The Planning Team

VP Conference - Monica Baker

Monica Baker has over 13 years experience working as a public school ESL teacher in a rural district in Dutchess County, New York. Monica is the Executive Vice President for her teachers’ union, where she leads a team that focuses on member engagement and community involvement. She is also the Instructional Leader for Special Area Teachers in her district and serves on the Policy Board of the Mid-Hudson Teacher Center. Prior to entering the education field, Monica was the Executive Producer at WRNN-TV, where she produced nightly political talk shows. Monica is a passionate advocate for the rights of immigrants. She holds a B.A. in Communications and Media and an M.S. in Teaching, both from SUNY New Paltz. Monica lives in the Hudson Valley with her two amazing sons and two elderly dogs.

Registration Chair - Fran Olmos

Fran has been an ENL teacher in the Yonkers Public Schools for the last 33 years, working with children in Pre K to 8. She received her BS in Elem Ed (N-6) with a concentration in Spanish, from SUNY Oswego and after graduating spent three years teaching grades 3, 4 and 6 in a bilingual elementary school in Mexico City. Upon returning to NY, she worked two years in the Elmsford UFSD as an ESL teacher while attaining her MS Ed in TESOL from the College of New Rochelle. Fran has been very active in NYS TESOL during the last 25 years. She started out by working on several Hudson Valley ODMACS and then was asked to become Hotel Liaison and then Registration Chair for the NYS TESOL Annual Conference. She joined the NYS TESOL board in 2002 as Membership Chair which led her to becoming 2nd VP - Conference Chair which was held in White Plains in 2007. She then became President of NYS TESOL in 2009. In 2013, Fran was asked to fill a last minute vacancy and became the 2013 Conference Chair which was held again in White Plains. In 2018, she won the James A. Lydon Distinguished Service Award for her service to NYS TESOL. Fran has also presented at NYS TESOL conferences, was Registration Chair for the 1999 TESOL International Convention (NYC) and has been NYS TESOL Publications Chair.

Assistant to the VP Conference - Ali Safivand

Ali Safivand is the newly appointed Assistant to the VP Conference. He has also been serving as the Applied Linguistics Winter Conference (ALWC) Proposal Chair since 2018 at Columbia University and recently at Binghamton State University of New York. Ali has been teaching English at universities abroad and in the U.S. since 2001, and now he is also teaching courses in American Education and Linguistics, Teaching and Curriculum, and Methods of Inquiry to both international graduate students (mainly TESOL students) and undergraduate ones at the University of Rochester. As an English language learner (ELL) since childhood and an English Language Teacher (ELT), Ali has taught English at different universities and language institutions abroad for more than 15 years both as a visitor and full time faculty. He has also written and published three English course books for ESP and EAP learners with two of his colleagues. Ali has participated and presented at different Education and TESOL conferences in Europe (ICERI 2010, 2011) and the US, namely, SE TESOL 2017, NJ TESOL/Bilingual Education 2017, and NYS TESOL 2017 where he volunteered to help the conference organizers. He has a second to none passion to share his English language learning and teaching experience with others through networking and collaboration.

Proposal Chair - Carmen Diaz

Foundational Learning Specialist for the Albany Charter School Network, Carmen also serves as VP of Advocacy for NYS TESOL. She has worked in mainstream education positions for more than 13 years, but has always been dedicated to supporting the needs of ELLs and advocating for their families. Carmen is an instructional coach for the teachers in charter schools in Albany, NY. She supports administrators in staying current with laws and regulations to support ELL families. Carmen also has a passion for technology and utilizes this strength to support teachers in incorporating technology tools into instructional best practices.

Publicity Chair - Emily Burnett

After completing a degree in Neuroscience with an emphasis on Neuropsychology and Cognitive Science, Emily Burnett began her career as a Language Educator in New York City through volunteer and professional experience during her time in the MA TESOL program at The New School in 2015. Emily has since worn a variety of hats in the ESL and language education fields, including as faculty in the ESL+Design/Music and Parsons ESL programs at The New School, a Content Developer & Consultant and Teacher Trainer for Fluent City, and various roles at the Center for Immigrant Education & Training (CIET) at LaGuardia Community College. Emily currently serves as the ESOL Programs Coordinator at CIET, and helps in coordinating the annual NYC ABE/ESOL Conference for the New York City Consortium for ABE/ESOL.

Awards Chair - Meredith Van Schuyler

Meredith's experience in the field of TESOL has been diverse. She has taught EFL in Africa, Japan, and China, has served as Academic Director of an Intensive English Program, and has instructed adult ELLs in private and community programs. For the past 17 years, she has taught ENL in public school settings on Long Island. As a lead ENL teacher in the Hempstead district, she helped design an after school program for Newcomers. Meredith is also an original member of the Long Island ESOL Professional Committee at Molloy College and has helped organize the LI ESOL conference held there each spring. Meredith has been an active member of NYS TESOL since 2000. She has served as Awards Chair since 2006, and prior to that, was Regional Chair on the Executive Board and Elementary SIG coordinator. She values her membership with NYS TESOL for the connection to colleagues and best practices.

Volunteer Co-Chairs - Clair Nolan and Susan Gorga

Susan Gorga started her ESL career in the Peace Corps. She has been teaching at the Intensive English Language Program at the University at Albany for 25 years. In addition, she has taught in Poland, Brazil, Romania, and China.

Claire Nolan came to teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages as a second career. Before that she worked as a printer. Claire has been teaching for about twenty-five years - in public schools to both kids and adults, in refugee programs and in colleges and universities. Claire is currently teaching at the University at Albany (SUNYA) in the Intensive English Language Program. Claire is also a storyteller - you can take that any way you like.

Student Project Contest Chair - Caressa K. Guerrero

  • Mother to five beautiful children and wife to a lovely husband
  • NYS TESOL Student Project Contest Chair
  • Career Coordinator of Work-Based Learning at Health Sciences Charter School
  • P.h.D Candidate in Leadership and Policy at Niagara University
  • ELL/MLL Community Advocate
  • McKinney Vento Liason
  • Former ENL ESOL Teacher of 8 years
  • Former ELA Teacher of 7 years
  • NCTE Raising Student Voice Presenter November 2018
  • NCTE Leadership and Advocacy Summit on Literacy Washington DC April 2019