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 40 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 French Les Voyageur, an innovative 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. 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.
Martin Graefe is the senior group director of Danish, English, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Pre-K Language Discovery and Adventure Day Camp Language Communities at Concordia Language Villages. He has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 28 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. In recent years, he has focused on new program development, specifically for pre-K and Adventure Day Camp programs as well as language and cultural immersion training for professional development, the latter targeting the global business community and government agencies. 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 involved with Rotary International and the American Camp Association, occasionally presenting at its national conference.
Mark Kenji Chen is a group director for Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean 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 12 years and is a former dean of the Japanese Language Village.
Jennifer Charlotte Speir is a group director for French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish Language Communities with Concordia Language Villages. Charlotte has been on staff at Concordia Language Villages for 29 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.
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 11 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.
Corrine Rude is the assistant to the group director for the French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish Language Communities. Her responsibilities include interfacing with parents and staff from those Villages and assisting in Village marketing efforts. Cori joined the staff in 2013 and her office is located at our permanent site in Bemidji, Minn. She is a graduate of Minnesota State University, Moorhead, with a degree in English and business management. She has been a Villager parent and is available to assist with any concerns during or after your child’s stay at the Villages.
Ross Odin Dybvig is the assistant to the group director for Danish, English, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Pre-K Language Discovery and Adventure Day Camp Language Communities. His responsibilities include interfacing with parents and staff from those Villages and assisting in marketing efforts. Odin works out of our Bemidji office, assisting with day to day needs of our various language communities. In addition to having been on year-round staff the past three years, he has also been a Norwegian Language Village counselor for ten summers and has worked in both our Norwegian Pre-K and family programs. Odin is a 2009 graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead with a double major in history and political science. He has experience in many aspects of our programs, having been a villager himself for seven summers, and will be able to assist with questions you may have about your villager’s specific program.
Heather Vick is the assistant to the group director for Arabic, Chinese, German, Japanese, Korean and Russian Language Communities. Her responsibilities include interfacing with parents and staff from those Villages and assisting in marketing efforts. Heather manages the Concordia Language Villages office based in the Norway House in Minneapolis, Minn. She is an 18-year staff member and was previously the transportation supervisor at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and the assistant director for program management. A graduate of St. Olaf College, she has experience as a villager parent and will be available to field your concerns during or after your child’s stay at the Village.