Dr. Sarah Wagner | Director
Dr. Sarah E. Wagner is the Director of the VIH Program in the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. In her current role, she oversees a legacy program from The Heinz Endowments that offers international experiences, leadership development, and community engagement experiences to underrepresented women at fourteen colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania. She is also an adjunct faculty member at The University of Pittsburgh and La Escuela de Administración y Negocios in Colombia, and she was recently awarded a Chancellor’s award for mentorship. Dr. Wagner has spoken about various aspects of international education in Barcelona, Prague, Shanghai, and Colombia as well as at conferences across the United States.
Dr. Wagner holds a doctorate in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education (SCAE) from the University of Pittsburgh. Conducting field research on decentralization in El Salvador and completing an intensive Portuguese language course in Fortaleza, Brazil were the highlights of her M.A. in Political Economy. As a certified facilitator in the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), she strives to improve team dynamics and organizational culture, for example, in her role as Co-Chair for the: ‘First Generation, First Abroad, High Financial Need’ national taskforce through Diversity Abroad. Dr. Wagner is a proud resident of the South Hills in Pittsburgh and enjoys biking and whitewater rafting.
University Center for International Studies
1209-B Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Crystal Couch | Graduate Intern
Crystal Couch (she/her) is a 2021 graduate of the University at Buffalo, graduating with her B.A in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary: International Studies and History. During her time as an undergraduate, she participated in leadership development and education, peer mentoring programming, student organizations, social justice advocacy, and language and cultural exchange. She also had the opportunity to travel abroad to Germany and Austria through the UB SLIDE (Student Leadership International Dialogue and Exchange) program. Through this program, she was given the opportunity to interact with students abroad and participate in the cultural studies of German and Austrian history.
Crystal is a current graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Education pursuing her Masters of Higher Education. She strives to advocate for minoritized and underrepresented students across college campuses and provide open dialogue and conversations surrounding social justice issues.
University Center for International Studies
1209 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Natalie Vazquez | Podcast & Media Consultant
Natalie Vazquez, a Chatham University alumna and member of the 2011 cohort interviews with special guest from the VIH alumni community. In 2014, Natalie completed her Masters of Fine Arts in Film and Digital Technology at Chatham University. She now uses her experience in video production to produce podcasts that highlight women in global leadership within the VIH program. When she’s not hosting an episode, Natalie takes on the role as Video Production Specialist and Multimedia Designer for the IDEA Lab within for the Institute for Clinical Research at the University of Pittsburgh.
Natalie's passion for international exploration all began when she ventured to Alicante, Spain through the VIH Program back in 2011. During her time in Spain, she attended the Universitat d’Alacant where she improved her Spanish speaking skills and practiced flamenco dancing. Since her VIH experience, she's had the opportunity to explore Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Puerto Rico and Italy. Upon returning to the states from Italy, Natalie had the desire to reconnect with the VIH community with the hopes to inspire and learn through other Vira experiences.
Lindsay Allen | Social Media Intern
Lindsay Allen is an alumna of the 2019 VIH Cohort and graduated from Temple University in 2020 with a B.F.A in Film and Media Arts with a Concentration in Directing and a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management. While in the VIH program, Lindsay studied abroad in Prague, Czech Republic and analyzed and compared European and American cinema. For her community engagement experience, Lindsay and her Temple cohort facilitated an event called, “Connecting Communities,” to discuss the relationship between Temple University and the surrounding community of North Philadelphia.
Lindsay is an emerging writer, director, and producer with experience in short form narratives. As a female filmmaker, Lindsay has made it her mission to open doors and create opportunities for other marginalized communities in the film industry. She is specifically interested in creating opportunities on screen for individuals living with disabilities in relatable and positive portrayals. Lindsay is currently in post-production for her two short fiction films that she wrote and directed, Malarkey and Grier, and is in development of her next film.
Tahmina Ahmed | Lead Facilitator
Tahmina Ahmed was born in Flushing, NY but has lived in Pittsburgh, PA her entire life. Tahmina’s parents are natively from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and immigrated to the US in 1989. Although Tahmina’s mother was a Doctor in her country, Tahmina was the first in her immediate family who graduated with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and International studies from Chatham University in 2017. During her undergrad years, Tahmina was very involved in leadership roles such as student government, being a Resident Assistant, being a Vira Leader, a Bonner Leader and volunteering in her community. Tahmina studied abroad in Berlin, Germany in the Summer of 2015 where she practiced her German fluency and observed the refugee integration culture at the height of the European refugee crisis. Currently, Tahmina has been working as a paralegal at Steele Schneider for more than 2 years and is on the path of starting a Masters in Public Administration program next year. Tahmina is fluent in Dari and has a working proficiency in Spanish and German. In her free time, Tahmina enjoys spending time with her family, going biking/hiking with her husband, reading, eating, cooking and watching Netflix.
Geneva Heffernan | Photographer
Geneva Heffernan is a 2017 cohort member who completed her international experience in South Africa. A graduate of Temple University, Geneva now lives in Philadelphia where she works for her alma mater in library outreach and communications as well as for the Philadelphia Phillies as a marketing photographer. Geneva credits the VIH program for empowering her to stand up for herself and other women in the workplace and in the sports photography field.
Dr. Jean Ferketish | Faculty Advisor
B. Jean Ferketish, PhD is an Associate Professor in the School of Education as well as the Faculty Advisor for the VIH Program, working with the program since 2007. Prior to joining the School of Education fulltime in 2015, she served as Secretary of the Board and Assistant Chancellor for the University of Pittsburgh for 13 years. During this time she also taught Leadership in the Graduate School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Education, the School of Public Health and the School of Social Work. In addition, she led a variety of projects requiring the ability to build consensus across constituency groups, affect the image of the University and provide advice on sensitive and complex situations.
Throughout her career, Jean has helped people develop their leadership abilities and improve the effectiveness of their organizations in multiple settings including industry, healthcare, education, and non-profit human services. She introduced the first organization development methods to the University in 1995. Before joining Pitt, Jean was a consultant for Development Dimensions International, where she worked with clients across the country to implement major culture change strategies. She is a recipient of the company’s Presidential Award and co-authored the book, Organization Change that Works: How to Merge Culture and Business Strategies for Maximum Results. Jean spent the first 10 years of her career at Westinghouse where she directed efforts in organizational development, total quality management, and internal communications.
Jean has traveled extensively throughout Europe and Africa and has taught in Qatar. She is a frequent speaker on women and leadership. She learns so much from her clients and is particularly pleased to work with young women who are at the beginning of their leadership journey in a world that is very different from the past.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260