U.S.-based Staff

Students, parents, faculty, and advisors can rely on the Alliance for Global Education to provide insightful guidance and thorough support services throughout their experience. Before departure, students may contact our Program Advisor with any questions or concerns. Once students arrive overseas, our Resident Directors and staff lead orientation programs and are available to students at all times for academic and personal support and practical advice. They work to enhance students' study abroad experience through planned cultural activities, lectures, field study trips, and social events.


Shannon Cates

Vice President for Program Management and Development

As Vice President for Program Management and Development, Shannon is responsible for the leadership and direction of IFSA-Butler and Alliance operations worldwide. Shannon’s international interests are rooted in her childhood travels as part of a military family. An active participant in the field of international education since 1993, she contributed to NAFSA’s Guide to Education Abroad for Advisors and Administrators and ACE/CIGE’s International Briefs for Higher Education Leaders. She has served as an application reader for the National Security Education Program David L. Boren Scholarships and the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship Program. Shannon earned her B.A. in literature from Antioch College and was a post-graduate Research Scholar at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. Her research interests include youth culture and virtual communities.


Jonathan Ferguson

Assistant Vice President of Program Management and Development

As Assistant Vice President of Program Management and Development, Jonathan is responsible for managing IFSA-Butler and Alliance programs in the Middle East and Asia and expanding the organization’s program portfolio, while maintaining high standards of programmatic excellence and operational efficiency. He has more than a decade of experience in higher education administration and study abroad, including academic programming, operations, program development, marketing and recruitment. Jonathan has traveled extensively throughout Asia and the Middle East and was a 2008 David L. Boren Fellow at the East-West Language Institute in New Delhi. He holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and has a particular interest in urban development in emerging markets.


Teresa Bellono

Assistant Director of Program Management and Development

As Assistant Director, Teresa directly supports Alliance program management in China and liaises with U.S. partner institutions to develop custom and collaborative programs throughout Asia and the Middle East. She previously served in an outreach capacity promoting Alliance programs through social media, campus relations, and multi-faceted marketing initiatives as well as facilitating student blogger and alumni ambassador programs. Teresa joined the organization in 2010 while pursuing her M.A. in international education from American University. Her passion for cross-cultural exchange stems from her own year abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France, an integral part of her B.A. in French and international studies from Indiana University. Most recently, Teresa served as conference co-chair for the 2015 Lessons From Abroad Student Returnee Conference held in Washington, DC.


Shawn Gardner

Assistant Director of Program Management and Development

Shawn’s passion for study abroad comes from 15 years of living and working abroad in Portugal, Mozambique, South Africa and Central Asia. Shawn is experienced in the joys of language learning, the challenges of foreign bureaucratic systems and the art of cross-cultural communication. Prior to joining IFSA-Butler, he managed non-profits in the U.S. and abroad, and earned his M.B.A. with a concentration in international development from Hope International University. Now, as Assistant Director, he works closely with on-site staff and partners to support IFSA-Butler’s program growth and excellence in India and the Middle East. Shawn is dedicated to our mission to shape citizens who value and embrace cultural diversity and continually hosts international students in his own home in Indianapolis.


Kerry Springer

Program Advisor

A Wisconsin native, Kerry Springer has travelled and lived all over Asia, including studying abroad in Varanasi, teaching in Chennai, and carrying out fieldwork research in Pondicherry. Kerry holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a master’s degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. A foreign language enthusiast, she has both strong cross-cultural communication skills and first-hand insight into foreign educational systems, homestays, and student life abroad. Kerry draws on her own experiences in India to help IFSA-Butler and Alliance students make the most out of their endeavors across the Middle East and Asia.

Other Administration

For more information on the Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University, visit www.ifsa-butler.org.

Opal Leeman Bartzis, Ed.D.

Vice President of Academic Affairs

Opal serves as Vice President of Academic Affairs, overseeing academic standards, services and resources for IFSA-Butler and Alliance programs. She has been with the organization for 18 years in a variety of positions, including resident director, field director, and director of custom and collaborative programs. Opal earned her doctoral degree in higher education at Ball State University, where her research focused on the impact of student teaching abroad, and she holds an Honors B.A. in German and an M.A. in history from Butler University. She completed a short-term study program in Russia and Lithuania and an academic year in Switzerland. Opal is the chair of AACRAO’s national study abroad committee, a past regional chair of NAFSA and international education leadership knowledge community representative, and a member of the Forum on Education Abroad committee on curricular development and academic design.


Eryn Espin-Kudzinski

Director of Health, Safety, and Security

As Director for Health, Safety and Security, Eryn Espín-Kudzinski monitors world events in the regions where IFSA-Butler operates Alliance programs and leads the Crisis Management Team when major incidents arise involving Alliance students. Eryn began working at IFSA-Butler in 2004 as an academic affairs coordinator, then moved into program advising for Latin America and Spain. Since 2011, she has worked directly with safety and security issues within study abroad. Eryn has lived abroad in Ecuador teaching English, worked on-site with IFSA-Butler in Costa Rica, and traveled extensively throughout Latin America. Eryn graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies and completed a master’s degree in history from Butler University in 2009.


Becki Niccum

Student Accounts Supervisor

As Student Accounts Supervisor, Becki coordinates invoicing procedure between families, home schools, and financial aid offices. Her primary responsibility is to help students and their families navigate the invoicing and payment options and to coordinate the transfer of funds between institutions. She also maintains student account records for students studying abroad on IFSA-Butler and Alliance programs. Becki has worked in student accounts for the past 17 years and holds a B.S. in accounting.

Rhonda Hinkle

Assistant Director for Academic Records

Upon return from your Alliance program, Assistant Director for Academic Records Rhonda Hinkle processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. Rhonda completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Evansville and received her master's degree from Bowling Green State University. She also has taken doctoral courses at Ball State University.


Abby Miller

Academic Records Coordinator

Upon return from your Alliance program in China, Academic Records Coordinator Abby Miller processes your Butler University transcript and assists with any academic record appeals. She graduated from Butler University, where she also worked as a guide for international students from all over the world. From that experience and combined with her own world travels, she knows the amazing experiences that studying abroad can provide. Abby is excited to work with Alliance students on the academic components of their term abroad.

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