The executive director of Concordia Language Villages, a program of Concordia College, manages a team of leaders who hold responsibility for the program and support divisions of the Language Villages. The leadership team sets strategic direction and is charged with all day-to-day program, financial and business operations for Concordia Language Villages. In addition, the leaders maintain program and curriculum development that upholds the mission of the Villages and its educational philosophy, as well as hires and trains all program leadership to abide by these principles.
Christine Schulze is the executive director for Concordia Language Villages. She has served as the top executive of Concordia Language Villages since 1989, and has been on staff for 45 years. During that time, she has been responsible for growing the Villages into a complex networked organization with an annual operating budget of about $12 million, serving 10,500 participants from across the United States and over 30 countries. She is a past dean of the French Language Village; initiated Les Voyageurs, an innovative French language immersion program in a wilderness setting; and has led teacher trainings and abroad sessions.
Christine has been a keynote speaker on global citizenship skills, language and cultural immersion techniques, and creative management techniques in a not-for-profit environment. She is the chair emeritus of the board for the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange in Washington, D.C., an organization which promotes federal policies that support and advance international exchange in all its dimensions. She collaborated with the Department of State to launch an Arabic Language Village in 2006. In 2016, she was instrumental in Concordia Language Villages being the college division to receive the designation of a Language Training Center through the Department of Defense. She currently sits on the advisory board for the Center for Advanced Research in Language Acquisition at the University of Minnesota. She earned a J.D. from the University of Minnesota, and a B.A. from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. She is fluent in French, and has studied German and Spanish.
Alexander Arguelles is the group director for German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, and Finnish Language Communities, as well as for the Language Discovery Program (French, Spanish, Chinese, and Norwegian for preschoolers) with Concordia Language Villages. Alexander earned his B.A. in French and German comparative literature from Columbia University and his Ph.D. in the comparative history of religions and Germanic philology from the University of Chicago. Before joining Concordia in 2019, he had an academic career spanning a quarter of a century as a professor at universities in Germany, Korea, Lebanon, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. In addition to research and teaching French, Spanish, and German, he has also held positions as director of language education or chair of the department of humanities and languages at these institutions. Alexander wrote his dissertation on the Old Norse sagas, published an English-French-Spanish-German dictionary, and has authored numerous reference works for the study of Korean. His main research interests lie in the self-study methods and metacognitive strategies of polyglots. A polyglot himself, Alexander has studied all the languages offered at Concordia Language Villages except for Finnish, but he will do so as a villager this summer. He is a co-organizer and the academic liaison for the annual international Polyglot Conference and over the years he has been invited to be a keynote speaker at a range of other linguistics conferences in the U.S., Indonesia, Korea, and Austria. Alexander is very happy and excited to return home to the United States by joining Concordia Language Villages so that he can share both his love of languages and his lengthy experience as a global citizen with our community.
Mark Kenji Chen is the group director for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Russian Language Communities with Concordia Language Villages. He has extensive experience in teacher development and educational management. Before joining Concordia Language Villages full-time in the role of group director in November 2015, he was director of the new-teacher professional development program at San Dieguito Union High School District in Encinitas, Calif. He also acted as a supervisor of student teaching at California State University in San Marcos, Calif. Kenji holds a B.A. in multiple foreign languages (a self-designed degree comprised of Spanish, Japanese and Russian studies) from North Central College in Naperville, Ill. and an M.A. in foreign language education from the Ohio State University. He has taught Japanese and Spanish from kindergarten to undergraduate levels for more than 25 years. Kenji has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 18 years and is a former dean of the Japanese Language Village
Nicole Ellis is associate director of marketing for Concordia Language Villages. In her role, Nicole oversees all marketing functions including photography, videography, data and systems management, graphic design, email, social media, and digital and print advertising. Before joining the Villages, Nicole worked in marketing, communications, public relations and event planning roles in the nonprofit, hospitality, health products and professional sports industries.
Martin Graefe is the senior group director and director for the Concordia Language Training Center of Concordia Language Villages. He has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 32 years, being introduced to the Villages via weekend programs for school groups, including eight years as director for year-round programs and ten years as the associate director for operations. Over the years, he has focused on new program development, specifically for pre-K and Adventure Day Camp programs as well as family programs. Most recently, Martin has focused on developing and advancing the Concordia Language Training Center programs for US government employees, building on the successful partnerships developed with the US Department of Defense. He is a native of Germany and has studied French. Martin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, N.D. and a master’s degree in business administration from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. Since joining the Villages, he has been an active member of the Bemidji, Minn. community, with Rotary International and the American Camp Association.
Kathy Jenson is director of finance and administrative services with Concordia Language Villages. She oversees our financial management, registration, transportation, and staffing offices. Kathy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting, with a minor in Marketing, from MN State University Moorhead and a Master of Business Administration degree from ND State University. Prior to joining Concordia Language Villages in May 2018, she held various Finance and Accounting positions over the last 25+ years with companies such as Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, DMS Health Technologies, Microsoft, and MeritCare Health Systems (now known as Sanford Health).
Warren Schulze is director of operations. He oversees all of our facilities management, construction projects, site rentals, distribution center, food service and retail operations. He has been on staff for 14 years.
Warren is a former business law attorney and entrepreneur who has also worked as an independent artist and furniture maker. He is a Concordia College graduate with B.A. degrees in Business Administration and Communications. He earned his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Hamline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota.
Jennifer Charlotte Speir is the group director for the French and Spanish Language Communities and Village Weekends programs of Concordia Language Villages. Charlotte has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 32 years, and prior to her current group director role was dean of Lac du Bois, the French Language Village. She is fluent in French and has studied Spanish. Charlotte earned her bachelor’s degree in French, with a minor in music from Middlebury College, Vt. She completed her master’s degree in teaching French at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and studied at the Université de Caen, in France. Charlotte has spent 20 years teaching French in elementary schools, as well as eight years in middle school, high school and college-level classes. She participates in the American Camp Association and is involved in AdvancEd accreditation for school programs.