Staff headshot of Janice Rodriguez

Janice Rodriguez, Ph.D

Executive Director

Dr. Janice Snow Rodríguez is the Executive Director of the TN Language Center (formerly the TN Foreign Language Institute). She holds a Ph.D. in Public Administration and M.A. in Spanish Literature. Dr. Rodríguez has been employed by TLC (formerly TFLI) since 1999, and is credited with researching and recommending a certification program for court interpreters for the State of Tennessee, adopted by the TN Administrative Office of the Courts. She is the Title VI Coordinator for the Institute, works on the TN Supreme Court‘s Access to Justice Committee for Interpreter Issues, and is a board member for the Metro Nashville Police Department’s El Protector Program, and recently completed a six-year commitment as a Commissioner and Chair for the Metro Nashville Human Relations Commission.

Holding a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and certified as a Cross-Cultural Health Care Program Trainer, she has conducted numerous cultural awareness and diversity seminars for social services, medical and law enforcement agencies. She also serves as adjunct faculty for Tennessee State University‘s (TSU) College of Public Service and Urban Affairs, teaching Human Resources, Organization Theory & Assessment, and Employment Law. She serves on TSU’s advisory committee for International Education.

She is member of or professionally affiliated with a variety of organizations and associations including Sister Cities Nashville, the Japan-America Society of Tennessee, TN Latin American Chamber, Nashville Hispanic Chamber, Global Nashville Project, the Global Chamber of Nashville, Williamson County Chamber and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

Previous professional experience includes serving as an Information Specialist with the Voice of America’s Radio Marti Program in Washington, DC; Information Services Director with an intellectual property law firm in Alexandria, VA; software support for a legal business software company in Brentwood, TN, and adjunct Spanish faculty for Lipscomb University.

A native Nashvillian, she has two children, Javier and Claudia, and resides in North Nashville. She enjoys traveling, gardening, pottery classes, singing, and listening to live music. She speaks Spanish and Portuguese and has studied Italian and Arabic.

Eric Amos

Project Manager, Interpretation & Translation

Eric serves as a Project Manager for Interpretations at TLC. His role of project manager began in 2018. Eric has both bachelor‘s and master’s degrees in Intercultural Studies and loves to interact with and explore different cultures and languages. Eric lived in China for almost three years and has had many opportunities to travel throughout the world.

Eileen Bernstein

Project Manager, Interpretation & Translation

Eileen has served as a translator with TLC since 2020. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in political science from George Washington University.

Brenda Bess

Financial Assistant

Brenda has worked at TLC since 2009. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Africa, and is conversational in Afrikaans, German, and Czech.

C. Brian Barnett, Ph.D.

Director of World Languages

Dr. C. Brian Barnett comes to TLC from the University of Minnesota, where he served as a senior lecturer in French and as the director of language instruction in French.

Brian has a bachelor’s in French and Spanish from Kansas State University, a master’s in French from Indiana University and a doctorate in education from Indiana University.

Maya Campbell

Spanish Instructor

Maya was born and raised in Bulgaria, a country where knowing languages is a must, especially now that it is a member of the European Union. She holds a bachelor’s degree in pedagogy of the teaching of Bulgarian and English as a foreign language and a master’s degree in educational management from the University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria. Maya received an academic scholarship via the European Union’s Erasmus Mundus Programme to study in Spain at the University of Granada, Spain. The years she studied and lived in Spain as a student marked her life in a way that now she loves the Spanish peoples, cultures, and language as much as she loves her own.

Angie Gonzalez

Bilingual Front Office Coordinator

Irma Hernandez

English Programs Bilingual Administrative Coordinator

Irma administers placement exams to determine a student’s level in English and register new/current students for their ESL classes. She also creates the courses on the matrix website and communicate regularly with instructors on their availability.

Irma was born and raised in Middle Tennessee (Maury County). Her parents are from Mexico and a good majority of her family still live there. She has a 4 year-old-son, Mateo and a 9-year-old little dachshund, Jasmine. She is the first in her family to receive a high school and college education, and she graduated with a B.A. in Spanish with a minor in Communications from Middle Tennessee State University in December 2020.

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Erin Keafer

Assistant Director of English Programs

After graduating from Auburn University and working several years as a legal assistant, a recommendation that she begin volunteering at World Relief as a mentor for a newly resettled family began her love of working with refugees.

In an effort to expand her teaching experience in hopes of working professionally as a refugee English teacher, she served as an Education and Community Development Specialist for the Peace Corps in the country of Georgia. There she worked at a public school, partnering with Georgian co-teachers to develop curriculum and teach K-12 English students. She also taught an advanced level English class for professional adults and a discussion course for government employees. She also worked with fellow Peace Corps volunteers to develop and implement a summer camp in a community of internally displaced survivors of war.

