Board Bios

Current Board Members and Officers (Click on name to view bio)

Pat Barr-Harrison, Ph.D.
Leslie Grahn
Debra Kieft (Secretary)
James E. McFadden (Treasurer)
Gregory J. Nedved (Vice President and Assistant Chair)
Jill Robbins, Ph.D. (President and Chair)

Pat Barr-Harrison, Ph.D. is chair of the NML program committee. She served as Supervisor of Foreign Languages K-12 in Maryland 1991-2004. Dr. Barr-Harrison is now a World Language Consultant – K-16, working with Public/Charter Schools, and other organizations. She has been President of The National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages in the US (NADSFL) and of The Greater Washington Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages (GWATFL). She is on several national and regional Advisory and Executive Boards. Her honors include: Les Palmes Academiques (Embassy of France); The Robert J. Ludwig National Distinguished Leadership Award (New York Association of Teachers of FL); Educator of the Year Award (The Japan American Society); Outstanding Educator in Prince George’s County Public Schools; and GWATFL has named an award in her honor.

Leslie Grahn is a new NML Trustee candidate. She is the Coordinator of World Languages for the Howard County Public Schools in Maryland and has twenty-seven years of language teaching experience at the middle and high school levels.  She has been on the Board of Directors of the Maryland Foreign Language Association since 1997, serving as its President from 2002-2004 and 2010-2012. Ms. Grahn served as a Teacher Consultant on the Pearson-Prentice Hall series, Realidades, has written curriculum and assessments at the district level, and wrote an article which was featured in the Language Educator magazine in February 2014.  She is a course instructor and frequent presenter at state, regional, and national conferences, specializing in best practices, specifically hands-on, interactive strategies, and facilitates workshops on the topics of student engagement, formative assessment, and differentiated instruction. She will serve on the Program Committee, collaborating with regional language teaching organizations.

Debra Kieft, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, is a new NML Trustee candidate. She has been affiliated with NML since 2008 as an exhibit designer and preparator, flag designer and maker, associate and volunteer.  She has worked for over 20 years in legal offices and on corporate contracts. Debra holds BA and MA degrees in the arts from Lycoming College and University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She has a long time love for the French language and has always been interested in world cultures, languages, and alphabets.  Currently, she spends time learning Latin and Ancient Greek, as well as perfecting fine art skills in oil painting and drawing and fiber arts. She is contributing her skills to the development of NML’s virtual exhibit on dialectology research. Debra has a longtime affiliation with the Museum of the Alphabet in Waxhaw, North Carolina where she has served as alphabet docent, exhibit designer, preparator, and educational writer on indigenous languages.  It was during a trip to Thailand and Myanmar when she realized the language translation needs for indigenous people groups.  She continues to support language translation projects in Kenya and Asia.  It is her goal to study and learn a tonal language.

James E. McFadden, Treasurer is retired from the U.S. Army after serving in a variety of transportation and comptroller positions to include Chief of Forces and Resources for the Special Operations Agency.  He is also retired from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency where he served as a country program director.  Mr. McFadden graduated from Youngstown State University with a BS in Business Administration and is a graduate of the Military Comptrollership course and the US Army Command and General Staff College. Mr. McFadden currently serves as member of the Board of Directors of the National Museum of Language as well as its Treasurer. He is also a member of the College Park, Maryland Advisory Planning Commission.

Gregory J. Nedved,   Vice-President and Assistant Chair of the Board of Trustees, has been affiliated since 2008 with NML, where he has served in various capacities (exhibit designer, docent, newsletter editor, associate, trustee, secretary).   He led the effort to create NML’s unique International Flag of Language in 2008.  An award winning Defense Department historian, he has nearly 30 years of experience with Chinese-Mandarin as a military and government linguist, translator, interpreter, instructor, and freelancer.  He has been a two-time president of the Defense Department’s Crypto-Linguistic Association, a professional language organization, and continues to run the organization’s newsletter.  He is interested in the preservation of Native American languages and culture, having helped fund a Mi’kmaq (Nova Scotia/New Brunswick) language preservation DVD (cartoon) in 2006 (he had earlier helped fund a library on the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation in his home state of South Dakota).   He has written books and articles on South Dakota history.  He is currently a docent at the National Cryptologic Museum at Fort Meade, Maryland.   He has a B.A. from Saint Vincent College in history, M.A. from Hawaii Pacific University in diplomacy and military studies and is a graduate of the Naval War College Fleet Seminar Program and the University of Chicago’s Advanced Translation Certification Program.

Jill Robbins, Ph.D., President and Chair of the Board of Trustees, is a Multimedia eLearning Teacher at Voice of America. where she develops online learning materials for English learners. She is currently working on the NML virtual exhibit committee. She has taught language learners and teachers in the U.S., Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and China. Her research has explored language learning strategies and metacognition. Dr. Robbins is the co-author of Integrating EFL Standards into Chinese Classroom Settings, Impact Listening 2, and The Learning Strategies Handbook. Dr. Robbins has served on the NML Board of Trustees from 2007  and helps maintain the NML website. She earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University.