To ensure all children’s right to learn to read by providing educators with the means to teach early literacy.
Mary McKenna, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
Director of Operations
Jacob Bronstein, Director of Word Scientists, Technology and Communication at NEST USA, is an entrepreneur by trade. Jacob spent the past 12 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.
VP of Global Impact
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.
Director Curriculum & Professional Development
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.
Content Producer, Director and Illustrator
George Carrara, Content Director at Nest USA, has over ten years of experience in creating content in various fields.
Fueled by his lifelong passion in art, George has pursued many avenues of creativity including: humanitarian documentaries, film productions, television broadcasts, and children’s books. Most notably George has edited and directed content for ESPN, ABC, and the Land of Letters where he has created engaging content for national and international broadcast.
Chiara Davis Fuller
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.
Joyce Catsimpiris has been with NEST since January of 2016, helping to write and adapt children’s books and create lesson guides to help instructors use them effectively in their classrooms. She has also traveled to Kathmandu to deliver professional development trainings to NEST’s partner schools. Joyce holds an M.A. in International Educational Development from the Teachers College of Columbia University, with a concentration in Language, Literacy, and Culture. During her studies, she specialized in multilingual education and culturally relevant pedagogy, and she has channeled these passions into coordinating translations of NEST’s books into some of Nepal’s many non-dominant languages.
After graduating from Amherst College, Joyce began her career in education by spending three years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia, teaching English and developing the capacity of rural secondary school teachers as well as university professors. This experience introduced her to the challenges that schools and teachers face in developing countries, and she is happy to be working with NEST in solving similar issues in Nepal.
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.
Board of Advisors
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).
Vice President, Wealth Managment – 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.
Judith McConnell-Farmer, PH.D.
Professor Washburn University
Judith McConnell-Farmer is Professor of Education in the School of Arts and Sciences at Washburn University, Topeka, KS. She has served as Chair of the Department of Education, Early Childhood Education Program.
Judith has extensive experience with eduction in an international context. Since 2008 she has been the Coordinator of The Oxford Round Table at Harris Manchester College, Oxford (England) University. The Round Table brings together academics and professionals from the USA and the UK. The topics have included childhood iteracy, early childhood education and child and adolescent psychology. She supervises a Washburn University program in Jamica and has herself volunteered in India and Nepal.
Marcia Okun, Ph.D.
University College London – Author
Marcia is currently a history and social science teacher at Newton South HS, Newton,Mass. She has extensive experience with education overseas having graduated with a Ph. D from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London and has studied at Freiburg im Breisgau, W. Germany. Her publications include co-writing Understanding Diversity, which addresses the issue of diversity in many domains including education.
Most significantly, Marcia has volunteered for extensive periods of time in the schools that NESTUSA works with in Kathmandu, Nepal. In addition to working with individual NESTUSA sponsored schools and teachers, Marcia also facilitated several teacher training workshops for both public and private schools. More recently she has facilitated observational and internship experiences for administrators from LMV school at Newton South High School.
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).