Our English Language Teachers

At Empire State English we pride ourselves on four main things: our commitment to student success, the rigor of our program, our welcoming teaching facilities, and the quality of our staff.

Our instructors have chosen to teach English as a Second Language as their profession. They come with qualifications ranging from Master’s degrees in TESOL and CELTA certificates to years of teaching in the United States or abroad. 


Kim Andersen

Kim Andersen has an MS in Education with a focus on TESOL and a BA in Spanish from The George Washington University. She has a passion for language learning and teaching, cultural exchanges, and international travel.

Kim started her ESL teaching career in Washington DC and then taught in a bilingual and ESL math and science program in San Francisco. The desire to teach abroad brought her to Paraguay for four years. She opened Empire State English in 2012. Empire State English current serves the adult ESL community in and around the Capital Region as well as students from abroad who come to study in a small, private, intensive English program.

Kim opened Capital Region Language Center, a world language and professional development training institute, in 2003.

Assistant Director of English Programs & Instructor

Faith Pirlo

Faith Pirlo is an ESL instructor and content creator with a Master’s in TESOL and over 10 years of experience in the classroom. Originally from West Virginia, Faith lived in Virginia and taught at George Mason University and American University in Washington, DC. She has also worked observing, mentoring, and supporting ESL and industry-based teachers.

Faith moved to the Albany area in 2023 with her husband. She has worked the past two years as a creative education writer for Voice of America’s Learning English website, creating language articles, adapting news stories, and making YouTube videos for English language students around the world.

In her free time, she enjoys working out, cooking, dancing, and playing with her two cats and two guinea pigs. Faith is excited to join Empire State English and the Capital Region Language Center.

Team member since 2024.


Student Services Coordinator & DSO

Sonya Kim

Sonya was born in the United States, but raised in South Korea until she returned to the States for her graduate school. She holds a BA in History and English language & literature from Korea, and earned her MA in TESOL from University of Pennsylvania. She volunteered teaching English, especially for adult immigrants, in a variety of settings while she was in Philadelphia. She also developed TOEFL prep books when she went back to Korea after completing her studies in Philadelphia.

Her family moved to the Capital Region 2 years ago due to her husband’s relocation from Korea. As a non-native speaker of English herself, she understands the challenges that English learners have. Sonya loves working with the international community and helping English language learners. She joined Empire State English as an Academic Program Coordinator in the spring of 2020, and she began teaching Korean for ESE’s sister school, Capital Region Language Center, in 2019.



Arthur Forrest

Arthur holds a master’s in TESOL from Shenandoah University, and has taught English and ESL in international schools in Mexico, Oman, Egypt, and China. Helping students with their language goals and seeing their success has always been what has motivated Arthur as a teacher. In short, helping others is what makes teaching meaningful. Of course, part of this process is having a program for students that is challenging, enjoyable, and achievable. Students succeed when they are presented with a clear program and when teachers make teaching a sharing process. Caring is sharing.

Team member since 2024.


Anna Miller

Anna is a Capital Region native, recently relocated after a number of years abroad. Thanks to a number of inspiring teachers, she fostered a love of languages from a young age, which pushed her to later pursue a career in education. Anna believes deeply in the connection of culture and language, studying both Sociology and Spanish in undergrad, developing a passion to create access for all to language learning. After graduating, she went on to receive her Masters in Arts of Teaching with a concentration in Foreign Languages and her TEFL/TESOL certification. She has lived, taught and studied in Chile, Argentina, Spain, Guatemala, and Australia. Anna is a firm believer in experiential education using music, movement and the natural environment to create dynamic classes. 

Team member since 2024.


Sherez Mohamed

Sherez Mohamed was raised in a multicultural household where Arabic and English were spoken. From a young age, she developed a love for languages and cultures, frequently taking language courses whenever the opportunity presented itself. She has studied Japanese, Spanish, French, and Arabic which has only increased her desire to explore the connection between languages and cultures. In 2013, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Sociology from SUNY Albany. Later, she continued her studies, obtaining Master’s and Doctorate degrees in Sociolinguistics from Florida State University where she additionally earned a TESOL certificate. Sherez has taught a mixture of English, Spanish, and Linguistics courses, and loves to expose her students to authentic material in order to foster their desire to explore languages and cultures, just as her teachers once did for her.

Team member since 2023.


Tom Nygren

Tom Nygren has over ten years’ experience teaching ESL in a variety of colleges and universities, most recently at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to that, he spent three years teaching English at Sunway University in Malaysia. He worked with Afghan refugees in Pakistan for two years during the 1980s (he also spent part of his childhood in Pakistan). He loves meeting new people and learning about other cultures and has traveled extensively in Africa and Southeast Asia. Tom has a Master of Education in Teaching English as a Second Language from the College of New Jersey and a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University.

Team member since 2021.


Thomas Straut

As someone with a lifelong admiration for teaching and multicultural experiences, Thomas knows that teaching English is the perfect match for his career. He obtained his CELTA and taught in Vietnam through one of the nation’s leading chains of language centers. He has further volunteered as an English tutor with the Refugee Welcome Center in Albany. In addition to his ESL work, Thomas has been active in supporting non-English speakers at several nonprofits, including the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, as well as Food Not Bombs.

Team member since 2024.


Linda Wien

Linda Wien completed a CELTA degree through the University of Cambridge in 2006 and earned her MS TESOL degree from the University at Albany SUNY in 2013. In addition to teaching in the Capital Region, she has taught ESL in Honolulu, and as a volunteer in Guatemala and Nicaragua. She loves teaching people from a variety of cultures in diverse settings. Her passion for teaching ESL is evident in her abundant energy!

Team member since 2013.

Interested In Teaching English?

Here at Empire State English we all work together as a team and welcome like-minded individuals to join us in this rewarding profession. Click here to view the ESL Instructor Job Description.