Gabi Cociuba

Program Manager

Gabriela Cociuba is ARCS new Program Manager. She is an American Romanian photographer born in Romania.  She enjoys and practices a wide variety of photography from conceptual to documentary. She studied at University of Washington and Photographic Center NW. She has volunteered with the Romanian Film Festival Seattle since its early days and is excited to see how far ARCS has grown. 

She shares ARCS’ belief that raising awareness of Romanian heritage in the US benefits not only the Romanian diaspora, but the American public as well. She looks forward to serving the community and promoting Romanian culture to wider audiences through meaningful programs.

Marie-Louise Paulesc

Director of Strategic Planning

Marie-Louise Paulesc is ARCS Director of Strategic Planning. Marie-Louise is the founder and Board Chair of Arizona ARCC, now ARCS Arizona, and a Senior Communication Lecturer at Arizona State University. 

Before moving to the Greater Phoenix area in 2005, Marie-Louise worked in Romania as a cultural journalist writing on theatre and film and as a PR professional for media and cultural institutions. Among others, she was a Press Officer with the Romanian Ministry of Culture, the PR Manager of the National Theatre in Cluj, the editor-in-chief of the HBO Romania’s Magazine, and the PR manager of Radio Europa FM. 

Marie-Louise has a BA in Journalism from the University of Bucharest, and an MA and a PhD in Human Communication from Arizona State University. She also graduated a Master program in Cultural Management offered by the Romanian Ministry of Culture and the European Union’s PHARE Program. 

In 2019, she founded Arizona ARCC from a desire to create strategic and substantial connections between Romanian culture and various Arizona communities. 

Before coming onboard, she has been a long time admirer and collaborator of ARCS and she hopes to amplify ARCS’ programming and visibility in Seattle and US. 


Ileana Marin, Ph.D.

President and Co-founder

Ileana Marin teaches interdisciplinary courses at the University of Washington in Seattle and at the Center of Excellence in Image Studies at the University of Bucharest. Her long-standing academic career on both sides of the ocean has given her the opportunity to establish contacts between Romanian and American scholars, artists, and institutions. She, thus, initiated the first UW Exploration Seminar to Romania, and to Eastern Europe, and opened the fund for Romanian Studies, hoping that Romanian language will be taught regularly in Seattle. With a BA in Romanian and a PhD. in Comparative Literature from the University of Bucharest (2000), and one in Textual Studies from the UW (2011), Ileana is a strong believer in the power of education and bilingualism. In ARCS, she advocates the expansion of the Romanian language programs in the US and for disseminating the most recent Romanian cultural achievements. On her agenda as president, Ileana Marin has two major tasks: board development and recruitment to ensure the successful implementation of ARCS mission through meaningful programs. 

Dana Cozmei


Dana Cozmei is a Principal Program Manager at Microsoft with many years of experience in complex project management, software development and testing. In her free time, Dana enjoys painting and piloting planes. A native of Romania, Dana will bring to ARCS her firsthand knowledge of the contemporary art scene and living cultures of her birthplace, in addition to offering guidance with project management and coordination.

Otilia Baraboi, Ph.D.

Vice President of Development & Co-founder

Before coming to Seattle in 2000 from Romania, Otilia worked as a literary journalist and published short-fiction, translations and articles. She holds university degrees in French and English literatures from Romania, Switzerland, and the US. She has a Ph.D. on the politics of translation from the University of Washington, where she taught French language and literature for 17 years, and where she is currently co-teaching a course on Romanian literature and film. In 2013, she co-founded ARCS and was President of the Board for five years before becoming ARCS’ first Executive Director. For Otilia, ARCS has been a wonderful opportunity to remain connected with the vibrant culture of her birthplace, while contributing to the artistic and cultural vitality of the Pacific Northwest. As part of her work, Otilia has been managing the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle and ARCS community-based school for Romanian heritage students, as well as more than 300 cultural and educational events over the past 9 years. Her priorities are to create sustainable, community-building programs and partnerships, as well as develop ARCS' brand identity in accordance with its mission and values. Most of all, Otilia hopes that her work will have a direct, long-lasting impact on the ways in which future generations will define, celebrate and pass on their heritage. Otilia is also the President of the Ethnic Heritage Council of the Pacific Northwest and a board member of Romanian United Fund.

Iulian Calinov


Iulian Calinov was born in Bucharest Romania. Iulian holds a masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the Politehnica University of Bucharest and a Masters of Business Administration in Corporate Finance jointly from Bucharest School of Economics and Université du Québec à Montréal. Iulian has worked as an Assistant Professor with the Politechnica University of Bucharest for 6 years after graduation, teaching Control Theory, Digital Control, Microprocessor Systems, Electric Drives and Microeconomics. After a brief stint as a Treasurer for Philip Moris in Romania, Iulian moved to the United States to work for Microsoft in Redmond, WA in 1998. Currently, Iulian is a Program Manager with Facebook, and serves the Romanian community in Seattle as a Honorary Consul on Romania as well as the Secretary of Romanian American Society of Washington State.

Alexandrina Maicaneanu


Born and raised in Romania, Alexandrina has a degree from the prestigious HEC in Montreal, and a career in business. She moved to the Northwest from Montreal in 2003, where she taught French at the French American School and worked as a financial adviser at the International School Community. Her free time is dedicated to friends, family, traveling, and cultivating a good life. Art has played an important role in her formative years in Romania (she graduated the Arts High School in Cluj) and throughout her experience living in Montreal, a city with one of the most vibrant artists’ diaspora of Romanian descent in North America. Alexandrina brings to ARCS her action-oriented approach to life in general, and her valuable background in project development, business and community outreach.

