Ask the CEO: TESOL International Association

Rosa Aronson, Ph.D., CAE, executive director, TESOL International Association, answers questions from TESOL member LaWanna Shelton.

Shelton: We are seeing more and more English learners of color. What is the organization doing to address the distinct cultural aspects of this increase?

Aronson: English learners are a complex and diverse group, reflecting the increasing diversity of the U.S. and global population. TESOL International Association's credo states that, as a community, we respect diversity, multilingualism, and multiculturalism. Our advocacy efforts, education offerings, and research all reflect this focus. TESOL has its own standing Committee on Diversity to help us address the specific needs of underrepresented populations within TESOL. I am also fortunate to serve as chair of ASAE's Diversity and Inclusion Committee and can bring that perspective to TESOL.

What is the organization's plan to include countries that are unrepresented by TESOL?

TESOL currently has a network of 104 affiliates, with roughly half outside the United States. We offer discounted membership dues and registration fees to low-income members, as well as grants and scholarships. Our directors often travel to underrepresented countries to conduct professional development workshops. I will travel to Haiti to speak at our Affiliate Conference thanks to a special travel grant TESOL offers. Last year, I traveled with the then-president of TESOL to Afghanistan to address English language teachers and student teachers.

What has inspired you to achieve your goals in your personal life or career?

Education and educators have been my true inspiration both in my personal life and career. Education has been my life's work. I am very grateful to be serving in my role at TESOL, which represents home for me, a place where I still learn, where I can make a positive difference, and where members like you continue to inspire me.