Her interest in dual language immersion stems from her work with immigrant families as well as a common misunderstanding that dual language households cause communication delays in children.
Dr Bekele earned her medical doctorate as well as a Master’s in Public Health with a concentration in International Health from Boston University. She did her medical training at Columbia University Medical Center.
Dr. Hartsock is the President and co-founder of Phone2Action, a venture-backed, award-winning civic technology startup based in Washington, D.C. Prior to founding Phone2Action she was a member of the executive cabinet of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, serving as the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation and later as the Chief of Staff of the City Administration. Before this position, Dr. Hartsock was DC Public Schools Deputy Chief for Teaching and Learning. In that role she led key reforms, including the expansion of online learning, International Baccalaureate and Dual Language programs, the implementation of a comprehensive “out of school time” program that served students after-school, on weekends and in the summer, and the implementation of a credit recovery program for students at risk of dropping out that helped improve DC’s historically low graduation rates. Dr. Hartsock came to that position after working in DC Government as a federal project administrator, and school principal. She serves on the Board of Industry Leaders of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). A native of Chile, she holds a Doctorate in Policy Studies and Administration from The George Washington University.
Betsy C. Romero
Jimell Sanders (President)
Jimell is a Senior Communications Analyst at The Eagle Group and serves on various community organizations and boards of local non profits. Most of her professional career has been spent in the public and not for profit sector. Her deep connection with the grassroots and her work in the community give DC Immersion valuable knowledge, network and perspective on the needs of DC residents. She served on the Graduation Requirements Taskforce of the DC State Board of Education and holds a degree in Anthropology from Emory University and a Master in Business Administration from Ashford University.
Maria Tukeva is the Principal of Columbia Heights Educational Campus DCPS. After earning a degree in Spanish literature and journalism at Pennsylvania State University, Tukeva received a master’s degree in linguistics and bilingual education at Georgetown University. She worked as an educational specialist developing curricula for dropout prevention programs targeting Hispanics nationwide and started her own alternative high school. Modeled after a successful alternative school that mainly served black students in Philadelphia, in 1981 Tukeva launched the Multicultural Career Intern Program which became part of the D.C. school system in 1989. The program was one of the constituents of today’s Columbia Heights Educational Campus.
Blakeney A. Vásquez
Blakeney A. Vásquez is a proud Dual Language parent of two D.C. Public Schools students and a multi-cultural enthusiast. She is also a Foreign Affairs Officer, and the regional Cultural Coordinator at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. As Cultural Coordinator for the Western Hemisphere, she advocates for people to people exchanges that support U.S. foreign policy throughout the region. Since 2004, Blakeney has managed social inclusion initiatives including outreach to Afro-Latino and Indigenous communities through educational exchange. She has also worked briefly at the Foreign Service Institute. Prior to joining the State Department, she held a short-term assignment at the Inter-American Development Bank – Region III Social Programs Division. Blakeney began her career at Merck & Co., Inc., as a Professional Representative in 2000. She received her MA in Latin American Studies from the University of California Los Angeles, and conducted graduate research on racial and cultural identity in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Brazil. Blakeney graduated from the Honors College at Hampton University with a BS in Marketing. She is 2010 graduate of the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP), and a Senior Fellow and 2013 graduate of the Excellence in Government (EIG) Fellows Program.
Past Board Members
Martha G. Abbott
Marty Abbott began her career in Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) where she was a language teacher, foreign language coordinator, and Director of High School Instruction. She has served on national committees to develop student standards, beginning teacher standards, and performance assessments in world languages. Working at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL), Marty served as President (2003-2004), Director of Education (2004-2011), and Executive Director (2011-2018). Under her leadership, ACTFL created the Center for Assessment, Research and Development and launched the public awareness campaign, Lead with Languages. She recently served as a commissioner for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences national report America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education in the 21 st Century. In 2016, Marty was appointed by President Obama to serve a four-year term on the National Security Education Board, and in 2018, she was appointed to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, where she is currently serving a four-year term until 2022. Marty’s education consists of a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Latin from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s Degree in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University.
Dr. Rivers has more than 25 years’ experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, with publications in second and third language acquisition research, proficiency assessment, program evaluation, and language policy development and advocacy. He is the immediate past and founding Chair of ASTM Technical Committee F43, Language Services and Products and chairs the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 232, Education and Learning Services. He serves as a member of the America’s Languages Working Group of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is an honorary member of the Association of Language Companies. Dr. Rivers was one of the founding members of the Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL) at the University of Maryland and has served as a staff member and the Assistant Director of the National Foreign Language Center (NFLC) at the University. During his career, Dr. Rivers has also served as Chef Scientist at Integrated Training Solutions, Inc.; taught Russian, language policy, and second language acquisition at the University of Maryland; and worked as a freelance interpreter and translator His education consists of a PhD in Russian from Bryn Mawr College and a MA, BA, and BS in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.