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 Past 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


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


MaFLA is an inclusive organization that promotes effective world language education by supporting a diverse community of language educators.

  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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