Faculty & Staff




Dr. Maryalice (Ali) Mazzara, Dean

Dr. Maryalice (Ali) Mazzara is the Long Island University’s (LIU) Dean of the Global College and the Director of LIU’s Roosevelt School. She brings over 30 years’ experience in the design, development, and implementation of global leadership and programs in partnerships with foundations, U.S. and international governments, corporations, think tanks, and the UN. Prior to LIU, Ali was the Founding Director of SUNY’s Global Affairs Leadership Program. Other SUNY initiatives include designing and implementing global programs for numerous SUNY campuses. She has also held leadership positions at the Global Film Initiative, the Government of Québec in New York, and Columbia University.  Ali received her doctorate in International Educational Development from Columbia University’s Teachers College. 


Sarah Moran, Assistant Dean, Costa Rica Center Director & Faculty

Sarah has worked as the Costa Rica Center Director since 2005 and as Assistant Dean since 2014. As Assistant Dean she helps coordinate the global team to ensure effective and quality programs and in providing strong student support globally. As Costa Rica Center Director she works with the Costa Rica team to design, implement and assess the program and is responsible for supporting students in all aspects while in Costa Rica. Sarah teaches the Foundation Year Orientation Seminar and is the academic advisor for first year students where she focuses on student success, intercultural communication and competence, experiential education, and global community engagement. Prior to LIU Global, Sarah worked as Training Director for Peace Corps Costa Rica. In Chicago, she worked in adult education with Chicago City Colleges and Northeastern Illinois University as well as with community organizations and the union representing the adult educators of City Colleges. Originally from Evanston, IL, she has lived and worked in Costa Rica for over 30 years. Sarah has her M.S. in Adult Continuing Education from Northern Illinois University, BA in Social Sciences and Secondary Teaching Certificate from University of Michigan.


Rainer Braun, Europe Director & Faculty

Rainer has been a faculty member at Long Island University for many years. He joined LIU as the research coordinator for the graduate-level United Nations Program, taught in the Political Science department, and served as an instructor, advisor, and finally as the Europe Director for Global College in which he also teaches. His research interests are economic and political development, human rights, and corporate social accountability. He is on the faculty of Columbia University, Pioneer Academics, and taught at George Mason University. He has consulted widely in the field of business and human rights and prior to his academic career worked for the National Human Rights Commissioner of Honduras and the international development branch of the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation. Rainer has his Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin, B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Bremen.


Soenke Biermann, Asia-Pacific Australia Director & Faculty

Soenke directs the Asia-Pacific Australia program in coordination with the team in Byron Bay, Australia. Soenke also is the professor of Political Economy and Ecology in the Asia-Pacific Region and Global Studies Seminar in the Fall Semester, and Culture, Politics and Identity in Australasia and Junior Research Seminar in the Spring Semester. As a researcher, Soenke has presented his work on pedagogy, decolonization, social justice, and human rights at more than 20 national and international conferences. He has been invited to give guest lectures at institutions such as the University of Barcelona, McGill University, UC Berkeley, and Humboldt University, and has published articles in a range of scholarly journals. Soenke is a passionate and dedicated teacher who has won a number of institutional and national Australian teaching awards over the past few years. He also has set up and been involved with a series of university and community initiatives and projects focusing on social justice, cultural diversity and decolonization. Originally from northern Germany, Soenke has been living in Australia for over twenty years. Soenke has his PhD in Cultural Studies [ABD], GradCert in Higher Education and bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies (Hons.) from Southern Cross University.


Oscar Ugalde, Costa Rica Center Administrative Coordinator, LIU Global Finance Officer & Faculty

Oscar has worked as administrator at the Costa Rica Center for more than 20 years, and subsequently also as the finance officer at the program level. More recently he has participated as faculty as well, teaching Global Studies: Economics and Project Management. Oscar is also a part-time professor of Economics, Finance and Development at the National University of Costa Rica at the bachelor’s and master’s programs. He recently joined the Latin American Network of Researchers on Development Studies as well as the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics where he contributes doing research. Oscar has his PhD in Economics and Business from Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología [ULACIT] in Costa Rica, his MA in Development Economics from the Institute of Social Studies Netherlands, and his MBA in International Trade from ULACIT, Costa Rica.



