Meet the Staff

Brendan O'Brien

Director
(607) 255-5243

Brendan O'Brien has worked in the ISSO since 1989 and became director of the office in 1998. He entered the field of international education after studying abroad in Kenya and Israel as an undergraduate, and in France as a graduate student. He enjoys travel and learning about the history and culture of other countries. Brendan's wife Sachiko works in the Vet College. Their two young daughters keep them very busy. Brendan enjoys all sports, particularly basketball, swimming, running, biking and American football. Brendan enjoys working in the ISSO and looks forward to meeting as many new students as possible!!


Laura Taylor

Associate Director; Faculty & Scholar Services
(607) 255-5243

Laura has been at the ISSO since 1996; first as a Program Coordinator, then Assistant Director, and in 2000 as Associate Director; Faculty & Scholar Services. She has also held many leadership positions within NAFSA: Association of International Educators, including: National SEVIS Coordinator (2003 – 2005); Chair-Elect, Chair and Past Chair for NAFSA Region X (2008-2011); and the  National Committee on Immigration Policy and Practice (2002 – 2005). In 2007, she received the James O’Driscoll Distinguished Service Award for NAFSA's Region X. She has a strong interest in US immigration law, regulations, and policy in the higher education world. In her spare time, she plays fiddle, sings, and enjoys running, hiking and camping.


Sarah Hilsman

Associate Director for Student Immigration Services
(607) 255-5243

Sarah came to Cornell in 1980 for her undergraduate degree in Government, then transferred to Fine Arts and has worked at Cornell off and on since then. She started at the ISSO in 2002 after advising international students at University of Texas at Austin. Although Sarah grew up partially in Manhattan, she far preferred her adventures in the woods and fields as a kid in a tiny town in Connecticut famous for Lyme Disease (Lyme, CT). She has traveled in India, Turkey and Italy among other places. Sarah has a college-aged daughter and enjoys yoga.


Adrianna Rovers

Associate Director for Programming Services
(607) 255-3815

Adriana began working for Cornell in 1995, and at the ISSO a little over 12 years ago. She is the Associate Director for Programming Services. Coming to the ISSO was a great career move and has been a very rewarding experience. Her family is from the Netherlands, and her parents immigrated to Canada after the second World War. Her parents' experience has made her especially sensitive to the challenges that many internationals face when arriving in a new country. Outside of the office in her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her four grown daughters who are all world travelers, flower gardening, 1890's house restoration projects, traveling, and keeping physically active with swing and cajun/zydeco dancing, biking and hiking.


Elizabeth Shedd

Immigration Advisor & Program Coordinator
(607) 255-5243

Elizabeth has been at the ISSO for a little over seven years. She's originally from the Washington, DC area but grew up in Ithaca, and has attended school in Ireland and France. She's traveled throughout Europe but unfortunately hasn't see the Scandinavian countries (yet). When she's not at the ISSO, you can find her cooking, writing, watching movies or dancing.


Bill Webster

Immigration Data Specialist
(607) 255-3893

Bill is responsible for monitoring and maintaining international student and scholar data. He is an avid mountain biker, skier and motorcyclist.


Steve Shumway

Administrative Manager
(607) 255-1026

Steve has been employed at Cornell since 1989 and has spent the last eleven years at the ISSO. When not at work, he enjoys immersing himself in nature—hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing are his favorite pursuits. He spends as much time as possible in the Adirondack Park of northern New York state. In fact, Steve and his wife Fran have successfully climbed all 46 of the high peaks of the Adirondack mountains.


Scott Beemer

Immigration & Programming Assistant
(607) 255-8737

Scott has been with the ISSO for seven years. A Cornell graduate from the Class of 2003, Scott majored in government and history. He traveled to Japan after graduation and taught English in two high schools through the JET Program. He worked at the Johnson School from his return to the United States in 2005 until he joined the ISSO. Scott is the father of three young children. He enjoys travel, creative writing, and photography.


Amanda Hakes

Immigration & Programming Assistant
(607) 255-5243

Amanda joined the ISSO in August 2009. She is originally from Whitney Point, NY, just south of Ithaca. Amanda started her career at Cornell in 2007 in the Student Employment office and has since worked in Alumni Affairs and Development and University Communications. When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, young son, family and friends. Amanda enjoys traveling, camping, and watching football. Amanda likes working at the ISSO and enjoys meeting (and helping) people from all over the world.


Adam Blakeslee

Immigration & Programming Asssitant
(607) 255-5243

Adam is a native Ithacan who began his career with Cornell University in 2004 and with the ISSO in 2010. Adam has spent many years in the hospitality industry working both in Ithaca and Cape Cod, always striving to provide exemplary service. While not serving the international community at the ISSO, Adam enjoys spending time with his family and dogs Ocho and Odie. His other activities include; serving as captain of his billiards team, playing ice hockey, travelling, home brewing and completing projects on his house. He has spent time in Peru, venturing to both Machu Pichu and Choquequirao.