At the Foundation’s fall Board meeting, two Trustees were honored for their long service to TIRF. Mrs. Ana Sylvia Ramirez Toriello is the CEO at El Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA), Guatemala’s Bi-National Center. Dr. Joe Lo Bianco recently retired from his post as Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Both have been members of the TIRF Board since 2010.

Ana Sylvia’s (picture left) numerous contributions to TIRF include her activities with many TIRF committees and projects. She was part of the team that hosted the TIRF breakfast at the 2019 TESOL Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to making a number of financial donations to TIRF, she and her team at IGA were responsible for many “gifts in kind” to the Foundation, including printing TIRF stationery and bookmarks, as well as producing the 20th anniversary commemorative tee-shirts, which displayed the slogan, “Proud of our Past, Focused on our Future.”  In 2011, under Ana Sylvia’s leadership, IGA hosted a conference at which there was a panel presentation about TIRF.

Outgoing TIRF President Kathi Bailey noted that Ana Sylvia was one of the Trustees based outside of the United States who most often made the effort to attend the September Board meetings in Washington, DC. “For many years, we could always count on Ana Sylvia for her energy and her commitment to the Foundation. She was TIRF’s first Board member from Central America and was always full of energy about TIRF’s mission,” Kathi said.

Ana Sylvia has been recognized by the Tegucigalpa City Hall as Honorary Citizen of Honduras for her ongoing effort to promote a unified Bi-National Center movement in Central America. She has also been named Knight of the Order of Academic Palms presented by the French Government. She has been a member of the board of directors of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Guatemala, the Bi-National Association of Central America, the Museum Association of Guatemala, and the Technological Foundation of Guatemala, and has served as member of the board of directors at the American School of Guatemala and the Jules Vern School.

TIRF Trustee Lorraine de Matos, a longtime colleague of Ana Sylvia’s since before their time together on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, shared the following comments about Ana Sylvia: “It is a real pleasure to work with Ana Sylvia. Her incredible track record of all her work at IGA is amazing on academic, cultural, and social fronts. And all her involvement with government agencies and so many others gave her a really rich repertoire for her contributions to TIRF. It’s an honor for me, on behalf of our TIRF colleagues, to express admiration and many thanks for her service to TIRF.”

Joe Lo Bianco (pictured left) was recognized for his many years of work with TIRF’s Alatis Prize Committee. His expertise on a wide range of topics in language planning and policy made him an ideal member of this group. Kathi noted that Joe was the featured speaker for the TIRF presentation at the 2016 TESOL Convention in Baltimore, Maryland, and that he then travelled to Orlando, Florida, where he gave a plenary presentation at the annual conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics (AAAL). In that talk he shared his experiences working on the Language, Education, and Social Cohesion initiative in Myanmar, Malaysia, and Thailand. The project included an emphasis on peacebuilding and indigenous language rights. Kathi recalls that the theme of the AAAL Conference in 2016 was “Applied Linguistics Applied.” She said, “Joe’s plenary was absolutely inspiring. He really showed how applied linguists can make a huge difference in the world.” 

TIRF Trustee David Nunan shared these thoughts about Joe Lo Bianco: “Joe and I have been friends and colleagues for almost 40 years. He is Emeritus Professor at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education and is Immediate Past President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities – the first educator to be elected to that role. In 2012, he was appointed Research Director of the UNICEF Language and Peacekeeping Initiative in Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand, an ambitious, audacious (and dangerous) initiative to build peace through language in conflict zones in Southeast Asia. In 1987, he wrote the first multilingual national language policy in an English-speaking country. He was also Founding Chief Executive of the National Language and Literacy Institute of Australia in the 1980s and 1990s.”  

David continued, “I’m not sure if Joe is aware of this, but I was external assessor of candidates for the Federal Department of Education for that position. Sometime after I submitted my report on the shortlisted candidate, I received a call from the Permanent Head of the Department in Canberra. ‘Is this Lo Bianco as impressive as you say,’ he asked. As you can imagine, all candidates had impeccable credentials, but without hesitation, I replied, ‘Absolutely! I rate Lo Bianco, first, daylight second, and the other candidates third and fourth.’ Joe is in constant demand as an advisor and consultants to governments around the world. The multilingual policy document he produced for the Sydney Olympics was subsequently used to support multilingualism at the Athens and London Games. Oh, and for good measure, he is a Member of the Order of Australia, the highest honor to be awarded in the country.”

In recognizing Joe’s and Ana Sylvia’s many contributions, Kathi added, “TIRF Trustees are not paid for their service, nor are they reimbursed for their expenses to attend Board meetings. This is a working Board, in which everyone is expected to contribute to the work of the Foundation – both financially and in terms of personal effort and networking. Ana Sylvia and Joe have been outstanding supporters of the Foundation and its mission.”