Jessica Clark, Adjunct Faculty

Jessica is a professor at the Costa Rica Center of the Joining the Conversation: The Argumentative Essay Seminar in fall and Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship and Introduction to Strategic Communication in spring. Jessica also is an academic advisor for our junior and senior students during their research process. Jessica is a published science fiction writer. She has worked as an advertiser, script writer and speech writer in the Costa Rican Embassy in Washington D.C. Jessica has her M.S. in English Literature from the University of Costa Rica.


Gabriela García, Adjunct Spanish Coordinator & Faculty

Gabriela works as the Spanish Coordinator at the Costa Rica Center and teaches Spanish courses in the program. Gabriela has participated in training programs at the Universidad Nacional and other institutions in Costa Rica. Gabriela has been working in this field since 1997, first as a professor and then as a coordinator. She has been the Spanish Coordinator for the Peace Corps and private institutions in Costa Rica and Panama. She has experience as a trainer for professors and as a curriculum coordinator for Spanish programs. She is certified by the ACTFL to conduct interviews and determine a student’s speaking ability. She is very interested in Intercultural Studies. Gabriela has her master’s degree in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language from the University of Costa Rica, coursework for the master’s in Latin American literature program from the University of Costa Rica.


Natasha Gordon-Chipembere, Adjunct Faculty

At the Costa Rica Center, Dr. Chipembere is Professor of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Course in fall and Exploring the Question: Writing the Research Paper in spring. Dr. Chipembere is also an academic advisor for our junior and senior students during their research process and teaches the Internship Course in both the IRIS and Capstone semesters with our senior students. Born in New York of Central American/Caribbean parentage, Natasha lives in Costa Rica as a full-time writer and independent scholar. Her scholarly research focuses on slavery and its impact. in 2022, Jaded Ibis Press published Natasha's historical fiction novel Finding La Negrita on 17th century slavery in Costa Rica which includes a revisioning of the Black Madonna narrative for which she has received prestigious awards and recognition. For many years, she wrote a monthly column, Musings from an Afro Costa Rican for the Tico Times. Natasha has her PhD in English with a focus on Africa/African Diasporic Literature and History from the University of South Africa, Pretoria South Africa; her M.A. in African Literature from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa; and her M.Ed. in Secondary and Tertiary Education/Literature from the Teachers College, Columbia University, New York.


Nigel Hayes, Adjunct Faculty

Nigel is a professor in the Asia Pacific Australia program for United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Theory and Practice and Innovative Encounters with Nature and Knowledge in the Fall Semester and Entrepreneurship, Sustainability and Cross-Cultural Collaboration in the Spring Semester. Nigel is an experienced university teacher (both online and face-to-face) and has project leadership expertise in effective assessment and feedback. He has been teaching in the Environmental Humanities and Creative Writing for Southern Cross University and LIU Global College since 2008. Nigel’s research interests revolve around theories of embodiment and subjectivity, the cultural controls on perception, especially as they involve food, and the ethics of eating. He has published several scholarly articles in academic journals and has presented his research at a number of national conferences. Nigel has his PhD in Cultural Studies [ABD], Graduate Certificate in Higher Education (Teaching and Learning) and BA (Hons.) from Southern Cross University, Australia.


