Our staff works year-round to continue growing our programs and to bring the Bozeman community & The State of Montana new and important language & culture education opportunities
Elizabeth Williamson ~ Executive Director Elizabeth Williamson is, by training a geographer, cartographer and spatial analyst. After receiving her Masters in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences from MSU, she spent a decade focused on Northern Rockies wildlife conservation as a project coordinator and manager. When her oldest daughter reached elementary age in 2013, she became active in the Bozeman education sector and served as a Bozeman School District Trustee for 4 years. She was also part of the parent-initiated Friends of World Language - Bozeman. At that time, the group was earnest in their desire to see greater k-5 world language education opportunities in the Bozeman Public Schools. Through her leadership, she spearheaded the k-5 after school world language program's growth into all 8 Bozeman elementaries. In collaboration with other language-focused community members, Elizabeth went on to found the World Language Initiative - MT in 2017. She is the current WLI-MT Executive Director, focusing on the growth and sustainability of the organization, as well as the development of programming designed to best provide language learning opportunities to all Bozeman Area community members. In 2019, WLI-MT served over 1400 community members with their in-school, after-school, evening, on-line and summer programming. They now serve 11 public and private elementary schools in the Bozeman Area with in-school and after school classes. WLI-MT is currently in a strategic planning process and is excited to grow their work to include EL students in their world language focus and to better meet their mission of serving the entire community of Bozeman Area language learners. Elizabeth will "die happy" the day that all Bozeman Area elementary-aged students receive in-school-day world language and culture education in and when Arabic and Chinese are available k-12 to all Bozeman students.
Hannah Jacobsma ~ Program Manager Hannah became intrigued by the French language from a young age through ballet. It wasn’t until college that she became fully engaged in learning the language, and ended up pursuing a degree in French. During that time, she lived 6 weeks in Arles, France, where she studied the History of French Photography. In the autumn following her college graduation, Hannah moved to Samatan, France, a village of just under 2,000 people. There, she was an English Teaching Assistant in a middle school and trade school. In this role, she loved teaching language through songs and stories, and enjoyed finding new ways to let students express their individuality and creativity through language. She also enjoyed teaching an adult English class at the local Samatan library! In January 2018, Hannah moved to Bozeman to work for an outdoor adventure camp for girls. She now works as a French coach, is the WLI-MT Program & Event Coordinator, and teaches K-5 ballet classes in Manhattan, MT! She is very passionate about empowering young people in all facets of life, and believes the power of cultural humility can move mountains.
Kristina Allison ~ In-School Day Program Coordinator Kristina began her cultural and language interests as a child, reading every National Geographic magazine arriving at her house from cover to cover. It wasn’t until she was an adult, however, moving to Geneva, Switzerland, that she was fully immersed in another language and culture. During her time working for the United Nations as an English-language editor, she was constantly struck with the sheer number of languages spoken in this cosmopolitan environment and was amazed at the ease with which some people could switch so easily from one language to another. Inspired and humbled by the difficulty of navigating local life without speaking the local language, she began formal study of French at the UN Language Programme. There she learned lots of French grammar and became fascinated with the language-learning process. Kristina has been working in the field of education in a variety of capacities for over 15 years, most recently teaching English to international students at Montana State University. Her previous career was in social work, where she worked for several years in public schools and facilitating workshops for parents and educators in behavior-management techniques. She has also taught French to children in the Bozeman area.Outside of work, Kristina looks for chances to get outside: running, biking, skiing, snowboarding, dining alfresco - if it’s outside, she’ll happily do it! She also spends a good portion of her downtime trying to wear out two dogs while keeping up with two kids.
Ying Liu ~ Senior Mandarin Coach Ying moved to Bozeman from New York City a few years ago with her husband,3 kids, and 2 cats and instantly felt in love with this beautiful town in Montana! Ying grew up in Taiwan and is a native Chinese speaker. She got her undergraduate and master degree in Hotel/Food Service Management from New York University. She has been teaching Mandarin to children for over 15 years in various Chinese schools. According to the Foreign Service Institute Language difficulty rankings, Mandarin Chinese is ranked level 5, which is among the most difficult languages to learn. Ying believes teaching Mandarin Chinese through an immersion environment to make learning FUN through games, story telling, songs, dance, arts, and much more!!
Paola Torres ~ Senior Spanish Coach / BELLA Project Lead From Peru, Paolais a Spanish teacher at Helena High School.She moved to Montana from Lima, Peru where she worked as a journalist to start a new career as a foreign language teacher. She has experience teaching Pre-K, Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle School and adult students. She taught at the World Language Initiative for three years and she enjoys sharing her knowledge and culture with the community.
Christina Crane ~ Senior German Coach "My family background is partly German, and when I started college, I wanted to take German classes to learn the language of my ancestors. Within a few class sessions, I found that I immensely enjoy speaking and reading the German language and learning about the German culture. I now live on a ranch in Montana and enjoy a wide range of hobbies. In my free time indoors, I enjoy singing and playing music. I absolutely love the outdoors, and enjoy the wide range of outdoor activities including fishing, gardening, horseback riding, or hiking. I am honored to be on the World Language Initiative team, and I am very excited to work with this next generation and support language learning throughout the beautiful state of Montana!"
Kristen Wolf ~ Senior Coach / Mentor Kristen (@LaLobaLista) completed her curriculum and instruction master’s degree at MSU in 2015. Her background as a Montessori & Spanish teacher has led her to understand the process of language acquisition and human development in truly meaningful ways. Kristen enjoys creating a community with her classes. La Loba Lista’s (the ready/ clever Wolf) teaching style is engaging, story based and supported by current language acquisition research (Communicative Language Teaching). She is a dynamic educator and presenter. Kristen recently earned the distinction of Montana Language Teacher of the Year for 2019. She is blessed with two children and a very supportive husband, as well as three dogs. Kristen loves getting outside and enjoying the beauty of Montana and its vibrant communities. She has travelled extensively and lived in Spain. She encourages you to come participate in or observe a class!!