Staff Profile

Adam Liss, President & Managing Director

  • Degree(s): M.A. Education, B.S. Business Administration
  • Place of Birth: Middletown, New York
  • With GV Hawaii Since: October 2003
  • Places Lived: New York, Vermont, Boston, Virginia, North Carolina, Michigan, Hawaii; Samoa
  • GVH Goal: To provide students with a great experience in every aspect of their stay in Hawaii, including academics, accommodations, activities and student services.

Allison Hunnicutt, Bookkeeper/HR Director

  • Degree(s): B.S. in Accounting
  • Place of Birth: Chicago, USA
  • With GV Hawaii Since: January 2006
  • Places Lived: Illinois, Wisconsin, Venezuela, Hawaii, Tennessee
  • GVH Goal: To do my job effectively so that I can be an integral part of the success of the company.

Eric Lum, Assistant Director and Student Services Manager

  • Degree(s): B.S. in Psychology
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • With GV Hawaii Since: November 2004
  • Places Lived: Kumamoto, Japan; Oregon, United States. Has traveled to different countries throughout Asia and Europe.
  • GVH Goal: Support students with adjusting to life, language, and the various cultures of Hawaii to ensure that they have a positive and fun learning experience.

Masako Liss, Registrar

  • Place of Birth: Sendai, Japan
  • With GV Hawaii Since: July 2005
  • Places Lived: Japan, Hawaii
  • GVH Goal: To provide information to students to assist them in arranging their enrollment at Global Village Hawaii.

Nino Miljkovic, Assessment Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., English Language and Literature
  • Place of Birth: Belgrade, Serbia
  • Languages Spoken: English, Serbian, Italian, Croatian, Bosnian, Macedonian, Slovenian
  • Interests: sports, movies, music
  • Places Lived/Visited: Europe and USA
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    I enjoy making learning English a fun experience by creating an enjoyable working environment in class.

Peter Castillo, BEP Coordinator

  • Degree(s): B.A. & M.B.A.
  • Place of Birth: Oka, Guam
  • With GV Hawaii Since: September 2007
  • Places Lived: Perezville, Guam; Fuso, Japan & Honolulu, Hawaii
  • GVH Goal: Work towards being the best Business English Program in the State of Hawaii.

Lydia Kelley, Front Desk Manager

  • Language Spoken: Japanese, English 
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu USA
  • Places Lived/Visited: Over 30 countries in Europe and Asia. Too many to list.
  • Interests: Traveling and Art

Eugenia Wang, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., Foreign Languages and Literature M.A., Second Language Studies
  • Place of Birth: Los Angeles, California
  • Languages Spoken: Mandarin, English
  • Interests: movies, travel
  • Places Lived/Visited: Hawaii, Taiwan, California, England, Turkey, Greece
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    Knowing that I am helping the students to achieve their goals.
  • Language Spoken: Japanese, English 
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu USA
  • Places Lived/Visited: Over 30 countries in Europe and Asia. Too many to list.
  • Interests: Traveling and Art

Ransom Edison, Student Progress Coordinator

  • Degree:  BA in Philosophy from Whitman College
  • Place of Birth:  Portland, Oregon
  • With GV Hawaii Since:  2006 & 2010 to present
  • Places Lived: West Coast, Midwest, Osaka, Guatemala City
  • GVH Goal:  Be the best!

Judy Ueoka, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., SLS
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Languages Spoken: English, Japanese, Spanish
  • Interests: puzzles, yarn lei making
  • Places Lived/Visited: Mainland, Neighbor Islands, Japan, Tijuana
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    I enjoy learning about students’ countries and culture and watching them excel in the English language.

Mike Cape, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.S., Pastoral Studies; M.A. certificate, Cross Cultural Communications; TESOL certified
  • Place of Birth: Sacramento, California
  • Languages Spoken: Tagalog, Japanese, English
  • Interests: bodyboarding
  • Places Lived/Visited: Mexico, Canada, Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    The intercultural exchange.

Lori Downes, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., French; TESOL certified
  • Place of Birth: Monterey, Califoria
  • Languages Spoken: Spanish, French, English
  • Interests: horseback riding, hiking, reading
  • Places Lived/Visited: Europe, Africa, Mexico
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    Meeting people from all over the world.

