Team Member Biographies
Create change through multicultural expertise. Our team of experts provide an "insider’s" perspective to understand differences in age, cultural style and diverse abilities
Jean Mavrelis is Chief Executive Officer of Kochman Mavrelis Associates and co-author (with Thomas Kochman) of Corporate Tribalism: White Men, White Women and Cultural Diversity at Work (2009). Jean has been consulting in the field of cultural diversity for over 25 years. During this time she has helped companies integrate EEOC and diversity strategies which evaluate and create more inclusive best practices.
Jean is nationally recognized as an expert in the field of diversity research and management. Her work has been covered by NPR, Black Enterprise, SHRM Magazine, and High School Magazine.
Her clients include Aerospace, Manufacturing, the U.S. Government, Media, Hospital Systems, Education Systems, Utilities, and Insurance Companies. Jean has been a strategic partner with several Fortune 500 companies as well as the U.S. Intelligence Community, developing domestic and global strategies. She developed Kaizen Communication strategies for manufacturing partners and is the diversity provider for the Society of Women Engineers.
Jean has served on the Illinois Sex Equity Task Force and is considered an expert in the field of gender and culture in the United States. She has been a kenote speaker for Women In Government, has created a video addressing diversity in domestic violence and serves on the Board of Mujeres Latinas en Acción an organization whose mission is to empower Latina women.
KMA’s Web-based learning programs were researched and co-authored by Jean with Thomas Kochman and their team of subject matter experts. They have developed an ecommerce site for the sale of these programs at (kmadiversity.com).
On her blog talkingculturaldiversity.com Jean writes about today's pressing diversity and inclusion issues.
Thomas Kochman is Chief Operating Officer of Kochman Mavrelis Associates, Professor Emeritus of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago and co-author (with Jean Mavrelis) of Corporate Tribalism: White Men, White Women and Cultural Diversity at Work (2009). He is also author of Black and White Styles in Conflict (1981) and editor of Rappin and Stylin’ Out: Communication in Urban Black America (1972). Like Jean Mavrelis, Dr. Kochman is nationally recognized as a leader in the field of cultural Information: diversity research and management. His special focus is on the impact of cultural differences on interpersonal communication and organizational culture.
Kenneth Addison is Professor Emeritus of Educational Psychology and Educational Administration at Northeastern Illinois University, President of Human Development Systems, and Vice President and lead facilitator of the African American program for Kochman Mavrelis Associates. He is the author of the book We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Roots of Racism and Slavery in America. Dr. Addison is a recognized expert in the field of African American History, Language and Culture. As a clinical psychologist he has worked as a private practicing psychotherapist. As a management and organizational development consultant he specializes in organization restructuring and renewal.
Adrian Chan is Vice President and Head of Asian Pacific Operations for Kochman Mavrelis Associates and author of The Education of the Chinese and Indo-Chinese in America (1981). A counseling psychologist and a practitioner of mindfulness meditation, tai chi, aikido and tui na, he is also Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Educational Psychology, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, former Assistant Vice Chancellor, and former Director of the University of Wisconsin System Institute for Race & Ethnicity.
As a professor, he taught graduate courses in Multicultural Counseling & Therapy.
Dr. Chan also served as a member of the Wisconsin Governor’s Asian Advisory Council and is a current member of the Organization of Chinese Americans in Wisconsin. He also served on the Planning Committee of the City of Milwaukee’s Work Force Diversity Institute, sponsored by the Milwaukee Association of Commerce. Funded by USIA (1994–96), he and others traveled to South Africa as it was undergoing a transformation from apartheid to democracy to provide training in conflict resolution, negotiation and strategic planning to Black university student leaders and administrators.
Dr. Chan currently coaches and mentors Asians (born in the USA and born in their native countries) and non-Asians as they deal with leadership & management issues domestically and globally.
Tatyana Fertelmeyster is the head and principal developer and facilitator of the Russian-American (U.S.) program for Kochman Mavrelis Associates, Inc., and an expert in Russian/American (U.S.) cross-cultural issues. A Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Ms. Fertelmeyster is also an expert in psychological aspects of cultural adjustment. She serves as a Director of Cultural Competency Programs with Jewish Child and Family Services. In addition, Ms. Fertelmeyster maintains her own training and consulting business, Connecting Differences, in which she concentrates on addressing intercultural and adjustment issues with individuals and groups. She has also worked as a Reporter and Columnist for Moskovsky Komsomolets (Moscow Youth Daily) in Moscow, Russia. She is a Past President of SIETAR-USA (Society for Intercultural Education, Training & Research) and is a member of the Chicago Chapter of the American Society for Training & Development.
