Faculty & Staff

Robert Eyler, Ph.D.

Dean and Senior International Officer
Ph.D. Economics - University of California at Davis
MA Economics - University of California at Davis

Robert Eyler is the Dean of the School of Extended and International Education at Sonoma State University. Robert is Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis at Sonoma State University, where he has been teaching since 1995.

Flannery Norton

Program Coordinator
BA Latin American Studies and Spanish Literature - UC San Diego
MA Education - San Francisco State University

Flannery, a native San Franciscan, has been teaching ESL around the world and in the Bay Area for over 14 years. She has taught and lived in Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and Munich, Germany. She enjoys teaching all English language skills, but really likes teaching grammar! She loves interacting with students and creating a community in the classroom with games and communicative activities. Flannery lives in Petaluma with her husband and daughter, loves going for walks, biking, watching movies and reading.

Katie O'Brien

International Student Coordinator
BS Earth Science--UC Santa Cruz

Katie grew up on the Central Coast of California and received her bachelor’s degree from UC Santa Cruz. She lived in Italy for 6 years where she taught ESL to students of all ages. She has lived in Petaluma since 2014 and worked with an international high school foreign exchange program before joining Sonoma State University. In addition to meeting people from all over the world, she enjoys traveling, hiking, camping, cooking and spending time with her family.

John H. Nardine

Program Coordinator
B.A. in International Development and French, Sonoma State University
Masters in Social Science - Development and International Relations, Aalbord University, Denmark.

John is a native Californian who earned his BA in French and International Development at Sonoma State. His wanderlust took John to Québec City for 4 years, including a year studying at Laval University, and to Denmark for 12 years, where he earned an M.Sc. inDevelopment & International Relations from Aalborg University. John speaks fluent Danish, though his Québecois French needs brushing up. John began teaching English to masters students at Aalborg University in Denmark and has taught English to international students at UC Davis-Extension and at Sonoma State American Language Institute (SSALI) since returning to California in 2012. This is John's 5th year teaching research methodology in the Global Studies department at SSU, and his 4th year as part of the SSALI team. John lives in Cotati with his Chinese wife and mischievous cat “Gypsy”.

Elizabeth Bennett

BA English--California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
MA Education--Claremont Graduate University, Claremont
MS Marriage and Family Therapy--University of La Verne, La Verne

Elizabeth taught international students at Oregon State University before moving to Sonoma County in 2010. Her passions include writing and reading, which she enjoys sharing with her students. She finds teaching international students a wonderful adventure because she learns so much from them. In her spare time, she likes to (you guessed it) write and read, but also do yoga, dance of any kind, play accordion, discover new walking trails in beautiful Sonoma County with her dog, and be with her family and friends.

Jennifer Cantacuzene

BA Spanish - Sonoma State University
MA in TESOL - San Francisco State University

Jennifer is one of the newest members of the SSALI faculty. After obtaining her B.A. in Spanish from Sonoma State University, she continued on to San Francisco State for her master's degree in TESOL. Jennifer has a passion for traveling and meeting people from different cultures. She regularly visits family in both Germany and France. Teaching English as a second language has allowed Jennifer to interact with students from all over the world. She has studied Spanish, French and Japanese and hopes to learn more languages in the future. Jennifer is so excited to be a part of the SSALI faculty!


Jane Elin

BA Dance/Theatre - Rutgers University
MA Education - Castleton State College

Jane began teaching at SSALI in the Summer of 2016. She moved to Petaluma from San Francisco where she was teaching ESL at Brandon College and other private language schools. She loves working with international students and helping them to enjoy learning English while achieving their goals! Jane has a Masters degree in Education and has taught grades K-12, Special Education, and was an Adjunct Professor in the Teacher Education and Dance/Theater programs at colleges in Vermont. Jane has a long background in dance, theater and music, as both teacher and performer. She enjoys exploring the variety of arts that are offered in the bay area.

