Meet the Team

Diane Staehr Fenner, PhD

Sydney Snyder, PhD

Mindi Teich, MA

Meghan Gregoire-Smith, MA


Diane Choi

Michele Iris

Galen Murray

Theodora Predaris, MA, MS

Tamara Echols

Eleni Pappamihiel, PhD

Kent Buckley-Ess


Cristina Zakis, MA

Jessica Fundalinski, MA, MS


Amy Hewett-Olatunde, PhD


Jennifer Hine


Renata Germino

Diane Staehr Fenner, Ph.D.


Diane Staehr Fenner, Ph.D., is the president of SupportEd and founded the company in 2011 as a way to serve educators who work to help multilingual learners (MLs) realize their full potential. Dr. Staehr Fenner is an author of six books (including Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity, Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible, and Advocating for English Learners: A Guide for Educators). She is a frequent keynote presenter on ML education at conferences across North America. She spent a decade as an ESOL teacher, dual language assessment teacher, and ESOL assessment specialist in Fairfax County Public Schools, VA and taught English in Mexico and Germany. She earned her Ph.D. in Multilingual/Multicultural Education with an emphasis in Literacy at George Mason University. She earned her MAT in TESOL at the School for International Training and her Masters in German at Penn State University. She lives in Fairfax, VA with her husband and three school-age kids who learned math and science through Spanish in their public elementary school. Dr. Staehr Fenner grew up on a dairy farm in New York State’s Finger Lakes region and is a first-generation college graduate.

Sydney Snyder, Ph.D.

Principal Associate

Sydney began working for SupportEd as a way to build on her passion for advocacy and educational equity for ELs that flourished during her time as an ESOL teacher. She is the co-author of two books (Culturally Responsive Teaching for Multilingual Learners: Tools for Equity and Unlocking English Learners’ Potential: Strategies for Making Content Accessible). She has significant experience in developing and conducting interactive professional development for teachers of ELs. Sydney led a project for the National Education Association to create and pilot blended professional development modules focused on the instruction and assessment of ELs, advocacy for ELs, second language acquisition, and culture. She has also created and facilitated professional development that focuses on research-based strategies to support ELs’ language development and academic achievement for teachers in multiple states. Sydney also brings significant experience developing curriculum, writing literature reviews, and facilitating working group meetings. For the U.S. Department Education in partnership with the American Institutes for Research, Sydney helped convene a panel to select a set of English language proficiency standards for adults and is leading the development of an online module to provide training on the standards. For TESOL International Association, Sydney summarized the findings of an expert standards committee to write standards for short-term certificate programs and conducted a literature review to support the standards. Sydney brings extensive instructional experience, having taught ESOL/English as a Foreign Language for over 15 years. She taught most recently in Falls Church, VA where she was also the K-12 ESOL Curriculum and Instruction Resource Teacher for the district. Sydney earned her Ph.D. in Multilingual/Multicultural Education at George Mason University and her MAT in TESOL at the School for International Training. She lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and one cat. Sydney had her own experiences with language learning while living and teaching in Argentina, Guinea, and Indonesia.

Joanna Duggan, MSc, PMP


Joanna joined SupportEd to provide program support for online professional development courses for educators working with English learners as a consultant. Joanna is an educator with research, classroom, and experience managing school change. She has taught ELs from all over the world in the United States, as well as in Spain and the Czech Republic. She has managed projects including a rewrite of the Los Angeles Unified School District English Learner Master Plan; Promoting Educator Networks: Standards-Based Instruction for English Learners, an Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education among others. Joanna holds an MSc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She enjoys playing soccer, running, cooking, baking (and eating!), and attempting to learn the ukulele.

Mindi Teich, M.A.

