Meet Our Experts

Both in-house and across our network of 25,000 faculty and staff, TIEC’s diverse experts span all fields of study and professional disciplines.

Photo of Texas Institute of International Education Consortium President Robin Lerner meeting a program participant

Examples of recent fields of collaboration:

  • Civil and Electrical Engineering with Texas Tech University

  • Cyber Security with the University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Nursing with the University of Texas at Arlington

  • Youth Entrepreneurship with Texas A&M International University

  • Student mobility programs with Lamar University and Texas State University

  • Women’s Entrepreneurship with Texas Woman’s College

  • Online degree programs with the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley

In-house expertise:

Robin Lerner, Esq (Expert in International and Governmental Relations and J1 Visas)

Robin Lerner is a seasoned executive leader. As president of TIEC, she establishes the vision and direction of one of the country’s largest statewide consortium of universities. Having served as a deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, she directly led four offices, 80 staff and oversaw the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, an industry of international exchange with 1,400 implementers. Ms. Lerner also helped lead the broader bureau and its $600 million grant-making capacity. She is an expert on the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, public-private partnerships, academic and professional international exchange, Congressional and government relations, international human rights and public diplomacy.

Sithembile Chiromo, MBA (Expert in Financial Planning, Operations Management, and Organizational Development)

Ms. Sithembile (Thembie) Chiromo is an accomplished professional with over 25 years’ experience working with several international non-profit organizations in the United States and abroad, such as, Church World Service, Save the Children, World Vision International, Norwegian Refugee Council, and SNV Netherlands Development Organization.   She has managed both multi-million as well as small funding portfolios from a wide range of private foundations, bilateral and multilateral donors, and US federal grants.  She has supported organizational development and strengthening processes and her expertise includes financial planning and management, human resources and operations management.

Steven Kroman, MA (Expert in Foreign Language Education, U.S. Academic Systems, and ESL/EFL Teaching Methods)

As TIEC’s Lead Instructor, Steven Kroman earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Boston University in 2009 and his master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin in Foreign Language Education in 2013. He taught EFL in Japan for four years, simultaneously achieving top level proficiency in Japanese, before coming back to Austin to continue his education.  He has been working at TIEC since 2013 where he has been preparing international students for matriculation into US universities and training teachers to improve their ESL/EFL teaching.  He specializes in language learning theories and methodologies as well as teaching reading and writing.   

Heather Farmakis, PhD (Expert in Online Learning, Leadership and Executive Leadership and more)

Dr. Heather Farmakis joined Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) in August 2018 as the Senior Director of Intensive English and Global Learning. Dr. Farmakis’s expertise is in online learning, leadership and executive education programs, educational product development, accreditation, business development, and program evaluation. Prior to joining TIEC, Dr. Farmakis offered professional development and consulting services for association executives, school leadership, and business owners.

Abbey Maedgen, MEd (Expert in Creating Curricula, Intensive English Teaching, and Program Logistics)

Abbey Maedgen, TIEC’s Program Coordinator, joined TIEC in 2013 and has helped create and teach new curricula in a wide array of programs. She has been teaching English for 12 years in a variety of settings from kindergarten to community college. She has taught English in three countries--the US, Korea, and Vietnam--and on one boat that sailed around the world--the Japanese Peace Boat. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas in English Literature and an M.Ed. from Sam Houston University in International Literacy. Her areas of focus include multicultural education, teaching culture, listening, speaking, pronunciation, and teacher development.

Angelique Pearson, MA (Expert in Program Management, Student Services, and ESL Instruction)

Angelique Pearson began her teaching career in Japan and serves as TIEC’s international engagement coordinator, RO and PDSO. She is also currently serving as President of the TexTESOL3 Affiliate’s Board of Directors, and has been active in TESOL for many years. She has an MA in Teaching from St. Edward’s University and a BA in Japanese Studies from Earlham College.

Sonia McLaughlin, BA (Expert in English Training for Business Professionals, Program Planning, and Latin American Studies)

Sonia McLaughlin joined TIEC as Program Coordinator in November 2019. In 2014, Ms. McLaughlin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor’s in Latin American Studies and a certificate in Indigenous Studies. As a Brazilian American, Ms. McLaughlin has a passion for Latin American languages and has a background in training English for business professionals in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition, she has experience and expertise coordinating programs for youth in leadership, women empowerment and outdoor education. Since joining TIEC, Ms. McLaughlin has organized international delegation services and oversaw a Youth Entrepreneurship Program with the US Embassy of Panama.