Mary McKenna, Ph.D. – Executive Director


Dr. Mary McKenna,  the founder and Director of NEST-USA and Director of Instructional Support for the pilot schools in Nepal has her PhD from the University of Michigan with specializations in Special Education and Reading Instruction. Mary started and directed an award winning teacher preparation program at Quinnipiac college focused on urban populations.  She subsequently worked in the preparation of teachers at several other universities.

Most recently, Mary spent five years co-teaching with teachers in urban centers in Nepal. There, she learned how to effectively adapt teacher training for teachers who have limited English Language skills and very limited teacher preparation.

Jacob Bronstein – Director of Operations


Jacob Bronstein, Director of Operations at NEST USA, is a entrepreneur by trade. Jacob spent the past 13 years building companies and corporate departments in the SaaS, Enterprise Hardware and Consumer Products spaces.

Motivated by his passion for increasing global literacy and computer science as a way to decrease poverty, Jacob spent several years working alongside pioneers in the field of translating neuroscience on human language and speech into practice in the classroom.

Yein Suh – Global Impact Officer


Yein is a graduate from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she received her Master’s degree in International Educational Development.

With a strong focus on international programs, she has been actively engaged in the field of educational development both academically and professionally. In particular, her diverse experiences with small and large organizations involve educational policy, teacher issues, civil society engagement, ICT integration in education, and global citizenship education. From work and research, she has garnered deeper insights into improving educational quality at the classroom level and contextualizing educational policies or practices in developing and conflict-affected settings.

Linda Liss-Bronstein, Ed.D. – Professional Development Director


Dr. Linda Liss-Bronstein, Director of Professional Development for NEST-USA, has extensive research expertise in educating urban, multilingual populations. Linda was the 2013 recipient of the Jeanne S. Chall Visiting Researcher Award from Harvard School of Education. Her area of research expertise is the application of language and reading stage theories to classroom practice.

Linda develops multimedia training materials to expand teacher content knowledge and accelerate student learning in oral language and reading comprehension, co-authoring the training module Oral Language: A Pathway to Deep Literacy. She frequently presents at national and international conferences on topics related to translating research into practice with a focus on language foundations of  literacy.

Linda has a doctorate in educational leadership and dual masters degrees in speech and language pathology and reading.

Sandra Silberstein, Ph.D. – University of Washington


Sandra Silberstein is Professor of English and MATESOL Director at the University of Washington, Seattle, where she has chaired the Faculty Senate, the Committee on Planning and Budgeting, the College of Arts and Sciences College Council, and was English Department Associate Chair for five years.  She is currently the College of Arts and Sciences Coordinator of International Student Academic Support.

She has extensive experience and expertise in the field of second language learning. She has served as editor of the field’s flagship journal, TESOL Quarterly, and has conducted teacher professional development and/or  program assessment overseas in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Thailand.

In addition, she has done research on reading and is the co-author of the widely used ESL reading textbooks, Reader’s Choice (Silberstein, Clarke, Dobson, 5th ed.) and Choice Readings (Silberstein, Clarke, Dobson, 2nd ed., in press).

Thomas Poteat – Vice President, Wealth Management – Morgan Stanley


Tom has developed his skills in the area of retirement and asset planning, with an emphasis on helping clients achieve their income goals and preserve wealth. Believing that education is significant, Tom has spent time teaching his clients how the entire financial plan fits into their lives.

With his career starting at Dean Witter Trust as an assistant trust administrator he soon a became a Series 7 registered at Oppenheimer in 1996 and later became a stockbroker. In 1997 Tom joined Laidlaw global Securities as a Financial Advisor building portfolios and joined The Coleman Group at Morgan Stanley in 2003 to expand his knowledge in restricted stock and stock options.

Tom is a graduate of the College of Charleston where he majored in Business Administration with a minor in French.

Carol Benson, Ph.D – Assoc. Professor in International and Comparative Education


Carolyn J. (Carol) Benson, earned her Ph.D. in Social Sciences and Comparative Education from University of California Los Angeles in 1994. Trained as an elementary school teacher, she was a Peace Corps teacher trainer in Sierra Leone, West Africa and a Spanish-English bilingual teacher in California before going on to work as a technical assistant in multilingual education in a range of low-income countries. From 1998 to 2011 Dr. Benson was based at Stockholm University, first at the Centre for Research on Bilingualism and later at the Centre for University Teaching and Learning, meanwhile expanding her research and consulting in languages and literacies in the Southeast Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Africa regions. Her current work focuses on educational language policy and practice, gender and language, and multilingual curriculum development . Publications include the 2013 volume co-edited with Kimmo Kosonen, Language Issues in Comparative Education: Inclusive teaching and learning in non-dominant languages and cultures (Sense Publishers).

Tim Dzurilla – Strategic Development


Dr. Tim Dzurilla is a consultant in economic and community development. He started working in the development field in 2005 and has since worked in over a dozen countries including Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, East Timor, Nepal, and Rwanda on projects that promote local entrepreneurship and local self-determination.

He has experience helping social enterprises develop go-to market strategies; professional services and research institutions improve their services and labor management operations; and large organizations identify needed resources and business processes to scale-up and market competitively in new target markets.

Chiara Davis Fuller – Curriculum Developer


Chiara Davis Fuller is a second year Master’s student in the International Education and Development program with a concentration in English as a Second Language Curriculum Design and Instruction at Teachers College, Columbia University. She studied International Relations at Mount Holyoke College and earned her Master’s degree in Education from Cambridge College in Massachusetts.

Chiara Davis Fuller possesses 12 years of experience in international education with a focus in ESL education. She was the Coordinator of the Language Department at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador Sede Esmeraldas in Ecuador and Supervisor to international assistant language teachers in Yamagata, Japan. She has taught English language courses, organized educational seminars and developed curriculum for teachers in Japan, Ecuador and Nepal.  She continues her passion for international education in the positions as an intern with the Hands in Outreach program, a Co-President of the Society for International Education and Administrative Fellow in the Office of International Services at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Kelly Case – Curriculum & Book Developer


As an undergraduate at the State University of New York at New Paltz Kelly earned her bachelor’s in Secondary Education and English. Her passion for international education was fostered through her experience studying abroad in Prague, Czech Republic, volunteering as an English teaching assistant in Prague, and returning to work at her university as a peer counselor for study abroad students.

Kelly is currently a masters students in the International Education and Development program at Columbia Teachers College. She has spent time teaching English as a Second Language throughout the world including a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Malaysia, volunteering at a school in Kenya, teaching ESL online to students in China, and working as a conversation partner at the SUNY New Paltz. Developing stories and curriculum to increase global literacy is a cornerstone to Kelly’s desire to cultivate educational exchange and understanding.

Jess Lawson – Marketing Coordinator


Jess enjoys the challenge of creative problem solving. Traditionally trained in graphic design, she has developed a sensitivity for marketing thinking throughout her career and is capable of taking on many necessary process pieces, from project planning to video editing, and more.

She is delighted to help NEST build communications and marketing channels and enhance the organization’s outward-facing presence. A traveler by nature and a native of Storrs, Connecticut, Jess brings experience from companies such as Gerber Scientific, DK Advertising, and Vibrant Health.