Karen Heath, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., English Literature; M.A., Education with a concentration in TESOL
  • Place of Birth: San Diego, California
  • Languages Spoken: Spanish, English
  • Interests: photography, playing piano and writing songs, writing poetry, jewelry design, traveling
  • Places Lived/Visited: Belize, Grenada, Taiwan, Korea, Oregon, Washington D.C., Montana, California, Europe, East Asia, Central America, Caribbean
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    I enjoy learning about the various cultures of my students. I appreciate the vitality and enthusiasm that students bring to the classroom.

Steve Hazam, Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., Economics; CTEFLA certified
  • Place of Birth: Stockholm, Sweden
  • Languages Spoken: French, English
  • Interests: reading, hiking
  • Places Lived/Visited: USA, Japan, France, Botswana, Vietnam, Taiwan
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    I enjoy meeting people from all over the world and learning about their homes and cultures.

Sophie Bretel Conger, Assessment Faculty

  • Degrees: M.A., ESL
  • Place of Birth: Rennes, France
  • Languages Spoken: English, Spanish, French
  • Interests: nature, pets, beach, swimming, snorkeling
  • Places Lived/Visited: France, Florida, Hawaii
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    Teaching young people makes you stay young!

Rick Maldonado, Assessment Faculty

  • Degrees: B.A., Advertising and Spanish
  • Place of Birth: Grant, Michigan
  • Languages Spoken: English, Spanish, Japanese
  • Interests: boxing, pottery, reading, wine, coffee, cooking
  • Places Lived/Visited: Spain, Holland, England, Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Korea, Thailand
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    I really love hearing opinions and ideas of others.

Dre Childs, Assessment & Business Development Manager

  • Degrees: Bachelors & MBA (in progress)
  • Place of Birth: Pontiac, Illinois
  • Languages Spoken: English, Spanish
  • Interests: Reading Russian Literature & Classics of all kinds, hiking, running, swimming, etc.
  • Places Lived/Visited: Spain, Mexico, Virgin Islands, Japan, Argentina
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    Have fun while learning!

Jackie Kunning, Head Teacher

  • Degrees: B.A., English; M.A., English; CELTA certified
  • Place of Birth: Montreal, Canada
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Interests: swimming, traveling, reading, art
  • Places Lived/Visited: North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia
  • What do you enjoy about teaching English language students?
    They inspire me. They challenge me. Working with them to achieve their English language goals is a pleasure.

Sandra Rimel, Faculty

  • Language Spoken: English
  • Degrees: Communication BA, UCSD California/ 25 years teaching experience
  • Place of Birth: Alhambra CA
  • Places Lived/Visited: San Diego CA, Dana Point CA
  • Interests/Hobbies: Theatre, Improv Comedy and learning the Ukulele 
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    Having always wanted to travel more—I learn about other countries and cultures from my students from across the globe. I feel like a world traveler! Also, I love to share my knowledge and culture with others and love to see the “light bulb go on” when they learn something new.

Jared Lawrence, Activities Coordinator

  • Language Spoken: English
  • Degrees: BA in TESL
  • Place of Birth: Mobile, Alabama
  • Places Lived/Visited: USA, Brazil, Vietnam and China
  • Interests: Hiking, Kayaking, Food, Coffee, American football and Soccer
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    The exchange of culture + ideas.
    Getting to show off the islands to students + see them experience adventures in Hawaii for the first time.

Yuka Hashi, Editor

  • Language Spoken: Japanese, English
  • Degrees: BA in Communication
  • Place of Birth: Osaka, Japan
  • Places Lived/Visited: Buffalo NY, Paris, Geneva, Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Guam, Saipan, Canada and US
  • Interests: Sports, Driving, Seeing nature and Traveling
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I like to see students becoming more comfortable speaking English. Also, there is a sense of happiness assisting students when they need help.

Rebekkah Gomez, Faculty Teacher

  • Language Spoken: English, Spanglish, a little Tagalog
  • Degrees: B.S. Communication with a minor in cultural communications, TESL/TEL Certificate from San Diego State University. MA TESOL (progress) University of San Francisco.
  • Place of Birth: Southern California
  • Places Lived/Visited: California, Texas, Washington, Georgia, Virginia, South Carolina, New York, Traveled to the Middle East and the Philippines.
  • Interests/Hobbies: Reading, Writing poetry, running in competitive races, volunteering at refugee organizations.
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I enjoy the multi-cultural atmosphere. I love learning about different parts of the world. For me, each student has a story. I want to help them tell it through the English language.

