Expanding the promise of international education

LaNitra Berger portrait
LaNitra Berger. Photo provided.

LaNitra Berger, associate director of George Mason University’s African and African American Studies program and senior director of the Office of Fellowships in the Office of Undergraduate Education, has been named the president of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, and the chair of its board of directors. 

NAFSA is the world's largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education and exchange, serving the needs of more than 10,000 members and international educators worldwide at more than 3,500 institutions, in more than 150 countries. NAFSA advances the field of international education through campus internationalization, global learning, and leadership. 

Berger said she was honored to have been elected to this leadership role, noting that NAFSA’S members and educators have an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in areas such as social justice, environmental sustainability, peace and conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, STEM, and global health.

“I anticipate the challenges and opportunities of leading the organization as we work to navigate COVID’s seismic effects as well as a global racial reckoning,” she said. “International education empowers and inspires students, scholars, and professionals to be open-minded, critical thinkers who are willing to address global challenges by viewing them from multiple perspectives. 2022 will be an exciting year of change and renewal.” 

Alongside her work for the AAAS program, Berger has successfully led the fellowships office since 2010, helping students secure more than $2 million in prestigious, externally funded fellowships, including the Fulbright, Boren, Gilman, Truman, Udall, and Critical Language Scholarship awards. Inclusive excellence has been the core focus of her leadership; a majority of Mason’s nationally competitive fellowship recipients have been first-generation, minority, and/or low-income students.

Berger has a strong commitment to internationalization, which she fosters through student advising, university service, and research. In 2015, she received the Spirit of King Award for diversifying study abroad, and in 2018, she received the Margaret C. Howell Award Outstanding Achievement Award for her work to promote respect, diversity, and dignity for students, and for developing programs that promote cross-cultural understanding and cooperation. 

Berger is an active member of the Diversity Abroad Network and volunteers with Globalize DC. She previously served as NAFSA’s vice president for Public Policy and Practice, and is the author of the NAFSA guide, Exploring Education Abroad: A Guide for Racial and Ethnic Minority Participants (NAFSA, 2016). She is also the editor of Social Justice and International Education: Research, Practice, Perspectives (NAFSA, 2020), which has been NAFSA’s best-selling book for over a year. Her first monograph, Irma Stern and the Racial Paradox of South African Modern Art: Audacities of Color, was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2020.

Berger said she particularly appreciates how her new role in NAFSA will spotlight Mason’s programs in international education. The position offers a platform for interaction with government agencies as well as other institutions that are committed to internationalization and inclusive excellence. “It’s an exciting opportunity for Mason and for our AAAS program to be positioned in both international education and social justice,” she said.

This article first appeared on the College of Humanities and Social Sciences website.