As a Consultant and Trainer, Ms. Grewal has worked as an associate with Kochman Mavrelis Associates (KMA) since 1997. She is the co-writer and lead facilitator/trainer of the South Asian Cultural Patterns and Behaviors training program for KMA. In her training, Ms. Grewal covers all social and cultural aspects of the South Asian populations including history, caste, race, language, ethnicity, religion and the institute of South Asian family, as well as their impact on South Asian communication styles and business practices. She has provided Training Workshops, Train the Trainer Workshops, Departure Preparedness, Executive Coaching and Consulting in this field to many clients from prominent companies and organizations
Ms. Grewal is certified to administer and interpret Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). As a clinician she is highly qualified to interpret and analyze the results of IDI for groups as well as individuals. She continues her learning in the areas of cultural diversity and intercultural communication through attending courses and trainings at the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication (SIIC), Asia Society in Portland, Cultural Detective in Houston and CDR Associates in Boulder, Colorado. She has co-written and taught a continuing education course for teachers in British Imperialism at Denver University, Colorado.
Ms. Grewal is a member of Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR), USA as well as British Columbia (BC), Canada. She is also a member of Social and Ethnic organizations in Colorado.
Wageh Saad is Associate Superintendent and former Director of Elementary Education, Special Programs and Student Services for Dearborn Public Schools, Dearborn, Michigan and Head of the Middle Eastern program for Kochman Mavrelis Associates. He also served as Supervisor/Consultant in charge of Bilingual Education and Elementary Bilingual Teacher. Before that he was Principal of Mashgara Public School in Lebanon. Dr. Saad is presently Central Regional Representative for the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) and President of the Michigan Association of Bilingual Education Administrators and Member of the Advisory Council of ACCESS (The Arab Center for Economics and Social Services). He developed an Exemplary Bilingual Education Program Model, wrote a Living in Dearborn pamphlet (used as a textbook by teachers in Adult Education) and is Field Office Manager/School Liaison for the Arabic Language Materials Development Center at the University of Michigan. He was also subcontracted by DATEX to evaluate an elementary education development project funded by US-AID (Agency for International Development) and the Ministry of Education in Yemen (1993).
Andrea-Teresa “Tess” Arenas, of Arenas and Associates, has been a consultant to universities, non profits, and corporations on race/ethnic/gender/alliance building for 30 years. As emeritus Associate Vice President of a Big 10 Univesrity System, Arenas created systemwide diversity strategic plans. Arenas is a KMA consultant who addresses the Latino and Women's issues. An award winning Chicana poet, senior university officer, TV host, curriculum developer, and writer, Arenas bring humor, laughter and passion to her work with KMA.
Leah Arndt is Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Department of Educational Psychology and a principal developer and facilitator of the American Indian program for KMA. Her clinical experience has been with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and Milwaukee Police Department. Dr. Arndt’s research projects and publications include American Indians and Alaska Natives: Implications for Educational Psychology, Soul Wound, Warrior Spirit: Exploring the Vocational Choice of Urban American Indian Peacekeepers, and Diversity Behind the Badge: Gay and Lesbian Law Enforcement Officers: Facilitating and Constraining Factors of Being “Out” on the Job. She also presents at numerous conferences on such themes as Post-colonial Psychological Coping in Urban American Indian Communities, Negotiating Identity as an American Indian Professional and Ethical Service Delivery with American Indians/Alaska Natives. She is affiliated with the Takini Network for Healing Indigenous Peoples, National Native American Law Enforcement, the Milwaukee Area Indian Resource Network and the American Psychological Association. She also works with the Great Lakes Intertribal Council, and the Native American Research Council on Health, Lac du Service: Flambeau, WI, mentoring Native American college students.
