Board of Trustees

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

Janis Antonek, Ph.D.
Kristoffer Booker
Debra Kieft
Terri Marlow
Linda Mitchell Thompson
Laura Murray
Gregory J. Nedved 
Jill Robbins, Ph.D
Farid Saydee,Ph.D. 

Janis L. Antonek, Ph.D. is a lifelong learner who is an educator, linguist, and amateur photographer. She has a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, where her research focused on second language acquisition in children. Her professional passion is training world language teachers and teaching languages herself. She has taught every grade level from Kindergarten to doctoral students. Classes taught include pedagogy, Spanish, TESOL, Russian. Psycholinguistics, second language acquisition, and legal and historical issues of ESL. For the past eleven years, she has taught Spanish at the Middle College at UNCG. She has served as the NML Liaison for North Carolina for the past year.

When not teaching, Janis likes to travel and take photos. She has traveled to fifty countries, loves having cross cultural experiences, but is always grateful to return home to Greensboro. While originally from West Virginia, Janis and her family have lived in Greensboro for the last 27 years. As a way to help build community engagement in Greensboro, fifteen years ago, Janis started Greensboro Daily Photo (  She has published a photo a day, with a paragraph explaining the photo, since January 2nd, 2009 (over 5,000 posts).  In Summer 2023, Janis will be part of a Fulbright-Hays cohort of 13 educators traveling to Morocco to study democracy and women in Morocco.

Kristoffer Booker earned a degree in Chinese and studied in Taiwan.  He has several years of experience working in greater China.  He has also worked in a number of roles related to China trade, including product distribution, export contract administration, and trade finance.  Kris enjoys the same passion for learning languages shared by the Museum’s leadership and sees our nation’s linguistic diversity as a strength and a connection to the global community.

Kris has served as the NML Secretary for the past three years.

Debra Kieft 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. 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.  As time permits, 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.

Terri Marlow is a native NW Ohioan whose 40+ year teaching career took place in West Virginia, although she stayed in contact with her Ohio roots through the Alliance at Ohio University and the Central States conferences. Currently she is a member of both the OH and WV Language Teachers Associations and ACTFL and NNELL as well. Since she has “graduated” from her HS career, Terri devotes more time to promoting the study of languages and cultures, working with both states’ advocacy committees and participating in Language Advocacy Day sponsored by JNCL-NCLIS.

Linda Mitchell Thompson has been working as the Administrative/ Executive Assistant for the NML since 2010. She first became interested in languages as a result of 3 books she had as a child: an illustrated encyclopedia-type book about world languages and cultures; Ogden Nash’s third volume of poetry, “Happy Days”; and a children’s book of French phrases, “Il y a un Dragon dans mon Lit” (“There is a Dragon in My Bed”)*. After 4 years of Latin and 2 of Spanish in high school, she earned a B.A. and an M.A. in Classical Languages and Literature, with a minor in Old and Middle English, and concurrently acquired enough familiarity with some modern languages (Spanish, Italian, French, German) to be able to read some scholarly works for her fields of study. She taught high-school level Latin and Spanish in Laurel, MD for 4 years, and elementary-school Latin in Beltsville, MD for 16 years. As a Trustee, she plans to serve as the NML’s Chief Artist-in-Residence (more familiarly referred to as the A.I.R. Head).

*NB: She still owns the latter 2 books.

Laura K. Murray, Ph.D., is a native of the District of Columbia where she attended local public schools.  She has served as a Trustee for the past three years and is NML’s Chief Development Officer. She has greatly increased the visibility of the museum through her intiative, the Language Leadership Council. Dr. Murray has also increased the museum’s financial health by identifying grants and helping write proposals for them. She earned a BA in Anthropology from Rice University, Houston, TX, and a Ph.D. in Oriental Studies, specializing in Modern Chinese History, from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  Her education included intensive study of Chinese, including two years in Taiwan at the Inter-University Program in Chinese Language Studies in Taipei (Stanford Center), and additional study at Northwest University in Xi’an, China.  Dr. Murray was a career employee of the National Security Agency from 1985 until her retirement in 2018.  Her career spanned language-focused assignments in operations, management, research, and education and training, in locations both in the U.S. and overseas.  Significant positions included serving as the Deputy Dean of the Center for Language at the National Cryptologic School (NCS), the training arm of NSA, as well as the Technical Director for the College of Language and Area Studies at the NCS. 

