Dr. Lisa Adeli Memorial Gathering


Thu, 01/28/2021 - 5:30pm


CMES E-bulletin note in its entirety: 

Lisa Marie Adeli

It is with deep sorrow that we share the news that Dr. Lisa Adeli, CMES’ devoted Director of Educational Outreach, passed away on December 22, 2020, after battling cancer over many months. During those months, she continued to direct outreach for CMES; she said that the work kept her sane. Ever creative, she developed online activities to provide school and public communities the opportunity to learn about the Middle East during the pandemic. At CMES we will miss her bright presence, enthusiasm, seemingly boundless energy, and her deep kindness more than we can express. We work closely as a group, helping one another to develop and implement project ideas, and feel keenly the absence of our dear colleague. All of us at CMES extend our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.  

CMES is much the better for Lisa Adeli’s over 13 years as the Center's first full-time outreach coordinator and then director. The outreach program she built addresses the needs of multiple communities of educators and learners. Under her direction, CMES' outreach has become a national model of how to conduct outreach well, creatively, and with respect.   

When Lisa Adeli became CMES’ new outreach coordinator in July 2007, she told us it was her dream job. We soon learned that she was our dream outreach coordinator; she continued in that role for over 13 years. Rest assured, we'll do our best to hire, as Lisa requested, "the perfect person" to become the next CMES outreach director. We'll do so in the knowledge that Lisa was the best of outreach directors. Her example will inform the nature and spirit of the Center’s outreach as CMES continues to serve educators, students, and the public.

Please know that CMES will establish an outreach activities fund in Dr. Adeli’s name so that the Center can continue outreach work at a high level and honor her memory.   Information about the fund will be shared on the CMES listserv.  

CMES will hold a Virtual Memorial Gathering in memory of Dr. Lisa Adeli on Thursday, January 28, at 5:30 pm.  Details of how to join are https://cmes.arizona.edu/events/DrLisaAdeliGathering

CMES colleagues weren’t the only ones who recognized Dr. Lisa Adeli’s accomplishments. She was the National History Day Arizona Educator of the Year in 2003; she subsequently received the 2009 History Channel’s History Service Award and the 2012 National Council for Social Studies’ (NCSS) Award for Global Understanding.  An eager and intrepid traveler, Lisa was thrilled to receive the NCSS award from Rick Steves at the fall 2012 NCSS conference.  In 2015 Lisa Adeli was promoted to CMES Director of Educational Outreach for bringing creative outreach programs to ever-larger local, regional, and national K-12 communities. 

Lisa Adeli possessed a unique combination of education, experience, and personal traits that contributed to her success as CMES Director of Educational Outreach.   She received her BS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, an MA in Applied Linguistics (Teaching English as a Second Language) and an MA in History and, both from Indiana University, did graduate work in Modern Yugoslav History at the Univerzitet u Begradu in Belgrade, and received a PhD in History from the UA with a specialty in Modern Balkan history and minor in history of the Ottoman Empire/Middle East.  From 1988 to 1990 she was an instructor of History at UA South in Sierra Vista, Arizona and from 1990 to 1994 an instructor of Humanities, History, English and ESL at Cochise College in Sierra Vista, Arizona.   She earned a secondary teaching certification and taught world history and English full time at Buena High School in Sierra Vista for the next 12 years.   Her experience as an educator in southeastern Arizona kept the needs of teachers outside major metropolitan areas high on her list of outreach priorities at CMES.   

After she began working at CMES, Lisa missed teaching.  She subsequently volunteered and then created and taught a Middle East studies class at Cholla High School (CHS) in Tucson for five years, sometimes also teaching ESL.  Never content to start something and not improve it, Lisa worked hard to assure that her most capable students could receive dual credit from CHS and the UA for her Middle East studies class.   She regaled us with tales of how excited and proud her CHS students were to see their names on a UA class roster.   Some of her CHS students enrolled at the UA—some to study the Middle East, graduated, and went on to obtain graduate degrees; many of her students remained in close touch with her and continued to benefit from her mentorship.   She remained as supportive of and close to her many student outreach assistants after they graduated.

When the US Department of Education made creation of sustained collaborations with Minority-Serving Institutions and community colleges a National Resource Center grant priority, we at CMES thought hard about how best to do so.  Lisa’s Sierra Vista links and community college teaching experience proved important in that regard; CMES’ first efforts to encourage the incorporation of Middle East content in community college classes and MSIs focused on work with Cochise College and UA South.  Visiting Sierra Vista with her to plan for the program was a revelation—she seemed to know everyone and had taught many of their children.