ML Coach

Mindi has been an advocate for English Learner students and their teachers for over 20 years. She began her career as an ESL teacher in DC Public Schools (DCPS).  During her time as an ESL teacher, she worked with students in pull out, push in, and co-teaching environments. It was during her own co-teaching experience that Mindi embraced the co-teaching model and recognized the benefits for ELs. While still teaching, she worked with District staff to develop and implement training on collaborative practices for classroom and ESL teachers.  As part of the DCPS Language Acquisition Division, Mindi spent 10 years providing professional development and on-site coaching to DCPS teachers who worked with language learners. She focused primarily on supporting literacy development for English learners and helped develop District guidance for working with English learners during Guided Reading and Close Reading. Most recently, Mindi worked as a coach and coordinator of a pilot project, Together is Better (TIB), supporting co-teaching in the School District of Philadelphia. As a coach, Mindi worked at school sites to support co-teaching teams in planning and delivering lessons that included best practices for ELs. She modeled lessons, co-taught alongside teachers, and encouraged reflective conversations among co-teaching teams. Mindi also participated in school walkthroughs and helped to develop and facilitate full day professional development for TIB participants. With the emergency closings in mid-March this year, Mindi stepped in to support the School District of Philadelphia by providing digital lessons for Newcomers in Grades K-2 through the end of the school year. Mindi earned her Master’s in Education at Marymount University.  She lives in Downingtown, PA with her husband, three children and very friendly golden retriever. She enjoys kayaking, hiking, cooking, and travel.

Meghan Gregoire-Smith, M.A.

ML Coach

Meghan began working at SupportEd to further her commitment and passion for supporting educators of ELs. She has been working with English learners and supporting educators of ELs for over 10 years. Meghan began her career teaching English as a foreign language to young adults in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her time in Ecuador sparked her love of language teaching. Upon completing her Master’s in TESOL from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Meghan began working as an ESOL teacher in Anne Arundel County Public Schools (AACPS) in Maryland. There she taught elementary ELs in grades K-5 for five years using pull out, push in, and co-teaching models of instruction. She then went on to serve as an ESOL Teacher Specialist for AACPS. As an ESOL Teacher Specialist, Meghan wrote K-12 English language development curriculum, planned and delivered professional development around best practices for working with ELs, and provided coaching for ESOL teachers new to the profession. During her time as a teacher specialist, Meghan focused primarily on supporting elementary age ELs. This included working closely with the elementary literacy team to ensure that all ELs had access to high quality, rigorous literacy instruction. Her experiences as an ESOL teacher and teacher specialist led to a passion for supporting educators of ELs through high quality professional development and coaching. She lives in Edgewater, Maryland with her husband and two young children. Meghan enjoys running, baking, reading, and spending time with her family.

Michele Iris

Marketing Manger

Michele joined SupportEd to expand knowledge of the organization’s mission and services as SupportEd’s Marketing Manager. With nearly 10 years of marketing experience, Michele is an award-winning creative marketing leader earning honors from EduAD Awards, NOVA Marketing Awards, and the Collegiate Advertising Awards. Driven by innovation, Michele brings a focus in educational marketing with expertise in email, digital, and social media marketing; graphic and UI/UX design; and marketing strategy. Prior to joining SupportEd, she spent over three years at Mercy College of Health Sciences developing and implementing strategic initiatives resulting in record enrollment. Michele holds a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising from Iowa State University and currently lives in West Des Moines, IA with her dog, Duncan. She is a fan and co-owner of the Green Bay Packers, and loves iced coffee, biking, and traveling.

Galen Murray

Director of Partnerships and Business Development

Galen joined the SupportEd team to help grow the organization’s social impact and partnerships. Prior to joining SupportEd, Galen spent six years working with the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) on the development of formative assessments and professional development materials for EL students and teachers. Galen brings a mixture of a passion for social justice and technical experience in product development, business strategy, and cross-sectoral partnerships to his role with SupportEd. His career has been devoted to providing nonprofits and nongovernmental institutions with technical support to achieve their missions. His experience includes serving as a Knowledge Management professional for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and supporting strategic and programmatic planning for the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG), a community-based NGO in rural Tamil Nadu, India. Galen lives in Bridgeport, CT with his wife and two young children and enjoys yoga, cooking, and rooting for New York sports teams.

Theodora (Teddi) Predaris, M.A., M.S.

Senior Consultant

Teddi joined SupportEd so that she could apply her expertise as a successful district level administrator in Fairfax County Public Schools, the tenth largest school district in the US, to other districts who are experiencing growth in their EL population. Teddi primarily provides technical assistance and program development support to school districts across the country. As a Senior Consultant for SupportEd, she has assisted Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), Syracuse City School District (NY), Jefferson County Public Schools (KY), and Reading School District (PA) in developing their English Learner (EL) Master Plans. Teddi has also provided research support to a national study on dual language program implementation and policy in partnership with the American Institutes for Research. As director of the Office of Language Acquisition and Title I in Fairfax County Public Schools, Teddi developed, implemented, and supervised successful Dual Language Immersion, ESOL, World Languages and Title I programs. During her tenure in FCPS, former limited English proficient students who had become English proficient performed at or above the level of their other English proficient peers on state assessments in language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Teddi has served as an expert panel member on numerous projects for the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to her twenty-four year tenure in Fairfax, she was the assistant director of the national information center on English learner education, the National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition (NCELA – formerly National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education). Teddi has taught ESOL and Spanish in the US and abroad and holds a B.A. from Duke University in Spanish and Secondary Education, an M.S. in Applied Linguistics from Georgetown University, and an M.A. from Middlebury College in Spanish Language, Literature and Culture. She grew up in a home where modern Greek was spoken, lived and studied in Spain for several years and now lives with her husband near Washington, D.C. Teddi loves playing the violin and guitar, cooking, international travel, and foreign films.

