Speaker Biographies

Speakers and Panelists Biographies

Below, please find the biographies for the Speakers and Panelists for the IGI Career Day.

Levi Armlovich (J.D. 2014, Law School) has been a stay-at-home dad since the covid lockdown began. Before that, he was an immigration attorney in San Francisco. Levi concurrently pursued a Master of Arts in European Union Studies (MAEUS) from the European Union Center and a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from the Law School at the University of Illinois, finishing both degrees in 2014. While at the University of Illinois, Levi was a FLAS fellow, studying Turkish and completing an immersion language study program with TÖMER in Izmir, Turkey. He also interned at the State of Illinois’s European Trade Office in Brussels during his time in the MAEUS program. Levi’s thesis research involved analysis of the constitutional changes Turkey made as part of its E.U. accession process. Before coming to the University of Illinois, Levi received his bachelors degree in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in New Mexico.

Moustafa Ayad (M.S. 2009, Information Science) is Deputy Director of International Programming, Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) London and has been Program Director at Lapis Communications Technical Advisor and Communications Specialist for United Nations Development Programme in Yemen and Senior Media Development Advisor, IREX in Iraq. He graduated from UIUC with a Master of Science in Information Science and Community Informatics and University of Southern Illinois with Bachelor of Science in Journalism. He has studied Arabic and his interests are in terrorism/extremism, monitoring and tracking of extremist groups online. His advice to students is: Write and create your own job.

Laura Fyfe (Ph.D. 2006, Interdisciplinary French Studies) is Language Training Supervisor for African, Baltic, Nordic and Greek Languages at FSI at the US State Department. Prior to joining the US Department of State in 2009, she was Term Assistant Professor of French at George Mason University from 2003 to 2009. While at GMU she led study abroad trips to Guadeloupe, Senegal, Monaco, Morocco, and Paris. At the University of Illinois, Fyfe studied French, Spanish, and Wolof, receiving FLAS fellowships to study Wolof, and earned a graduate minor from the Center for African Studies (CAS). Currently, Fyfe supervises the full-time instruction of African, Baltic, Greek and Nordic languages to Diplomats headed abroad and applies best practices and research-based findings of language instruction for adults. She has developed a comprehensive curriculum for the French program at FSI and oversaw the completion of the Swahili curriculum. Fyfe believes that it is “essential for students to get experience in whatever field they are planning to pursue. Get an internship. Conduct an informational interview of people holding positions you believe you would like to hold. See what they recommend for things to get under your belt before you pursue that career. This information will help motivate you in your studies so that you know what the end-game is and why you are studying what you are.”

Adam Heinz (M.A. 2012, European Union Studies), is the Director of Business Development North America at Gaudlitz Inc., a German medical manufacturing company. Currently based in the Detroit area, Adam previously worked in sales in Germany for four years. Adam received a master’s degree in European Union Studies and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Illinois. While at Illinois, Adam studied Spanish, Portuguese, and German, and he was a FLAS fellow through the EU Center, in addition to working as a EUC Graduate Assistant. His professional interests are in international business development. 

Elana Jakel (Ph.D. 2014, History) is Program Manager of the Initiative for the Study of the Ukrainian Jewry at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014 with a dissertation entitled, “‘Ukraine without Jews’? Nationality and Belonging in Soviet Ukraine, 1943-1948.” She received a U.S. Student Fulbright Grant and the International Research and Exchanges Board’s (IREX) Individual Advanced Research Opportunities Program to conduct dissertation research in Ukraine and Russia, respectively. Among other fellowships, she received multiple FLAS awards for the study of both Russian and Yiddish, and also studied Ukrainian. While at the University of Illinois, Jakel was associated with the Program in Jewish Culture & Society as well as the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center; she worked as a Graduate Outreach Assistant at REEEC as well. Her research interests include Russian and Soviet history, European Jewish History, the Holocaust, and comparative genocide studies. She has presented widely at academic conferences and workshops. In her work at the USHMM, she has organized programs on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union for both undergraduate and graduate students, and now is overseeing a five-year project to produce a history of Ukrainian Jewry in the twentieth century as well as an accompanying digital tool for audiences in both Ukraine and North America.

Noriyasu Li (Ph.D. 2017, Linguistics) is the Program Manager, Alexa International, Amazon. Prior to his current position, he served as the Manager of Language Engineering for Alexa AI-Natural Understanding at Amazon and led the Japanese Alexa team in grammar writing, localization, and eliminating bugs by providing linguistic and language support and analyses. Dr. Li holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Pittsburgh, a M.A. in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, a B.A. in History and Japanese from the University of Alaska Anchorage. He also studied Japanese and Korean and studied abroad at the Hokkaido University of Education. His research addresses questions of formal language universals and whether such abstract universals remain available to L2 learners. His research have focused on the cross-disciplinary collaboration in linguistics and the links between theory and applied work. During his studies, he held the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, Japanese Room Committee Nationality Rooms Scholarship, FLAS Fellowship, Robert T. Henderson Endowment Fund Award, and Ralph Tyler Award (Best Japanese T.A.).