Lisa Adeli loved to travel and was always eager to see and learn as much as possible about the many places she visited. She shared whatever she learned through presentations to the public and educators’ groups.  She worked hard to encourage the understanding and inspiration that resulted from international travel by leading educators on Fulbright-Hays curriculum building projects to, in succession, Turkey and the Balkans; Oman and Zanzibar; Bosnia and Albania in partnership with Maricopa Community College; Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, working with New Mexico Highlands University; and Morocco.  Lisa secured support for two additional Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad, postponed on account of the pandemic—one to Jordan and a second to Persianate Central Asia.   We’ll make sure those programs take place as Lisa planned.   Lisa also shared her love of travel with the fortunate community group members and teachers who enjoyed trips she organized to Bosnia. 

Lisa Adeli sought out professional development opportunities to expand her expertise.   While a teacher in Sierra Vista, she was a Museum Teacher Fellow with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, with which she continued to be affiliated, and attended a US Institute of Peace International Relations seminar.  After beginning work at CMES, she was accepted to the IREX Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) program, which involved two weeks of teaching in Armenia.   She participated in a Holocaust educators’ program in Poland and in a Faculty Development seminar in the West Bank/Palestine sponsored by the Palestinian American Research Center.  Her experience as a Teacher Fellow of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City led to an ongoing collaboration with the institution.   Over four years, she volunteered with the non-profit Educators’ Institute for Human Rights, developing teachers’ programs in Bosnia-Herzegovina.  

Lisa was excited to create and share professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers and community college educators.  In Arizona, many of these CMES activities are conducted in cooperation with the UA Center for Latin American Studies.   These included workshops, conferences, summer institutes—including an NEH Summer Institute, “Middle Eastern Millennials through Literature, Culture, and Media,” co-directed with Dr. Maha Nassar of the UA School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, lesson plan awards, and programs such as the International Studies Partnership Program for community college faculty, and the International Studies Teacher Ambassador program for teachers in rural areas of Arizona and New Mexico.  Most recently, she and Emma Harver, her counterpart at the University of North Carolina’s Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, created the Teachers Collaborating Across Borders (TCAB) virtual exchange program, in which 15 teachers in the US and 15 in the Middle East discuss teaching issues and collaborate to involve their students in classroom projects.   Never one to keep information to herself, she shared extensive lists of international studies opportunities and resources through weekly bulletins to her listservs, developed over her 13 years at CMES.  In late 2020 educators on those listservs numbered 1,629 Arizona teachers and 2,632 teachers from other states, and another 465 community college and undergraduate university level instructors (total 4,726).  

Lisa Adeli’s work emphasized sharing of resources and insights about the Middle East. The pandemic did not slow TCAB or the development with the UA Center for Latin American Studies of “Road Maps,” a popular free virtual geography game/learning experience for secondary students who ‘travel’ virtually and can receive certificates for completing assignments about each country they visit.   She was generous in sharing her own knowledge through presentations to local, regional, and national groups of educators and members of the public, and managed CMES Speakers Bureau and Outreach Scholars programs, which provide speakers knowledgeable about the Middle East to schools and community groups upon request.  This was no mean feat, as the number of requests for speakers, and virtual speakers during the pandemic, increased each year.   

CMES outreach programs benefited from Lisa Adeli’s professional involvement and many connections in Arizona educational communities and national organizations, among them the Arizona Council for the Social Studies, Arizona Geographic Alliance, Arizona Council for History Education—of which she was a board member, Middle East Outreach Council, National Council for the Social Studies—where she founded the Middle East Community, National History Day in Arizona, National WWI Museum and Memorial, New Mexico Council for the Social Studies, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.   At the University of Arizona, she collaborated with colleagues in the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, Center for Educational Resources in Culture, Language and Literacy, Center for Latin American Studies, College of Education, and Department of History, among many others.    She will be missed in all these quarters, and many more.   At CMES, we’ll do our best to carry on Lisa Adeli’s exceptional work with her generosity of spirit.    


Memorial video of Lisa Adeli


Please note that the Memorial Fund in honor of Dr. Lisa Adeli is still being set up. In the meantime, should you wish to make a gift, you can click the link below. Please note that once you click on the UAFoundation link below and fill out your donation information and personal details, you will need to scroll to the bottom of the page and in the section called "Tribute Information" you must note that the gift is in memory of Dr. Lisa Adeli. Once the Dr. Lisa Adeli Memorial Fund (name TBA) is set up, the money donation/gift you have given in her honor will be transferred to the specific account. 



The virtual event in honor of Dr. Lisa Adeli will take place via Zoom on Thursday, January 28th beginning at 5:30PM Tucson time.

Registration is required.

As this event will be in the Zoom meeting format, please know that we can only accomodate up to 500 people. The Lisa Adeli Memorial Gathering Program is available as a pdf for download at the bottom of the page. 

CMES staff will e-mail directions out the evening prior to the event which will contain the Zoom meeting link and the password. We would ask you not to share this information to ensure that all who have registered are able to attend. (Should we receive exceptional interest in attending this event, CMES will host another gathering to ensure that everyone who wants to remember Dr. Lisa Adeli can do so in good company.) 

Here is the survey link to registerhttps://uarizona.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6XoVX6BuIP5QdLw