Faculty and Staff

He will be in our hearts forever . . . 

Brad Leon Powell  (1983-2014)

Brad Powell worked at the Language and Culture Center beginning in 2002 as a Program Assistant for Information Systems as as well as in the LCC Computer Lab. After receiving his master's degree, he moved to a teaching position before transitioning into his role as International Student Counselor. He ultimately achieved the position of Program Director for Counseling and Student Services, which he held for the past year.

Brad's contribution to his profession has been incalculable, and he leaves many colleagues, classmates, and students who treasure his memory.


Joy Tesh, Director: Joy Tesh brings more than twenty-five years' experience in the LCC to her position as Director. She was a teacher in the Intensive English Program and then served as Associate Director before becoming Director in January 2006. She received a B.A. in English and Education from Mars Hill College in North Carolina and an M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her love of working with international students began years ago when she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. Her main research interests are professional standards and program administration. Email
Sandra H. Woodson, Associate Director: Sandra Woodson originally from southern New Jersey received her M.A. in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Houston. She has taught in the intensive English program and has a background in business management. Her interests include ESL language assessment and program administration. Email
  Adam Chen, Program Director of Counseling and Student Services: Having emigrated from China, Adam received his B.A. in German Studies. He received his M.A. in Linguistics and M.Ed. in College Student Personnel from Ohio University. He has worked at various offices serving international students in a university setting, including admissions and international student services, and he enjoys helping international students integrate into the U.S. culture and academic environment. His interests include student advising, immigration regulations, and student activities.  Email

Program Managers:

Anna Hood, Curriculum and Special Programs: A native Houstonian, Anna Hood received her B.A. in English from Davidson College in North Carolina and her M.A. in Foreign Language Education from the University of Texas at Austin, where she specialized in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language. She has taught English in a variety of settings in the United States and in Spain, and she speaks Spanish. She enjoys teaching at an intensive English program and is interested in pronunciation.Email
Douglas Jones, Assessment and Technology: Douglas Jones received his B.A. in English Literature from Stephen F. Austin State University and completed the Thai language course at the Defense Language Institute. Later work as a literacy volunteer drew him to the ESL teaching field, and he entered the Applied English Linguistics program at the University of Houston, graduating with an M.A. in 1995. He has been teaching at the Language and Culture Center since 1996 and has delivered several presentations at national conferences on the integration of science, technology, and ESL. Email
Jeanne Peine, Training and Development: Jeanne Peine grew up in Portland, Maine. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Vermont and her M.A.T. in ESL from Georgetown University. She also studied film and English literature in London, England. She has taught in intensive English, refugee and university credit programs and has worked with the Experiment in International Living in Dublin, Ireland. Jeanne is active in the TESOL organization (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) at both the local and international levels. Email

Support Staff:

Andrea Goatley, Admissions Manager: Email
Cathaleen Robinson, International Student Counselor: Cathy was born and raised in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in Community Counseling from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  As an undergraduate student, Cathy did an internship in Australia working with women in the prison system. She also worked with undergraduate students as part of her practicum experience in graduate school. Her years of experience include working at an in-patient psychiatric hospital, as well as experience in private practice and family therapy. She enjoys working with young adults, adults, women, and international students. Email
Deborah Richardson, Information Systems Assistant:  After working for the University of Houston in information technology for more than thirty years, Deborah retired.  She returned to work part-time for the LCC as an application developer providing technical support as needed. Email
Elogia Benavides, Program Coordinator of Student Services: Elogia Benavides is a native Texan hailing from Pettus in South Texas. She received a B.A. in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and has worked with the University of Houston since 1985. Email
Jessica Cruz, Office Assistant 2: Jessica Cruz was born and raised in Houston. She graduated from the University of Houston-Downtown in December 2013 with a Bachelor's degree in Management and a minor in Human Resources. She began working at the LCC in the summer of 2010 as a Main Office Program Assistant. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family. Email
Samrach Long, SEVIS Compliance Coordinator: A native Houstonian, Samrach Long received a BBA in Management from the Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston in 2009. He joined the Language and Culture Center (LCC) in fall 2001 as a student assistant under Dave Burns. Email
Thao Tiffany Le, Financial Coordinator II: Originally from Vietnam, Tiffany Le arrived in the United States in 1992. She received a B.A. in Accountancy from the University of Houston in 2005. She joined the UH workforce as a student employee in 2004 in the Scholarship and Financial Aid office and later, after graduation, moved to the College of Architecture. She joined the Language and Culture Center (LCC) in 2008. Going the extra mile to help students and staff is what Tiffany finds most rewarding about working at the LCC. Email
  Wendy Davis-Alvarez, Marketing and Communications Coordinator: A native Texan, Wendy Davis-Alvarez received her A.A. in History at San Jacinto College and received her B.A. in History and English from the University of Houston in 2011. She joined the Language and Culture Center (LCC) in 2006 as a Program Assistant in the Computer Language Learning Lab and later worked as the Program Assistant for Marketing and Social Media. Wendy joined the LCC staff as the Coordinator of Marketing and Communications in 2014.  She enjoys working with students and staff, as well as promoting the international student community, the LCC, and the University of Houston. Email


