Meet the Flagship Team

National Security Education Program (NSEP)

Dr. Michael Nugent

Dr. Michael Nugent is director of the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Before coming to NSEP, Dr. Nugent worked on a number of international grant programs at the U.S. Department of Education. These include developing and directing the U.S.-Brazil Higher Education Consortia Program and the North America Mobility in Higher Education Program at the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). He also served as Chief of Section, overseeing the Title VI funding of National Resource Centers, Foreign Language and Areas Studies grants, and the Language Resource Centers.

Dr. Nugent has served in policy positions as Vice President for Administration and Research at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) in Washington DC, and Deputy to the Chancellor for Systems Relations for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. Author of “The Transformation of the Student Career: University study in Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands” (Routledge, 2004), he remains active in the field of international higher education policy.

Dr. Nugent has a Ph.D. in higher education from Pennsylvania State University. He has been both a student of language and literature at universities in Germany, France, and Spain.

T: (571) 256-0702

Dr. Sam Eisen

Dr. Sam Eisen is the director of The Language Flagship.  Before coming to NSEP, Dr. Eisen served as the Director of the Advanced Training and Research Group in International and Foreign Language Education at the U.S. Department of Education, where he provided oversight for Title VI and Fulbright Hays programming designed to develop and maintain national capacity in foreign language and international and area studies.  These programs included the Title VI National Resource Centers, Language Resource Centers, Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships, and the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad program.

Before joining the Department of Education, Dr. Eisen served at the U.S. Department of State (1999-2007) in the Office of the Coordinator of U.S. Assistance to Europe and Eurasia.  At the State Department Dr. Eisen coordinated FREEDOM Support Act which funded academic and professional exchange programs with the former Soviet Union for over 5000 participants per year and managed specialized institutional development projects.  Dr. Eisen also served in the Coordinator’s Office as the Democracy Programs Officer for U.S. Government assistance to Eastern Europe and Eurasia to promote civil society, independent media and rule of law in the region.  At the U.S. Information Agency (1998-1999), he managed university partnership programs for Russia and Central Asia, including major development grants for the American University – Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Before joining the federal government, Dr. Eisen taught Russian language, literature, and culture as Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at American University in Washington DC (1995-1998).

Dr. Eisen holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Stanford University, and a B.A in Russian from Amherst College.

T: (571) 256-0760

Mr. Ed McDermott

Ed McDermott is the senior program manager for The Language Flagship program. Before joining NSEP, he was Senior Program Officer at the U.S. Department of Education, where he managed the International Research and Studies, the Language Resource Centers, as well as the National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships grant programs. Prior to that he was Senior Program Coordinator at the National Foreign Language Center overseeing federal grants.

T: (571) 256-0756

Ms. Kaveri Advani

Ms. Kaveri Advani is a program manager for The Language Flagship at the National Security Education Program (NSEP). She is primarily responsible for coordinating the Flagship overseas programs and the Korean, Persian, Portuguese, and Turkish Flagship domestic Programs. Prior to joining NSEP in 2009, Ms. Advani received a Boren Fellowship to study Arabic and conduct research in Yemen and Syria. She previously interned with the United States' Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program in New York, NY, and interned with the United Nations Information Center in New Delhi, India.

Ms. Advani received her Masters of Arts degree from New York University in politics with a focus on comparative politics. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a minor in Russian language from Loyola University, New Orleans. She received a Tcherepnine scholarship in 2002 to study Russian in St. Petersburg, Russia. Ms. Advani has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe.

T: (571) 256-0752

Mr. David L. Edwards

Mr. David Edwards is a program manager for The Language Flagship at the National Security Education Program.   He is primarily responsible for The Language Flagship technology, culture, and K-12 initiatives.  Prior to joining NSEP, he served as a Plans and Policy Analyst, responsible for writing congressional testimony, speeches, strategy, and policy.  In this capacity, he also oversaw the Strategic Foreign Language Expansion Program, a K-12 partnership with the Department of Defense Education Activity. Mr. Edwards also served as a Foreign Language and Cultural Analyst in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs where he advised the Assistant Secretary on language, regional, and cultural policies, programs, and initiatives.

Mr. Edwards received his Master of Arts degree from the Naval War College, where his thesis focused on advanced language learners' cultural interactions in overseas environments. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brigham Young University in political science with significant coursework in the languages and regions of East Asia and Latin America.  While at Brigham Young University, Mr. Edwards worked in the International Study Programs office and coordinated study abroad activities across Asia and Europe.   

T: (571) 256-0755


Organizational Development Resources Group (ODRG)

Ms. Diana M. Rodriguez

Ms. Diana M. Rodriguez is the Communications Strategist at the National Security Education Program (NSEP). Prior to joining NSEP, Ms. Rodriguez has supported various DoD and federal government programs as a senior communications strategist, writer, editor, and social media administrator since 2004.

