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We are deeply saddened to let the Global Education Conference Network community know about the recent and most unexpected passing of Dr. Tonya Muro, the Executive Director of iEARN-USA. Tonya was a friend to many and an accomplished and passionate global educator who worked for several New York-based global education organizations over the years including AFS-USA and the Global Nomads Group. She became the Executive Director for iEARN-USA about two years ago and was looking forward to celebrating iEARN’s 30th anniversary at their International Conference and Youth Summit in Virginia.

Tonya had been involved in our conference efforts since 2011 and served twice as a keynote speaker. Most recently, she joined our leadership team and was an important advisor and friend to us. As many of you know, IEARN-USA has been a close partner in our work since the inception of the GEC in 2007, and our hearts go out to our friends affiliated with this organization.

Last spring I had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Tonya and World Savvy’s Dana Mortenson. We all attended the SxSXedu conference in Austin, Texas, where we shared an AirBnB. We were colleagues when we arrived, but also friends by the end as we shared our life experiences in addition to the hopes and dreams for our lives and work during our time together. We all also participated in CoSN’s Global Symposium soon after, and then iEARN-USA and World Savvy co-hosted with us our second Global Leadership Summit at IIE in May. Tonya was pivotal in securing the venue for this event, for bringing iEARN staff to support the event, and for moderating a panel of all-star global educators. At any rate, it was a luxury to spend so much time with Dana and Tonya and I wish we had been able to do it all over again this year. 

It is also important for our community to know that Tonya was also the single mother of twin seven-year-old girls whom she loved more than anything else in this world. She did not have any life insurance at the time of her death, and her children need support. If you are in a position to help, please consider donating to this Go Fund Me campaign for her girls:

For details about Tonya’s service and share memories and condolences with Tonya’s family and colleagues, please visit this page: You are also invited to donate to a memorial fund in Tonya’s name at iEARN. Another way to support iEARN and to continue Tonya’s work is by attending their conference this July:

Finally, I’ve compiled Tonya’s GEC presentations along with some photos from events here: You are welcome to browse this content, watch her recorded presentations and learn more about her work.

Like with many of you, Steve Hargadon and I are stunned by Tonya’s passing and feel that we were very fortunate to know her. We also know that her legacy and commitment to global education will live on at iEARN-USA and here in this community, she will also continue to inspire us.

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This news was very upsetting, I had known her a little though but this was memorable. Dr Tonya Muro was the moderator for my session during the Global Education Conference last year, and it was a great experience. I remember meeting her for the first time during the iEARN conference in Morocco, just a brief encounter.  I joined her PLN on Twitter and found her very active & enthusiastic about the work she did. Was looking up to learning a lot from her.

Lots of prayers for her and the entire family, may her soul rest in peace. Ameen.


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