Malii Brown is a trainer and consultant working globally and stateside to equip people with skills to manage the complexities and opportunities inherent to work and life in culturally diverse environments. She has 12 years experience training leadership, executives and high potentials—both face-to-face and virtually—to cooperate effectively in the U.S. and/or across national cultures. Her client list includes Fortune 500 companies, distinguished institutions of higher learning, state government and nonprofit organizations. Ms. Brown offers a unique perspective to the work as a Millennial woman of color who has worked and travelled throughout the U.S. and 19 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. She has varying proficiency in Spanish, Japanese and American Sign Language (ASL). Ms. Brown earned a Master of Arts degree in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Graduate Institute (School for International Training) in Vermont, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College in California. She is a licensed consultant of the Virtual Performance Assessment® instrument; has been certified as an Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory®; and is a friend of SIETAR (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research).
Dr. Victor Chacon is a Diversity administrator and consultant on issues of Equity and Cultural Competence for higher education, business organizations, and health and social service agencies. He holds advanced degrees in the arts from the University of Texas and the University of Washington. His background includes administering Diversity programs, training on leadership, and consulting with community organizations and health agencies on issues of changing populations in the workplace and in community.
Having taught at universities in Washington, California, Idaho, and Texas, Dr. Chacon has served on the Governor's Commission of Hispanic Affairs for Washington State. Currently he is the Director of Multicultural Services at Walla Walla Community College where he has developed multicultural curricula for Humanities, Nursing, and Workforce Leadership areas of study. His many conference presentations include: An Historical Overview of Chicanismo in the Southwest, Multicultural Perspectives on Leadership, and Intercultural Issues in Community Leadership Programs. An upcoming memoir, This Side of the River, details his cross-cultural experiences in Texas and California in the 1960s. In addition to serving as consultant with Kochman Mavrelis, Dr. Chacon heads Floriman Associates, a Cross-Cultural training and consulting firm committed to issues of Diversity and Organizational Leadership.
Marin Webster Denning is enrolled in the Oneida tribe of Wisconsin Indians. His ancestry includes Menominee, Mille Lacs Ojibwe, Stockbridge-Munsee, French and English. He founded and, for fourteen years, served as Executive Director of Southeastern Oneida Tribal Services, a full-spectrum social service provider for Oneida tribal members. He is also (with Dr. Leah Arndt) a principal developer and facilitator of the American Indian program for KMA. Denning is nationally recognized as a leading educator, lecturer and curriculum specialist in American Indian history and culture, and he was instrumental in passing Act 31, legislation mandating the teaching of tribal history and treaty rights to all public school students in the State of Wisconsin. Currently, Denning serves on the Board of Directors of Milwaukee’s Indian Community School, a flagship institution of Urban American Indian education and a recent recipient of the National Indian School Board Association Award. He has also served as an advisor of the Gates Millenium Educational Foundation for the past three years, and is a board member of the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee, Americas largest American Indian celebration in the United States.
Peter Fordos, Intercultural Consultant and Trainer, was born in Slovakia (former Czechoslovakia) and presently resides in Los Angeles, California. He delivers cultural trainings for American companies working with different cultures around the world, and in addition gives specialized training on Central & Eastern European cultures including: Russia, Poland, Romania, The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.
Over the past 6 years, Peter has consulted for the US Navy Seals, Dell, Honeywell, Carmeuse, 3M, Bombardier, General Motors, Nestle and many other Global organizations. Peter is known for his expertise in Global Leadership Development, Intercultural Communication as well as Cultural Leadership Development for executives & international teams.
Prior becoming an Intercultural Trainer, Peter worked in Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, UK, and the United States in the travel industry and in the environmental industry. Peter speaks fluent Hungarian, Slovak, Czech and English as well as basic Russian and Polish, and has lived, worked and traveled to six continents and over 50 countries in the past 15 years.
Peter has a BA in International Studies and two Masters Degrees from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, one in International Trade Policy with a specialization in business, and a second in International Negotiations and Conflict Resolution. Peter has lived in the United States for the past nine years and is a member of Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR).
Lobna "Luby" Ismail, founder and president of Connecting Cultures, LLC, www.connecting-cultures.net is a training specialist with over twenty years of experience in the areas of cross-cultural communication, cultural competence, Arab and American cultures, Islamic awareness and religious diversity.