T: (571) 256-0843


Institute of International Education (IIE)

Ms. Chelsea Sypher

Ms. Chelsea Sypher is program director for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE), the administrative agent for The Language Flagship. Ms. Sypher has worked with Flagship programs since 2007, first as assistant director for the Arabic Flagship Program at the University of Texas at Austin, and later as director of Special Programs at the University of Maryland (UMD), including leadership of the UMD Arabic and Persian Flagship Programs, Project Global Officer, and the UMD Summer Institute. Ms. Sypher began her career in international education as a language educator. She enjoys applying her experience in language teaching and program development to The Language Flagship programs.

Ms. Sypher received a BA in International Relations from the University of Sussex, and an MSc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh. Ms. Sypher has lived, worked, and studied overseas in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, South Korea, and Oman.

T: (202) 326-7768

Ms. Carrie Reynolds

Ms. Carrie Reynolds is a program officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Ms. Reynolds returned to IIE in 2016 after spending three years at International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP) as a program officer for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Prior to that position, she was a program coordinator for the EducationUSA program at IIE.

Ms. Reynolds received a BA in International Studies with a minor in French Language from American University in 2011 and an MA in International Education from George Washington University in 2016. Ms. Reynolds studied abroad in England and Canada and has traveled extensively.

T: (202) 326-7764

Ms. Hilary Robertson Collado

Ms. Hilary Robertson Collado is a program officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Before joining IIE, she was the coordinator for the Persian Flagship Program at the University of Maryland--College Park for three years. Prior to that position, Ms. Robertson Collado worked at the Arab American Institute on national leadership and youth-focused programs. In addition, she led and mediated panel discussions on federal grant applications as the chairperson and grant reviewer for the Administration for Children and Families.

Ms. Robertson Collado received a BA in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College and has interned in Beirut, Lebanon and studied abroad in Damascus, Syria and Granada, Spain.

T: (202) 326-7771

Ms. Shaba Lightfoot

Ms. Shaba Lightfoot is a program officer for the Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Before joining The Language Flagship team, she was a Project Manager for the International Visitor’s Leadership Program at IIE. Shaba brings her experience of working with multiple nonprofit higher education membership associations as a key liaison to institutions and students to the program officer role. 

She received a BA in English from Spelman College. Her love for international education was sparked through studying abroad in Japan and she has continued to travel abroad and broaden her appreciation for global educational experiences.

T: (202) 326-7649

Mr. Will Pope

Mr. Will Pope is a program officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Before joining IIE, he spent five years with ISEP Study Abroad where he served as a program officer and later program manager for Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom. Prior to these positions, he worked for Deutsches Haus at New York University where he organized cultural events and taught bilingual English/German Pre-K. Will is a regional expert in German-speaking Europe and has a particular interest in student emergency management.

He received a BA in German Language and Literature from Gordon College and has studied abroad in Hamburg and Heidelberg, Germany.

T: (202) 686-6241


Ms. Mallory Shramek

Ms. Mallory Shramek is a grants officer for The Language Flagship at the Institute of International Education (IIE). Before joining IIE in 2016, Ms. Shramek worked at the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) managing grant programs designed to build the capacity of nonprofits, educational institutions, and federal agencies to implement STEM programming and support public lands. Ms. Shramek received a BS in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland in 2011.

T: (202) 326-7827

Dr. Deborah W. Robinson

Dr. Deborah W. Robinson provides support for The Language Flagship as an independent consultant and strategist on K–12 initiatives through the Institute of International Education (IIE).  Debbie has extensive experience in the K–16 arena, having taught French and Spanish in elementary, immersion, after-school enrichment, summer, and traditional secondary and postsecondary programs. She also worked as an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, developing pre-service and international teachers.

Dr. Robinson served 11 years as lead World Languages Consultant at the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), and was recognized by the National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) as the 2010 State Supervisor of the Year. At the ODE, Dr. Robinson facilitated strategic planning for world languages and provided leadership on projects, such as a U.S. Department of Education FLAP grant for the development of a model K–4 Chinese curriculum. Debbie also led a taskforce on the institutional impact of the National Standards for Foreign Language Learning through a Title VI International Research and Studies grant to ACTFL.

Dr. Robinson facilitates the development of a national Flagship K–12 strategy that will coordinate Flagship initiatives with partner organizations in promoting high-quality foreign language education at the K–12 level.

Dr. Robinson’s undergraduate studies at Marietta College focused on French, Spanish, and education. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. through The Ohio State University’s Foreign and Second Language Education Program.

T: (614) 582-8856