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ITBE Board

Welcome to our New 2023-2024 Board!  


Illinois TESOL-BE's Board also consists of Officers and SIG Leaders.

For more information on each Board position, view TESOL-BE's Constitution and Bylaws webpages. 

Abdulsamad Humaiden


Abdulsamad Humaidan is an ESL Lecturer at the Department of Linguistics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and is also a Ph.D. Candidate majoring in Language, Literacies, and Culture/TESOL at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Abdulsamad first came to the United States of America in 2012 as a recipient of a Fulbright Foreign Students Scholarship sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to pursue an MA/TESOL at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and since then, Illinois has been home for him. Abdulsamad was also a recipient of a 2021 TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program Award by TESOL International Association. He also served as a member of the Professional Development Professional Council (2019-2021) - TESOL International Association – where he was involved in a range of activities such as reviewing book proposals, revamping course materials, and sharing input on professional development needs for the TESOL community. 

Akiko Ota

Technology chair

Akiko Ota is the director of English Language Learning and Educational Partnerships at Governors State University. She obtained Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, M.S. in Postsecondary, adult, and continuing eduction, and M.A. in TESOL - all from Portland State University in Portland, OR. She has served ITBE Board since 2017 as the technology chair, Vice President, President, Past, President, and Operations Manager. In 2023, Akiko is back to board as the technology chair. She has been teaching English in the United States and Japan across the full spectrum of instructional levels (literacy to college transitional ESL) for various student populations and institutions for more than twenty years. In addition to her expertise in teaching English, she specializes in international student research and teaching, student services personnel training in U.S. higher education, curriculum development, and online teaching and learning. In her free time, she enjoys taking photography and good coffee at local coffee shops.

 Allison Lewis

ITBE Link / Publicity Chair   
Allison Lewis has taught ESL at various community colleges and community-based organizations in the Chicago area. She received a B.A. in English and Secondary Education from Wheaton College, and she received an M.A. in Linguistics/TESOL from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She first developed an interest in teaching English when she started tutoring refugees in 2010. She has taught ESL to students of all levels and also has experience in curriculum and materials development. She is the author of two graded readers for ESL students: My Fake Boyfriend and Amazing Lives: The True Stories of Eight Famous Americans. 

Angie Remigio
Director of Exhibitors 

Maria A. Remigio (Angie) has served as ITBE's Elementary SIG Chair/Vice President/Convention Chair/and Past President. Angie currently serves as an English as a New Language Specialist in a suburban school district. She has done this for the past 7 years. Prior to this, she was a regular education teacher in the same district for 8 years. Angie has been an active member of ITBE since 2016. Angie holds a B.S. Degree in Engineering, a Masters Degree in Bilingual Education, a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She has made a positive impact on English Language Learners and teachers. Other contributions include presenting in numerous conferences, facilitating workshops in her school district and participating in ITBE/TESOL events and professional learning opportunities.

Ayesha Riaz
Awards Chair
Ayesha currently teaches 4th grade In Evanston, IL. She received my B.A in Elementary Education with an endorsement in TESOL from NEIU and is working on my M.A in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University Chicago. In her free time, she likes to read, travel, kickbox, and spend time with friends and family. She is also Bilingual in English and Urdu.

Dalia Arroyo
Social Media Chair

Dalia Arroyo is an elementary education teacher for Chicago Public Schools. She received a B.A. in Elementary Education with a minor in TESOL from Northeastern Illinois University. She is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Education Technology: Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University Chicago. She is eager to bring her passion for graphic design and vision to ITBE and increase advocacy for English Language Learners and TESOL teaching professionals. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. In her free time she likes to read, practice yoga, run, and spend time with friends and family. 


David Hernandez
Professional Development Chair / Webinar Chair 

Being in a classroom for over 15 years teaching mathematics and science has been a wonderful journey for David. The journey started in 1998 when he completed his Associates degree in science from the College of DuPage after finishing high school with a 4.0 GPA. In 2007, after 9 years of overcoming tremendous obstacles, he earned a Bachelor of Science (Physics) from Northern Illinois University. Finally, David achieved a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction in 2015 from Aurora University. However, the journey did not stop there because David is planning on starting a PhD in the near future. After graduation, David began his career at The Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) where he eventually became a curriculum writer. David strives to foster a welcoming learning multicultural environment where students can build confidence in their life skills to achieve the best outcomes. David’s plan for the future is to become part of the education board for the state of Illinois to promote high quality and meaningful education to every student regardless of race, color, or social background. For David, the best part of being an educator is the connection with the students. He enjoys empowering someone to believe in themselves beyond any obstacle. David believes education is not just a job, “Being a teacher is an enormous responsibility because you become a counselor, a psychiatrist, a social worker, a translator, a mentor, and the most important: a role model for the students.” He adds, “On the other hand, being a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions there is. When you run into a special former 12th grader, the one who was always in trouble and about to drop out of school, the one who nobody believed in in the past but you went the extra mile for this student and he/she graduated against all the odds. And now he/she tells you, ‘Thank you for inspiring me to become someone in life.’ This is the best reward as a teacher.