Khalida Malik (Ph.D. 1993, Sociology) is a retired program officer with the United Nations (UN) World Food Program (1995-2016) and is currently working as a consultant and volunteer. Dr. Malik received an MA in political science from the University of Peshawar and worked as a research specialist for the Institute of Development Studies at Agriculture University, Peshawar, Pakistan (1984-1994). She earned a PhD in Sociology with a specialization in rural sociology and a minor in Gender Relations in International Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). While at Illinois, Malik was a graduate scholar in the Department of Sociology and a Thomas Jefferson Fellow (1988-1993). Her professional goal was to save lives by providing humanitarian assistance to populations affected by natural disasters and other emergencies, as well as assisting in early recovery for building assets and livelihoods of vulnerable communities. Her mission also included working with partners for women's empowerment and social and economic equality through supporting girls' education; and engaging and promoting women's participation in food assistance for assets (FFA) activities. Dr. Malik speaks English, Urdu, and Pushto. As advice to students working on degrees in language, area, and thematic studies, Malik highlights that the ability to conduct research/assessments, monitoring, and evaluation are critical areas which facilitate professional career development.

Nellie Manis (M.A. 2013, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies) is the Program Manager for the Critical Language Scholarship Program at American Councils for International Education. She earned an M.A. in REEES with a minor in EU studies for her thesis, “Educational Opportunities for Physically Handicapped Students in Post-Soviet Russia: The Role of the Judicial System.” She studied French, Russian, and Ukrainian. Manis studied abroad in Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, and St. Petersburg and earned numerous awards for language study, including a Critical Language Scholarship, a Fulbright, the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace at Middlebury College, and FLAS fellowships for Russian and Ukrainian. At Illinois, Manis worked as a REEES T.A. and at the library as an indexer for the American Bibliography for Slavic and European Studies (ABSEES). At American Councils, she worked as the Program Officer for the National Language Initiative for Youth, the Program Officer and then Senior Program Officer for Russian and Persian for CLS before being the CLS Program Manager. She is happy to talk with graduate students about interviewing skills, entering the nonprofit job market, resume and cover letter writing, networking, mentorship, negotiating job offers, work/life balance, academic study versus entering the job market, the CLS program, avenues for pursuing Russian language study abroad, and other topics.

Mike Nelson (M.A. 2014, European Union Studies) is the Assistant Director of International Constituent Engagement in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this role, he helps connect Illinois alumni all over the world with their alma mater through events, communications, networking, and clubs, as well as supporting other fundraising and advancement efforts. Previously, Mike worked in several other internationally-themed offices at Illinois, including a graduate assistantship at the European Union Center and several years in study abroad. He has studied German and Spanish and taken introductory courses in several other languages. After graduation in 2014, he was awarded the Kungstenen Scholarship to attend Stockholm University for two years and earned a Master’s degree in international and comparative education. He has also completed internships in Belgium and Finland.

Matt Rosenstein (Ph.D. 2002, Slavic Languages & Literatures) is Director of Global Education and Training (GET) at the University of Illinois, where he oversees GET, the Shanghai Office, and the Intensive English Institute. With nearly 20 years of professional experience in international education, his work has featured a diverse set of activities including leadership on institutional grants, international collaborations, faculty development, research cooperation, strategic curriculum development, academic advising, teaching, facilitating outbound and inbound student mobility, public outreach programming, and more. Rosenstein earned a Ph.D. in Russian literature with a minor in comparative literature with a dissertation on the late/post-Soviet author, Ludmila Petrushevskaia. He has also published on topics in EU studies, transatlantic relations, international security. During his studies he held FLAS fellowships through REEEC, studied abroad in Russia, and worked as a REEEC outreach graduate assistant. Rosenstein then went on to serve as Associate Director of ACDIS and then Senior Associate Director of the EUC before becoming Director of GET. His recent areas of focus include internationalization in higher education promoting international exchanges, partnerships, and interdisciplinary collaboration in research, teaching, public engagement; leadership on institutional grants, sponsored projects and self-supporting global training programs. “Students in area studies and foreign languages develop academic and intercultural proficiencies and skills that are sought after by employers, and therefore marketable, in a variety of professional sectors.”

Janelle Weatherford (M.A. 1990, Russian Language and Literature) is the Executive Director of the Office of Foundation Relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has served in the Office of Foundation Relations since the fall of 2007 and oversees foundation strategy for the university in collaboration with her team, campus leaders, and colleagues in the colleges and units. From 2003 to 2007, Weatherford was Associate Director of the European Union Center where she managed and wrote grants; coordinated the development of courses, research projects, conferences, and workshops; and, supervised the Center’s staff. Her previous academic studies in Russian and East European cultures and history, and language studies in Russian, German, Czech, and French were key assets in her role at the European Union Center. In 1990–91, Weatherford spent eight months living with host families in Moscow and St. Petersburg, a period of enormous social and political change in Russia. Prior to beginning her professional career at Illinois, Weatherford worked for almost ten years as an instructional designer and project manager in the field of computer-assisted training and education. She began her academic career as an Adjunct Lecturer of Russian at California State University, Fresno. Originally from California, she earned a B.A. in Russian from California State University Fresno (1987), an M.A. in Russian Language and Literature from the University of Arizona (1990), and completed coursework towards a Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1995).