Salvador Cabusi, Student Services Assistant Manager

  • Degree(s): BA Biology / M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction
  • Place of Birth: Born in the Philippines, raised on Guam
  • Language Spoken: English, Tagalog, Japanese
  • Places Lived: Guam, Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand
  • Interests/Hobbies: Watching CNN News / Computer
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I enjoy providing a safe, secure, and supportive environment for all of our students.

Jessica Pesterfield, Director of Studies

  • Degree(s): Master of Arts in Teaching, Bachelors in Family Consumer Sciences
  • Place of Birth: Summit, New Jersey
  • Language Spoken: English
  • Places Lived: Italy, Canada, South Korea, Australia, USA
  • Interests/Hobbies: Free diving, cycling, and international cuisine
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    To guide, challenge, and empower English language learners, it is my sincere goal to provide support and facilitate an exceptional academic environment for ESL students at GVH.

Joey Ishii, Faculty

  • Degree(s): BA in Japanese
  • Place of Birth: Maui, Hawaii
  • Languages Spoken: English, Japanese
  • Places Lived: Kobe and Kyoto JAPAN for 3 years
  • Interests/Hobbies: Fishing, hiking, bowling, watching movies and TV
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I enjoy getting to know my students and watching them progress in their English studies. I like to hear about their individual goals and how they plan on using English in the future.

Patrick Otterson, Activity Leader

  • Language Spoken: English
  • Degrees: PR/Marketing
  • Place of Birth: San Diego, CA
  • Places Lived/Visited: CA, AL, FL, MD, AR, CO, HI, London U.K., Turkey
  • Interests/Hobbies: Surfing, Hiking, Skateboarding, Reading, Conversation
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    Getting to know other cultures

Matt Gao, Activity Leader


Katelyn Holzer


Katelyn Holzer, Activity Leader


Otto Pachas


Otto Pachas, Activity Leader


Jon Tuakoi

  • Language Spoken: English, Japanese (semi-fluent)
  • Degrees: BA English, M.A English
  • Place of Birth: Mangere City, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Places Lived/Visited: New Zealand, Honolulu HI, Denver City CO, Orem City UT, Cheju SOUTH KOREA, Kobe JAPAN, Lisbon PORTUGAL, Mexico City MEXICO
  • Interests/Hobbies: Riding horses, Playing basketball, Hunting, Fishing, Polynesian cultural dances, Traveling
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    Opportunity to learn about different cultures. Communicating different ideas in English. Seeing Students gain confidence in using English. Making friends from different countries. Sharing information about US culture and traditions

Solomon Navarro

  • Language Spoken: English, Spanish
  • Degrees: BA English
  • Place of Birth: Bakersfield CA
  • Places Lived/Visited: USA, Mexico, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Australia, Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand
  • Interests/Hobbies: Running, Hiking, Swimming, Beach, Reading and Live music. to name a few.
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I really enjoy meeting new people from different cultural backgrounds with unique perspectives. I really enjoy helping them connect with others using the English language. 

Janell Agcaoili

  • Language Spoken: English, Korean, Ilocano (conversational), some French and Spanish
  • Degrees: BA in Communication, MAT in progress
  • Place of Birth: Honolulu HI
  • Places Lived/Visited: Lived-Honolulu HI, Visited-Thailand, Japan and Philipines
  • Interests/Hobbies: I like reading and writing, listening to music, exercising, cooking, learning new languages and cultures!
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I like helping students learn – any subject. But what I like about teaching English is helping students learn a new language and any other cultures tied into that language. With learning English, students can learn about American culture, Canadian culture, or British culture. I also like that English can be useful to students in so many ways – professionally, academically, and even socially.

Shayna Katz

  • Language Spoken: English, Spanish and some French
  • Degrees: BA in Spanish, Minor in French
  • Place of Birth: Sacramento CA
  • Places Lived/Visited: Lived in CA & Colorado. Traveled through Central America, China & Spain for a year.
  • Interests/Hobbies: Translation, traveling, camping, family, breweries and Cafes
  • What do you enjoy about working with English language students?
    I enjoy helping students meet their goals and to really understand the material. The relationships that build throughout the class are amazing, and being able to teach the extra fun phrases or aspects of culture is always rewarding.