian teachers to the U.S. to teach their native languages and culture for an academic year. Joyce draws on the on comparative education classes at Peabody and her experience teaching overseas, in New York City and rural Pennsylvania to provide relevant training and cross-cultural support for teachers and administrators throughout the school year. While studying at Vanderbilt, Joyce was a program coordinator with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program where she realized how much she enjoyed working with educators to help them develop their potential. She also interned with the Center of Latin American Studies and Dr. Cravens to collect and analyze data related to the center’s impact on the school and community. Joyce is a 2007 graduate of Principia College with dual degrees in Education and Sociology.
Kristin S. Anderson – Class of 2012
Kristin S. Anderson is Vanderbilt University's Director of Educational Operations in Abu Dhabi, where she oversees the university's partnership activities with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). While a graduate student in the IEPM program, Kristin worked with Professor Xiu Cravens as the student coordinator for Peabody International Affairs, and served as a student ambassador for the Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship program. Kristin developed her interdisciplinary interests through classes and activities with the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health, where she drew upon her academic training in international education and economic development to compete on the team that represented Vanderbilt at the Emory University Global Health Case Competition. Prior to enrolling in the IEPM program, Kristin lived and worked in Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where she was a U.S. Student Fulbright Scholar at Zayed University, and later hired to create leadership development and international service-learning programming for female Emirati Muslim university students. Kristin is a 2006 graduate of St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Avi Richman – Class of 2012
Avi Richman currently serves as a Partnership Manager for PENCIL, an education non-profit in New York City that leverages ideas, talents, and resources from the business sector to improve public school performance. In this role, he seeks to maximize the impact of PENCIL's programs by providing strategic guidance, best practices, and measurement tools. Prior to this, Avi was a College Advisor to hundreds of low-income high school students in the Bronx.
Before joining the IEPM program, Avi served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Granada, Nicaragua, where he worked with the Ministry of Education to implement an entrepreneurship course on a national level. There, he became passionate about reducing inequalities in education and focused his academic research on policies that promote equity throughout Latin America and the United States. While a student at Vanderbilt, Avi was awarded the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship in Brazilian Portuguese. He complemented his education policy studies with intensive linguistic and cultural training while doing field research on affirmative action policies in Brazil. He also spent part of his summer practicum working with the World Bank in Colombia to help evaluate ongoing secondary education reform efforts. Avi is a 2006 graduate of the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and plans to continue to move between the local and international worlds of education throughout his career.
Aliya Bizhanova - Class of 2011
A native of Kazakhstan, Aliya works in Astana as an education specialist in the Human Development Unit of the World Bank. She is involved in education and social protection initiatives that provide technical assistance to the Kazakh government in youth development, secondary education and vocational education. Aliya came to Peabody as a Muskie fellow through the U.S. Department of State, and during her time in the IEPM program, she developed her professional interests through classes in international education, research analysis, organizational leadership and grant writing. Aliya is a 2012 Alumni Small Grant recipient, which was funded by IREX to support volunteer opportunities, community engagement, and capacity building initiatives in Kazakhstan. A 2005 graduate of Samara State University in Russia, Aliya holds a higher education degree in law. Prior to her IEPM experience, she founded and operated a NGO that focused on youth development through international education and internship opportunities.
Taya L. Owens – Class of 2011
Taya Louise Owens Class of 2011 Taya Louise Owens, PhD is a Research Officer for the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report in Paris, France. Taya specializes in monitoring and evaluating global higher education, organizational diversity, higher education finance, performance indicators, and governance. The IEPM core courses and methods training prepared her for doctoral studies, which she completed with an interdisciplinary, international cohort at the State University of New York at Albany. The IEPM program was formative in her career, especially participation in the Comparative and International Education Society annual conferences. Her favorite IEPM experiences include debates with Dr. Heuser, learning from Humphrey Fellows in class discussions, and the first annual internship poster session.
Wang Yao — Class of 2010
Wang Yao graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Economics from Fudan University in Shanghai, China in 2008. As a recipient of Dean's Tuition Scholarship, Wang completed her Master of Education in International Education Policy and Management in Summer 2010. She now works in Shanghai as an international trade professional and freelance translator.
"My interest in international education dated back to my sophomore summer, when I studied abroad at Yale University. That foretaste of American liberal arts education excited me and inspired me to think about comparative education issues. At IEPM, I enjoyed tremendous flexibility to tailor my own study plan and took advantage of in-house internship opportunities. Working as an interpreter for Peabody's ELLE program for two consecutive years allowed me to visit 15 plus K-12 schools in Nashville. During school breaks, I also toured about 20 distinct colleges and universities while traveling across twelve states. Peabody is my dream school, and the two years in Nashville only proved to be more nourishing than I imagined.”
James Nardella — Class of 2008
Video: James Nardella, an IEPM graduate, provided the Peabody commencement address in 2014. In it he describes what the IEPM program has meant to him and to the world of education. Click here to watch.
James Nardella is the Executive Director of the Lwala Community Alliance, a nonprofit health and development agency delivering direct services in Migori County, Kenya. As Executive Director, James sets program strategy, manages senior personnel, liaises with key implementing and funding partners, and serves as a primary representative of the organization to external audiences. As a graduate student in the IEPM program, his interests focused on girls' education, poverty alleviation, and service-learning. The Peabody course work on Education and Economic Development, International Organizations and Economic Development, and Leadership Theory had direct application to his work in Africa. Prior to Peabody, James had a dual career in New York City - primarily working as an actor in theatre, film, and TV and secondarily running a small tutoring agency. He continues to use his entrepreneurial skills as a non-profit leader and his artistic talents to make short films and to advocate for the Lwala Community Alliance.
Saamira Halabi - Class of 2007
Saamira Halabi is currently an education specialist in the West and Central Africa region at the World Bank, where she is engaged in analytical and operational work for countries including Nigeria, Senegal, and Chad. Saamira came to Peabody on a Fulbright scholarship, and after graduating from the IEPM program, she went on to complete a Ph.D. in Educational Theory and Policy at the Pennsylvania State University. Her dissertation analyzed disparities in school resources in ten Arab countries using data from The International Math and Science Study (TIMSS 2007). While at Penn State, she coordinated a project on youth engagement in out-of-school time, and also conducted field work in Peru for a study on the cognitive effect of schooling on reasoning and decision-making skills. In addition, Saamira has served as managing editor of the Comparative Education Review and she was involved in the planning of CIES 2012, a major international education conference. Saamira holds undergraduate degrees in Business and Educational Leadership from the American University of Beirut.
Marie Martin — Class of 2006
Marie Martin currently serves as the Assistant Director for Education and Training in the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. In this capacity, she directs curriculum development, international academic and service programs for Vanderbilt students in global health, along with other educational initiatives. Prior to joining VIGH in 2009, Marie worked for three and a half years as the Assistant Director of the Global Education Office at Vanderbilt, developing international service-learning programs for undergraduate students. Her professional background includes seven years as an assignment editor for the Cable News Network (CNN) and four years in the Czech Republic, primarily managing a parliamentary internship program for Czech university students under the direction of the European Union. Marie was part of the first cohort in the International Education Policy and Management (IEPM) program at Peabody, where she developed and honed expertise in comparative education policy, community development, and program management. She is currently pursuing a PhD in public administration and policy with a focus on global health agenda setting, budgeting and financial management.