Luby helped develop two initiatives to breakdown barriers across cultures and faiths. www.20,000dialogues.org and www.groundzerodialogue.org, a nationwide campaign to stimulate discussion between people of different faiths through films. Also www.changethestory.net offering an interactive experience can learn about Islam and Muslims.
Since her diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis, she speaks on the parallels of living with a disability and being a Muslim woman in the USA along with lessons learned.
Luby has conducted training for Federal and State agencies, educational institutions, nonprofit organizations and private corporations including Walt Disney World, U.S. Department of Justice, Campbell Soup Company, CVS, King Abdullah University for Science and Technology, Foreign Service Institute, Shell Chemicals, National Council for International Visitors, ARMY, Michigan National Guard, Air Force Academy and Culture and Language Center, Exxon Mobil, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Transportation Security Administration and NIKE.
She holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural Relations and a B.A. in International Service from The American University. She has traveled throughout the world, including Singapore, Mexico, England, Switzerland, Bosnia and Croatia, and the Middle East, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Palestine, Jerusalem and Israel.
Soumaya Khalifa is a seasoned intercultural consultant specializing in the Arab and Muslim cultures. She is the author of Diversophy Egypt - an online cultural game teaching about the culture of Egypt. Ms. Khalifa is adjunct faculty at Emory University Center for Lifelong Learning and Professional Development teaching courses on Arab Culture and Certification Program for the Society for Human Resources Management. Ms. Khalifa holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry and a Masters of Business Administration with an area of concentration in Human Resources. She began her career in Fortune 100 companies where she first saw the need for greater inter-cultural training in the workplace. With her background in Human Resources, she’s worked for the last 15 years with government, non-profit organizations, and corporations, helping them with everything from developing human resources infrastructure and employee handbooks to providing leadership training and diversity management.
Since September 11, 2001, Soumaya has worked with law enforcement officials, giving them the cultural knowledge they need to build ties with Arab and Muslim American communities in the United States. Similarly, defense contractors operating in the Middle East have tapped her to train their employees. With American businesses branching out to new markets in the Arab world, Soumaya has helped corporations and non-profits strategize on how to develop their operations abroad and develop effective methods to manage non-American staff.
Ms. Khalifa's work has been featured in the New York Times. She has been interviewed by CNN, Fox, CBS, ABC, NBC, AlJazeera, Womentics, Swiss TV and The Christian Science Monitor. Her life story will be in an upcoming book "50 Green Card Stories". She is a member of SIETAR, SHRM and ADMAG.
Gretchen Neels is founder and President of Washington, DC based Neels & Company, Inc., the leading provider of soft skills training to professional services firms, covering all business communication, including generational differences in the workplace.
She is the author of "The New Professional’s Guide to Success," a program designed for recent graduates that takes the mystery out of what it means to be a professional, and "Cultural Detective – Generational Harmony," part of the acclaimed Cultural Detective training series of tools that develop intercultural and global business competence in individuals and organizations.
A speaker, executive coach, and workshop facilitator, Gretchen also has produced and delivered over 50 Core Skills Thursday webcast programs for WestLegalEd Center (a division of Thomson Reuters), the world’s largest source of legal education, providing listeners from the legal community information, advice and strategies to enhance the softer side of their careers.
Her client list includes many top law firms, Fortune 500 companies, national associations and a number of distinguished institutions of higher learning, including Harvard Business School, The Fuqua Business School at Duke University, The George Washington University, Babson College and Northeastern University.
Neels & Company has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Boston Herald, Forbes.com, FOXBusiness.com, and ALA’s Legal Management magazine.
Susana Rinderle, M.A., is an Albuquerque-based trainer, coach, facilitator and President of Susana Rinderle Consulting, LLC. She equips organizations and leaders to translate their good intentions into positive impacts on people, achieving excellence by creating inclusive environments where everyone’s brilliance can flourish for the benefit of all. A native of Los Angeles, she has over 35 years of personal experience navigating differences, and over 20 years of professional diversity experience in multiple sectors in the U.S. and Mexico, including nonprofit, education, performing arts, corporate and healthcare. Susana was the co-founder and first Manager of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for University of New Mexico Hospitals, where she oversaw all aspects of health equity efforts, cultural competence training, health literacy initiatives, and the Interpreter Language Services department. Susana holds a B.A. in sociology from UCLA and an M.A. in intercultural communication from UNM, and studied at UNAM in Mexico City. She was a featured speaker at TEDxABQ 2012 in Albuquerque. Her talk was titled "Diversity is Necessary for Human Evolution".
