International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS) Staff

Michael Elliott
Director, International Student & Scholar Services (ISSS)

As ISSS director, Michael Elliott is at UAlbany with over 20 years of experience in the field of international education, His areas of interest and research include international student success and strengths-based education.

Michael has previously worked at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and the University of Denver. He is currently a candidate in the Leadership Studies program at North Carolina A&T State University. Michael holds his MA/MEd and BS degrees from Ohio University and The University of Colorado-Boulder respectively. Michael is active in NAFSA, the Fulbright Alumni Association, the Association of International Leadership and the Capital Region Rotary Club.

Tara Evans
Associate Director, ISSS

Tara Evans has been advising international student and scholars since 2003. She enjoys working with international students and scholars, as no two days are the same! She’s a native New Yorker (Western NY), who earned her B.A. in Business from Life University in Marietta, Georgia. She earned her M.A. in Human Resource Management from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

In her spare time, Tara enjoys reading mystery and suspense novels by her favorite author, Mary Higgins Clark. She also enjoys watching movies, playing online games (Bingo Bash and Jewel Mania) and spending time with family.

Tara is a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the NAFSA Academy (Class 10). She lives in Guilderland with her husband and son.

Patricia Tierney
Senior International Student Coordinator, ISSS

Patricia Tierney has been the Administrative Coordinator at the University at Albany since 2014. Originally from Albany, she has lived in several different places, including Ohio, New Jersey, and in Morocco as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Tricia earned a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Le Moyne College (Syracuse, NY), including a study abroad experience at the University of Warwick (England). Her M.Ed. in Counseling and Educational Psychology is from SUNY Buffalo. Tricia spent fifteen years in international education and student affairs including working in the Study Abroad office at Skidmore College, serving as Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the Sage Colleges in Albany, serving as Director of International Student Services at the College of Wooster in Ohio and advising international students at the University at Buffalo.

She was delighted to then have the opportunity to spend time outside the workforce raising her three children. Tricia lives in Clifton Park and loves to take in all the activities the Capital District has to offer.

Kayla O’Donnell
International Student Coordinator, ISSS

Kayla O’Donnell joined the University at Albany as an International Student Coordinator in August 2016. Kayla earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a concentration in Global Studies from Binghamton University, SUNY (2013) and a master’s degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago (2014). Prior to joining UAlbany, she was employed in the Dean of Students Office and International Services office at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Born and raised in the Albany area, Kayla is happy to share her local interests and fun places to visit with students. She enjoys reading and spending time outdoors (during the warm months). Kayla is an avid American football fan (Go NY Jets!) and is always willing to teach students the ins-and-outs of the game. She is excited to be a part of the UAlbany ISSS team and to help advise the diverse group of international students on campus! 

Annie Heavener
International Student Coordinator, ISSS

Annie Heavener has been advising international students at the University at Albany since 2004. Somewhat of a career student herself, she’s earned two B.S. degrees – one in Anthropology (1996) and one in History (2002) – and a M.Ed. in Higher Education – College Student Services, all from Grand Valley State University. Annie is currently pursuing her M.A. in History (part-time) at the University at Albany.

Always the non-traditional student, Annie took a break from her undergraduate studies and spent two years as a field archaeologist in southwestern Ukraine (1992-1994). Annie jokes that this was “when I got to dig up dead bodies for a living.”

When she’s not in the ISSS office, Annie is an avid reader and can usually be found wandering the aisles at Borders and Barnes & Noble. She is also a big movie goer – and prefers the weekend matinees (they’re less expensive and usually empty). And, finally, she is helplessly, hopelessly addicted to knitting. Seriously, folks, she needs a 12-step program for the yarn obsessed. But her students don’t complain – many have walked away with hand-knit hats, scarves or socks.

Annie lives in Schenectady, NY with her dog, Lucky.

Yi Zhou
Graduate Assistant, ISSS

Yi Zhou is from Ru Gao, Jiangsu, China, a well-known town of longevity. She originally came to SUNY-Albany as an exchange student in the summer of 2011. Having always wanted to make change in society, Yi was amazed by the Women’s Studies classes she took during the first semester. She decided to transfer to UAlbany and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies in December, 2013.

Yi started to work as a Graduate Assistant in ISSS in January 2014. Now she is pursuing her Master’s degrees in both Social Work and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at University of Albany. She is also the Vice President of the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) and the Treasurer of UAlbany Triota: Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Honor Society. During her spare time, she volunteers in non-profit organizations, such as Our Own Voices, Gender & Sexuality Resources Center, and Rui Cheng Tong Zhi (Chinese Lesbian Non-Profit Organization).

Yi is a big fan of karaoke. She also likes watching TV shows and eating delicious food.

Christina Mamone
Graduate Assistant, ISSS

Christina Mamone began working a Graduate Assistant for International Student and Scholar Services in the June of 2016. She is pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education and Literacy and plans to teach at the elementary school level after graduating. Christina earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University at Albany as well.

While an undergraduate, Christina was as a Resident Assistant on Alumni Quad, working directly with a large population of international and exchange students, and then became a Housing Manager on Liberty Terrace. She also participated in the Rockefeller College Semester in Washington program, interning for the District of Columbia Public Schools. Christina is a devoted CrossFit enthusiast and prefers to spend her free time working out.

This year, Christina will be responsible for coordinating International Student and Scholar Trips and is excited to be a part of the team!

Kenya Dominguez
Graduate Assistant, ISSS

Kenya is a current full time Masters of Science in Mental Health Counseling student. She attended the University at Albany for her undergraduate career, and obtained her B.A. in Psychology this past May 2016. She is from Cotui, a small town in the Dominican Republic. She came to the U.S at the age of 8 and currently lives in New York City. During her undergraduate career she enjoyed and was involved in many student organizations on campus such as: Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program and Project S.H.A.P.E (Sexual Health and Peer Education).

Her free time consists of spending time with friends and family, listening to music, watching movies/shows, playing sports, and engaging in hands-on artistic activities. Her all-time favorite subject has always been science and her favorite scientist is Stephen Hawking. Lastly, Kenya is also a proud sister of Corazones Unidos Siempre, Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc.