Heidi Vellenga, PhD, Appointed CEA Executive Director

HV Portrait Jan 13 2020The CEA Executive Committee is pleased to announce the selection of Heidi Vellenga, PhD, as CEA’s next Executive Director. Dr. Vellenga will assume her responsibilities on February 1, 2020, following Dr. Mary Reeves’s retirement from the position.

Richard McDorman, CEA’s 2019 Commission Chair, led the Executive Director transition process. He described the careful process undertaken to identify Dr. Vellenga for the position, noting that that CEA strives to operate in accordance with best practices as an organization: “When Dr. Reeves announced her retirement, the Commission assessed CEA’s needs for the future and then established an independent search committee to identify the best candidate to lead CEA for that future. The search committee carried out a robust process that resulted in Dr. Vellenga’s selection. We’re extremely grateful for the work of the search committee, and pleased that Heidi accepted the position.” Dr. Vellenga is currently CEA’s associate director, providing important continuity to CEA’s operations during the executive director transition period. In addition, Dr. Vellenga’s appointment ensures continuity of CEA’s approach to accreditation – ensuring that accredited sites are in compliance with standards while doing so through a strong commitment to continuous improvement. Dr. Susan Carkin, CEA’s 2020 Commission Chair, remarked that “under Heidi’s leadership, CEA is positioned to continue to function well as a specialized accreditor for our English language teaching and learning field. She holds appropriate degrees in the field and is highly knowledgeable about the full range of practices as well as trends in the field. In addition, Heidi understands what is necessary for CEA to operate as an excellent accreditation agency, having been engaged with CEA, the accreditation arena, and the US Department of Education over the last 5 years as CEA’s associate director.” 

Dr. Heidi Vellenga holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics and a MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL. She has taught in and directed intensive English programs overseas and in the US. Her numerous professional service positions include a term as Vice President for Standards for EnglishUSA, leadership roles in TESOL affiliate chapters, and current service on the TESOL Journal Editorial Board and as the Chair for the Spring Professional Development Committee of the Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA). Dr. Vellenga has been on the CEA staff since 2014 and, in this capacity, supports the work of the Commission through overseeing the accreditation process, serving as CEA’s regulatory expert, managing the review of standards as well as leading accreditation workshops and representing staff on review teams during site visits. Dr. Vellenga regularly speaks in professional settings and at conferences on CEA matters, accreditation, and various quality assurance topics.

CEA has just concluded 20 years of accreditation and leadership in the field. With Dr. Vellenga’s appointment, CEA is now well-prepared to address the future. As Dr. Vellenga commented: “As CEA begins a new chapter in accreditation operations, I look forward to continuing CEA’s excellent work in specialized accreditation of intensive English language programs and institutions. In leading the agency into the future, I look forward to the cooperation of the Commission, the Constituent Council, my staff colleagues, and the many trained peer reviewers who make it possible for CEA to achieve its mission. As an agency formed by the field, CEA must continue to effectively balance its commitment to promoting continuous improvement through the advancement of widely-held standards with its responsibility to ensure compliance with the standards. CEA, as a mission-based accreditation agency, has a unique role and its future activities will continue to respect the diversity of our accredited programs and institutions, be responsive to the needs of sites, all while raising the level of quality in the field.”

December 2019 News from CEA

Message from Richard McDorman, 2019 Commission Chair

2019 was a year of both stability and change for CEA. As we celebrated CEA’s twentieth year, I was delighted to see so many friends of CEA and colleagues in the field at our anniversary receptions held at TESOL in Atlanta and the EnglishUSA IEP Stakeholders Conference in Washington, D.C. I would like to personally thank all those who took the time to participate in these events, as well as our third reception held at the CEA offices in Alexandria, which I was unable to attend but which Commissioner Sherif Barsoum so ably officiated. This year CEA also selected its new Executive Director, Heidi Vellenga, PhD, who will assume the duties of that office on February 1 of next year as outgoing Executive Director Mary Reeves, PhD, begins a very well-deserved retirement. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank Mary and Heidi, as well as the entire CEA staff, for their extraordinary collegiality, cooperation and skill as I have worked with them during these past four years as a Commissioner and this past year in particular as Chair. CEA and its constituents are extremely fortunate to have such an excellent team of professionals guiding the agency, which is a great benefit to accredited sites as well as the field at large.

As my year as Chair of the Commission comes to an end, I would also like to thank my Commission colleagues for their commitment to service and carrying out CEA’s mission and values, along with the dozens of volunteer peer reviewers without whose work and dedication CEA would not be able to operate as a high-functioning specialized accreditor. CEA accredits a wide variety of types of programs and institutions, both in the United States and abroad. While CEA’s constituents are indeed extremely diverse, both academically and geographically, they all share the same commitment to upholding the CEA Standards, which unite CEA’s nearly 350 accredited sites in a common goal of achieving excellence in the field of English language teaching and administration.

I echo the sentiments of the Commission Chairs who have come before me when I say that serving as Chair has been the most rewarding and significant experience of my professional career. It has been a great honor and privilege to lead the Commission this past year, and I look forward to watching CEA and the sites it accredits continue to thrive in the years to come.

Richard McDorman
2019 Commission Chair

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August 2019 News from CEA

Message from Richard McDorman, 2019 Commission Chair

CEA and its Commission continue to be very active, with 2019 meetings held in April, May, and August.  Accreditation decisions are announced on the CEA website under “Recent Decisions” within 30 days of each meeting. In addition, below I’ve provided an update on several other 2019 Commission actions and matters. Please contact Mary Reeves, CEA’s Executive Director at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions you may have about the announcements, activities, and Commission actions I’ve described below.

Richard McDorman
2019 Commission Chair

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