The staff of the Tennessee Language Center bring a variety of skills and experiences to the team. If you are interested in working with us, check out our job openings.

A man with dark hair and a beard and moustache wearing a black shirtEric Amos

Interim Executive Director

Eric serves as the Interim Executive Director for TLC. He was previously Director for Interpretation & Translation Services. He joined TLC as a project manager 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.

A woman with light brown long curly hair wearing a flowered shirtEileen 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.

A woman with long brown straight hair wearing a teal shirtBrenda 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.

A man with short light brown hair and a beard and moustache wearing a white button-down shirt with a green tieC. 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.

A woman with long dark hair wearing a gold topMaya 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.

A woman with medium length light brown curly hair wearing a light colored top under a black jacketAimee Dunphy

Project Manager, Interpretation & Translation Services

Most recently, Aimee was a test administrator for Pearson Professional Centers in Brentwood. She has a bachelor’s degree in Japanese from Ball State University in Indiana.

A woman with long dark curly hair wearing a multi-color dark topIrma 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.

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

Woman with long straight light brown hair smilingGenna Linton

Project Manager, Interpretation and Translation

Genna is a certified medical interpreter and most recently served as the bilingual front desk receptionist at Liberty Collegiate Academy in Nashville. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and geography from the University of Georgia.

Mauricio Lopera

Assistant Director, World Languages

Maurcio Lopera was born in New Jersey, raised in Colombia, and then later in life moved back to the United States and lived in New York and Florida and most recently in wonderful Nashville, Tennessee. He has a degree in Teaching English and Spanish from Luis Amigó Catholic University, located in Medellín (Colombia). He also has a TESOL certification from Arizona State University. He has worked as a language instructor for more than 16 years in different universities and language centers. In the most recent years, he coordinated a language program in a bi-national center in Colombia that was overseen by the U.S. Department of State through the U.S. embassy in Bogota – Colombia.

He has taught English and Spanish to youth and adults in different classroom settings, virtually and in person. He’s had the privilege to immerse students in the language, making their learning process as real as possible so that they can become familiar with the sounds, accents and culture or both Spanish and English.

He has a passion for classic cruiser motorcycles and loves reading historical fiction and history, especially everything related to the Roman Empire. He enjoys playing and watching basketball and hiking or trekking with his beautiful wife of 15 years and his very smart and lovely 12-year-old daughter.

African American woman with short black curly hair wearing glasses and a black shirtAdrian 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.

Indian woman with wavy shoulder length black hair wearing glasses and a white shirtMahasweta Panigrahy

Project Manager, Interpretation and Translation

Mahasweta was born and raised in India. Before joining her husband in the U.S., she worked in various professional fields. She has years of experience in derivative operations and analytical research for investment banks and in the field of localization project management for a language service provider. She most recently worked on early learning projects at First Presbyterian Preschool in Franklin. At TLC, she works as a project manager responsible for end-to-end delivery of multiple localization and translation projects to our clients across Middle Tennessee. Mahasweta holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from Berhampur (India) University as well as  a Master’s degree in Project Management from University of the Cumberlands in the U.S. She is multilingual, she likes to spend her free time with family, and her favorite color is yellow.

Woman with long straight light brown hair wearing glasses and a purple shirtMissy 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.

African American man with dreads wearing sunglasses and black shirt over a blue TshirtPercy Person

Administrative Services

Hispanic man with short black hair wearing glasses and a light blue shirt over a black TshirtRichard Ponce de Leon

Training Specialist

Richard Ponce-de-Leon is a Training Specialist at the Tennessee Language Center, where he designs and manages training programs for language interpreters and translators, intercultural communication programs for public and private institutions, and provides technical assistance to local governments related to language access. He has a background in Linguistics, and has interpreting experience in legal, medical, and educational settings. He is a certified court interpreter in the state of Tennessee and holds a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

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

A woman with long straight brown hair wearing a pink blouseJenny 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.

A woman with long light brown straight hair wearing a multi-colored neck scarf and a black jacketApryl Ruiz

Accounting Specialist

Apryl has been with TLC since 2008. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Mid-Continent University and is conversational in Spanish.

A woman with long curly brown hair wearing a red shirt under a black jacketAmanda 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 received 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.

Staff headshot of Katie SmithKatie Smith

IT Coordinator