About Us

The Center for Global Engagement is an academic resource center for University of Maryland, Baltimore faculty and students who are interested in global education opportunities. We promote and support interprofessional global education, identify global themes that can be contextualized locally, and facilitate academic work related to global education.

Our Team

Virginia Rowthorn, Assistant Vice President
(410) 706-3098 | virginia.rowthorn@umaryland.edu

Virginia Rowthorn, JD, LLM (Global Health Law), is assistant vice president for global engagement at the University of Maryland, Baltimore and executive director of the Center for Global Engagement (CGE). She also is a Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore Graduate School, where she directs the Global Health Innovation Certificate program. Previously, Rowthorn was the Managing Director for the Law & Health Care Program at Maryland Carey Law for 10 years; a staff attorney at the Department of Health and Human Services; Associate at the law firm of DLA Piper; and a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Marshall Islands. She is on the Board of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). 

In her role as AVP, Rowthorn oversees the activities of CGE, a University-wide center that serves as the hub of interprofessional global health and education activities on the UMB campus. CGE provides University-wide leadership to build and sustain global education at UMB; nurtures strategic global partnerships through the center-run President’s Global Impact Fund; creates and manages student, faculty, and staff mobility programs; promotes collaborative international research; develops curricula designed to build global competency through the GLOBALtimore Fellows Program; and delivers educational and professional services that support sustainable global programs. Rowthorn obtained her BA in American Studies from Carleton College, JD from University of Maryland Carey School of Law, and LLM in Global Health Law from Georgetown Law.

Dr. Bonnie Bissonette, Senior Director, International Partnerships
(410) 706-6331 | bbissonette@umaryland.edu

Bonnie Bissonette Director Center for Global Education InitiativesBonnie Bissonette, MA, EdD, has been the director of the Student Center for Global Education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore since March 2012. She works to strengthen international opportunities for students at all seven schools at the University by working collaboratively with faculty and staff. Bonnie works to develop processes and procedures, appropriate safety and security mechanisms, and other logistics relevant to student international experiences.

Before coming to UMB, Bissonette was the associate dean of Business and International Education at North Central Technical College in Wausau, Wis., for 10 years, and, prior to that, a U.S. foreign service officer (management), serving for 13 years at U.S. embassies in England, Madagascar, Mauritius, Eritrea, and Qatar. She served on the board of directors of NAFSA-Association of International Educators (2008-2011) and is a frequent presenter on international education leadership topics. At present, she is serving as a public member of the governing body of the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA). She received her BA at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.; her MA at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.; and her EdD at the University of Minnesota.

Lauren Taylor, Senior Communications and Events Specialist
(410) 706-2425 | lauren.taylor@umaryland.edu

Portrait of woman wearing glasses and fuchsia shirtLauren Taylor is the Senior Communications and Events Specialist in the Center for Global Engagement at UMB. Previously, she worked at Leadership Baltimore County and the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, where she handled all aspects of communications, marketing, and event planning. She served on the School Board Nominating Commission for Baltimore County Public Schools for three years as a representative of the Chamber and is a 2018 graduate of Leadership Essentials Howard County. She received a bachelor’s degree from Hollins University, where she spent a semester in London.

Michelle Sullivan, Global Program Specialist
(410) 706-0882 | michelle.sullivan@umaryland.edu

Headshot of a womanMichelle Sullivan is the Global Program Specialist for the Center for Global Engagement. Michelle previously worked as the Program Manager and then Program Consultant for Comp-U-Dopt, a national technology and education nonprofit, where she specialized in writing and executing budgets, managing program logistics, creating program curriculum, and developing partnerships.

Prior to her time at Comp-U-Dopt, Michelle was a member of the Peace Corps in the Republic of Georgia for 2 years. During her time in Georgia, Michelle worked as an English teacher, an Assistant Translator for the Georgian Bureau of Labor, and the Finance Committee Chair for Girls Leading Out World Inc., a gender equality organization. Michelle attended Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, and the University of Michigan where she received a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2017. In addition to English, Michelle has varying levels of proficiency in 5 languages including Georgian, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic and Aanishnabemowin (Ojibwe).

Amy Ramirez, Director of International Services
(410) 706-7488 | aramirez@umaryland.edu

Headshot of woman with dark hair, black jacket and colorful scarf around her next, with green bushes behind her.

Amy Ramirez, MA, has been Director of the Office of International Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore since 2011. In this role, Amy oversees efforts to provide comprehensive services to UMB’s international student and scholar community. Amy also leads the Center for Global Engagement’s GLOBALtimore Teaching Fellowship, which provides professional development for UMB faculty to globalize their courses. Amy’s passion for the field of international education was inspired during her undergraduate studies, where she studied abroad in Spain, lived in the International House, and worked as a student worker in the international student office.

Before coming to UMB, Amy worked in international student and scholar services at Johns Hopkins University and The George Washington University. She has also served in several volunteer leadership positions in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, most recently as a trainer for NAFSA’s Management Development Program. Amy holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master’s degree in International Education from The George Washington University, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park. In her spare time, Amy loves to read and travel to new places.

Gina Dreyer, Assistant Director of International Scholar & Student Services
(410) 706-3171 | gdreyer@umaryland.edu

Headshot of woman wearing orange tank top with green bushes behind herGina M. Dreyer is Assistant Director in the Office of International Services where she advises both international students and scholars. Gina specializes in educating students & scholars on their visa status, and campus departments on procedures for requesting nonimmigrant visa sponsorship. She joined the office in 2012.

