This year as in previous years, the Alumni Relations Office received many outstanding nominations for alumni who are doing remarkable work in their fields and who show ongoing commitment to the Middlebury Institute. The Alumni Achievement Awards Committee met in February to review the nominations and, after careful consideration, the committee selected the following individuals to be our 2019 award recipients:
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Maureen Sweeney MPA `94
Maureen Sweeney has spent her career working with international organizations around the globe. Over the past 20 years she has served as a staff member, consultant and business owner in the fields of global event production, language services, VIP services and fund-raising.
Maureen graduated from MIIS in 1994 with an MPA and soon after joined the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, as the Coordinator of the Professional Interpreting unit, working with Chief Interpreter and former Dean of the MIIS T & I Department – Bill Weber. Upon completion of the Games in Atlanta, Maureen joined the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee (SLOC) as the Head of Language Services and Venue Protocol.
When the Games ended, Maureen decided to stay in Salt Lake City and establish her own consulting practice. As the principal at Maureen Sweeney Consulting, she has worked with Olympic Organizing Committees in: Torino, Beijing, Vancouver, London, Sochi, Rio, PyeongChang, and Tokyo. She has also served as an Expert Advisor on both Protocol and Language Services for the International Olympic Committee since January 2012.
In addition to Olympic Games-related clients, Maureen has also worked with the International Relations and Language Services functions of numerous other sporting-related events such as: the Inaugural European Games in Baku, the Warrior Games, the Pan American Games, the World Equestrian Games, the World Boxing Championships, the Chicago Olympic Bid and the current Salt Lake 2030 Olympic Bid.
Along with her Olympic activities, Maureen also works with several other high-profile international organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund and the Paul Allen Family Foundation. Maureen worked for the Gates Foundation as the Event Manager of the 2013 Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi. The event raised over 4 billion US dollars for the eradication of polio. Maureen has also developed and executed delegation visits to Senegal, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Jordan. These bespoke trips allow high wealth donors to visit the international programs they currently fund or are considering funding in the future. Since 2012, Maureen has been part of a small team that plans and produces the Giving Pledge Annual Gathering. The Giving Pledge, hosted by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, brings together 100+ billionaires from around the world, who have pledged to donate at least 50% of their wealth during their lifetime.
Maureen is most proud of serving as one of two Founding Partners at Tiller Language Services (TLS), www.tillerlanguage.com, a successful translation and interpretation services provider. Clients of TLS include: the 2026 United Bid, Airbnb, The World Food Program, 5 Currents, Jet Set Sports, Gates Ventures, iLUKA, and many more. TLS prides itself on using the most highly trained and talented interpreters and translators available, many of whom are either MIIS faculty or graduates. Being able to re-connect with and give back to the Institute by hiring its talented alumni and teaching staff is something Maureen particularly enjoys.
Maureen lives in Salt Lake City with her husband Larry and daughter Sally. She enjoys travel, reading, and watching her daughter play ice hockey.
Young Alumni Achievement Award, GSTILE
David Lawrence Chiesa MATESOL and LPA ’10
Dr. David L. Chiesa received his doctorate in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University and his M.A. in TESOL with a Language Program Administration Certificate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Dr. Chiesa’s research interests include language assessment, classroom research, teacher education, second language teacher cognition, supervision and development; and second language acquisition. He has lived, worked, and conducted research in East and Central Asia for fifteen years as a Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) participant, U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, English Language Fellow, and English Language Specialist for the U.S. Department of State. His work has taken him to Japan, Mainland China, Mongolia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Uzbekistan.