Michele Anciaux Aoki

Michele Anciaux Aoki has a Ph.D. in Slavic Linguistics and taught Russian and English as a Second Language at the University of Washington for a number of years. She speaks a variety of Slavic and Balkan languages, including Romanian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian/Montenegrin, and Russian. She spent a year as a Fulbright English lecturer in Iași, Romania in 1976-77, and six months as a US Information Agency Exhibit Guide in Romania in 1979. After graduate school, she had a long and successful career in Information Technology before returning to the field of education in the 1990’s. From 2008 until 2014, she served as World Languages Program Supervisor at the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she helped develop the World Languages Competency-Based Credit Program to award high school credits to students with demonstrated language proficiency. From 2014-2019, Michele served as International Education Administrator for Seattle Public School, supporting Seattle’s ten International Schools and Dual Language Immersion programs in Spanish, Japanese, and Mandarin, as well as all World Language programs in the district. Michele has consulted with the UW STARTALK programs since 2011 and helped organize the annual Heritage Language Symposium since 2014. In retirement, she volunteers for the Washington Association for Language Teaching Testing Team and Advocacy Team and serves on the Steering Committee of the Washington State Coalition for International Education. She is also active with the National Council of State Supervisors for Language and is an advisor to the Global Seal of Biliteracy.


Elizabeta Iliescu

Elizabeta Iliescu was born in Northern Romania where she grew up very attached to her grandparents. After high school, she moved to Bucharest where she studied physics and worked for an insurance company. She moved to the US with her family in 2008. The love of being around children made her look for opportunities to work with them. She has an AAS-T Certificate in Early Childhood Careers, a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics, and she is a Washington state certified middle school math teacher.  Elizabeta volunteered and worked in various early childhood education programs and is currently working with Bellevue School District as a teacher substitute. She is also collaborating with Bellevue Library for the program Romanian Story Times / Poveşti româneşti.


Radu Smîntînă

Radu was largely raised in Western Washington, alongside several Romanian families who immigrated approximately the same time as his own. Since moving to the States as a child, his Romanian community has become a second family that he is immensely proud of, and grateful for. 

As a former English Language Learner and high school teacher, he is passionate about bettering outcomes for students in public education. After transitioning out of his teaching role with Denver Public Schools, Radu moved back to Washington to work at an education non-profit. He attended the University of Washington as an undergrad and graduate student, earning a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on Education Policy. He currently works at OneAmerica as the education coalition manager where he partners with educators, families, and community members to move work that benefits immigrant and refugee students.

He is excited to join ARCS in promoting Romanian culture, particularly among second generation Romanian Americans. 

Shelley Grant

Inspired by longtime European residencies and family ties, Shelley Grant (PhD) has spearheaded community outreach and supported ARCS leaders since before its foundation. Her extensive professional background in corporate strategic branding, business marketing and non-profit advocacy prepare this authentically native Seattleite to attract non-Romanian Northwest communities through development-related education and leisure activies and to build ties with Northwest arts and hospitality ogranizations. An avid fan of Romanian languages and literature, she is eager to work with ARCS to expand opportunities for introducing "travel" through local ongoing reading clubs and arts events as well as international tours .

Advisory Board

Oana Gușatu

Oana left Romania in 2003 and pursued a career in marketing and fundraising in London, before moving to the US in 2014. She has over 8 years experience working in the non-profit sector, on issues such as early and forced marriage, girls' education and modern-day slavery, having held various roles at School Home Support, Anti-Slavery International and Plan International in London, UK. She completed a Master's degree in Non-Profit Development Management and is dedicating her spare time to initiate and develop new non-profit projects in Romania and the US.

Raluca Hera

Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, Raluca moved to the United States in 1996. She fell in love with beautiful Pacific Northwest, but continued to keep close ties with her birth country and it’s culture. A graduate of the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest, Computer Science, she has spent all of her adult life around computers, but has always cultivated other interests like art, fashion and travel. Raluca is at the beginning of her ARCS journey, but brings enthusiasm and a will to get things done supporting various projects such as the Romanian Film Festival in Seattle.

Marina Lynos

Marina moved from the small village of Bucsani, Romania to Orange County, California, when she was eight years old.  While she spoke no English at first, she quickly assimilated into the American culture, but she spent her summers with her grandparents in Romania.  She now practices business litigation at the law firm Carson & Noel PLLC in Issaquah, Washington.  Since moving to Washington, she has been searching for ways to get more involved in the Romanian community, and she was fortunate to discover the opportunities offered by ARCS.  Given her legal background, she hopes to assist ARCS with its business growth and development.  But perhaps more importantly, she looks forward to meeting more Romanian Americans, learning from each other’s experiences, and celebrating our culture.

Ioana Pop

Ioana is passionate about sharing the richness of Romanian folklore, both with the Romanian community and with the larger multi-cultural local community. She comes from a computer science background (MS in Computer Science at University of Washington, BS in Computer Science at Polytechnica University of Bucharest) and is currently working as a software engineer for Microsoft. A community coordinator for Northwest Folklife festival, she is also the co-founder of Datina Folk Ensemble, a Seattle-based non-profit that promotes traditional Romanian dance and music.

Mary Sherhart

Mary Sherhart is a Seattle-based musician who specializes in traditional singing from the Balkans. She is a performer, teacher, choir director, producer, board member and student.

Radu Simionescu

Radu is Principal Software Engineer at Microsoft. He is passionate about history and politics. ARCS’s legacy to the next generation makes him a fervent supporter. Also, he brings to our group his IT expertise by organizing and managing our technical needs.