Meet Our Staff
The year that John spent on a Fulbright Scholarship to India was the most intensely educational of his life. It inspired him to promote international exchange and understanding in many positions. He is especially proud of coaching 114 Fulbright recipients at Johns Hopkins University, where he was the faculty representative, for leading a contingent of scholarship advisors to advocate for Fulbright on Capitol Hill, and for his previous service on the Association Board.
John served in several deanships for a decade at Johns Hopkins, including Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Affairs. Prior to that, he taught history at public high schools, covered a presidential election at ABC News, directed the UCLA Center for American Politics in Washington, DC., and served as policy director on a US Senate campaign. Since his tenure at Hopkins, he directed international recruitment for Marks Education, led the Colonial Academic Alliance (a coalition of US universities), and served as a chief officer at International Baccalaureate.
John earned his BA in History from Yale University, and his MA and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recipient of a Brookings Institution fellowship and the inaugural “Global Changemaker” award from the Institute of International Education, he is the author of Taking the Initiative: Leadership Agendas in Congress and the “Contract with America,” and Dean’s List: 10 Strategies for College Success.
His Fulbright biography would not be complete without his late parents, William and Gretta Bader. His father was in the inaugural class of Fulbright Scholars to Germany, where he married his Pomona College classmate, Gretta. William went on to work with Senator Fulbright on the Foreign Relations Committee and to serve as Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs. Gretta sculpted important portraits of Senator Fulbright on display at the National Portrait Gallery and the University of Arkansas. One portrait now serves as the physical Fulbright Prize.
Shaz Akram joined the Fulbright Association in 2012. As Senior Director, she oversees all membership initiatives, serves the sixty plus chapter networks across the US, administers the Chapter Grant program, and works with events, conferences and Fulbright Association Corp and Insight Tours. She also edits the Fulbright Edge (Fulbright Association’s) e-newsletter. Shaz has also worked as the Director of Chapter and Institutional Relations at the Association. Prior to joining the Fulbright Association, Shaz served as an Assistant Director at the Diversity Center, Mississippi State University, where her name had become synonymous with the word “international.” Shaz also served as faculty and student adviser for the Fulbright Program (FPA) at Mississippi State University. She has extensive knowledge of J, F and H1-B visa regulations, academic exchanges and study abroad programs and served as an adviser to international students for several years, before joining the Association in DC. She was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria and has lived in her home country, Pakistan. She is fluent in several languages and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and French, a Masters in English Literature, and Business Administration with a minor in Finance. Shaz has also been part of the prestigious Civil Services of Pakistan and worked under the Auditor General of Pakistan’s Office as Deputy Controller Military Accounts and Deputy Director Commercial Audit for several years before moving to the US.
Mary Ellen Schmider
Dr. Schmider previously served as Executive Director of the Fulbright Association in 2012 as transition leadership. During her tenure, she developed a new staff, initiated the development of a more robust technology platform to serve members and Chapters, worked with the Board to develop the bi-annual J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding awarded to Doctors Without Borders at the Library of Congress in September, Fulbright Commissions, and State Alumni in the UK and Europe to plan the 35th Annual Conference of the Association. Dr. Schmider held two Senior Fulbright Lecturer Awards: to China in 1997, and Macedonia in 2005-6.
As Graduate Dean Emerita from the Minnesota State University Minnesota, she served as Chair of the Minnesota Humanities Commission. She holds the BA, magna cum laude, from St. Olaf College, the M. A. in English and American Literature from the University of Southern California, and the Ph. D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.
Director of Chapter Relations
Alex Johnston, Ph.D., joins the staff of the Fulbright Association after 7 years of chapter leadership experience on the Iowa Chapter Board of Directors. Serving as a Chapter President gives her first-hand understanding of the challenges of and opportunities for chapter development and she is committed to working with FA chapter leaders to make their work effective and rewarding. Alex administers the Chapter Grant Program, oversees membership, advocacy, and chapter training initiatives, and creates messaging for the Fulbright Association.
Alex is a Fulbright U.S. Student Program alumna who spent one year as a research student at the Osaka University of Education in Osaka, Japan, in 1994-1995. Her professional experience includes managing international educational exchange programs, teaching graduate-level courses in intercultural communication and linguistics, and delivering communication training to public and private sector clients. Alex has conducted sociolinguistic research and provided communication training in the U.S., the Middle East, and Japan.
Alex holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University, an M.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and a B.A. summa cum laude in East Asian Studies from Washington University in St. Louis. Alex is excited to bring her passion for international educational exchange, communication, and chapter development to the Fulbright Association.
Alison Aadland joined the Fulbright team as the Office Coordinator in 2016, traveling across the country to Washington, DC from her Fargo-Moorhead hometown in Minnesota. She comes from an eclectic background of international, academic, and non-profit experience. She holds an M.A. in Medieval Studies from King’s College, London, where she specialized in Viking Age history. She received her B. A. from Concordia College in Global Studies with an East Asian Concentration and a Psychology minor, which included a one-year study abroad at Kanda University of International Studies in Japan. She additionally worked in Japan for two years as an English instructor, and has worked as a communications specialist and coordinator in a non-profit mental health agency. These experiences have given Alison a passion for international relations and intercultural exchange, as well as a strong devotion to education and societal welfare, which she brings with her to the Fulbright Association.
Rob joined the Fulbright Association in 2016. As our Accountant, he oversees our accounting, finances and audit and works closely with our board treasurer. He brings 27 years in the accounting industry with experience in both private and public accounting arenas. In 1994, he established his CPA practice specializing in not–for-profit accounting, consulting and tax.
A Washington, DC native, he was born in DC, grew up in Maryland and is a graduate of the University of Maryland (Go Terps!). He is married to Amy with two active kids Grace and Eli. He actively volunteers in his community, including Past PTA Treasurer, Past Treasurer of La Clinica Del Pueblo, Cub Scout Leader, Basketball Coach and Playground Legend.