He has published numerous empirical research articles and book chapters, and has just completed an in-service teacher education textbook and manual with four co-authors from the National Research Center in Teaching Foreign Languages in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He has been honored to receive the Georgia State University Provost Dissertation Fellowship Award for his work entitled, “Discerning the Language Assessment Literacy of Uzbekistan EFL Teachers: An Individual, Social, and Sociohistorical Teacher Cognition Inquiry.” Currently, Dr. Chiesa is the Language Testing and Assessment Specialist for the Ministry of Public Education for the Republic of Uzbekistan. In his current position, he is establishing a sustainable computer-based language testing system throughout the Republic and is re-writing the national standards for language learning and teaching in collaboration with colleagues from the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, British Council, and the three Uzbekistan Ministries of Education – PreSchool, Public Education, and Higher Education.
Alumni Volunteer Service Award
Sean Brownlee MBA ’11
Sean Brownlee is a Special Operations United States Marine with over 21 years of global service in Cuba, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and countries throughout the Middle East and Europe. In his current positions he is the senior enlisted advisor for the west coast readiness support program responsible for force readiness in the event of a national emergency. He is also a foreign area regional affairs officer responsible for advising senior leaders on military operations with other nations and providing cultural expertise to forward deployed elements.
After returning from revolutionary Cairo and working with the MIIS Frontier Market Scout program helping entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial incubators and startups, Sean formed several international retail companies and a U.S. based manufacturing business. He advocates for retail locally where he has been recognized by Silicon Valley Business associations and nationally by Amazon for his work on Capitol Hill. Sean serves on the board of directors for the Washington Retail Association advocating for statewide legislation and policies that reduces costs for retailers and consumers while encouraging economic growth and positive change. In 2018 he was recognized by the National Retail Federation as an America’s Retail Champion distinguished finalist for his engagement in public policy contributions.
Promoting sustainable emergency preparedness solutions throughout Monterey County, Sean serves on the board of directors for the Community Emergency Response Volunteers, a local non-profit dedicated to supporting FEMA emergency programs and personal preparedness in our communities. His help can be felt as he assists victims of fires and disasters through the state of California. His continued outreach and support to the Institute can be seen in his mentorship of students in a variety of courses and programs ranging from Lean Startup Methods to the Frontier Market Scout programs as well as through student recruiting initiatives.
To learn more about Sean visit: www.seanbrownlee.com
Young Alumni Achievement Award, GSIPM
Shawn Daniel Harris MPA ’13
Shawn Harris is a research professional with extensive experience in data collection, management, and analysis as well as program evaluation. Shortly after graduating, Shawn co-founded the MIIS Mixed-methods Evaluation, Training, and Analysis (META) Lab, where he still serves as a Research Fellow. The META Lab’s mission is to serve as an incubator for accelerating the education of students at MIIS in the areas of research and evaluation and provide them with opportunities to gain experience supporting organizations both locally and abroad.
In June 2014, Shawn joined Conflict Armament Research (CAR) as a field investigator tasked with collecting data on illicit weapons in armed conflicts. In this role, he spent over 300 days in the field helping establish CAR’s operations in northern Iraq and Syria during the peak of the Islamic State’s territorial control and supported its Somalia field operations.
As part of his work with CAR, Shawn has briefed and drafted data-driven reports for the U.S. Office of the Vice President, National Security Council, and the State, Justice, and Defense Departments, as well as international bodies such as the United Nations and INTERPOL. Additionally, he has been interviewed by major media outlets including the New York Times, the Economist, National Public Radio, and The Wall Street Journal.
Currently, Shawn serves as CAR’s Head of Special Projects where he leads its cross-functional Data Working Group (DWG), which is tasked with optimizing how the organization collects, manages, analyzes, and communicates its data. Shawn is also continuing his education by pursuing the MITx MicroMasters in Statistics and Data Science.
Twenty alumni from the Middlebury Institute’s International Environmental Policy program gathered in Monterey last weekend to share updates and meet with faculty and staff – and have some fun.
Close to forty Middlebury Institute faculty, students and alumni from the international education management degree program participated in the recent regional Association of International Educators (NAFSA) conference in Reno, Nevada.
Alumni Alexandre Ponomarev MACI ’00 and Maureen Sweeney MPA ’94 will serve as chief and deputy chief of the interpreting staff for the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.