MaFLA was founded in 1967 by a group of Massachusetts foreign language educators originally associated with the New England Foreign Language Teachers Association. The purpose of the new organization was to advocate for foreign language programming within our state as well as to establish the presence of the discipline before the State Board of Education.

MaFLA was founded at Boston State College formerly located next to the Museum of Fine Arts. It held its first meeting at Holy Cross College where some Board meetings are still held to this day. The organization would provide for an important vehicle for dialogue within the profession about pedagogical and methodological topics at all levels of instruction as well as allow for the recognition of our student achievement through awards.

Though the actual founders of the Association have not been officially archived, the following names are prominent in the recorded events around the foundation of the organization: James Powers (the power behind the scenes), Helen Cummings, Helen Agbay, as well as Vincent Cleary. The first five Presidents of the Association shaped and guided the fledgling organization: Richard Clark, Benedetto Fabrizzi, Alfred Desautels, Richard Newman and Ray Caefer. The first four Distinguished Service winners were Stowell Goding, James Powers, Elaine Hardie, and Sr. Margaret Pauline Young. These individuals also testify to the breath of representation across the State as well as the caliber of the professionals who helped launch our organization.

MaFLA had an auspicious beginning. MaFLA’s presence before the State Board of Education was accomplished at the outset with the placement of Jim Powers as the State Supervisor for Foreign Languages. This position has not been permanently filled since his departure in the late 1970’s, though MaFLA still maintains active dialog with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

MaFLA has continued its tradition of strong foreign language advocacy and high quality content professional development. The three-day Annual Conference at the end of October has been a high point for foreign language professionals across the state for over four decades. Other ongoing professional development opportunities include Diversity Day in May and Immersion Weekend in August. The quarterly MaFLA Newsletter is the official publication of the association. The newsletter contains regular columns addressing the various language and levels of foreign language instruction as well as teaching materials and resources, conference and award information, including information of state, regional and national interest to the foreign language teaching profession.

MaFLA is grateful for the help of James McCann in writing this brief summary.

MaFLA Presidents 

Richard Clark – 1965-1966
Benedetto Fabrizzi – 1966-1967
Alfred Desautels, S.J. – 1967-1969
Richard Newman – 1969-1970
Raymond Caefer – 1970-1972
Gerard Wilke – 1972-1974
Stella M. Boy – 1974-1976
John P. Nionakis – 1976-1978
Paul Guenette – 1979
Elaine Hardie – 1980
James McCann – 1981
George Morse – 1982
Jean-Pierre Berwald – 1983
Mary Hayes – 1984
Kathleen Riordan – 1985
Joy Renjilian-Burgy – 1986
Fran Lanouette – 1987
Charles I. Finn – 1988
Shirley G. Lowe – 1989
Marian St. Onge – 1990
Robert E. Courchesne – 1991
Nancy Milner Kelly – 1992
Helen M. Cummings – 1993
George Steinmeyer – 1994
Kathleen Imbruno, SSJ – 1995
Daniel Battisti – 1996
Richard Ladd – 1997
Rita Oleksak – 1998
Joyce Beckwith – 1999
Mary Alice Garza-Samii – 2000
Yu-Lan Lin – 2001
Deborah Fernald Roberts – 2002
Nancy Kassabian – 2003
Joyce Szewczynski – 2004
Charlotte Gifford – 2005
Katherine Lopez Natale – 2006
Janel Lafond Paquin – 2007
Madelyn Gonnerman Torchin – 2008
Nicole Sherf – 2009
Cheryl A. Baggs – 2010
Nancy Mangari – 2011
Tiesa Graf - 2012-2013
Jane Rizzitano - 2014
Catherine Ritz - 2015-2016
Timothy Eagan - 2017
Kathleen Turner - 2018
Jorge Allen - 2019
Jeanne O'Hearn - 2020-21
Beckie Bray Rankin - 2022


All students will demonstrate proficiency in more than one language and culture.

Todos os estudantes irão demonstrar proficiência em mais de um idioma e cultura

Tutti gli studenti dimostreranno competenza in più di una lingua e cultura.

Tous les élèves pourront faire preuve de compétences dans plus d'une langue et culture.


To empower a diverse community of language educators through advocacy, learning, and support of world class language instruction. 


  1. Global engagement is dependent upon proficiency in more than one language and culture.
  2. World language education is a core component of PreK-20 academic programming.
  3. All students in Massachusetts deserve access to a well-articulated sequential world language education that produces multiliteracy.
  4. All world languages are inherently valuable.
  5. Effective world language instruction provides a purposeful and cultural context for communication.
  6. Successful classroom learning experiences require effective teachers who are lifelong learners.
  7. World language teaching, learning, and assessment reflect current research in second language acquisition and the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages.   
  8. Collaboration among world language professionals allows for consistent growth and practice.
  9. Exemplary students, teachers, advocates, and programs be honored for outstanding achievement in the field of world language education.

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