About Avant

Dr. Carl Falsgraf envisioned an online, standards-based assessment of language proficiency to shift language education from a grammar-based, rote-learning approach to a focus on developing real-world proficiency. Carl and his team at the University of Oregon’s Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) began developing STAMP (STAndards-based Measurement of Proficiency), and launched it as the world’s first online language proficiency test. In 2001, David and Sheila Bong joined Carl to pursue that vision and created what is now Avant Assessment. Today, Avant delivers STAMP across the country and around the world. Avant builds and delivers ever more effective assessments of real-world proficiency, including Spanish for Heritage Learners and less commonly taught languages, such as Somali and Yup’ik. Avant’s mission is as it has always been: to improve the teaching and learning of language in the US and around the world through effective assessment.

 

Meet Our Founders

David Bong

FOUNDER & CEO

David is the CEO of Avant Assessment. He co-founded Avant in 2001 with his wife, Sheila, and Dr. Carl Falsgraf, formerly the Director of the Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon.

Earlier David was co-founder of Step.com, a Silicon Valley-based web service providing information on listed US companies to Japanese investors; Managing Director of Kroll Associates Japan, a leading international corporate investigative and security consulting firm; and the US Sales Manager for Takara Sake USA in Berkeley, CA. His experience working with Japan gave him a deep appreciation for the importance of language. As an investigator, David saw firsthand how both Japanese and western firms were victims of frauds or extortions when their expat managers did not understand the language or the culture of their host country. As a businessman he saw many opportunities lost because of the same lack of language or cultural understanding. That experience inspired him to co-found Avant.

David speaks Japanese and is happy to be living in Eugene, Oregon with Sheila and their two sons. On the side he trains for, and occasionally runs marathons. He has a BA in the College of Social Studies and Japanese History from Wesleyan University, and long, long ago was a New England college wrestling champion.

Sheila Bong

Co-Founder & VP of Sales

Languages and cultures have profoundly influenced Sheila’s life. She gained a deep appreciation for native language preservation from 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. She also 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. She is an active volunteer and enjoys traveling with her family, hiking, skiing, and golfing.


Meet Our Team

We are a diverse team with backgrounds in teaching, linguistics, international business, technology, and more. We share a love of language and care deeply about helping our customers succeed.

 


Mike Biglan

Lead Technology Consultant

Mike Biglan shapes Avant Assessment's technological direction working to provide an excellent client experience as well as a scalable, fault-tolerant assessment platform. Well-versed in architecting and implementing with a wide array of technologies, Mike uses these skills to continually improve Avant's offerings. Mike has a background in software architecture and development, computer science, bioinformatics, statistics, education, psychology and economics.


Johnathan A. Bower

Board Member

Jon has worked with Avant since 2007 when he arrived as a consultant and stayed as a member of the Board of Trustees. In 2013, he stepped in as CEO for 5 months. He has also been CEO of Lexia Learning Systems and Soliloquy Learning in reading, it’s learning US in technology platforms, Young Broadcasters of America in oral language training, and Formativity in teacher training. At Avant, Jon works with David and the management team on strategy, marketing and sales management. He is a frequent visitor to our Eugene offices where he brings smiles and sharp questions that help us focus on learning.


Bonnie Buck

Regional Account Manager

Bonnie's love of people, places and cultures brought her to Avant in early 2013, where her contagious smile and helpful attitude made her a fast favorite with clients and co-workers alike. With over a decade of experience studying and communicating with people from all over the world, as well as collecting and interpreting data, Bonnie excels at providing unparalleled assistance to her clients.

 

Trevor Dilley

Lead Development Consultant

Trevor is a driven software developer with a keen interest in educational technology. Trevor works with Avant to improve and extend their excellent suite of assessment tools. He finds deep, personal satisfaction in creating tools to assist teachers in better educating their students and games which motivate students to learn.


Bill Eilfort

VP of Content Development

Bill came to Avant in 2011 with more than 21 years of experience in the assessment field. He is responsible for Avant's content production and thrives on the challenge of working with both designers of assessments and technical experts in psychological measurement to produce high-quality content that meets stakeholders' measurement needs.


Kyle Ennis

VP of Education and Assessment

Kyle leads Avant's efforts in managing the development of assessment products. Working directly with clients, content developers and technology developers to produce Avant's high quality assessment instruments, Kyle is passionate about pushing the limits of technology to improve learning through measurement.

 

Maury Ennis

Senior Rater Manager

Maury has held the position of Grading Coordinator at Avant for the last 10 years. She created Avant’s current Rater Connection system - which assists in training new raters and keeping current raters on top of their grading, thus ensuring Inter-rater Reliability. Maury graduated Cum Laude from Utah State University in Elementary Education with a Spanish minor.


