International Affairs Leadership Team

Dr. Alfaro
Associate Vice President, International Affairs

Dr. Cristina Alfaro

Dr. Alfaro leads all of San Diego State University’s International Affairs activities as Senior International Officer (SIO). In this role, Alfaro works with campus stakeholders to advise on all international issues and works to further the internationalization of the campus. She also advises President Adela de la Torre on global affairs and the campus' role in international programs and partnerships. Alfaro previously served as SDSU’s Provost Chair for Faculty Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and as Chair of the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education, where she directed the largest bilingual teacher education program in California. She led the California State University (CSU) International Teacher Education Program for more than a decade and has received  numerous teaching awards, including the National Outstanding Latina in Higher Education Award. She sits on the boards for both the California Association for Bilingual Education and the National Association for Bilingual Education. She has a doctorate in International Bilingual Teacher Preparation from the Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University.

Email: [email protected]

Noah Hansen
Senior Director, International Affairs

Dr. Noah Hansen

Dr. Hansen leads the operations and implementation of international programs as the Senior Director for International Affairs. In his role, Hansen serves as the right hand of the AVP for International Affairs, overseeing SDSU’s International Student Center, the Global Education Office, Program Development and Partnerships, the SDSU Passport Office, and International Safety, Security and Risk. Hansen also serves as the resource manager for International Affairs, managing personnel and budgetary planning considerations. In addition to these roles, he also serves as a representative and liaison for the campus on international issues and works to further global understanding and internationalization efforts on the campus and in the greater international education community.  Prior to being appointed as senior director, Hansen served as the director of SDSU's International Student Center for six years, and has held various roles in international education at SDSU since 2004. Hansen has a master's degree in Pacific International Affairs from UC San Diego and a bachelor's degree in Latin American and Iberian Studies from UC Santa Barbara. Hansen earned his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from SDSU in 2023.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: (619) 594-1982

Maria Keckler
Director, Strategy & Communications

Dr. Maria Keckler

Dr. Keckler directs the development of strategic communications related to SDSU’s internationalization efforts and the collaborative implementation of the Global Strategic Plan. She is also the architect of SDSU’s annual Re:Border conference, which spotlights cross-border issues and fosters collaboration in the San Diego/Tijuana region. As a research fellow with SDSU’s Virtual Immersive Teaching and Learning (VITaL) Research Center, her research focuses on neuro-education, immersive learning, and empathy. A published author with two decades of experience developing and coaching executives, scientists, engineers, and educators, she’s worked with global companies across the U.S., Mexico, and Eastern Europe to develop kinder cultures where employees can thrive. Keckler has a Ph.D. in transdisciplinary education research from Claremont Graduate University and San Diego State University.

Email: [email protected]

Ricky Paniagua
Director, International Student Center

Ricky Paniagua

Paniagua leads the International Student Center office staff and operations, as well as the international student services and programs offered to nearly 2,000 international students. Paniagua also provides advising to campus stakeholders and administration on international student immigration matters, international student employment, and campus immigration compliance. Prior to joining the SDSU International Affairs team, Paniagua worked in the International Students & Programs Office at UC San Diego serving more than 10,000 international students. His wide-ranging experience includes advising international students, developing streamlined programs and services, admissions, and recruitment. Paniagua holds degrees in Organizational Leadership and Behavioral Sciences. He also holds formal certifications in Leadership, Management, and is a Lean Six Sigma-Green Belt.

Email: [email protected]

Assistant Director, Global Education

Dr. Chris Kjonaas

Dr. Kjonaas oversees the SDSU Global Education Office (GEO) team, which supports SDSU students seeking study abroad programs, international internships, and international fellowship opportunities; and also supports inbound exchange students during their process of applying to spend a semester at SDSU. Kjonaas and her team collaborate on safety and risk management, provide advising according to academic major, and work with SDSU’s community and cultural centers to promote international education opportunities to SDSU’s diverse students. Her diverse experience as an International Educator includes serving as a Global Education Advisor at SDSU, an on-site coordinator at a U.S/Mexico binational nonprofit organization, a university relations representative for a private study abroad program provider, and most recently Director of Assessment for SDSU International Affairs. Chris earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from SDSU in 2021.

Email: [email protected]

Director, Transborder and Regional Engagement

Dr. Vinod Sasidharan

Dr. Sasidharan serves as director of Transborder and Regional Faculty Engagement. His research focuses on sustainable development, tourism, and community empowerment in the California-Baja Mexico transborder region, international tourism, tourism and technology, tourism certification, sustainable development goals (SDGs) assessment, interdisciplinary analyses of sustainable development, tourism and corporate social responsibility, and indigenous tourism best practices. He is a leader in integrating transborder engagement and collaboration into the SDSU experience for both students and faculty. He serves as the program director for the university’s annual Re:Border conference, which addresses binational issues and solutions through partnerships in the borderlands region.

Email: [email protected]

Assistant Director, Program Development and Partnerships

Jessica Romero

Romero leads the Program Development and Partnerships team, which is responsible for the vetting, creation and implementation of international opportunities at SDSU, including establishing international partnerships, course articulations, SDSU Custom Programs Abroad, and helping faculty incorporate Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and Glocal learning opportunities into their existing courses. Her team works with faculty and leadership within the academic colleges, as well as with the Global Education Office, to create international opportunities that are thoughtfully developed and align with academic and international priorities. Romero also is responsible for creating policies and protocols for  implementing these international opportunities at SDSU. Prior to her current role, Romero served as the International Programs Coordinator within SDSU’s College of Arts & Letters. Prior to joining SDSU, Romero  worked in the international education field serving in a variety of roles for Queens College, CUNY, NYU, and the Institute of International Education (IIE) in New York City. She holds a master’s degree in international education from NYU.

Email: [email protected]

Tyne Truong Photo
Assistant Director, International Safety, Security and Risk

Tyne Truong

Truong leads international safety and security programs to ensure the well-being of SDSU constituents studying, researching, and conducting university business abroad. Prior to joining SDSU, Truong completed a 25-year career in federal law enforcement, most recently as Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In that role, he directed award-winning national security, counterterrorism, and public safety missions. Truong served as a National Program Manager for Homeland Security’s National Undercover Operations Unit, where he was responsible for developing, writing and implementing strategic and operational policies related to the agency's worldwide undercover operations. He joined federal law enforcement after earning a bachelor’s degree in economics/international development from UCLA, and he later received a master’s in organizational leadership from Georgetown University. He is an Institute of Strategic Risk Management Fellow and a Distinguished Homeland Defense Fellow at National Defense University. 

Email: [email protected]