She also held positions as Technical Director for the Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland, directing multiple language research projects, and as Director of the Foreign Language Program Office of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) overseeing language operations for the intelligence community.  In that position she launched the STARTALK program, a new effort under the National Security Language Initiative, to provide summer language learning opportunities in languages critical to national security, as well as professional development for teachers of those languages. 

From its start in 2007 to date, STARTALK has provided training for more than 70,000 participants, including over 13,000 teachers, in all 50 states and DC.  Dr. Murray’s career has been recognized by numerous awards, including the Sydney Jaffe Award, from NSA, for outstanding contributions to the cryptologic language field; the A. Ronald Walton Award from the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages, in recognition of a career of distinguished service on behalf of the less-commonly taught languages; the inaugural Foreign Language Lifetime Achievement Award from ODNI; and the Exceptional Civilian Service Award from NSA. 

Gregory J. Nedved has been affiliated since 2008 with NML, where he has served in various capacities (exhibit designer, docent, newsletter editor, associate, trustee, secretary, and most recently, president).   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 topics as diverse as vexillology, presidential trivia, steamboats and Chinese 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. develops online learning materials for English learners. Since 2007, she has served as NML Associate President and Vice President, and is currently Chief Technology Officer. She is currently working with the U.S Agency for Global Media as a Language Learning Specialist. She has taught language learners and teachers in the U.S., Japan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and China. Her research explores 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. She earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University.

Farid Saydee, Ph.D. is the Founder/President of Language Mentors International. His company offers comprehensive services to individuals and schools in the realm of professional development, curriculum design and instruction, and assessment. Dr. Saydee has extensive experience teaching language and methodology courses. For over ten years, Farid provided professional development training to faculty and supervised curriculum and instruction for Less Commonly Taught Languages offered by the Language Training Center (LTC), Project Global Officer (Project GO), and STARTALK summer teacher and student programs at the Language Acquisition Resource Center (LARC) at San Diego State University (SDSU). ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Fanni is Radnóti's wife
Located near the Tang capital city of Chang’an, site of the modern city of Xi’an in Shaanxi province, in central China.
Soldiers of that time commonly wore a white head cloth, similar to what is still worn by some peasants in China today.  The implication is that the conscripts were so young that they didn’t know how to wrap their head cloths, and needed help from elders.
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
The area of Guanxi, meaning “west of the passes”, refers to the area around the capital city of Chang’an.
This is an alternative name for a province in western China, now known as Qinghai, which literally means “blue sea”.  Kokonor Lake, located in Qinghai, is the largest saline lake in China.  
Before China’s unification under the Qin dynasty in 221 B.C. there were several competing smaller kingdoms.  Han and Qin were two of these kingdoms. Han was located east of famous mountain passes that separated that area from the power base of the Qin dynasty, with its capital in Chang’an. The Qin dynasty itself only lasted about 15 years after unification due to its draconian rule, but soldiers under Qin rule retained a reputation as strong fighters.
Oulart Hollow was the site of a famous victory of the Irish rebels over British troops, which took place on May 27, 1798. The rebels killed nearly all the British attackers in this battle. (Source: Maxwell, W. H. History of the Irish Rebellion in 1798. H. H. Bohn, London 1854, pp 92-93, at
The phrase "United Men" is elaborated upon in the Notes section below.


An Italian word meaning “foundry.” It originally referred to a part of the city of Venice where the Jews of that city were forced to live; the area was called “the ghetto” because there was a foundry nearby. The term eventually came to refer to any part of a city in which a minority group is forced to live as a result of social, legal, or economic pressure. Because of the restrictions placed upon them, ghetto residents are often impoverished.

"You’re five nine, I am do-uble two"

A reference to the year 1959 and the year 2020.

"The Currency"

Meaning US dollars - this is drawing attention to the fact that Cuba is effectively dollarized.

"Sixty years with the dom-ino stuck"

This sentence is a reference to the Cold War notion that countries would turn Communist one after the other - like dominos. Cuba was the first domino, but it got stuck - no one else followed through into communism.


رحلنا, or "rahalna," means "we have left."


Habibi means "my love."


Ra7eel, or "raheel," means "departure."


3awda, or "awda," means "returning."


أهلاً, or "ahalan," means "welcome."

a5 ya baba

a5 ya baba, pronounced "akh ya baba," means "Oh my father."