After returning to Nashville, she worked as an Education and Resettlement Intern at the Nashville International Center for Empowerment while earning her Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate from the Tennessee Language Center (formerly the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute.) Upon graduating with her TESL certificate, she began working as an English as a Second Language teacher for the ESL to Go program at TLC as well as the Center for Refugees & Immigrants of Tennessee.

After developing her teaching skills, she was offered a job as the Curriculum Coordinator of ESL to Go and has since been promoted to the Assistant Director of English Programs at TLC. She is currently also serving as a workgroup co-leader for GOAL Collective, a group of adult education providers working together to improve adult education access within Nashville. Erin also enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and exploring nature

Adrian McDaniel

Project Manager, Interpretation and Translation

Adrian McDaniel was born and raised in Middle Tennessee and has always loved all things international. She earned a bachelor’s in International Relations from Middle Tennessee State University and a masters in International Business from Southern New Hampshire University. Adrian is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) and served in Belize for two years as an Elementary Education Teacher Trainer with the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Teacher Training (Caribbean CETT). She has over ten years experience in global customer service operations and account management including areas in: restaurant service equipment, automotive glass, international education program management, and healthcare revenue cycle management. She enjoys traveling, journaling, reading, music, and DIY crafts.

Mahasweta Panigrahy

Project Manager, Interpretation and Translation

Mahasweta has most recently worked as an early learning project coordinator at First Presbyterian Preschool in Franklin. Mahasweta holds degrees from Berhampur (India) University and the University of the Cumberlands.

Missy Pankake

Director of Marketing & Communications

Missy has more than 25 years of marketing and communications experience, and leads marketing and communication initiatives for the Tennessee Language Center including advertising, public relations, brand identity, and community relations to support TLC’s strategic goals at the local and state level.

Previously, she served as Communications Director at the nonprofit Bright Horizons Foundation for Children, where she supported fundraising and operations through marketing and communications for programs that served homeless children and families. She also worked for Vanderbilt University’s Public Affairs Department where she coordinated communications for the university’s multi-year greenhouse gas study as well as helping to develop the myVU intranet for employees.

She is a magna cum laude graduate of Maryville College and is pursuing a master’s in strategic communications from the University of Tennessee.

Percy Person

Director, Operations & IT

Richard Ponce de Leon

Training Specialist

Richard originally hails from Lima, Peru, where he obtained a B.A. degree in Linguistics. In 2015, he came to the United States and now calls Nashville, Tennessee home.

He boasts 5-plus years of foreign trade and project management experience, and recently became a court-registered Spanish interpreter. Richard has been working for the University of Tennessee Language Center since 2019 as an Interpretation Project Manager and is pursuing a master’s in Higher Education Administration at the University of Tennessee.

In his free time, Richard can be found taking pictures and developing film, or travelling around the state.

Jenny Rish

Director of English Programs

Jenny was raised in Tennessee and felt deeply connected to the people around her and the need to help people within our community. She went to Middle Tennessee State University and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in Spanish. but felt drawn toward the immigrant and refugee population. Jenny began volunteering at a local Spanish community center and Nashville International Center for Empowerment, where she then heard about a position for Youth Education Coordinator. She grew her skills and understanding working for the immigrant and refugee population. Then she took the 150-hour Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) course and moved to the coordinator position at the Tennessee Language Center. As other job positions opened, she applied for them and has become the director of English Programs overseeing the ESL and TESL programs.

Apryl Ruiz

Operations & HR Assistant

Amanda Shappard

Fiscal Director

Amanda Shappard is the fiscal director for the Tennessee Language Center. She was previously an accountant for Williamson County government for 8 years. Amanda has a bachelor’s in business administration from Tennessee Tech and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in public administration from Murray State University. She’s earned the Certified County Finance Officer and the Certified Public Administrator designations from the County Technical Assistance Service, an agency of the University of Tennessee’s Institute for Public Service.

Katie Smith

IT Assistant

Jack Willey

Program Coordinator, World Languages

Jack Willey is the Coordinator of World Languages for the Tennessee Language Center (TLC). As an adult learner of Spanish and Portuguese, as well as a former Spanish teacher, he is passionate about supporting others across the state in their language and culture learning endeavors.

Prior to joining TLC, Jack founded the nonprofit Workers’ Dignity, where he supervised personnel across multiple languages, managed grant portfolios, and facilitated strategic development. A native of Flint, Michigan, Jack earned his bachelor‘s in Romance Languages at Wayne State University and master’s in Spanish at Vanderbilt University.

Ramona Wilson

Evening Program Coordinator

Originally from Oak Ridge, Ramona has been the evening coordinator at TLC since 2018. She also works at the YMCA of Middle Tennessee as a fitness instructor for yoga, Pilates, and spin, and she is the weekend coordinator in the Y’s membership department. She has a bachelor’s in Human Ecology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and when she’s not working can often be found playing tennis or riding her bicycle.