Alida Nakic: Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Alida Nakic graduated with honors from the Universidad Pedagogica Experimental Libertador, where she received her B.A. and M.A. in English as a Second Language. She has been teaching EFL and ESL for more than 15 years in Venezuela and in the United States. Her favorite experience is teaching English in multi-cultural settings, where students bring enriching experiences to the classroom from their countries. She enjoys being creative in the classroom and teaching through the use of games and songs. Email
Barbara Kennedy: Barbara VanFossen Kennedy, who grew up living in both Canada and the United States, received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Calgary. After graduating, she began teaching ESL to international students as a volunteer, and then moved to Japan to teach English for several years. After completing a master’s degree in Applied Language Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, she taught English in Brazil. Since relocating to Houston, she has taught ESL at Lone Star College and the LCC. Her primary area of interest is cross-culture communication. Email
Bushra Zaid: Bushra Zaidid grew up living in both U.A.E and Pakistan. She graduated with Honors from the University of Karachi with a B.A. in English LIterature and M.A. in Linguistics. Later, she came to the U.S. and earned an M.A. in TESL from Northern Arizona University, Arizona. She has enjoyed her multifaceted and diverse experience as an EFL/ESL professional. She has worked at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels as an English/ESL instructor, Teacher Trainer, Curriculum/CourseDeveloper, and an Examiner for over 11 years in Pakistan and the USA. Her interests are in Pronunciation, Socioinguistics, Teacher training, and Pedagogical implications of Second Language Acquisition. She sees her transition from one culture to another as a great success and she has accomplished a lot along with her students during the years of her work. Email
Caitlin Sapaugh: Caitlin was raised in Houston, TX. She graduated from Texas Christian University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. It was at TCU studying the voice that she fell in love with languages and linguistics. Upon earning her Masters in TESOL from UTA, she returned to Houston where she has been teaching at the LCC since 2013. Her teaching approach focuses heavily on cross-cultural communication and applying current real-world topics to writing and oral presentations. She is also interested in second language acquisition and psycholinguistics. Email
Christen Savage: A proud Hoosier from a small town in northern Indiana, Christen Savage spent two years in Italy where she studied at the Università di Bologna, received her CELTA certification, and worked in Rome as a Research and Project Manager. Upon returning to the United States, she received her M.A. in Italian Literature and her M.S. in Language Education from Indiana University in Bloomington. Before joining the LCC, she taught adults at the University of Georgia in Athens and at Duke University in North Carolina. She speaks Italian and Spanish. Christen enjoys teaching in the ESL setting and is especially interested in language learning strategies and the application of technology to language instruction. Email
Cory Stewart: Cory Stewart was born and raised in Houston, TX. He has been teaching for ten years, and has focused on ESL for the last seven years. His areas of focus ar writing and speaking. His for for his students is that they develop the ability to express any thought they may have, no matter how complex, in English. In his spare time, he like to do yoga, capoeira, and Crossfit. Email
Dale Craven: Dale Craven grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a degree in Communications. Dale spent two years in China studying Mandarin and Chinese culture before beginning his profession as an ESL teacher. Upon earning his Masters in TESL from Oklahoma City University, he returned to China where he lived and taught ESL for more than a decade. He has been teaching at the LCC since 2011. His interests include using film in the classroom and cross-cultural communication.Email
Farideh Nekoobahr: Originally from Iran, Farideh Nekoobahr received her B.A. in English Language and Translation and her M.A. in English Language and Literature from Azad University, Tehran. She taught EFL for 19 years before she came to the US in 2009. Since then, she has taught ESL at Houston Community College and Rice University and has served as an ESL volunteer at the University of St. Thomas. She joined the LCC in 2011. Her research interests include the language learning process and cross-cultural communication. Email
Gregory Urquhart: Greg Urquhart was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. He has an M.A. in TESL from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. He is fluent in Polish, having spent four years in Poland teaching ESL (two of those years on a Fulbright Scholarship). He has taught at the LCC since 1977 and enjoys research on two-word verbs. Email
Jana Munoz: Jana Munoz was born and raised in East Texas. After earning a degree in Secondary Education with a specialization in English Language Arts and Reading at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, she taught English and Spanish in the public school system. She went on to earn her M.A. in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington. After teaching EFL in Peru and Ecuador, she returned to UH-Arlington to teach ESL. She joined the LCC in 2011 and loves teaching in its multicultural setting, where she enjoys building cross-cultural communication and helping her students fall in love with learning. Email
Jenifer Edens: Jenifer Edens grew up in East Texas and earned a B.A. in English and Spanish from Stephen F. Austin State University. Her graduate certificate in TESOL and M.Ed. are from the University of Texas in Arlington. To better understand the challenges that her students face while living in a foreign country, she spent a year and a half teaching English in Guadalajara, Mexico. She is especially interested in the writing process. Email
