Nora Amavisca Reyes
Nora Amavisca Reyes was born in Roll, Arizona, the youngest of seven children and the only one born in the United States after her family immigrated from Mexico. She is an alumnus of Arizona State University, completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education, a Master of Education degree in Multicultural/Bilingual Education, and a Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in bilingual education. Dr. Reyes began her professional experience as a bilingual second grade teacher in South Phoenix then shifted her focus to teacher education when she was hired at Mesa Community College as residential Education Faculty. She has consistently been involved in leadership roles, including Education Studies Department Department Chair, Chair of MCC’s Department Chair Association, Education Instructional Council and Articulation Task Force Chair, Guanajuato and Xalapa Study Abroad Director, Teachers of Language Learners Learning Community (TL3C) Grant Project Administrator, Acting Dean of Innovative Learning and Academic Affairs, and currently Vice Provost for the Red Mountain Campus. Committed to education and community service, she has also participated in numerous education and community advisory boards and committees, including the ASU Polytechnic Campus Community Board, Arizona Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (AZTESOL) Board Member, East Valley Partnership Education Committee, Phoenix East Valley Think Tank, Mesa Latino Advisory Committee, ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Advisory Board, and Arizona Academic Standards Development Committee.
First Vice President
Angel Steadman is a doctoral candidate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) at the University of Arizona and a long-time ESL/EFL teacher and teacher educator. She has taught English in a variety of educational and nonprofit settings in the US and Costa Rica and has worked closely with English language teacher education programs throughout Latin America and East Asia. Her research interests include identity construction in language learners and teachers, teacher agency in response to policy change, online language teacher education and development, and discourse analysis in educational settings.
Second Vice President
Dr. Akiva Rubinstein
Dr. Rubinstein is the proud father of five and a linguist by heart. He is fluent in ten languages, English being the last one! He holds degrees in Psychology and Education. His Bachelor’s in Psychology is from the University of Phoenix, his Master’s of Arts in Forensic Psychology is from Argosy University, and his Doctorate in Education is from Argosy University as well. He is a proud supporter of AZTESOL for many reasons, the most important of which is that AZTESOL is an institution with principles, and its leadership lives up to the tenets that the organization preaches.
Immediate Past President
Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick served as AZTESOL’s president most recently from 2016-2017. She has a multi-faceted career: elementary ESL teacher, Reading department chair and AVID site leader in a middle school, ESL, storytelling, and Education instructor at the Maricopa Community Colleges, and the leader of the Early Learning and Development Center at Grand Canyon University. She now leads Grand Canyon University College of Education’s promotional and outreach activities with its various educational partners. She has a passion for second language learners and promotes the Teaching of English as a second language as well as culturally inclusive teaching through active involvement with TESOL. She also strives to develop new teachers with Educators Rising. Weekends will find Marjaneh and her husband serving in their local Baha’i community, spending time with their grown children (a son and two daughters), going to the movies and reading.
Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Megan became engaged in language learning following a study abroad program when she was fifteen. She started her career as a K-12 ESL teacher. In 2007, Megan left the classroom and became fully immersed in professional development. She served as SEI trainer, academic coach, and college instructor to pre-service and in-service teachers. Recently, she was project director to a federal grant activating dual language immersion programs in Arizona. Currently, Megan is the faculty instructional designer at Mesa Community College. She is charged with professional development and programming relative to teaching and learning for faculty and staff. Megan is also a doctoral candidate engaging with research in the field of faculty cultural introspection and its relationship to culturally responsive teaching.
Sara Haghighi earned her M.S. in Education with a concentration in TESOL from California State University, Fullerton. She started her teaching journey by teaching EFL in Iran and Turkey. Sara is currently settled in Arizona and serves as the supervisor of English Language Training for refugees in Maricopa County through Friendly House. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Estrella Mountain Community College teaching ESL.
Open (see Board Vacancies page)
Public Relations Chair
Katy Long is an Assistant Professor of Education at Grand Canyon University. She teaches elementary methods and ESL courses and serves as GCU’s Educators Rising Faculty Advisor. She has taught middle school Spanish in Iowa and 6th grade to English Language Learners in Phoenix, AZ. Katy is currently working on her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership with an Emphasis in K-12 Education. Her study will be on the experiences of K-8 teachers of refugee students.
Paul currently teaches all levels of ESL reading and writing at Phoenix College. Prior to that, he taught at Hunter College in Manhattan, Long Island University in Brooklyn, and Arizona State University in Tempe. He served as the AZTESOL newsletter editor before launching the organization’s new website four years ago.
