Education Abroad Professional Learning Community (EA-PLC)

The Education Abroad PLC provides a forum for professionals in the fields of education abroad and global learning to share knowledge, organize projects and activities, and enhance their competencies.

Global Skills Opportunity Learning Series

Global Skills Opportunity (GSO), CBIE, and the CBIE Education Abroad Professional Learning Community (EA-PLC) are collaborating on a learning series to support Canadian post-secondary institutions in developing and designing their international experience programs.


The Education Abroad (EA) PLC creates an informed and effective support network and forum of discussion amongst education abroad professionals. In order to continue our learning in the field, the PLC also develops and/or promotes education and training opportunities for global learning professionals. The EA PLC is open to CBIE members at all levels who work or have interest in global learning.

The Education Abroad PLC encompasses the following sub-groups:

  • Accessibility & Inclusion
  • Education Abroad Measures
  • Intercultural Competence
  • Pre-Departure, Re-Entry & Wraparound Support
  • Virtual Education Abroad

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee members and co-chairs act as a voice for the EA-PLC and increase awareness of the EA community they represent. For more information on roles and responsibilities, please see the EA-PLC’s Terms of Reference.

Co-chairs of the EA-PLC

Colleen Packer
Director – Global Learning
University of Calgary

Show Bio

Colleen Packer has worked in the field of international education for over 20 years. She is currently the Director, Global Learning at University of Calgary International, where she provides leadership for the University’s education abroad and global learning at home programs, working with stakeholders across campus to support the institution’s global engagement plan. In addition to serving on various internal and external committees, Colleen is the co-chair of the CBIE’s Education Abroad Professional Learning Community and is a frequent presenter at both national and international conferences. Colleen has an M.Ed. in adult learning from the University of Calgary.

Ms. Shabnam (Shay) Surjitsingh Ivković
PEng (ON), Director – International Strategic Initiatives, Co-operative & Experiential Education, University of Waterloo

Show Bio

As the Director of International Strategic Initiatives, Shabnam (Shay) designs and delivers University of Waterloo’s Co-operative and Experiential Education’s internationalization strategy that continues to place CEE as a global leader in the work-integrated learning arena via sustainable pathways for quality growth & innovation. Being an avid advocate of WIL, she has presented on program outcomes, student satisfaction, building co‐op legacies in organizations, risk management, WIL impact on UN’s SDGs, etc. at several global conferences. Shabnam loves working at university because she believes that in a well-rounded education lies the promise of our future.



Accessibility & Inclusion

Sakura Hirata, BA., RCIC, MEd
Marketing and Recruitment Specialist, Okanagan College

Show Bio

Sakura Hirata has worked in K-12 and postsecondary institutions within international education for +10 years. Under her current role as a Marketing and Recruitment Specialist, her portfolio includes Japan and African countries. She is an advocate for an inclusive environment for the diverse array of students on campus. She is currently pursuing her Master in Social Justice Education where her research focuses on internationalization and mobility with emphasis on equity, diversity, inclusion and training on cultural competency. She has developed programs that support marginalized students to increase their opportunities to study abroad, while collaborating across campus departments. She is deeply committed to mental health awareness.

Zhi Jones, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Education Abroad (Services), University of Alberta

Show Bio

Zhi has a Ph.D in Administration of Post-secondary Education from the University of Alberta. She is passionate about international education and strongly believes that a critical outcome of the UAlberta experience is for the graduating students to develop interest and competencies in engaging professionally and socially with diverse communities in Canada and around the world.

Measures & Benchmarking

Colin Kutchyera
Accreditation and Graduate Studies Analyst, Lakehead University

Show Bio

Colin has been working in a Faculty of Business Administration for eight years, where, among many other things, he focuses on measuring learning goals and objectives and reporting for accreditation and quality assurance initiatives. He is actively involved in program development and changes that are responsive to the needs and demands of international and domestic students. As a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy, his area of study is in domestic outbound mobility.

Mila Sokolyanskaya
Global Education Coordinator, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

Show Bio

Mila Sokolyanskaya has been working at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology for three years, where she currently holds the position of Global Education Coordinator. Before this, she worked as a career coach for diverse clients in the non-profit and post-secondary sectors for almost seven years. Her current role at NAIT involves developing a study abroad program to enable students to engage with different cultures and enrich their careers. Mila firmly believes that learning abroad can positively change one’s mindset on culture, communication, and diversity.

