The Catholic University of America

Center for Global Education Staff

Ella SweigertAssociate Provost for International Affairs
Mario Ortiz


As the senior international affairs officer at CUA, Dr. Ortiz provides leadership in all aspects of the university’s initiatives on internationalization, including the development of global partnerships and overseeing the Center for Global Education’s three divisions: Education Abroad, the Intensive English Program, and International Student and Scholar Services . A member of the North American Academy of Spanish Language, Dr. Mario Ortiz received his Ph.D. in Hispanic Literature from Indiana University, where he also completed all the doctoral coursework in musicology. He has a Master's degree in music history from the University of Houston, and a B.A. in music and sociology from Grinnell College. In his role as an Associate Professor of Spanish, his research and teaching focus on Latin American colonial and postcolonial studies; interdisciplinary studies between literature and music; Mexican, Central American, and Latino literatures and cultures; globalization and immigration; and popular music of the Hispanic world. Throughout his career, Dr. Ortiz has been actively involved in international education as a researcher, lecturer, teacher, advisor, director of education abroad programs, and working with international students.

  • Assistant Director of Global Initiatives Erin Niday
    Erin Niday 

    Erin Niday is the Assistant Director of Global Initiatives. She began work at The Catholic University of America in 2016. Erin collaborates with the Associate Provost for International Affairs to develop and maintain the University’s portfolio of academic exchanges. She partners with the Office of International Student Scholar Services and the Office of Education Abroad on inbound exchange student initiatives.  Erin also provides DC-based coordination for all operational processes at the CUA-ACU Rome Center, including financial management and record maintenance for all staff, policies, and protocols. Erin holds a B.A. degree in Italian and International Studies from The Ohio State University, with international education experience in Belo Horizonte, Brazil and Siena, Italy. She enjoys cooking, traveling, and cheering on Liverpool FC.

     

    Haruka FesiAdministrative Assistant 

    Haruka Fesi

     

    Haruka Fesi serves as an Administrative Assistant in the Center for Global Education.  She assists the Associate Provost in budget and resource management and supports the daily operations of CGE. Haruka is originally from Yokohama, Japan and graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychological Studies from Temple University. Because she was once an international student in the United States, she is passionate about international education and has experiences working as an International Student Advisor and a Designated School Official. She is excited to be a part of CGE! 

     

    Education Abroad Staff

    Grace Schneider

    Director, Education Abroad
    Grace Schneider

    Grace Schneider became the Acting Director of Education Abroad in February of 2014. She provides university-wide leadership in education abroad and manages the Education Abroad section (CUAbroad) of the Center for Global Education at the Catholic University of America. She also assists and advises students in their preparations for education abroad. Originally from Massachusetts, Grace chose to study abroad in Nantes, France during her junior year of college. Upon returning to the United States, she knew she wanted to share her experiences with others. Thus, after earning her Bachelors of Arts in French and Masters of Science in Education at the University of Rochester, she started work with CET Academic Programs, an education abroad company in Washington, DC. She has also worked at the Fund for Education Abroad, providing education abroad scholarships for underrepresented students. Grace enjoys reading, traveling, fencing and learning new languages. In addition to France, she has also spent time in India, England and Italy. She can speak French and some Spanish.

     

    Robert Dowden

    Advisor, Education Abroad 
    Robert Dowden

    Robert Dowden came to The Catholic University of America to serve as an education abroad advisor in the Center for Global Education in July, 2014. He provides program management and acts as the primary advisor to students in matters regarding education abroad. Robert is originally from Connecticut, having also lived in North Carolina and Ohio. He participated in a spring break study abroad program in France and a summer abroad in Costa Rica while attending Gardner-Webb University as an undergraduate majoring in English Composition. Robert also lived and worked in Bogotá, Colombia as an ESL teacher before eventually pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Kent State University. Being new to DC, Robert is interested in finding different hobbies to become involved in and welcomes suggestions.