Katey Porter: Katey Porter was born in Dallas, Texas. She attended the University of St. Andrews in St. Andrews, Scotland, where she received an M.A. in English Language and Literature, and the University of Reading in Reading, England, where she received an M.A. in Applied Linguistics. She first taught English in China at Guilin Technical University at Qindao University while studying Chinese. Since Joining the LCC teaching staff, she has come to enjoy research in cross-cultural communications and its application to teaching English Language skills. She participates in both leading and singing with the LCC student choir, the LCC Singers. Email
Mary Kathleen Barrera: Kitty Barrera, a native Texan, received two degrees from the University of Houston, including her M.Ed. in (Language Arts) Curriculum and Instruction. She has also done graduate work in Biblical Studies. Her many years of experience have been with schools in Texas, Germany, and Suriname, teaching students at all levels. She has traveled extensively in Europe and South America and has studied Spanish. Before coming to the LCC, Kitty taught ESL at Houston Community College and other local schools. A special area of interest is the development and evaluation of ESL curriculum materials. Email
Michalina Mrugala: Michalina Mrugala was born and raised in Poland. She received her B.A. in Spanish and her M.A. in Teaching English as Second Language from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. She has taught ESL at Arizona State University and Estrella Mountain Community College in Arizona. She has also coordinated ESL state requirements for a local charter school in Surprise, Arizona, where she taught Spanish as well. She speaks Polish and Spanish. Her interests include the influence of transfer, critical period, and language policy. Email
Sandra Buckner: A native Texan, Sandra Buckner studied music at Sam Houston State University before transferring to the University of Houston and graduating with a B.A. in English literature. She taught language arts as well as Texas and American history before returning to graduate school in 2005. She received an M. Ed. in Education Administration from the University of Houston/Victoria and later received her TESOL certification from TESOL International. She joined the University of Houston/LCC in January, 2009. Her ESL interests include building relationships and bridges with students from all over the world while building learning communities within the ESL classroom. Email
Sandra Carrettin-Mulvany: Sandra Carrettin-Mulvany was born in Ohio and attended Lake Erie College, where she received a B.A. in Fine Arts and Italian. She received her M.A. in Italian Language and Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles. She studied Italian culture and theater on a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Padua. Sandra has taught Italian and ESL in a variety of settings, both here and abroad, and has traveled extensively throughout Europe. She lived in Italy for three years and speaks fluent Italian. Her research interest is cross-cultural communication. Email
Susan McAlister: Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Susan McAlister lived in Egypt as a child. She attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, but spent her junior year at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She returned to Lebanon in 1971 as a YMCA volunteer teacher. Susan received her M.A. in T.E.S.L. from the University of Illinois and completed her certification as an Academic Language Therapist (dyslexia specialist) in Wichita, Kansas. She has taught ESL and dyslexic students in California, Illinois, Kansas, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Texas. Her special area of interest is ESL students with learning differences. Email
Thong Q. Dang: Originally from Vietnam, Thong Dang received his B.A. in English Language and Literature from the Ho Chi Minh City University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Vietnam and his M.A. in Applied English Linguistics from the University of Houston. As a teacher of English in both NNES and NES contexts for the past 25 years, he is interested in comparative linguistics, especially as applied to translation, academic writing, and English for children in NNES contexts, and has published a number of books in these areas. Email
Velva N. Fallin: As a child, Velva Fallin traveled in the U.S. and Europe with her military family. When she finally settled in San Antonio, Texas, she finished her undergraduate degree and taught in the public schools there. After receiving her M.A. in Bilingual-Bicultural Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio, she spent one year studying Chinese and four years teaching English at both a national university and a private school in Northeast China. Velva enjoys teaching in an intensive English program and helping international students understand and enhance their cross-cultural experience in the U.S. Email
Vincent Tran: A UH alumnus with a B.S. degree, Vincent Tran received his M.Ed. from Framingham State College while living in Poland. He spent three years teaching in Japan in public grade schools and at Kwansei Gakuin University. He received his TESOL certificate in Poland with SIT. He is fluent in Vietnamese and speaks some Japanese and Polish. Before joining the LCC, he worked as head of the ESL department at MTI College. He enjoys traveling and learning new cultural things. His research interests include behaviorist approaches to teaching reading and listening. Email

Program Assistants

Abigail Comeaux Email
Adrianna Nguyen Email
Carmela Rodarte Email
Clinton Casey Email
Eriberto Calderon Email
Jessica Silva Email
Jonathan Nguyen Email
Juan Medina Email
Julio Torres Email
Megan Hawthorne Email
Natalie Le Email
Roland Nombre Email
Sagar Rama Email
Valerie Costanza Email