Preparations for our 2020 Conference are already underway.
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David and Sheila Bong
2020 Keynote Speakers
Languages and cultures have profoundly influenced Sheila’s life. She gained a deep appreciation for native language preservation from her family elders on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana where she grew up. Studying French, Italian and Japanese further opened up her world. She was fortunate to have had study abroad stints in Japan and Italy. She spent ten years of her professional career living and working in Tokyo and Hong Kong, using her language and cultural competency skills in very meaningful ways.
In 2001, Sheila co-founded Avant Assessment in partnership with David Bong and Dr. Carl Falsgraf of the University of Oregon’s Center for Applied Second Language Studies. Prior to that, Sheila was the Managing Director, Japan for The Economist Group, and Director of Business Development at Sumitomo Corporation of America. Later she served as Program Director of the Global Studies Institute at the University of Oregon. Sheila received her B.A. in International Relations from Stanford University.
David co-founded Avant in 2001 with his wife, Sheila, and Dr. Carl Falsgraf, of the University of Oregon. David has led the growth of the world’s first online language proficiency test, Avant STAMP (Standards Based Measurement of Proficiency), and the Avant WorldSpeak speaking and writing test into a suite of online assessments in 40 languages. Most recently David saw the need for a universal credential that would recognize anyone for their language proficiency skills, regardless of how they learned their language. He assembled a group of leaders in language education to be the initial independent Board of Advisors. The Board decided what tests could be used to demonstrate language proficiency and facilitated the development of the US version of Global Seal of Biliteracy.
David was also the founder of EARL, an iPhone app that enabled people who had lost their sight to read thousands of digital newspapers, magazines, books and websites through speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies, and Managing Director in Tokyo for Kroll Associates, the world's leading investigation and security consulting firm. His experience working in Japan as an investigator showed him how American firms were too often victims of fraud or extortion when their expat managers did not understand Japanese language or culture. This experience inspired him to co-found Avant with the mission of improving language learning.