Susana is a regular blogger for Diversity Executive Magazine online in the Global Workforce channel, and her work has also appeared in Diversity Best Practices and Hospitals & Health Networks® Daily. She has published articles on topics related to diversity, Mexico and U.S. Latinos in academic journals as well as commercial publications like Black Diaspora, Latin Style, Interrace, Native Americas, and Latinos and Latinas in US History and Culture: An Encyclopedia.
Houeida Saad is a health law attorney with a background in negotiation and litigation experience in immigration, employment law, civil rights and administrative law. Ms. Saad practices in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and presents KMA's Middle Eastern program with a focus on women and Arab American issues. She is an Adjunct Professor of Law at The Washington College of Law, American University. As a private attorney, she represented and counseled individuals in airline profiling cases and the use of secret evidence in judicial proceedings. For her work in the area of secret evidence, she received the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award for the District of Columbia Bar (2000) and Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year Award for The National Law Journal (2000). Ms. Saad has a J.D. from Washington College of Law of American University and a M.A. in Law and International Affairs from the School of International Service of the American University. She is a Registered Nurse with experience in international relief work. She has conducted Diversity Training post-9/11 with KMA and advised on women and Arab American issues.
Dr. Luis A. Vázquez is the Associate Vice President for Research Integrity and a Regents Professor (Endowed Chair) at New Mexico State University. Dr. Vázquez earned his Doctorate degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa in 1990.
Dr. Vázquez's greatest interest is the "empowering" focus of research on the ethnically/racially diverse populations in education. He has published in the areas of acculturation, and educational development, along with developing multicultural training videos used across the country in counseling and psychology programs. Dr. Vázquez has presented in numerous national conferences and has been an invited speaker at National Conventions to address the issues of Academic Success and health disparities in minority populations.
Dr. Vázquez has also been, a visiting professor at the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico in Mexico City, Mexico. He was recently elected as president for the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minorities, Division 45 of the American Psychological Association. Among the awards Dr. Vázquez has received are the Presidential Citation from the American Psychological Association for Visionary Leadership in Multicultural Psychology, USDA Faculty Fellow in Washington D.C., as well as several “Excellence in Teaching Awards.” Dr. Vázquez is also an associate of KMA (kmadiversity.com) where he is a consultant to Fortune 500 companies, federal and state agencies in the areas of personnel development and policies of diversity. In addition, he also serves as a consultant to higher education institutions regarding research integrity, diversity, and minority student retention/graduation.
Dr. Wester is a team member of KMA's Gender program. His expertise includes psychotherapy with men, masculinity issues, and the impact of male socialization on men's interpersonal functioning in a variety of contexts. Dr. Wester is currently working to understand the intersection of culture and masculinity, as well as the impact of traditional male ideology on men's likelihood of seeking counseling services. Dr. Wester also researches gender differences in emotionality, the degree to which counselors reinforce stereotyped gender behaviors, and the ethical and professional issues involved in the training of counseling psychologists. Dr. Wester teaches at both the M.S. and Ph.D. levels in the areas of counseling theories, psychometric assessment, theories of personality, abnormal psychology, and the psychology of men.
Rita Wuebbeler is president and founder of INTERGLOBE Cross-Cultural Business Services, Inc. an international training and consulting firm based in Atlanta, US and Toronto, Canada.
Rita is the principal developer and facilitator of the program on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) culture at KMA. She is the founder and chair of the Special Interest Section "Pride Across Cultures" at the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR) and facilitates diversity and inclusion workshops for a variety of client organizations. Rita is one of the co-authors of "Cultural Detective LGBT Culture", an online educational tool.
A native German with a Master’s Degree in Applied Linguistics from Mainz University, Germany, Rita also designs and conducts cultural awareness workshops focusing on German culture including for KMA’s German program. Rita spent the first two and a half decades of her life in Europe before moving to North America. After living in the Southern US for over twenty years, she now resides in Canada.