Forum Panel

Sharon Fechter

Montgomery College

Sharon Ahern Fechter, Ph.D., is Professor of Spanish and was the former chair of the department of World Languages and Philosophy at Montgomery College. She is currently the Interim Dean of Humanities. She earned her Ph.D. from New York University and her M.A. and B.A. from The Catholic University of America.  Dr. Fechter was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Teacher of the Year for Two-Year Colleges by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).   She is an associate editor for the refereed journal Hispania and has served on the Executive Council of the AATSP, on the Montgomery County Public Schools Foreign Language Curriculum Advisory Committee, and is an active member of numerous professional organizations.  She previously served as Director of Inter-Institutional Collaboration for Project 2001 at Middlebury College, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation to foster the innovative use of instructional technologies in foreign language education.  She has presented and published on numerous topics dealing with foreign language pedagogy, literature, distance education, and international education.  She is co-author of the textbook for advanced beginners, Paso adelante, co-author of the laboratory manual for ¡En directo! and author of the online task-based activities for ¡Arriba!.

Karen Steele

Queensborough Community College

Dr. Steele directs a comprehensive college-wide institutional effectiveness program that includes strategic planning, institutional research, outcomes assessment, academic program review, accreditation, and compliance with state/federal/MSCHE requirements.

​Previously, Dr. Steele served in the Office of Academic Affairs for over 25 years, most recently as Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs. Among her accomplishments as Interim Vice President, Dr. Steele led the review process of the Freshman Academies, which led to recommendations and implementation of expansion to the Queensborough Academies, expansion of the High Impact Practices, and a revised Assessment Protocol. She oversaw the expansion of the eLearning Institute, New Faculty Institute, and the Assessment Institute. In fall 2013, Dr. Steele established a Retention Management Team to focus on data analysis and recommendations for policy and action items.

​Born in Ohio, Dean Steele grew up in Auburn, Alabama, and graduated with a baccalaureate degree in English from Emory University. She was awarded a Danforth Graduate Fellowship. After teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Marawi City, Mindanao, the Philippines, she completed her Ph.D. in English at Brown University, writing about social change in George Eliot’s fiction. After extensive teaching experience, she came to Queensborough Community College in 1984 as an academic administrator.

Olivia Yañez

College of Lake County

Olivia Yañez is Associate Professor of Spanish at the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois. Her specialization is in Spanish language instruction, Spanish and Latin American literature, and Hispanic culture and civilization. She has taught at Lake County since 2006, and prior to this taught at numerous institutions, including the University of Chicago, Loyola University, Oakton Community College, and McHenry County College. She holds both a B.S. and M.A. from Loyola University-Chicago, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. At the College of Lake County, she has taught all levels of Spanish, Hispanic culture and civilization, and Latin American writers.