By Stephanie McMillen
As someone who spent most of her childhood living abroad, Lisa Eli, managing director of continuing international education, is grateful to be in a position where she is able to help Valencia’s international students succeed.
Lisa began her career as a sales manager at Hilton Hotels Corporation before securing a position at Valencia in 1994, as a sales manager in Continuing Education. In this role, she was responsible for developing relationships with local businesses to provide training and performance solutions for their employees.
“What drew me to Valencia, and what still holds strong for me, is to be part of a school that makes education accessible to many people who would otherwise not be able to pursue a degree,” Lisa shared.
In 2001, Lisa seized an opportunity to move closer to the work she loves when the Center for Global Languages (CGL) was established. As the program manager for CGL, Lisa worked with students and educational partners from around the world. Together, she and Jennifer Robertson, the program director at the time, built the department from the ground up, developing language and culture programs for individuals and organizations in the community, including the Intensive English Program.
Six years later, Lisa became the assistant director of CGL, and in 2010, she moved to her current position.
“In this role, I manage continuing international education programs, including the Intensive English Program, J Visa Programs, evening and Saturday language programs for the community, and the English as a Second Language (ESL) for Teens summer program,” Lisa explained.
One of Lisa’s greatest work accomplishments happened in 2010, when she and her team obtained accreditation for the Intensive English Program from the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation.
“At the time of our initial accreditation in 2010, we became one of less than 10 community colleges in the U.S. with this type of program, which is a testament to the quality of our instructors, curriculum, and staff,” Lisa said.
That same year, Lisa was also part of a team tasked with submitting an application to the U.S. Department of State to accept Exchange Visitors on a J visa. “This allowed us to create and launch the International College Program in partnership with Walt Disney World, which accepts students from around the world to intern at Disney while studying at Valencia,” she said.
When oversight of International Student Services (ISS) was moved to Continuing Education earlier this year, Lisa’s duties expanded and she became responsible for managing operations for this program. Her goal is to increase the number of international students enrolled at Valencia on a student visa.
“Lisa has been involved with the Language Institute initiative for over 10 years and has been directly involved in the exceptional growth of the program,” said Joe Battista, chief operating officer of Continuing Education. “Lisa’s passion for international initiatives and participation in the International Strategic Plan was instrumental in the reorganization of ISS.”
Looking forward, Lisa said that she is “excited to apply everything I have learned during my time at Valencia to help make this new venture a great success and I am pleased to work with the staff at ISS.”
Lisa holds a bachelor’s degree in hotel, restaurant and institution management from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in liberal studies from Rollins College.
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