Washington, DC Staff and Faculty
Dr. Dan E. Davidson
President and Project Director
Dr. Davidson is President and co-founder of American Councils for International Education and Professor of Russian and Second Language Acquisition at Bryn Mawr College. Dr. Davidson received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Harvard University, and has devoted the past thirty-five years to research, teaching, and the institutionalization of support for the fields of Russian and second language acquisition, international education, and post-Soviet educational reform. He is the author or editor of twenty-six books and more than forty articles in the fields of Russian language, culture, and educational development, including a major twenty-year longitudinal, empirically-based study of adult second language acquisition during study abroad. Dr. Davidson currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the European Humanities University (Vilnius), the Board of Governors of the University of California Consortium for International Education, the Executive Board of the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), the Boards of the Coalition for Distinguished Language Centers (CDLC), the U. S. National Foreign Language Standards Collaborative, and the College Board World Languages Academic Advisory Committee. In addition, Dr. Davidson currently acts as elected chair of the Council of Flagship Center Directors.
Dr. Maria D. Lekic
Dr. Lekic is an associate professor at the University of Maryland College Park and a widely recognized expert in curriclum and assessment design. She is author of several major textbooks of Russian for Americans. Dr. Lekic has worked with the Russian Overseas Flagship Program, as senior academic advisor and co-director, since its inception. She has co-authored and edited the seven-volume Flagship textbook series. She is also a member of the American Council of Teachers of Russian Board and editor of Russian Language Journal. Dr. Lekic focuses her research and teaching on the development of Russian language fluency at the upper levels.
Dr. Patricia L. Zody
Patricia Zody joined American Councils’ team as manager of the Russian and Persian Overseas Flagship Programs in August 2010. With more than nine years of experience as the Director for the Center for Language Studies at Beloit College, coupled with a Doctorate from Northwestern University in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Dr. Zody brings a clear understanding of issues and principals of language acquisition to her position at American Councils. Her overseas studies at Moscow State University, Moscow International University, Herzen Pedagogical Institute and earlier at Leningrad State University and Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, provides her with personal insights into language immersion and cross-cultural understanding inherent in the successful study-abroad experience. Moreover, she has demonstrated leadership and recognition by her peers through her membership on the Board of Directors for American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), her service as the Executive Director for the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and Eastern European Languages (2006-2011), and as the Chairperson of the Annual National Post-Secondary Russian Essay Contest for ACTR (2002-2011).
Gennady Babankov, J.D.
Senior Program Officer
Gennady Babankov joined American Councils in 2009 as a Sr. Program Officer for the Russian Overseas Flagship Program. Mr. Babankov is a native Russian speaker who has studied and worked in the United States since 1994. Mr. Babankov holds graduate and professional degrees from George Mason University Law School and The Johns Hopkins University, where he was tutoring undergraduate students in Russian. Prior to his work at the American Councils, Mr. Babankov has been working for almost nine years on the administration of the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program which provides overseas training opportunities to American and foreign school instructors.
St. Petersburg Staff and Faculty
Justin Cedroni joined the American Councils’ team as the Resident Director for the Russian Overseas Flagship Program in August 2011. He received his B.A. in Slavic Studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan in 2008. The following year, Mr. Cedroni was employed as a Russian translator for the National Virtual Language Center through L-3 Communications. After that, he continued his Russian studies as a participant in both the Russian Language and Area Studies Program and the Russian Overseas Flagship Program, in conjunction with which he was awarded the David L. Boren Scholarship. Mr. Cedroni also served for five years as a Russian Cryptologic Linguist in the United States Marine Corps. During this time, he attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where he graduated with honors.
Homestay and Internship Coordinator
Ms. Zenkevich graduated from the Herzen State Pedagogical University, St.Petersburg in 2000 with a Master’s degree in Education, English language and Foreign Literature (M.A. Thesis: “Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation in the novel “On The Road”). She teaches high school English at Gimnazium no. 56 in St. Petersburg where she has been working since 1998. Ms. Zenkevich has acted as Flagship onsite homestay and internship coordinator since the inception of the program.
Dr. Olga V. Riabova
Academic Coordinator and Instructor
Dr. Riabova, Associate Professor of Russian as a Foreign Language, is an Academic Coordinator of the Russian Flagship program in St. Petersburg. She has been working with the Russian Overseas Flagship program since its inception in 2004. Dr. Riabova also acts as an instructor, particularly teaching a group of heritage students. Dr. Riabova received her Ph.D. from St. Petersburg State University in Teaching Russian as a Foreign Language. Dr. Riabova’s research interests include phonetics of modern Russian, Russian lexis, theory of culture, and methods of teaching Russian to foreigners. Dr. Riabova is well familiar with current American scholarship on teaching Russian as a foreign language. She participated in a research conference organized by ACTR in 2009 on teaching Russian to American students. In 2011, Dr. Riabova was a visiting instructor at the Russian Language Institute at Bryn Mawr College. She also regularly works with the Washington, DC-based Academic Director on developing program curriculum and materials.