Eleni Pappamihiel, Ph.D.


Eleni wanted to work with SupportEd to help English learners be successful in all their classrooms, ESL and content area alike. She specializes in helping both ESL and non-ESL teachers develop expertise in helping English learners be as successful as they can be. Her goal is to help all teachers learn how to help English learners become a true, integrated part of the classroom and school communities. To this end, she helps teachers develop effective classroom strategies and understand how affective factors, like motivation and anxiety can influence how English learners interact in the classroom. Eleni has spent over 20 years in teacher preparation and professional development and has published over 35 articles and book chapters that focus on helping English learners maximize their academic and social achievement in the mainstream classroom. She has expertise in assessment and evaluation, consulting on the development of both the Florida ESL teacher certification assessment and the Praxis II ESOL. Most recently, her assessment work focuses on the identification of English learners with special needs. She has directed several grants related to professional development and headed a multi-million dollar federal grant that, in part, developed a self-directed module-based, online professional development program designed to reach rural areas that are geographically isolated. As the program coordinator for the Teaching English as a Second Language program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, she designed and implemented their first ESL teacher preparation program in both face-to-face and online formats. She currently lives in Wilmington, NC and takes the occasional trip to Greece to enjoy a bit of R and R (Rocks and Relatives). When at home, she can be found at the barn following her daughter (an avid rider), at the gym, or on her laptop while her son throws around weights that are probably too heavy for him.

Kent Buckley-Ess, M.A.


Kent has worked with Second Language Learners, from Early Childhood through Adult Learners, for more than 30 years. With a Masters in Bilingual Education and additional state certifications in Pre-School, Elementary, and ESOL (K-12), he has taught in classroom, pullout, co-teaching, language immersion and resource support settings. As a National Board Certified teacher, he has focused on working with students, teachers, administrators and families on a myriad of issues related to English Language Learners. Kent has also worked with teachers and administrators as a mentor and coach as they worked to provide the most appropriate instructional support for their English Language Learners. His work as a mentor/coach involved instructional conversations, classroom visits, modeling lessons, reflection discussions and debriefings as well as planning sessions. As a mentor/coach, he has worked with teachers at the pre-school, elementary, middle and high school levels. As an adjunct professor at George Mason University, Kent has taught courses on: Second Language Acquisition, Reading & Writing for Second Language Learners; Assessment of English Language Learners and Instructional Practices for Second Language Learners. With the Director of ESOL Programs in the Fairfax County Public School System (VA), Kent developed and conducted a Model Classroom program that invited teachers and administrators to observe classroom instruction focused on Best Practices for English Language Learners. Visitors spent the afternoon debriefing the morning sessions and planning for improved instruction for ELs at their schools. Observers came from local, regional, national and overseas school systems. Combining professional expertise, interactive sessions and humor, Kent has provided PD on many aspects of Second Language Learning: Differentiation, Second Language Acquisition, Scaffolding; Lesson Planning, Team Teaching Coordination; Assessment, Family/School Connections, among others. He has worked with educators in a variety of school settings around the country, Puerto Rico and overseas.

Tamara Echols

Bookkeeper/Office Manager

After working in the financial arena of the federal government for over 30 years, Tamara decided to use her vast experience to continue working in the private sector after retirement. At SupportEd, she is responsible for accounts receivable and payable transactions, managing payroll, working on the company budget and other general bookkeeping tasks. As the office manager, Tamara assists clients through the financial process; ensures SupportEd’s certifications, accreditations, insurance and licenses are kept up-to-date; and provides additional administrative support to the team. Tamara currently lives in Northern Virginia but never sits still. She loves to travel the world and learn about different countries, including Japan, Korea, and hopefully soon South Africa.

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