Board of Trustees

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

Ellen Alderton (Trustee)
Pat Barr-Harrison, Ph.D. (Trustee)
Kristoffer Booker (Secretary)
Debra Kieft (Trustee)
James E. McFadden (Treasurer)
Laura Murray (Trustee)
Gregory J. Nedved (President and Chair)
Marco de Pinto, Ph.D. (Trustee)
Jill Robbins, Ph.D. (Vice President and Assistant Chair)

Ellen Alderton’s interest in languages dates back to early childhood when she was raised bilingual in Greek and English. She has lived abroad in eight different countries and has had the opportunity to also study Arabic, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Ellen received her A.B. in psychology from Wellesley College and her M.A. in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. She has worked as an in-house writer for the United Nations and for the Peace Corps and as a freelance journalist in Brussels covering European Union information technology policy. She has also served as an executive producer for Hispanic Radio Network where she designed and directed national Spanish-language public awareness campaigns reaching U.S. Latinx audiences numbering in the millions.  

Pat Barr-Harrison, Ph.D. is chair of the NML program committee. She coordinates the Movable and Outreach part of the Museum.  She served as Supervisor of Foreign Languages K-12 in Prince George’s County (Maryland) Public Schools, supervising 300 teachers of French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, and Spanish, 1982-2004. 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.

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 agreed, if approved, to become the Secretary of the Board of Trustees.

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.

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.

Laura K. Murray, Ph.D., is a native of the District of Columbia where she attended local public schools.  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,   President and 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 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.

Marco Syrayama de Pinto, Ph.D., earned a BA in Modern Languages with a major in Arabic language and literature from the University of São Paulo and a Ph.D. in Translation Studies from the University of São Paulo, Brazil, with a dissertation about a foreignizing translation into Brazilian Portuguese of neologisms in Tutunamayanlar by the Turkish modernist writer Oğuz Atay.  As a linguist and translation scholar, his research focuses on etymology, language purism, language reform, neologisms (in translation), literary translation, minority language translation. He has taught English as a foreign language to Brazilian learners for over 10 years and now is a freelance translator. As a literary translator, he won 2 prestigious translation awards: Jabuti in 2010 and APCA in 2015 for his translation of the epic Dede Korkut Oğuznameleri (o Livro de Dede Korkut) and Nâzım Hikmet’s Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (Paisagens Humanas dos meu País) from Turkish into Brazilian Portuguese. Currently translating other works of modern Turkish literature.

Jill Robbins, Ph.D., Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, develops online learning materials for English learners. 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. 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.