CEA Leadership Transition: Executive Director Retires

2014 is proving to be another year of significant changes at CEA.

Teresa D. O'Donnell, known to most colleauges and friends as Terry, will retire as Executive Director of CEA as of June 30, 2014. She has been the Executive Director of CEA since October 1999, when CEA was established. Prior to that, Ms. O'Donnell served as Director of Field Services and Deputy Director at TESOL International Association. She was assigned as the TESOL staff liaison first to a group of professionals who explored the need for an accrediting agency and then to the eventual TESOL Accreditation Advisory Committee. The advisory committee was charged both with drafting the initial standards for English language programs and institutions and with creating the policies and procedures for the operations of the accrediting agency.

Ms. O'Donnell shepherded CEA through its first recognition process with the U.S. Department of Education and has ensured continued recognition since then through on-going oversight of CEA's policies and procedures. Having seen CEA through several office moves, increasing numbers of staff, and the challenges of tremendous growth in 2012 and 2013, she leaves CEA as a highly regarded accrediting agency both within and outsde the United States.

Ms. O'Donnell says, "I have been blessed in my career with the opportunity to make a difference through the establishment of CEA as the quality assurance agency for our field. Throughout the years, as the numbers of accredited programs and institutions have grown, so has the respect for CEA as a specialized accrediting agency. Throught the years, I have met an amazing group of dedicated professionals who have made this possible and whom I will not forget."

Mary Reeves, PhD, who is currently Associate Director, has been appointed to follow Ms. O'Donnell as Executive Director, on July 1, 2014. Dr. Reeves has a long history with CEA, first as a member of the initial group that explored the need for an accrediting agency and later as both a CEA reviewer and member of the Commission, for which she served as Chair in 2004. She later served CEA part-time as a Senior Accreditation Consultant in 2010 and 2011, working on special projects and materials, before coming on board full time in January 2012. As a career professional in the field, she is committed to an effective CEA that now accredits close to 250 programs and institutions, and continues to grow. "I feel quite honored to be able to continue to serve CEA in this capacity," says Dr. Reeves. "CEA is entering its years as a mature specialized accrediting agency, and I want to ensure that despite its growth it continues to respond to the needs of the field while firmly standing for continuous improvement and quality in programs and institutions -- the reasons CEA was formed."

Commissioners and staff alike feel proviledged to have worked with Ms. O'Donnell, a professional of highest caliber, one who strives to maintain the highest standards and best practices in service to the field and the students we serve. As always, staff and commissioners continue to plan strategically for a future in which accreditation is increasingly valued and sought by the field. Although the August 2014 Commission meeting will be Dr. Reeves' first as Executive Director, she is working closely with Ms. O'Donnell and the Commission to ensure a smooth transition.

The CEA Constituent Council is holding a reception to honor Ms. O'Donnell after its meeting at the NAFSA San Diego conference. Those not attending are invited to send greetings to her at the CEA office address.