Faculty

Debra Sweeney

Adjunct Professor
Areas of Expertise: 

Accent Reduction, Business Communication Skills, Cross Culture Communications, Grammar, Pronunciation, GMAT Preparation, TOEFL Preparation, Presentation Skills & Group Discussions

Courses: 

Business English Communications

Professional Bio: 

Debra Sweeney has been an instructor at Thunderbird since September of 1998 in the Executive Education Department.  She started out by teaching GMAT and TOEFL prep.  In addition, she privately tutored Thunderbird students in ESL in the early 90s.  Debra has been teaching in the Business English Communications Program since 2005.  She has extensive experience teaching international graduate students and corporate clients at Thunderbird.   She has specialized in Accent Reduction, Business Communication Skills, Cross Culture Communications, Grammar, Pronunciation, GMAT Preparation, TOEFL Preparation, Presentation Skills & Group Discussions, etc…  She has also taught executives from BP, FEMSA, Henkel, Jafra, Morinaga Foods, Cummins, ERM, Exxon Mobile, and the Universidad de Chile in Thunderbird’s Executive Education programs.

Debra’s background as an educator includes extensive experience teaching English as a Second Language to international students and professionals.  She taught English courses at CAE Global/Sabena Flight Academy to future international pilots.  She was also the proprietor of ESL by Design (English as a Second Language school) for three years and the sole proprietor of her private tutoring business for more than fourteen years.  She taught ESL and Civics for twelve years through the Phoenix High School District’s Adult Basic Education Program.

For twenty plus years, Debra has developed and taught curriculum for beginning learners to advanced learners in listening, speaking, reading and writing.  She developed curriculum in her private tutoring business, at her own school for international students (ESL by Design) and at Thunderbird.  She was in business for herself for about ten years in various areas.  In her private business, she worked with Food for the Hungry and the Lost Boys.

Debra received her Master’s Degree in International Business from Western International University in 2010.  She graduated from Daemen College in Buffalo, NY with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities.  She was also ESL certified.  

Since one of Debra’s set of grandparents only spoke Spanish, she had to learn to communicate with people from other countries since early childhood.  This experience has made it possible for her to understand the frustrations that go along with trying to learn another language.  She not only learned to speak Spanish, but also learned to speak French.  She has family members from Greece, Italy, Brazil, Korea, Ireland, and Spain.  

Debra was born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area, which also helped her learn to communicate with people from many different cultures.  The New York/New Jersey area is known as the “melting pot” of the world.  Debra moved to Arizona in 1985 with her husband.  She raised three sons with her husband.  She also has a beautiful granddaughter that she just adores.