Illinois International Leadership


Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies

Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela was named the Vice-Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies (VPIAGS) and Professor in the College of Education effective January 2015 . Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Mabokela was the Assistant Dean for International Studies in the College of Education and Professor of Higher Education at Michigan State University. Originally from South Africa, she received her BA in Economics from Ohio Wesleyan University, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated with a Master’s in Labor and Industrial Relations and Ph.D in Educational Policy Studies, both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She started teaching at Michigan State University as a visiting Assistant Professor in 1999 and was named full professor with tenure and 2010. A former Fulbright New Century Scholar Fellow in 2006, Mabokela has raised more than $27 million to support her research and other scholarly activities. Her research examines experiences of mariginalized populations in higher education and aims to inform institutional policies that affect these groups. She is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of seven books and has published extensively in national and international journals.


Sandra Allain, Coordinator for Strategic Initiatives - Latin America

Sandra joined Illinois International (II) in January 2014. Before joining II, she worked for six years in the field of International Education as Coordinator for International Agreements and International Cooperation at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia and has lived abroad in the United States, Paraguay, Guatemala and Honduras. She works with academic units and II units related to Latin America to facilitate the development of new relationships with partner institutions in the region and assist the management of existing ones. She will also assist in developing and coordinating training programs with organizations in Latin America. Sandra has a Law Degree from Universidad del Rosario in Colombia and holds a Master of Education degree in Educational Policy Studies with a concentration on Global Studies in Education at Illinois.


Tim Barnes, Director, Illinois Strategic International Partnerships

Tim Barnes joined Illinois International in 1998, and has worked in the offices of Overseas Projects and Foreign Visitors (OPFV), East Asian and Pacific Exchange Programs (EAEP), and Institutional and Faculty International Collaboration (IFIC) prior to assuming his current position as director of Illinois Strategic International Partnerships (ISIP). Tim now manages all formal institutional linkages between the Urbana-Champaign campus and international partners, as well as fostering increased international engagement among faculty and serving as the campus liaison officer for the Fulbright Senior Scholar program.


Becky Billman, Associate Director for Human Resources

Becky Billman joined International Programs and Studies in 1997. As Associate Director for Human Resources for IPS, she provides management and oversight of human resource related activities for all units reporting to the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Global Strategies.  She serves as a member of the Senior Management Team providing guidance to the VPIAGS on matters related to the leadership of IPS and internationalization of the campus, as well as serving as liaison for the VPIAGS to campus and university human resource office. She also serves as Affirmative Action Officer, Intake Specialist, and Departmental Classifier. Becky earned a BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Illinois-Springfield.


Andrea Bordeau, Assistant Director for International Health and Safety


Andrea Bordeau was named Assistant Director for International Health and Safety in March 2015. She joined Illinois International in 2013 working on initiatives in the Middle East and Asia for the Study Abroad Office. Before joining the University of Illinois, she worked for a security studies think tank in Israel leading a research group focused on the Syrian Civil War. Andrea completed her thesis research on Kurdish Nationalism at the American University of Iraq – Sulaymaniyah in 2011. She has participated in training with The United States Foreign Service Institute and is a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council. Andrea holds an M.Sc in African Studies from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and an M.A. in Middle East History and Security Studies from Tel Aviv University.


Denise Esworthy, Human Resources Associate

Denise joined Illinois International (II) in September 2014. As HR Associate for Illinois International, she serves as primary HR contact to II units and LAS Centers with dual reporting relationships with II, Diversity Advocate, Intake Specialist, Department Classifier, and back-up to the Associate Director of HR. Before joining II, she worked one year for FAA Shared Services and 14 years with University Payroll and Benefits, bringing with her experience in foreign national payment processing to support the campus internationalization goals.


Caroline Ewing, International Scholarship Specialist

Caroline Ewing joined II in January 2015. In her capacity as International Scholarship Specialist, Caroline directs the scholarship selection process and collaborates with campus partners to promote and evaluate the impact of scholarships used by current students to study abroad. Prior to joining II, Caroline worked in Scholar Recruitment in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. She earned her B.A. in Intercultural Studies from Lincoln Christian University and is pursuing her M.Ed. in Higher Education at the University of Illinois.