Membership Chair / Database Manager
Dianna is the Executive Director of The Literacy Center in Flagstaff. She is proud to lead an organization that offers vital adult education services, ensuring that all members of the community have access to education, regardless of circumstance. Dianna has also taught English at the college and secondary level and believes there is nothing better than seeing teens fall in love with literature!
Northern Area Representative
Shi Chen is a Ph.D. student in Applied Linguistics at Northern Arizona University. She has taught English, Chinese, and is a translator and interpreter. Her current research interests revolve around second language speaking, including assessment, interactional competence and speech perception. Shi Chen received her B.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Second Language from Wuhan Institute of Technology (China) and her M.A. in TESOL from University of Southern California.
Central Area Representative
Amanda Hilliard has served on the board as Central Area Representative since 2014. She holds an MA in TEFL/TESL and a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham, England. Currently, she works as an English Instructor in the Global Launch Program at Arizona State University.
Southeastern Area Representative
Tory Hunziker is originally from upstate New York and has lived in Tucson since 2009. She teaches and does instructional design at CESL at the University of Arizona. Her areas of interest include content-based instruction and curriculum development. In her role as the southeast regional representative, she organizes an annual half-day conference in the Tucson area. Contact Tory if you have any questions or suggestions for Tucson-area ESL events.
Southwestern Area Representative
Alma M. Sándigo, Ed.D. teaches and mentors undergraduate and graduate students in elementary and bilingual/English as a second language education at Northern Arizona University-Yuma Branch Campus, a Hispanic Serving Institution. She supports schools in improving the educational experiences for emerging bilingual students through transformational school culture and best instructional practices. Her main focus of study relates to the acquisition of academic language in k-20. Alma has also served her Yuma community as a first and second grade dual language and mainstream teacher, literacy instructional coach and Structured English Immersion district coordinator. Her personal experience as a first generation immigrant and her passion for education has influenced her ways of thinking and her interest on social justice for culturally and linguistically diverse students.
Scholarships, Grants & Awards Chair
Dr. Ardisana is a Clinical Professor and teacher educator with the NAU Yuma Branch Campus teaching elementary methods courses and coordinating field experiences for practicum students and student teachers. She taught elementary EL students for 18 years prior to her work teaching teachers at the university level. She has been active in the Yuma educational community for thirty-four years. As an ESL- endorsed educator, Vicki most enjoys helping teachers to help their students to improve their academic language through mathematics and science strategies, as well as hands-on and problem based learning.
Sociopolitical Concerns Chair
Jennifer’s interest in teaching English began in 1998 when she first volunteered to tutor a student from Vietnam. Since then, she has taught English as a foreign language in Mauritania with the Peace Corps, adult English as a second language in Kansas City, English language arts in Liberia, and first-year composition in Arizona. She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Arizona, and her research interests include language policy, second language writing, and genre studies.
Interest Section Coordinator
Dr. Hussein is a residential faculty member in the English Department at Mesa Community College, where he teaches English and English as a Second Language. In addition to teaching, he has served as Coordinator of the English Language Program and a faculty advisor to ESL students. He is Chair of the district’s Institutional Review Board. Lutfi is a member of several professional organizations including TESOL International Association, Linguistic Society of America, and the American Dialect Society. Additionally, he has served on the planning committees of several conferences. A native of Jordan, he received his BA in English from Yarmouk University and his MA and PhD in Linguistics/Rhetoric from Arizona State University.
Rules and Resolutions Chair
Ali Yaylali is a PhD student in Language, Reading, and Culture at the University of Arizona. Before starting this program, he taught ESL and Turkish in the US for eight years. His current interests lie in the use of corpora and digital tools for second language teaching and learning and applied linguistics research on classroom discourses and newspaper language. He received his MA in TESL from Northern Arizona University and BA in TEFL from Bogazici University in Turkey.
Member at Large
Nancy T. Blitz
Nancy Blitz has worked full time as a Professor of ESL at Arizona Western College since 1999, but she began teaching there part-time in the 1980s. From 1997-1999, she was a full-time instructor of Bilingual/Multicultural Education/ESL at NAU’s Yuma Branch Campus. She has continued as a part-time instructor in that program since 1999. She holds a BA in German from the University of Arizona and an MA in TESL from NAU Flagstaff. Nancy served two terms as President of AZTESOL in the early 2000s and currently serves as a Member at Large. She spent a year in southern Germany as a foreign exchange student in high school and returned to teach at Max Planck Gymnasium in Gelsenkirchen-Buer after her graduation from college. Her interests include enjoying her children and grandchildren, traveling, reading, and assisting her ESL students to achieve their goals, whatever they may be.
Member at Large