Carolyn Gibbons

BA Linguistics - University of California, Berkeley
MA English with TESL emphasis - University of Montana, Missoula

Carolyn has recently returned to her native state of California after teaching English in Asia for over five years where she was a TESOL teacher-trainer in Seoul and a university lecturer in Tokyo. While raising her family, she enjoyed working with international students in Missoula. Carolyn is fascinated by language and culture. In fact, her master's thesis is a translation of a folk tale from the endangered American indigenous language, Coeur d'Alene. She is conversant in Japanese and German, and has studied Spanish, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, and Korean. Carolyn enjoys traveling, horseback riding, yoga, Balkan folk dance, as well as playing the violin and viola.

Miriam Hutchins

BS Education, BA History - Wayne State University
MA Education, TESL Certificate - Sonoma State University

Since 1992, Miriam has been teaching communication, reading, and composition classes at SSALI. She is also the director of a program for public school teachers in International Studies. She has received 2 Fulbright grants to study and travel with teachers in Brazil. She loves to have big dancing parties for SSALI students.

Suzanna (Luttrell) Wash

BS French and Linguistics - UCLA
MS Education -Freed-Hardeman University
Ed.D Teacher Leadership: Specialization in English Language Learning - Walden University

Suzanna is a language educator of 24 years. She is a native of Northern California, and has lived in Los Angeles and the state of Tennessee. She has traveled via educational programs and student exchanges to western Europe, Canada,  Mexico and Japan throughout her career. Suzanna has known about her love for language since she was very young. She is fluent in French and has studied German and Spanish. As a public school teacher, she realized her passion for teaching second language learners and enjoys teaching at SSALI. She also teaches at Sonoma Academy in the International Program. She continues to be inspired by her students through learning about their languages and cultures. In her spare time, Suzanna also enjoys dancing, the outdoors, and taking "field trips" with her son, niece and nephew. 

Audrey Schell

BA Community Studies - University of California, Santa Cruz
MA TESOL - University San Francisco

Audrey began her SSALI career in 1997. She enjoys teaching grammar, reading, and composition at all levels. She has worked in Central America and traveled in Europe. Audrey really loves having students to her wonderful home set deep in the redwood forest of Sonoma County.

Gayle Theiss

B.S. Industrial Engineering, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
M.A. TESOL, Azusa Pacific University

Gayle's first experience in a English as Second Language class was as a volunteer in an ESL Program at a church in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Gayle lived in L.A. for fourteen years where she was part of a community that included international students from USC and immigrants from Central America. These friendships fueled her desire to change careers and become an ESL teacher. She loves teaching and is excited to be part of SSALI where she can continue to interact with students from throughout the world.

Damon Vettori

BS Business - Georgetown University
MA Education/TESOL - University of Tasmania, Australia

Born and raised in Maryland, Damon has been teaching at SSALI since 2007. He began teaching EFL in South Korea in 1998, and in 2004, he returned to the United States and settled in Sonoma County with his wife. Damon is conversant in Korean, and his love for travel and interest in cultural diversity are what have driven him to be an ESL/EFL instructor. In his free time, Damon loves hiking, swimming, and reading.

Cara Viripaeff

BA Psychology - University of San Francisco
MA, TESOL - San Francisco State University

Cara, a native Californian, began teaching English to international students at public and private language schools in the Washington, DC Metro area, in 2000. She returned to California to gain her MATESOL and has been an instructor at U.C. Berkeley Extension, SFSU, and San Mateo Adult School. Most recently she worked as a Career Counselor, helping clients focus, plan, and achieve their employment goals. Cara is fascinated by language and culture and loves to travel; so far she has visited Europe, the Americas and Antarctica, in addition to participating in study abroad programs in Sendai, Japan and Havanna, Cuba. She has studied Russian, Japanese, Latin, and Italian, speaks Spanish and has just started learning Hebrew. To relax she practices yoga, enjoys taking pictures, spends time with her family, and connects people to the land as a docent with Landpaths.