Linda Franklin, Staff Clerk

Linda started at the University of Illinois in February 2002 as a secretary in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Medicine. In April 2008, she accepted a position as Office Support Specialist with Illinois International, providing support for both financial and human resource responsibilities for II and International Centers Administrative Services (ICAS).



Cheryl Heck, Director, International Center Administrative Services


Cheryl joined Illinois International in March, 2015. Cheryl leads International Centers Administrative Services (ICAS), a shared service center that provides financial, human resources, and administrative support to all II units and the LAS areas studies centers. The Director of ICAS holds an executive leadership position in Illinois International with responsibility for fiscal and administrative activities and serves as a member of the Illinois International Senior Management Team, providing input and guidance to the Vice Provost on matters related to the strategic international goals of the units and the campus.


Amy Hubbard, Office Manager

Amy joined the University in 2008 and brings with her 20 years of Administrative and Event Planning experience. She comes to II most recently from the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) where she performed as the Assistant to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of OSP. Amy serves as assistant to the VPIAGS and is also be responsible for managing the daily operations of the Illinois International Office.


Lauren Karplus, International Visitors and Protocol Specialist

Lauren joined Illinois International in September 2014. As International Visitors and Protocol Specialist, she serves as the campus protocol officer, ensuring visiting dignitaries are extended all proper courtesies by the University by coordinating their itineraries and acting as an escort for international visitors to campus. Prior to joining II, she served for two years in the United States Peace Corps in the Kingdom of Swaziland. She has an M.A. in Political Science from Illinois State University and a B.A. in International Studies and German from the University of Illinois.


Rajeev Malik, Acting Associate Director, Illinois International; Director, Illinois International Training

Rajeev Malik is the Acting Associate Director in the Offices of the VPIAGS and Illinois International at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as the director for Illinois International Training.  He has been at Illinois since 2002.  Before coming to the University of Illinois, he worked in International Business Development with Wolfram Research and Management Consulting with A.T. Kearney.  He has a B.A. in History from McGill University and an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago.


Veerle Opgenhaffen, Associate Director for Advancement

Veerle joined Illinois International in August 2014. As Associate Director of Advancement for I,I she provides management and leadership to the unit’s communications, stewardship, and fundraising efforts, working closely with numerous units across the campus that have an international dimension to their work and scholarship, as well as with a vast network of donors, alumni, current and prospective students. Prior to joining II, she spent seven years as the Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, where she oversaw the Center’s operational management, fundraising, and communications efforts. Previously, she worked at the International Center for Transitional Justice in New York as a Communications Associate. Veerle earned her B.A. in International Affairs and Languages from Antioch College (1996) and her M.A. in International Affairs and Human Rights from the New School University (2003).


Paul Roberts, Network Specialist I


Nicole Tami, Director of International Student Integration

Nicole Tami joined Illinois International shortly after completing her doctorate degree in cultural anthropology. Working with academic and administrative units across campus, she manages and facilitates international student integration and engagement at Illinois. This involves coordinating targeted outreach for international students, organizing cross-cultural training for faculty and staff who serve our international student population, expanding existing resources, and developing new tools and platforms for meeting the needs of our growing international community.

Matt VanderZalm, Communications Coordinator

Matt VanderZalm, a Champaign native, came to Illinois International in September 2007 after five years in the financial industry. He earned his B.S. in Mass Communications from Illinois State University in 2001. His responsibilities include serving as the managing editor of the Illinois International Review and the Illinois International Annual Report; creating and implementing project-oriented communications plans for international programs; serving as writer and editor for the Illinois International website; serving as the editor of the Illinois International Update; facilitating media contact by creating press releases, public service announcements and news advisories; and serving as the primary liaison between II and the University of Illinois News Bureau.


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