She also serves as the Regulatory Ombudsperson for Scholar Issues for Region VIII of NAFSA: Association of International Educators. In that volunteer role, she assists colleagues in navigating regulatory procedures related to USCIS. She holds a master’s degree in Instructional Systems Development from UMBC and bachelor’s degree in International Languages and Cultures (concentrations in Spanish & Latin American Studies) from St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She spent a semester in Granada, Spain and has also traveled to Vietnam, Hong Kong, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom.

Semhar Okbazion, Assistant Director of International Services
(410) 706-0533 | sokbazion@umaryland.edu

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Semhar Okbazion is a native of Eritrea and she has been working in the field of international education since 2010. Before joining UMB, Semhar worked at Johns Hopkins University and American University in Washington, D.C., where she advised international students and scholars on student and work visas and coordinated several well-received events in collaboration with campus partners and U.S. immigration lawyers. Semhar is the point person for employment visas (such as H-1B, TN, and E-3) for faculty and staff at UMB and she serves as the backup student and J-1 scholar advisor. Semhar also maintains Sunapsis, the case management solution of the Office of International Services.

Previously, Semhar worked with immigration law firms in Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Semhar has two LL.M. degrees from American University, one in International Law and a second in U.S. Law and Government with a specialization in Administrative and U.S. Immigration Law. Semhar earned an LL.B. degree (equivalent to a U.S. JD) from the University of Asmara, where she worked as a lecturer for three years.

Semhar loves the field of international education and U.S. immigration law, and she enjoys working with a diverse group of working professionals and students. In her spare time, she helps refugees and displaced students to locate global study and postdoctoral opportunities.

Mio Kamijo, International Student Coordinator
(410) 706-0025 | mkamijo@umaryland.edu

Headshot of a woman with dark hair and black shirtMio Kamijo is the International Student Coordinator in the Office of International Services, where she assists new and continuing international students by advising them on federal immigration regulations and supporting them personally, academically and culturally. She also plans, coordinates and executes international student programs.

Before starting at UMB, she worked at AFS Japan and British Council planning and managing international youth exchanges, providing English learning courses and teacher training programs. She also worked as an education advisor at the Japanese Student Service Organization, providing support and advice to people looking for scholarships to go abroad.

Mio has always been interested in the research about Language and International Education. She received a master's degree in Learning, Learning Environment and Educational System at the University of Turku in Finland and a bachelor’s degree in English Linguistic at Shinshu University in Japan. She had the opportunity to study abroad in the UK, Hong Kong and Finland. In 2017, she completed her graduate certificate in Program Evaluation at Florida State University.

CGE Senior Fellows

Dr. Carlos Faerron Guzmán
Associate Professor of Global Health, UMB Graduate School

Headshot of a man in front of bushesCarlos A. Faerron Guzmán, MD, MSc, is an Associate Professor of Global Health at the UMB Graduate School. He is also the Director of the Centro Interamericano para la Salud Global (CISG) in Costa Rica and acts as the Associate Director of the Planetary Health Alliance at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Dr. Faerron began his career as a primary care doctor in a rural area of Costa Rica, where he worked closely with migrant and indigenous populations. His work seeks to redefine the meaning of leadership in global health through innovative educational approaches.

Dr. Faerron follows a framework of equity in health and human rights as guiding principles and firmly believes in progress in health through community empowerment, action/research, and participatory education. He obtained his medical degree at the University of Costa Rica and his MSc. in International Health at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. Additional studies include Social Justice at the International Institute for Health and Development in Scotland and Social Innovation for Health from INCAE Business School. He is a Fellow of the Central American Healthcare Initiative.

Dr. Jody Olsen
Former Director, Peace Corps

Headshot of a woman in front of a white Peace Corp flagDr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, PhD, MSW served as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps from March 2018 to January 2021. With the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Olsen made the unprecedented decision to evacuate all 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers and brought them back safely to the United States within nine days. Dr. Olsen then led the comprehensive re-entry plan for volunteers to return to service. She also championed global women's economic empowerment, global health, and established Peace Corps in four new countries.

Dr. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving in Tunisia from 1966-1968. She also served the agency as Acting Director (2009), Deputy Director (2002-2009), Chief of Staff (1989-1992), Regional Director (1981-1984), and Country Director (1979-1981).

Before to returning to the Peace Corps in 2018, Dr. Olsen was a Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Director of the University’s Center for Global Education. She helped develop and direct inter-professional global health projects for health graduate students and taught international social work, global social policy, and global health.

Dr. Olsen received a BS from the University of Utah, and a Master’s in Social Work and a PhD in Human Development from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Leslie Glickman
Visiting Adjunct Assistant Professor, UM School of Medicine

Headshot of a woman in a red jacketLeslie B. Glickman, PT, PhD, is a Visiting Adjunct Assistant Professor at the UM School of Medicine's Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science and a Senior Fellow in the UMB Center for Global Engagement. Over a seven-year period, she held full-time teaching, administrative, and leadership roles at the University, and now provides educational and research consultation on select community and international projects.

Dr. Glickman conducted internationally-funded research and teaching consultation in Suriname and Malawi; created and edited the first textbook on Malawi, "Malawi: Its History, Culture, Environment, Education, and Healthcare;" helped create a transitional physical therapy curriculum at the College of Medicine in Malawi; and collaborated on a publication on global health education: Felter CE, Glickman LB, Westlake K, Shipper AG, Marchese V. International global health education for Doctor of Physical Therapy students: A scoping review. Phys Ther Rev. 2021. DOI:10.1080/10833196.2021.1892282; Available: https://doi.org/10.1080/10833196.2021.1892282. She is a former U.S. Fulbright Program Scholar and continues to provide programmatic consultation to Health Volunteers Overseas.

Dr. Glickman continues to mentor students and colleagues in the U.S. and abroad and actively participates in local cultural, community, and philanthropic projects.