Leadership Group | Concordia Language Villages

Leadership Group

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.

Leadership Group Members

Mary Maus Kosir is a dynamic leader with a successful track record in educational administration, international program development, and as an entrepreneur. She welcomes the opportunity to combine this experience with Concordia Language Villages as its new executive director when education and business are anything but usual.

At the College of Saint Benedict, Mary received a B.A. in English and German. Upon graduation, she took part in a Fulbright Teaching Assistantship in Austria. She also secured a graduate degree in Higher Education Administration and International Development Education at the University of Minnesota. She traveled across Europe extensively as a Fulbright teaching assistant in Austria, and again as a Bosch Fellow (Robert Bosch Foundation, Germany) in 1996-97.

Mary spent over 20 years in administration at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. The first half of her tenure was as the head of International Programs where she helped found the school’s first joint offshore degree program, including MBA programs in Guangzhou, China; Warsaw Poland; and Vienna, Austria. Mary spent her second decade at the Carlson School as the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Programs where she led program expansion of 50%, helped build a dedicated undergraduate program facility, and instituted the nation’s first international program requirement for undergraduate business majors at a public institution.

Throughout her career, Mary has demonstrated a passion for experiential learning — blending what happens inside and outside the classroom as a learner, teacher, parent and professional. After the Carlson School, Mary stepped into the role of CEO of her startup company, WholeMe, LLC. In this role, she also wore the hat of chief innovator, fundraiser, marketer and distributor. She sold WholeMe to a privately held Minnesota-based company in 2018.

Originally from Bemidji, Minn., Mary spent many of her formative years on the Red Lake Indian Reservation, where her parents met in the 1950s. She speaks German and learned basic Ojibwe as a grade school student at St. Mary’s Mission School. She resides in St. Paul, Minn., with her children, Maxwell and Margaret, her husband Michael and her dogs, Bennie and Molly.

Ellen Frierson is the group director for Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish Language Communities with Concordia Language Villages. Ellen comes to us with 20 years of experience in global education, language teaching and intercultural exchange. Her international work includes teaching English in Germany as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant, in Ecuador at a secondary school and in Thailand at a primary school. She also spent a summer in Cameroon, coordinating a human rights education initiative in collaboration with local journalists. In the U.S., Ellen has extensive experience in nonprofit program development and management, having worked for organizations in Washington D.C., New York City and Seattle. She most recently spent ten years at FIUTS (Foundation for International Understanding Through Students), designing and managing intensive short-term exchange programs for international high school and university students from around the world. She holds a B.A. in English and Theater from Franklin & Marshall College and an M.A. in International Educational Development from Teachers College, Columbia University as well as certificates in TESOL and Nonprofit Management. 
Ellen's career began at Concordia Language Villages, where she was on staff at Waldsee for 10 years after eight years as a villager. 

Nicole Ellis is the director of marketing and enrollment for Concordia Language Villages. In her role, Nicole oversees all enrollment and marketing functions including photography, videography, data and systems management, graphic design, email, social media and digital and print advertising. Before joining the Villages, Nicole worked in marketing, communications, public relations and event planning roles in the nonprofit, hospitality, health products and professional sports industries. She joined the Villages in 2017. 

Martin Graefe

Martin Graefe is the senior group director and director for the Concordia Language Training Center of Concordia Language Villages. He has been on staff full-time at Concordia Language Villages since 1995, 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. Over the years, he has focused on new program development, specifically for pre-K and Adventure Day Camp programs as well as family programs. Most recently, Martin has focused on developing and advancing the Concordia Language Training Center programs for U.S. government employees, building on the successful partnerships developed with the U.S. Department of Defense. He is a native of Germany and has studied French. Martin received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Dakota 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 an active member of the Bemidji, Minn. community, with Rotary International and the American Camp Association.

Amanda Hand

Amanda Fie Hand joined the Language Villages as program director for the Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish Language Communities in April 2022. On staff since 1991, she formerly served as dean of Skovsøen, the Danish Language Village. Fie holds a Bachelors of International Studies from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont; a graduate certificate in Montessori Early Childhood Education from The American Montessori Society and St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.; a Minnesota teaching license; and an M.S. in Teaching from The College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minn. Fiehas previously served as an ESL and adult literacy tutor for adults, elementary classroom teacher, peer coach and evaluator, coordinator of the teacher mentorship program and as a curriculum chair for her previous district. She currently serves on the board of the Minnesota Council for the Social Studies. She was an assistant administrator for a large early childhood family music program in the Twin Cities and owner-teacher for her own early childhood family music program in Northern Minnesota.

Marc Johnson is a proven innovative fundraising professional with a successful record of achieving significant results. He is excited about the opportunity to build upon the reputation and legacy of Concordia Language Villages. As the director of development, he welcomes the challenge of ensuring the next 60 years of services. Marc joined Concordia Language Villages in 2022. 

A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Marc has spent his career in non-profit administration and development. He spent over nine years at the American Swedish Institute building the external relations team for a world-class cultural center and museum. 

Originally Minneapolis-St. Paul (Minn.), Marc went on an extended tour of the United States practicing his craft in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Worcester and Chicago. The opportunity to move back to Minnesota and family drew Marc to his current home in St. Paul. He enjoys spending his time on one of his bicycles and being with friends and family. 

Warren Schulze

Warren Schulze is the 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 full time since 2005. 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, Minn.

Jon 幸 Suomala is the director of finance and administrative services. He develops the budget and monitors the organization's financial performance, and oversees the registration and transportation team. Prior to joining the Language Villages in 2021, Jon spent more than 16 years serving as the controller for Aho Construction, a regional homebuilder based in Washington. He has also worked in the banking, manufacturing and agricultural industries. Jon holds a master's degree in business administration and a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University. Having studied and worked in Japan, he is a former staff member at Mori no Ike, the Japanese Language Village.