Orange County, California

iec occ team

Meet Our Team!


contacts kaoriJen Garcia - Program Manager / Instructor
Ever since Jen was a kid, she knew she wanted to be a teacher: she would instruct her stuffed animals and even give them homework! And since her parents were always taking the family on camping trips around California, a deep passion for travel was also instilled in her. When the time came, she decided to obtain both her B.A. in English and M.S. in Teaching English at California State University, Fullerton, taking a break to live in Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa for a while. After teaching in Taiwan, she then returned to the States to work at UCLA, CSUF, UCI, Irvine Valley College, USC and now IEC@OCC. Travel remains a top priority, and so far she has visited over 20 countries and lived in five. When she’s not travelling, she is surfing 100 meters from her house by Balboa Pier, which is only 8 km from IEC@OCC!

team staff chelseaChelsea Lo - Instructor
While learning French and Mandarin abroad, Chelsea discovered her passion for language, learning about new cultures and meeting people from all over the world. After studying Business and Music at USC, she received her M.A. in English with a concentration in TESOL and a certificate in teaching post-secondary reading at San Francisco State University. She has been teaching and tutoring ESL since 2011 and has taught beginning to advanced classes at UCI, SFSU, UC Berkeley Extension and City College of San Francisco. In addition to IEC, she currently teaches at Irvine Valley College. She enjoys staying current with changes in the field and has presented at TESOL, CATESOL and LESLLA conferences. For fun, she enjoys hiking, yoga, reading, cooking, traveling, playing piano and spending time with friends and family. 

team staff sayonneSavyonne Steindler - Instructor
Savyonne was born and raised in Irvine, California, where she developed an interest in learning about different cultures.  This interest led her to pursue a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  After graduating, she volunteered for three years in the fields of English and health education in Israel and Ethiopia.  She found her work abroad so meaningful that she decided to continue teaching English when she returned to California in 2015.  Since then, she has taught ESL in programs across Orange County and completed her M.S. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at California State University, Fullerton.  In her free time, Savyonne enjoys hiking in California’s beautiful parks.    

team matthewMatt Werth - Instructor
Matthew has always wanted to be a student. He took a long seven years (plus three years part time) to get a BA; spending time studying in different departments, universities and countries before finally receiving a BA in music from the university of Texas at Austin. Belatedly realizing he would never make a living as a musician he started traveling; studying and teaching languages around the world before eventually getting a Masters in TESOL from San Francisco State University. After graduation he went to Taiwan where he spent 14 years teaching English at the University of Taipei and trying to master the tones of Mandarin and Taiwanese. Now he's back in California, teaching at IEC@OCC, raising a family and studying machine learning and natural language processing.

team dashDash McDougall - Instructor
Learning and exploring the mechanics of language is one of Dash’s passions. He has both formally and informally studied six languages including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, and Mandarin. His quest to understand the inner workings of language led him to earn his B.A. in linguistics at California State University, Long Beach. However, it was his desire to help others achieve their own personal language goals which propelled him to continue his education getting his master’s in TESOL. He has taught for a number of schools in Orange County— Cal State Fullerton and UCI to name a couple. In his free time, Dash likes to hone his languages and spend time with his friends going out to see the sights in Orange County, L.A., and beyond! Outside of language, Dash is a self-proclaimed health food and nutrition enthusiast. He believes that having a healthy body and mind are key to pursuing your goals. When he is not in the classroom or out spending quality time with his friends, he is racing down the highway on Radiator Springs Racers at Disney California Adventure and visiting his pal Mickey.

team allison
Allison Walter - Instructor

Allison began her teaching career in Paris, France, where she used film and news stories to improve students’ pronunciation and comprehension of the English language.  After earning her TEFL certificate from Cambridge University, Allison created an English program at ING Sviluppo SpA, in Milan, Italy, teaching exclusively to analysts and stockbrokers using current financial news and authentic materials.  Her return to the United States began another journey of pedagogy and study at the University of California, Irvine, where she earned a Single Subject Teaching Credential in English and French as well as her Master’s and Ph.D. in French Literature and Philosophy.  Upon completion of her degrees, Allison continued teaching at UCI International Programs, and is now happy to be part of IEC's instructors.


