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That Terra Dotta is a direct outgrowth of higher education is widely known. In fact, it truly is our raison d’être. Our founders, Brandon S. Lee and Garrett Christian (see photo above), were grad students with an idea to improve paper processing in a university’s study abroad office. Seventeen years later, with several additional solutions and considerable staff growth, we continue to rely on the international education community for both ideas and personnel. Feedback obtained from our clients through our Ideas Forum and our recent TDU Global user conference provide us with vitally important information.

As for personnel, did you know our Director of Product Development, Tim Wojoski, was a study abroad advisor in a former life? Past study abroad and international student/scholar advisors can be found in just about every corner of our organization – in our development and product management teams, to our implementation and integration teams, customer support, sales and marketing – all have team members who have lived the campus administration experience. Back in October 2016, we calculated a total of 175 years of experience in international education. Today, we represent more than three centuries of experience! This depth continues to aid us in understanding our clients’ needs and perspectives.

Our higher education experience doesn’t end in the international offices. While several of their faces will be new to many, our sales team brings additional experience with higher education. Some have firsthand experience working in international education, while others have extensive experience working with other parts of the campus. Those other offices include Information Technology, Contracts & Grants, the Provost and Business Offices, Risk Management and Financial Aid, amounting to another 100 years of experience!

Simply put, Terra Dotta has tremendous depth in higher education for an organization of 75 individuals. Whether a client or a prospective client, you can rest assured that our team stands ready to provide you with the knowledge and support to make the most of Terra Dotta solutions. With the NAFSA Annual Conference right around the corner, frequent NAFSA attendees will often quiz each other on their first NAFSA conference. So with the experience at Terra Dotta, we thought you might be interested in knowing when some Dottans first “experienced” the big NAFSA gathering. We posed this question to some of our team and asked what they remembered most of that first conference. Here is a sampling of the responses:

Diedre Van Zandt, Client Services Manager, attended her first conference in 2011 in Vancouver. Though she had been in IE for a few years, this was her first opportunity to meet with other, more seasoned colleagues. She recalls meeting several TDS users at a reception, affording her an opportunity to pick their brains.

Los Angeles, in 2009, was the first conference for Erica Masten, Director of Support Services. She remembers running into her International Student Advisor from her study abroad experience at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia.

James Lee, Senior Relationship Manager, started going to NAFSA a year earlier, at the 2008 conference in Washington, DC. In those days, our booth arrived in a van driven by a Dottan – chairs, tables, etc. My how times have changed.

For Monica Sharp, Product Specialist for ISSS, the 2006 conference in Montreal was her first year back in the field after a hiatus. Although her hope of running into Celine Dion did not come to fruition, she was able to reconnect with many colleagues from around the country.

For many of us, our first NAFSA was located near our home. This was true for Robert Rigg, ISSS Specialist. The 2005 Seattle conference was “just” across the state. Robert recalls meeting fellow SEVIS Coordinators (still a relatively new role then) and being able to compare notes on successes and pain points.

San Antonio 2002 was the first conference for Lisa Tauferner, Client Support Specialist, where she attended an eye-opening workshop on health and safety. San Antonio also was a seminal conference for Terra Dotta. It was at this conference that Brandon and Garrett presented their new software solution in a session with over 300 attendees. They garnered quite a bit of interest, resulting in their first sale. The rest is history.

Like Robert, Elaine Del Rossi (Vice President, Risk Solutions), and John Duncan (Relationship Manager), attended their first conference nearby at the 2001 Philadelphia conference. They each had a reaction that many of us encounter with our first big NAFSA conference – amazed and overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees and the size of the Expo Hall.

We cross into the last century for Mark Landon’s first NAFSA conference. It was Phoenix in 1996. Mark, our Director of Product Management, was with a young organization that was seeking support for a product on this new “thing” called the World Wide Web. Mark remembers what many remember from that conference – the intense Phoenix heat!

Marty Greenham, Vice President of Marketing, first experienced a NAFSA conference in 1987 in Long Beach, California. For Marty there was “the excitement of meeting like-minded professionals making careers out of their passions.” Should you encounter someone who attended that conference, ask them about the Spruce Goose and wait for their story.

Within the current Terra Dotta team, the earliest NAFSA conference attended was by Product Evangelist, Kerry Geffert – Nashville in 1981. A starving grad student, Kerry remembers staying in “student housing” on the Vanderbilt campus (that was a housing option in those days!), but the highlight was the chance meeting of a fellow NAFSAn at an 8:00 am session who two years later would hire him to work with her and become a lifelong friend. Small world!

Indeed, as large as the NAFSA conference can be, it can also be a small world filled with a multitude of connections. Newcomers often hear that NAFSAns, and international educators in general, are a welcoming bunch, willing to share their knowledge and their practices. We learn from one another. That’s why 400+ years of experience is important to us and to our clients, and why we can confidently state, “We know international education.

Our team is ready to meet with you at NAFSA to demonstrate how Terra Dotta solutions can advance your international education efforts; schedule an appointment with one us through our attendee page. If you would like an introduction to our solutions, be sure to attend our theater demonstrations that are being scheduled every half hour during the Expo Hall hours. See you soon in DC at booth #P1001!


In October 2018, Brandon Samter joined Terra Dotta as a Solutions Engineer. Brandon's daily responsibilities include providing internal expertise and training to help customer satisfaction; participating in discovery calls, and tailoring solutions and presentations to meet the needs of the client; completing RFP responses; and working closely with the Product Management department to communicate vision and direction to the development team and other stakeholders.

Before joining Terra Dotta, Brandon worked as the Director of International Student & Scholar Services at Colorado School of Mines, the Director of International & Exchange Programs at New Mexico Tech, and the Assistant Director of Campus Life at Western Colorado University. Brandon earned his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Adams State University and his Master of Business Administration in International Business from New Mexico Highlands University.

Outside of work, Brandon acts as "shuttle driver" and number one fan for his son Everest and daughter Addison. He also enjoys snowboarding, cycling, and coaching hockey and baseball. One travel activity Brandon would love is to snowboard in British Columbia on an epic powder day!

Brandon says his favorite part of working at Terra Dotta is “being able to offer a solution to other universities to help administrators get back to connecting with students while saving time on paperwork.”

Brandon will be at the Terra Dotta booth (#P1001) during NAFSA this month, which will make his thirteenth attendance at the national conference. Stop by and say hello!


Story HeadlineNow in its second year, the University at Albany School of Education is presenting its Intensive International Education Institute, June 12-14, in Albany, NY. Designed for International Education leaders and emerging leaders, the seminar engages participants in a selected workshop led by top experts and major speakers. If you are looking for “creative ways to position your internationalization strategies for success,” this institute is for you! Learn more about this thought-provoking, professional development workshop here. Register by May 17 for the Early Bird Rate. Terra Dotta is a proud co-sponsor of the Institute.

  conference schedule  

Between printed and online materials, it can be daunting to keep up with the professional literature. Let us help you. Each month we will list several online articles or reports that we hope you will find interesting.

Find an article that you believe others will want to read? Send the link to Here are some to get you started:

In English we trust: Can we be global citizens without knowing foreign languages?
From The Hill

How International Education’s Golden Age Lost Its Sheen
From The Chronicle of Higher Education

President Speaks: Colleges must prioritize foreign languages
From Education Dive

Study Reveals Living Abroad Boosts Your Decision Making Clarity
From Forbes

Barack Obama on why travel matters
From the BBC

EAIE identifies indicators of successful internationalisation
From The PIE News

  article roundup

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