International Education Leadership (IEL)


CANCELLED - Facilitating Education Diplomacy and Partnership Building with Cuba

Thursday, June 1
9:30 AM - 10:30 AM
LACC, Room 408A

Officials from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy in Havana share experiences and best practices for facilitating education partnerships between Cuban and U.S. educational institutions. Representatives from Cuban institutions provide perspectives on creating personal connectedness.

Learning Objectives:

Margaret Hug

U.S. Department of State; Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA)
U.S. Department of State

Maggie Hug is Coordinator for 100,000 Strong in the Americas and Innovation Fund - the leading education initiative at the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) at U.S. Department of State. Maggie works with multiple stakeholders at NGOs, universities, colleges, private sector, and U.S. Embassies in 30+ countries to increase student exchange and training opportunities between the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. She collaborates with the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas, NAFSA, and the business community in Latin America to facilitate support for and engagement with Innovation Fund grants for higher education institutions throughout the Americas. Innovation Fund grants build institutional capacity for regional education cooperation and provide more opportunities for students and faculty to work together in teams in the U.S. and the rest of the WHA region. Maggie has over 18 years of Fulbright program leadership experience, including her work as the Deputy Director of the Fulbright Commission in Mexico where she managed 12+ distinct Fulbright academic exchange programs for 400+ students, teachers, and professors annually between the United States and Mexico. Maggie has extensive experience managing U.S. government funded programs and working with Fulbright Commissions, Fulbright participants, U.S. Embassies, universities, English-language training centers, NGOs, Ministries of Education, and private sector. Maggie received a Fulbright grant in TESOL to Mexico and has designed and led training programs for Fulbright participants and ESL/EFL educators. She is passionate about facilitating networks and contacts in academia, NGOs, and the business community to provide more opportunities for students and faculty to have international education experiences. She is also honored to have received the 2016 Executive Staff Champion Award from NAFSA.


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David A. Hodge

Director, Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy, Western Hemisphere
U.S. Department of State

David Hodge is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, rank of Minister Counselor. He heads the office of Public Affairs and Public Diplomacy for the Western Hemisphere, including educational diplomacy issues for all embassies and consulates in the region. Previously, he served as Counselor for Public Affairs in Bangkok, Thailand and La Paz, Bolivia, and Cultural Affairs Officer in Brasilia, Brazil and Lima, Peru. Also, he was Political/Economic chief in Maputo, Mozambique, Deputy Consul General in Buenos Aires, Argentina, an Economic officer in Brasilia, Brazil, and a junior officer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Lisbon, Portugal. He speaks Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai.

A native of Indianapolis, IN, he graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington and Georgetown University.


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Justen Thomas

Deputy Public Affairs Officer
U.S. Department of State

Justen Thomas is a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, rank of First Secretary. Since Aug. 2016, he has served as Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba where he assists in the administration of cultural programs, educational exchanges, and media relations with the people and government of Cuba on behalf of the people and government of the United States.

Justen has been with the Department of State since 2007 and worked most recently as Spanish and Portuguese-language spokesperson for State Department at their media relations "Hub" in Miami, Florida. He has also been a Staff Assistant in the State Department's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs; Assistant Cultural Affairs Officer in Brasilia, Brazil; and Vice-Consul in Paris, France.

Justen has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science degree from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Justen participated in youth and university exchange programs, speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Swedish, and has studied ASL.


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CANCELLED - Facilitating Education Diplomacy and Partnership Building with Cuba

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