Faculty Bios

On this page you can get to know more about the Kennesaw State University faculty and staff who will be leading your Civic Engagement Institute.


Dr. Lance AskildsonDr. Lance Askildson
Vice-Provost & Chief International Officer
Professor of Linguistics

Dr. Lance R. Askildson serves as Vice-Provost and Chief International Officer at Kennesaw State University where he also holds a tenured faculty appointment in the Department of First Year & Transition Studies.

Previously, Dr. Askildson was the founding Director of the Center for the Study of Languages & Cultures at the University of Notre Dame, where he also served as the founding Assistant Provost and an Associate Professor of Second Language Education. Dr. Askildson is an interdisciplinary scholar of second language acquisition, language program administration & assessment, language learning technology and international studies. He has published numerous books, articles and edited volumes within these areas of research and has served as the managing editor of multiple academic journals and a contributing editor for many more.

Dr. Askildson has also been an active member and leader of many academic and professional organizations throughout his career. He is the former Executive Secretary of the International Association for Language Learning Technology as well as a current trustee and board member of the Center for the Advanced Study of International Education, and an advisory board member of the federally funded Title VI National Foreign Language Resource Center on Language Assessment & Evaluation based at Georgetown University. He is a frequent invited speaker and consultant on campus internationalization, language program assessment and higher education leadership and an active member of local community organizations, philanthropic societies and chambers of commerce.

Dr. Nuru AkinyemiDr. Nurudeen Akinyemi
Center for African and African Diaspora Studies
Associate Professor of Political Science

Dr. Nurudeen Akinyemi serves as the Director of the Center for African and African Diaspora Studies, and is an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs.  The Center for African and African Diaspora Studies supports Kennesaw State University’s Strategic Plan for Internationalization, through innovative academic programing, partnership with academic institutions in Africa and the Americas, scholarly research, creative activity, workshops, conferences and community engagement.  The Center also collaborates with other divisions and academic programs across the university.

Dr. Akinyemi has taught courses on Comparative Political Systems, International Relations, International Political Economy, International Relations of Africa, the Middle East, and American Politics.  His research areas include International Resource Management, Regional Economic Cooperation, International Water Resource Management and International Migration and Refugee Settlement.  He has traveled extensively in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia.

Dr. Linda JohnstonDr. Linda Johnston
Executive Director
Professor Emeritus of Conflict Management

Dr. Linda M. Johnston is the former Executive Director of the Siegel Institute for Leadership, Ethics, and Character and a Professor Emeritus at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her research interests include sports-related violence, ethics, bullying, racial and ethnic conflict, health-related conflict, narrative and discourse theory, and world view theory.

Dr. Johnston is a trained mediator, negotiator, ombuds, and facilitator who works both domestically and internationally. She has received grants from the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, and had a Fellowship to begin a dialogue between Egyptians and Americans. She has also done work in Ukraine, Republic of Georgia, Barbados, Nigeria, Egypt, Mongolia, Ecuador, Zambia, and in the U.S.  

Dr. Johnston is the President of the International Peace Research Association Foundation, serves on the Peace Research Grants Committee, and administers the Senesh Fellowship Program.  She currently serves on the Nobel Peace Prize committee for the American Friends Service Committee, teaches at the UN School of Peace in Costa Rica, as well as the Dag Hammarskjöld Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in Zambia. She served on the Board of Hands Along the Nile. 

Her new book “Sports, Peacebuilding, and Ethics” was published in 2014.

Dr. Pamila DemblaDr. Pamila Dembla
Associate Professor of Information Systems

Dr. Pamila Dembla is the former Director of the India China America Institute. Dr. Dembla has spearheaded a number of initiatives in India which have resulted in significant partnerships in business education and corporate trainings. She has previously held positions at University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Dembla is Associate Professor of Information Systems in the Coles College of Business. She has acted as a consultant to a number of startup technology firms and non-profit organizations. She has a number of state department grants including Model UN exchange programs and an NSF grant totaling approximately $1 million. She is a certified TMC Cultural Orientation Approach (COA) Corporate Practitioner and her interests lie in training global organizations in intercultural competency.

Her research interests include working on cross cultural issues related to global IT projects, specifically with respect to gender. To that effect, her research extends across many cultures including the United States, India, Russia, Ukraine and Mexico.

She has published papers in several journals, including Journal of Global Information Technology Management, Journal of Electronic Commerce Research, Journal of Information Science and Technology, Journal of Information Systems Research and Communications of Global Information Technology. Dr. Dembla has also published many book chapters and presented at multiple regional, national, and international information systems conferences.

Mazida KhanMazida Khan
Instructor of Peace Studies
Department of Interdisciplinary Studies

Mazida Khan teaches Peace Studies at Kennesaw State University. She specializes in helping students transform their peace ideas from inspiration to action- in their everyday lives and the world around them. The peace education she offers emphasizes the need to think, speak and act for peace. In training students on how to engage in peacebuilding initiatives, her mottos are to ‘Think big, start small’ and ‘Before going global, to think and act local’. She believes in building world peace, one relationship at a time.

Serena NewhallSerena Newhall
CIFAL Atlanta

Serena Newhall serves as the Executive Director of CIFAL Atlanta. In May 2016 she received her Master of Business Administration from Kennesaw State University, where she was a Paul D. Coverdell Fellow. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Colorado. Her first position after receiving her undergraduate degree was as a Small Enterprise Development Volunteer with the Unites States Peace Corps in Kenya. She returned to the United States after her 27-month assignment and began her career in community development and program management while working for the Tennessee Commission on National and Community Service and later with the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname.

She recently published "Ethical Reform in Bangladesh’s Ready Made Garment Industry: Building on the Alliance and the Accord," 

Serena has lived in six countries on four continents, and her interests in intercultural communication, international and community development and non-profit management reflect her many years studying, living and working overseas in the Americas, Europe and Africa.