Mila has been instrumental in implementing NAIT’s recently finalized Global Engagement Strategy, overseeing global partnership development at the institutional level. As the co-lead of the PLC-EA subgroup on Measures and Benchmarking, she also believes in the power of data-driven decisions. Her qualifications include a master’s degree in education and a Certified Career Development Professional designation.

Intercultural Competence

Rebecca Trautwein
Manager, Education Abroad, University of Calgary

Show Bio

Rebecca Trautwein is the Manager, Education Abroad at University of Calgary International, where she provides leadership to her team, in pursuit of increasing global learning experiences for the campus community through strengthening global partnership and collaboration. Her expertise includes risk management, experiential programming, relationship building, intercultural development, and wraparound supports, with over ten years’ experience, at both polytechnic and university institutions. Rebecca holds an MA in International and Intercultural Communication from Royal Roads University, which guides her work and teaching, in helping people develop a deepened understanding of the complexities, nuances, and joys of intercultural communication, and ultimately the human experience.

Karima Ramji
Associate Director, International, Indigenous and Strategic Initiatives, University of Victoria

Show Bio

Karima has over two decades of experience in work integrated learning, and currently serves as Associate Director. International, Indigenous and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Victoria’s Co-operative Education Programs and Career Services. A Certified Advanced Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Professional and an active researcher, she has co-published articles in the International Journal of Work Integrated Learning, and a chapter on UVic’s Intercultural Competency Development Curriculum, in the book Work-integrated Learning in the 21st Century: Global Perspectives on the Future. Karima just completed two years of service as Co-Chair of the ACE-WIL BC/Yukon’s Research Committee and is currently Chair of CEWIL Canada’s International Committee. She espouses values of pluralism and servant leadership in all she does.

Pre-Departure, Re-Entry & Other Wraparound Support

Elissa Cressman
Manager, Safety Abroad, University of Waterloo

Show Bio

Elissa earned a Master’s of Education degree in Higher Education leadership from the University of Calgary and worked to support students as a Manager, Residence Life before taking on leadership of the Safety Abroad portfolio at the University of Waterloo. Skilled in risk assessment and iterative process improvement related to international travel Elissa provides strategic and operational leadership associated with the health, safety and security of those travelling abroad on University of Waterloo sponsored travel and activities including the coordination of emergency responses for crisis situations abroad.

Stasa Andric
Manager, Global Engagement, Capilano University

Show Bio

Stasa’s curiosity around multidisciplinary projects, community building and technology has led her to work in a range of industries, including international education, performing arts, management consulting, telecom, and magazine publishing. Her deep involvement in the international education sector began over 10 years ago at Capilano University in North Vancouver, where she currently serves as Manager, Global Engagement, and is responsible for the university’s outbound and inbound mobility strategic planning and implementation. Her work has focused on driving collaborative partnership pathways that enable globally relevant education, wide access two-way mobility programming, and sustainability-based global initiatives across cultures and time zones.

Climate Action & SDGs

Ruth Wax

Ruth Wax
Manager, Education Abroad, International Centre for Students, University of Victoria

Show Bio

Ruth Wax is an international education professional currently serving as the Manager, Education Abroad at the University of Victoria’s International Centre for Students. With a passion for fostering equitable and sustainable global opportunities for students, Ruth is dedicated to empowering students with the competencies and experiences needed to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Ruth has over 10 years of experience working in various aspects of the international education sector, including student engagement and success, contract training, recruitment, mobility and partnership development. Ruth immigrated from Germany and holds a MA in Intercultural Communication and European Studies and a BA in Sociology.

Ada Lee
Global Learning & Partnerships Manager, Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Show Bio

Ada Lee is an international education professional with 10+ years in global mobility and partnerships, recruitment & admissions, and student engagement.  A 1.5-generation settler from Hong Kong, her work focuses on widening access to experiential global learning programs and leveraging technology to build inclusive and innovative programming. She lives alongside the great Douglas fir trees in Vancouver, Canada.