Gina Johnson Wells
Advocacy Co-Chair

Gina Johnson Wells has been an educator for nearly all of her professional life. A faculty member in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Department at Northeastern Illinois University, Dr. Wells teaches courses in the TESOL Department, serves as the NEIU Graduate Program Advisor to MA TESOL and ESL Endorsement students, and teaches Bilingual/Bicultural courses in the Goodwin College of Education. She is a member of the NEIU Black Student Success Committee and NEIU’s Illinois Equity in Attainment/Partnership for College Completion Committee. Dr. Wells holds a PhD in Professional Studies in Education, focused on Educational Inquiry and Curriculum Studies, from Capella University. She holds two Master’s Degrees: one in TESOL and one in Music Education. Previously, she was a coordinator for the NEIU Grow Your Own (GYO) Teachers Program. Dr. Wells, a professionally licensed music educator, has taught music in four states in the U.S. and in Sweden. Her interests include: policy and advocacy for English Language Learners and TESOL teaching professionals; the role of cultural competency in the retention of minoritized student populations; and the processes that facilitate intercultural competence and cultural proficiency in all teachers, in general, and teachers of English Language Learners, specifically. Additionally, Dr. Wells enjoys singing, traveling, being outdoors, reading, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and their adult children. She speaks Swedish and has studied French, Spanish, and American Sign Language.

Huseyin Uysal
Advocacy Co-Chair

Dr. Huseyin Uysal is a visiting assistant professor at the Department of Educational Studies at Knox College in Galesburg, IL. He received his undergraduate degree in English Language Teaching from Mehmet Akif Ersoy University, his master’s degree in Linguistics from Ankara University, and his PhD degree in Curriculum and Instruction, specializing in ESOL/Bilingual Education from the University of Florida. He taught at various higher education settings including Turkey, Colombia, and the U.S. His scholarship is driven by the values of social justice and grounded in understanding power, identity, and inclusivity in linguistically and culturally diverse schools. He positions himself within the critical and constructivist paradigms by advocating for long-term English learners in the U.S. schools. Some of his research interests include fairness, justice, and equity in language testing, test-taker perspectives on assessment practices, and English learner reclassification.

Jacinta Thomas
Member at Large

Dr. Jacinta Thomas recently retired from the College of Lake County, having worked there for 30 years. During her tenure at CLC, Jacinta created and subsequently taught in the Academic English Language Instruction (ELI) program at CLC. In addition, Jacinta created and taught in CLC’s ELL endorsement and TESOL programs. Jacinta has served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern Illinois University, and has offered Administrator Academies in the area of teaching ESL as well as in diversity, inclusion and equity. As a consultant, Jacinta has worked with several school districts in Lake County, offering workshops to teachers on a variety of topics. Jacinta has also presented at local, national and international conferences.

Marcia Luptak 
Convention Proposal Co-Chair

Marcia Luptak started teaching ESL at Southern Illinois University in 1993 as a linguistics graduate student there. In 1996, she began teaching adult education ESL at Elgin Community College (ECC), where she taught ESL classes until 2014. In 2014, she became the Senior Director of the ESL program and became the Associate Dean of Adult Education in 2017. She holds an M.S. Ed. in Adult, Continuing, and Literacy Education
from National Louis University in Chicago. She has been actively involved in ESL and adult education
throughout her career. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences since 1992.  She served on the IACEA Board from 2016-2018. She also participated on the ICCB ESL Strategic Plan subcommittee in 2018 and the Advisory Board from 2019-2021. Marcia is an active member of TESOL and has been a member of ITBE since 1999.

Jesus Villegas
Convention Program Designer

Jesus’s experience teaching English to speakers of other languages spans more than 20 years. His teaching journey includes roles as a Peace Corps Volunteer and an English Language Fellow, where he worked on various projects:

  • Taught English to students in K-12 schools.
  • Instructed English to university students.
  • Collaborated with local EFL teachers to develop curriculum and assessment materials.
  • Initiated several extracurricular clubs, such as photography clubs, to enhance students' English-speaking skills.

Jesus has delivered presentations and led workshops at multiple conferences, including the International TESOL Conference in the US. He has also presented at conferences in Mexico, The Balkans, and The Middle East.
For the past 12 years, Jesus has been teaching English to international students enrolled in Intensive English Programs. Presently, he is teaching in the English Language Academy at DePaul University, where, in addition to teaching a comprehensive ESL course load, he leads students on city excursions to provide a holistic international student experience.
Periodically, he teaches English and computer literacy skills to adults- online and at their place of employment.


Richard Sasso
Member at Large

Richard Sasso has been an ELL educator for almost 30 years now. Has worked in Adult Ed, higher Ed, family literacy, citizenship/naturalization education, and secondary Ed. He is looking  forward to serving ITBE.


Walter Schoenfuhs
Member at Large

Walter has worked with international students and immigrants for almost 25 years. Has served as conversation/tutor with international students at UIC.  Taught English in a Chinese high school for 2.5 years, focusing on conversational English and preparing students for taking IELTS.  Since then, he has been involved with TESOL at the Pui Tak Center in Chicago for over 11 years - teaching a variety of levels and then taking over administration of the program 6 years ago.  In addition, he has  traveled internationally extensively.  In the last few years his travels have taken him to Ethiopia, Guatemala, South Africa and Belize (upcoming). Usually, however, these trips do not have a TESOL focus... simply encounters with a variety of cultures and language groups.