10 May 2023

Fanta Aw & LaNitra Berger: NAFSA turns 75!

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It’s time to light the candles on the cake for NAFSA: Association of International Educators, as they celebrate their 75th anniversary this year! Founded in 1948, the main aim of the originally named ‘National Association of Foreign Student Advisers’ was to promote the professional development of U.S. college and university officials responsible for assisting and advising the 25,000 foreign students who had come to study in the United States after World War II. Since then, there has been a name change, a move to a much broader scope, and year after year of highly successful annual conferences.

To commemorate this impressive milestone, EAIE podcast host Laura Rumbley talks to Fanta Aw, CEO and Executive Director at NAFSA, and LaNitra Berger, NAFSA President and Chair of the Board of Directors. What does the work of building and sustaining a diverse and thriving community of professionals look like to NAFSA today? From their US perspective, what’s capturing their attention within the European context and how do they see the transatlantic dimensions of international education playing out now and moving forward? And what are they most looking forward to at the 75th NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo taking place May 30 - June 2 in Washington, DC? Tune in to this celebratory episode to learn more!

About Fanta Aw

Fanta Aw, PhD, is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Aw previously served the association as President and Chair of the Board of Directors from 2013–2016, the longest tenure of any individual in that role in NAFSA’s history. Dr. Aw has deep experience in both international education and higher education administration. She spent both her academic and professional careers at American University in Washington, D.C. She most recently served as Vice President of Undergraduate Enrolment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence. She received her BS in accounting, MA in public administration with a focus on organizational development, and PhD in sociology with a focus on international education, social stratification, and transnational migration. Aw held many leadership positions in her decades at AU, most recently as Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence.

About LaNitra Berger

LaNitra Berger, PhD is the President and Chair of the Board of Directors of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. She is also the Associate Professor of Art History and Director of African and African American Studies at George Mason University (GMU). She has helped students secure more than 60 prestigious fellowships such as the Fulbright, Boren, Gilman, Truman, Udall, and Critical Language Scholarship awards. In 2015, she received the GMU Spirit of King Award for diversifying study abroad. She is an active member of the Diversity Abroad Network and volunteers with Globalize DC. Dr. Berger received her BA in art and international relations from Stanford University and her PhD in art history from Duke University.

Additional resources

For further insights into the topics touched on in this episode, the following resources may be of interest:

→ 75th NAFSA Annual Conference and Expo

→ Engaging communities: internationalisation of higher education for society

→ Robin Matross Helms: The USA regroups

​→ ​​​​​​Opening doors across the Atlantic

​→ ​​​​​​America on our minds