     

    Intensive English Program Staff

    Director, Intensive English Program
     

    Founder, in 1983, of CUA’s Intensive English Program, Dr. Anca Nemoianu has overseen its expansion and development ever since, having trained over the years thousands of ESL students—undergraduates and graduates, lay and religious-- from all over the world.  A linguist by training, with a doctoral degree from the University of California Berkeley, and expertise in first and second language acquisition and development, Dr. Nemoianu is the author of numerous scholarly and pedagogical publications and presentations, in the U.S. and abroad, ranging from child language acquisition, pragmatics and lexical development, to reading and writing in diverse settings and ESL curricular development.  She has taught graduate and undergraduate linguistics courses, Japanese literature and film, as well as writing to native and non-native English speakers, in traditional and adult education.  The class that taught her much over the years is Cultures in Contact, where international students from various cultures bring their own cultural traditions to the understanding of American literary texts (from Emily Dickinson to Eudora Welty), and in this discovery process enrich their knowledge of American culture.

     

    Administrative Assistant and Teaching Fellow, Intensive English Program 

    Jessica Schnepp

    Jessica Schnepp holds degrees in English from the University of Dallas and SUNY Stony Brook and is currently a PhD candidate in Catholic University's English department where she specializes in twentieth century American and British literature, religion and literature, and rhetoric and writing pedagogy. At Catholic, she has taught first-year and advanced writing courses, served as Assistant Director of the English department Writing Program in 2015-2016, and has been working in the Intensive English Program as an administrative assistant and instructor since Fall 2017. She has 10+ years of experience teaching English literature, writing, standardized test preparation, and public speaking to elementary, high school, and college students of various nationalities and backgrounds. She has lived in Italy and Switzerland and continues to travel internationally whenever possible..
     
     

    International Student and Scholar Services Staff

    Gudrun Kendon

    Director, International Student and Scholar Services
    Gudrun Kendon


    Gudrun Kendon is the Director of International Student and Scholar Services at the Center of Global Education. She joined ISSS in January of 2007 after having worked for five years in the Cultural Division of the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C. She is committed to the field of international education and has worked advising international students since 1989 primarily in the Washington, D.C. area. She holds a Master's degree in Intercultural Management from the School of International Training located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Born in England, she has traveled extensively throughout Europe, visited New Caledonia, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Egypt, Israel, Guatemala, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and has lived in Australia, Spain and The Netherlands. She finds working with international students extremely rewarding and feels honored to be able to meet and learn about people from all over the world!

     Advisor, International Student and Scholar Services

    Laura Simkiss 

    Laura Simkiss is the International Scholar and Student Advisor in ISSS. Laura began her life as a global nomad at the age of 16, when she went to Belgium as an exchange student, and ended up staying there for 4 years. After completing her Bachelor's degree in International Studies at the University of South Florida, she spent 9 years advising international students at Emory and Georgia State University where she earned her Master's degree in French Literature. She joined ISSS in July of this year after spending the last 8 years living in Mexico, India and Brazil, where her three children have been international students and she interned at the EducationUSA office in São Paulo. 
     
    Laura has always loved learning about other cultures through her students and scholars. She admires the academic, professional, physical and emotional journey taken by international students, scholars and employees. She appreciates the immense enrichment they bring to The Catholic University of America and to the United States. She is honored to work with the change makers of the world!
     

    Administrative Assistant 

     

    Amrine Obermueller is the Administrative Assistant for ISSS. She joined ISSS in January 2018, and has been working with international students at different universities since 2011. She holds a Master’s degree in International Education from the school of International Training located in Brattleboro, Vermont and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Studies from the University of Kansas. Originally born and raised in Kansas, she has also lived in Florida, Vermont, Rhode Island, and now D.C. She has studied abroad in Spain, Mexico and Turkey, and has traveled and spent time in over 30 countries. She loves learning about other cultures and languages and welcomes all students to stop by and say hello!