Joshua James, Adjunct Faculty

Joshua is a professor in the Asia Pacific Australia program for Climate Change, Marine Conservation & Coastal Management in the Spring Semester. Josh has a practical, experience-based teaching style that he gained as a SCUBA Dive Master/Boat Captain/Dive Supervisor/Instructor with more than 1,000 SCUBA dives at Nguthungullli Julian Rocks (Cape Byron Marine Park, CBMP) since training as a PADI Dive Master there in 2005. By guiding both certified and uncertified divers underwater and training and instructing divers/snorkelers about the diversity and ecology of Australia's second oldest marine park, Josh was able to gain a detailed understanding of the marine environment at Julian Rocks Aquatic Zone specifically, and the sea country that surrounds Cavanbah Byron Bay in general. Working as a field study boat captain for Dolphin Research Australia and as a marine scientist field guide for humpback whale watching boats have provided additional practical and academic experience. Sea turtle conservation is Josh’s research focus and he helped found the grassroots educational research project, Byron Bay Sea Turtle School. “Turtle school” is currently working on an ecological baseline study of the sea turtles found within the CBMP using photo-identification and presence/absence datasets and teaching sea turtle citizen science classes to community, school and tourist groups. Joshua has his bachelor’s degree in Marine Science & Management from Southern Cross University, Australia.


Jessica O’Rourke, Adjunct Student Services & Administrative Program Coordinator

With a background in health science and a wealth of administrative experience in a variety of private-sector roles, Jessica (JJ) joined the Asia-Pacific Australia Program to provide administrative and student services coordination. In her free time, JJ is interested in yoga, dance, travel and culture, and sustainable living. Jessica has her bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Westminster University, London.


Olivia Sylvester, Adjunct Faculty

Olivia is a professor of the Foundations of Global Studies: Ecology and Environment and Engaging the Field:  Introduction to Research Methods at the Costa Rica Center. Olivia, a settler, born on Treaty 7 territory on land now called Canada, has been teaching and doing research for over 15 years on the following topics: environment and development, sustainable food systems, climate and environmental justice, gender, and Indigenous land defense. Specifically, her emphasis is on grass-roots projects using feminist and Indigenous methodologies. Olivia is an associate professor at the University for Peace in the Department of Environment and Development. She is also a member of the following organizations: The International Union for Conservation of Nature and the International Society of Ethnobiology. Being active within these networks allows her to work at the interface of policy and practice. Olivia has her Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Management from the Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Canada; her Certificate in Higher Education Teaching Program from the University of Manitoba; and her M.S. Honours in Biological Sciences from the Universidad de Costa Rica.


Louise Togo, Adjunct Faculty

Louise Togo lives on Coodjinburra country and is professor for First Nations & Cultural Survival in the Fall Semester and Anti-Racism, Indigenous Rights & Allyship in the Spring Semester of the Asia Pacific Australia program. For the past 20 years, she has been working within Indigenous Education and Indigenous Advocacy, primarily around the recognition of Aboriginal People as First Nation Australians and the recognition of the history of indentured servitude in Australia. Louise believes that education is key and wants to be a stepping stone for students to reach and achieve their goals. Louise has her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous Studies from Southern Cross University and a Graduate Diploma in Social Sciences.


Alison Weeks, Adjunct Faculty

Alison teaches the International Careers and Leadership course for our students in the Europe program to support their professional development. She has held progressive leadership roles in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors and is the co-founder of a unique MBA in Sustainable Management program and business school, Presidio Graduate School. She also worked to grow an online personal growth publishing company from inception to 50 employees. Guiding interests include organizational leadership and transformation, global education, and effective social impact. Alison works from her floating home on the Multnomah channel north of Portland, Oregon. Alison has her MA in International Education from NYU and a BA in Liberal Arts from Friends World College.


Ursula Wharton, Adjunct Faculty

Ursula is a professor in the Asia Pacific Australia program for Multimedia Storytelling for an Interconnected World in the Spring Semester. Ursula brings 15 years of practical experience in news and current affairs, coupled with an active passion for social justice. Her work has been largely in radio current affairs, online features and innovation projects in storytelling, including interactive and citizen journalism. Ursula has also lectured in Broadcast Journalism for both Griffith University and Sunshine Coast University. Beyond academia, Ursula is harnessing the power of story to influence systemic change and foster community resilience in suicide prevention. When she’s not teaching, Ursula is a speaker, advocate, and trainer in both suicide intervention skills and deep listening. Ursula has her master’s degree in Communication with First Class Honours from Griffith University.