December 2020

Dr. Ilene Winokur AlZaid recently joined the Refugee Concerns Interest Section (RCIS) as a member-at-large.

In 2019, Ilene retired as Director of the Foundation Program Unit (Math and English) at Gulf University for Science and Technology (GUST) and was the Managing Director of Specialized Solutions, an educational consulting firm offering professional development to private school teachers in Kuwait. She was a teacher and administrator at the early childhood and elementary levels, in addition to teaching intensive English and administration at the pre-college level in private institutions in Kuwait for over 20 years. Her academic interests are leadership in practice, mentoring and coaching teachers, blended learning, and refugee education.

Ilene has lived in Kuwait since 1984 after meeting her husband while he was studying in her hometown Buffalo, New York. She is fluent in Arabic and also learned about the culture and history of her adopted home.

Ilene’s first teaching position was in a private American curriculum school in Kuwait. Since all students were English language learners, she began reading articles and books about the best practices. She learned about differentiating instruction and focusing on student outcomes when planning and teaching. She earned her certification in teaching ESL in 1999 from the College of New Jersey and continued her graduate studies with an EdD in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University in 2013. Her dissertation studied transformational leaders and their perceived influence on teachers’ transfer of training to their daily instructional practice.

Since retiring, Ilene has supported teacher leaders in Kakuma, a refugee camp in northwestern Kenya. They manage a variety of vocational and educational programs for youth in the camp to improve their chances of finding employment. She also volunteers with Jesuit Worldwide Learning (JWL) to mentor English teachers in Afghanistan and English learners in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Based on her life experiences, including being a refugee during the Gulf War in 1990, Ilene is writing a book about belonging in two different cultures on opposite sides of the world. She writes a weekly blog and hosts a podcast, Journeys to Belonging, where she interviews educators and leaders.