Dr. Daria V. Kolesova
Dr. Kolesova received her Ph.D. from the Department of Philology of St. Petersburg State University in 1995 (thesis: Text structure in Andrey Platonov’s novel “The Foundation Pit”). Since then, she has been working at the Department of Philology as a senior instructor and then an associate professor of Russian as a Foreign Language. Dr. Kolesova currently conducts classes for Russian language learners. She also delivers lectures to undergraduate and graduate students on topics such as linguistic analysis, principals of text construction, and language of contemporary mass media. Dr. Kolesova supervises undergraduate and graduate research activity. She collaborates with several research groups at the Department of Philology and regularly participates in conferences and seminars, including those organized by the International Association of Teachers of Russian Language and Literature. Since 1991, Dr. Kolesova is a part of a research group drafting a new comprehensive dictionary of Russian language and mentality. As of 2011, Dr. Kolesova has authored 56 scholarly publications.
Dr. Kira A. Rogova
Dr. Rogova is a Distinguished Professor of Philology and the Teaching of Russian Language and Culture.
Dr. Jamila R. Dvinyatina
Dr. Dvinyatina holds a Ph.D. degree in Philology from St. Petersburg State University, where she is a long-time faculty member at the Russian Language Department. For five years, Dr. Dvinyatina was teaching Russian to the employees of the U.S. Consulate in St. Petersburg. She has also offered courses on the culture of speech and Russian literature at the Department of Sociology and Department of Economics of St. Petersburg State University. Dr. Dvinyatina’s sphere of interests includes Russian classic literature, and poetics and history of literature. Since 2003, she also hosts a weekly cultural program on the radio. Sr. Dvinyatina authored many articles and created 15 courses on theory and history of cinema, and Russian history and literature. In 2007, Dr. Dvinyatina received an “Instructor of the Year” award.
Anna V. Khrunenkova
Anna is a graduate of St. Petersburg State University, where she also worked since 2004. She received her Ph.D. in 2010. Anna focuses her research on topics such as culture of speech in modern society, current and recent changes in Russian language, and Internet-based communication. She is an author of 12 publications. Anna has been working with the Russian Overseas Flagship program since 2004.
Ekaterina I. Grazhdankina
Ekaterina graduated from the Department of Philology in 2010. She participated in the Philology student research conferences in 2010 and 2011 as well as in the International Student Forum in connection to the Year of Russian Culture and Language in Italy (2011). Her research interests include syntax, communicative grammar, methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language, and linguistic analysis of the texts. Ekaterina likes dancing and reading, and is an avid traveler.
Olga S. Makarova
A 2006 graduate of the Department of Philology, Olga is working towards her Ph.D. in teaching Russian as a foreign language at St. Petersburg State University. She participated in the program “Cross-Cultural Dialogue”, offered at the University of Helsinki. Olga’s research focuses on speech peculiarities in flash fiction, especially in works by Alexander Solzhenytsin. Additionally, she is interested in the theory of poetics, speech style, and cross-cultural communication.
Aleksandra N. Vytushnyak
Alexandra teaches Russian as a foreign language since 2007. Her research interests include analysis and interpretation of the language of fiction and poetry. She is currently working on her doctorate researching for a thesis on the work of contemporary Russian poets Boris Ryzhiy and Alexander Kushner. Alexandra authored 13 articles and participated in many conferences in Russia and abroad.
Kira A. Shchukina
Kira Shchukina received her Ph.D. in teaching Russian as a foreign language from the Department of Philology in 2004. Since then, she has been working as a senior instructor, teaching all practical aspects of Russian language to the foreign students. Kira participated in the Second International Congress of Researchers of Russian Language as well as in multiple conferences organized by St. Petersburg State University and St. Petersburg University of Technology and Design. Kira’s scholarly interests include linguistic analysis of fiction literature, especially modern prose. In her free time, Kira is pursuing her hobbies – psychology and handcrafts.
Natalia V. Semenova
Natalia is a senior instructor at the Department of Philology, where she has been working since 2008. She is currently working on her Ph.D. thesis about Soviet theatre. Natalia is very interested in the theory of literature, linguistics, drama, and cinema. In 2010-2011, she took part in a research project dedicated to the Leningrad poets from 1950 to 1990. She is an author of 5 publications. In her free time, Natalia studies foreign languages.