Gladys Calderon - Program Facilitator
team gladysGladys earned her B.A in Political Science with a minor in International Migration Studies from UC San Diego in 2010 and later earned an M.S. from California Baptist University in 2016. Gladys has a passion for people, cultures, and education. She taught English in Thailand in the summer of 2008 and again in The Republic of Georgia in 2012. She has traveled to Thailand, Georgia, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Armenia, and more. In her free time, Gladys enjoys visiting Disneyland, taking road-trips, and discovering new delicious places to eat.

Noriko Gotschall - International Student Counselor
Noriko is an OCC International Counselor. She helps OCC international students achieve their educational goals by making sure they understand degree and university transfer requirements and helping them choose classes. Noriko came to the US on F-1 visa after graduating from high school in Japan. She first attended an intensive language program before going to college. She has BA in International Relations from University of Wisconsin-Madison and MS in Counseling from California State University, Long Beach.

contacts mireilleMireille Halley - Student Advisor
Mireille grew up in Southern California Bi-culturally French-Canadian. She has a varied history of working in Biology, teaching, and women’s health fields. She has an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and a Bachelor’s of Science in Wildlife Management. For the last 8+ years she has worked at community colleges as an international student advisor helping students navigate the F-1 regulations, doing workshops, and assisting with study abroad. Outside of OCC, she spends time with her two teenage girls, going to local restaurants, doing her own home (and sometimes car) repairs. She enjoys gardening, cooking, fishing, camping, birdwatching and all things nature related. If you hike the local trails, don’t’ be surprised if you find her in the bushes on the side of a trail somewhere eating edible wild plants.

contacts jenKaori Nakama - Student Advisor
Kaori was born in Okinawa, Japan and moved to the U.S. in 2001. She received B.A. in Studio Arts from University of California, Santa Barbara. As a former international student herself, she is passionate about helping students from other countries and enjoys learning about new cultures. Kaori is fluent in Japanese and English, and trying to learn Vietnamese. On her free time, she likes to practice Tahitian/Hula dancing, explore Orange County, go to the beach and go shopping!

Thu Nguyen - Student Advisor
Thu graduated from Orange Coast College and will finish her BA in Management this Fall 2017. She grew up in Saigon, Vietnam and came to the U.S. after graduating high school. Thu would like to pursue a Master's Degree in Counseling and work as an International Student Advisor. She enjoys travelling, shopping, dancing and cooking. In her free time, she travels and dances Zumba.

Stephanie Phonsiri - Staff Aide
I received my BA from Vanguard University in Organizational Management and my MBA from Redlands University. I worked at Coast Community College District since 1990 and for Orange Coast College since 2006. I love working with and meeting students from all over the world. I can speak four languages: Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai and English. When I'm not at work, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two children. I enjoy outdoor activities and love running.


contacts naokiNaoki Hirota - Marketing Director
Naoki came to the US as an international student and majored in International Relations at the University of Kentucky, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in 1997. He has been with IEC since its opening in 2000. He travels internationally throughout the year, meeting partner institutions and prospective students around the world. In his spare time, he enjoys playing the drums (a pair of drumsticks are his icon!). If you see an IEC employee doing a presentation at a fair/exhibition, it will be likely be Naoki.

contacts kristopherKristoffer Toribio - Assistant Director International Admissions and Recruitment
Kristoffer is the Assistant Director for the Global Engagement Center is responsible for driving the admissions and recruitment for international students. Kristoffer was born and raised on the island of Kaua'i and a proud graduate of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa . He has worked in international undergraduate admissions for nearly 9 years and has traveled to nearly 40 countries. In his spare time, he enjoys the beach, staying active, travelling, learning about different cultures and playing with his corgi, Koji. His hidden talent is memorizing nearly every world capital and national flag. 


contacts sallySally Conover - Director, IEC@OCC
Sally has been the Director at IEC since 2000. She is very excited about IEC@OCC and is positive that it will be a huge success. She divides her time between northern and southern California (and enjoys them equally!) Sally is challenged by finding ways to help students gain confidence and discover personal pathways to success. Sally grew up in Pennsylvania and has degrees from Penn State University, The School for International Training (SIT) and Pepperdine University. She loves to travel, explore the outdoors and experience new places.

contacts nathanNathan Jensen - Associate Dean, Global Engagement
As Associate Dean, Nathan is responsible for oversight of the Global Engagement Center which includes services for international students, study abroad programs and services, the Multicultural Center, and IEC@OCC intensive English program. Nathan has worked in international higher education for nearly 15 years. Nathan likes explore the world with his wife, attend church, play music, and go to art museums. Nathan has a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in music from CSU Long Beach.