Camatha Groshong

Information Analyst

Camatha holds the position of Information Analyst and has been part of the Avant team since 2009. Her detail oriented, inquisitive nature has resulted in her expertise of Avant’s content management system and leadership of complex project monitoring. With over 10 years of project management and performance monitoring, Camatha continues to work behind the scenes with data analysis for the Professional Development and Accounting departments.


John Haakanson

VP of Finance and Operations

As a member of Avant's team since 2004, John has over 30 years of management experience in Administration, Finance, HR, Operations and Contracts. John currently manages Avant’s Client Support, Finance, HR and Contracts departments.

 

Bonnie Flint

Regional Account Manager

Bonnie is passionate about global education and ensuring all students have the skills and opportunities they need to thrive in a global society. Bonnie has worked as the world languages coordinator and the Director of the Confucius Institute in Davis School District. Professionally, Bonnie has served as the president of SWCOLT and the Utah Foreign Language Association as well as having been on several national, regional, and local task forces and committees. When Bonnie isn’t working, you can find her traveling the world, skiing, golfing, and hiking.


Matt Reynolds

Client Support

Matt joined Avant in 2013 and is energized by helping people and solving problems. In college, he studied Microbiology and Philosophy and has since focused on sales, customer service, and entrepreneurship. Matt brings this combination of critical thinking and human-centric experience to his current role as a Client Support Specialist. Through his work, he excitedly merges interests in languages and technology with his drive to help others. Outside of work, Matt enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and surfing.


Abdulaziz Ebinghannam

Data Analytics and Arabic Language Specialist

Coming from an educational family that believes language is an eye opener to the world. Aziz’s passion in language and his experience in data analytics and operations has brought him to Avant to assist in test reporting and operations consulting. He loves traveling to explore and learn about various cultures.

 

Mike Reynolds

Sales Representative - Northeast US

Prior to entering college and spending his entire career in Education, Mike lived around the world, in places like Morocco, Guam and Japan. His passion and desire to experience different cultures and languages make his work with Avant very rewarding. Mike truly enjoys working with World Language educators in the K-16 environment providing world-class proficiency and placement assessments.


Nicole Hines

Sales Manager - Midwest US

Nicole has been part of the Avant team for five years. Before moving into her current position as Sales Account Manager, she spent time behind the scenes building Avant’s assessments. Nicole also teaches as an adjunct professor and earned her Master of Education and Master of Arts from Georgia State University. Her three favorite words are "Go Pack Go!"


Kyle (Karl) Wienecke

Client Support Manager

In the office he goes by Karl so he's not confused with our VP of Education and Assessment Kyle Ennis. Karl joined Avant's team in 2016 bringing over 12 years of experience in customer support and technology with an Associate's Degree in Graphic Design. He brings vitality and energy to each client engagement with his troubleshooting and attention to detail. When Karl's not answering the phone in the office he enjoys cooking, camping, classic cars and sports.

 

Justine Hall

Account Associate

Justine was a student athlete at the University of Oregon and earned her BA in Psychology. Through basketball, she has had the opportunity to travel to many different places, including Spain, Italy, and Switzerland. She loves being immersed in different cultures and plans to do more traveling in the future. Along with traveling, she has a passion for helping others.


CJ Mann

Marketing Specialist

CJ handles a variety of tasks at Avant, including data analysis of assessment results and leads research for the Sales team. He is currently studying Advertising at the University of Oregon and plans to graduate in 2020. Outside of the office and the classroom, CJ enjoys photography and spending time outdoors with close friends.


Lindsay Wong

Marketing Communications Coordinator

Lindsay’s passions and experiences in branding and design have brought her to Avant to coordinate all marketing communications. She loves traveling with her family and learning about various cultures through food and art. Lindsay recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in advertising.


Victor Dias De Oliveira Santos, Ph.D

Director of Assessment and Research

Victor's professional and educational background in linguistics (B.A.); language technology (M.S); language teaching; and language assessment (Ph.D.) naturally drew him towards Avant. At home, English, Portuguese, and Russian are the house languages. When he is not thinking about language learning and assessment, Victor loves traveling, playing volleyball, reading about entrepreneurship and bilingualism, watching stand-up comedy, and learning about as many new topics as he possibly can.


Luke Konyn

Sales Associate

Luke is currently a student at the University of Oregon studying Business with a concentration in Marketing and plans to graduate in 2020. He tackles different tasks for the Sales team that include data analysis and prospect. Luke desires to travel the world and spend as much time with his family as possible.


Laura Larsen

Client Support Specialist

After many years of working in the travel industry, Laura brings with her a strong background in support management and specializes in colleague training and development. When not in the office, Laura can be found painting in her studio, attending Oregon Duck basketball games, and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two dogs.

 
 

Interested in Joining Our Growing Team?

We're working hard to create the best language assessments ever, and we're always looking for great people to help us accomplish that vision. Click the button below to contact us if you are interested in joining our team!

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