Common Ground International’s Mission and Vision

Common Ground International helps professionals navigate bilingual environments and helps students prepare for bilingual environments. We provide industry-specific Spanish and English Language training and language services to individuals, professionals, and organizations that help remove the language and culture gaps that exist in the workplace. We help you communicate clearly with your team and with your clients so that you can operate more productively and efficiently.

What we offer

Each of Common Ground International’s language solutions are specifically designed to help individuals and companies better manage their diverse workforce, and improve their service to current and potential clientele.

We specialize in Practical and Industry Specific:

Founders & Owners

About Common Ground Int'lRory and Leslie Foster founded Common Ground International in the fall of 2001 while they were teaching Spanish at Alexander Dawson in Lafayette, Colorado.  Leslie was teaching middle school Spanish, and Rory was teaching Kindergarten – 6th Grade Spanish.

Some friends, who were about to start clinical rotations in their Doctorate of Nursing program, requested specialized Spanish classes to help them be more successful in their rotations. The medical Spanish classes were a raving success, and the idea was born to form a company dedicated to helping students and professionals use Spanish in practical settings.

Over the years the idea has expanded to include other professional industries apart from medicine, helping high school Spanish students graduate with real Spanish conversational skills, American English training for professionals around the world, document translation, and Spanish – English interpreting services.

Rory and Leslie now have a bilingual family, and a wonderful team of language professionals here in Colorado and throughout Central America that they enjoy working with as they carry out Common Ground’s mission. You can learn more about Rory Foster on Facebook, LinkedIn, & Google +.  Follow Common Ground on Facebook & Twitter

Abby Wagner – Spanish Specialist

Abby Wagner

Abby is a Colorado native who started her language journey in the classroom in the 7th grade.  She very quickly fell in the love with the Spanish language and the culture.

She continued her Spanish study throughout college and studied abroad in the Dominican Republic.  She lived with the most wonderful host family and got to speak Spanish every day.  Being immersed in the language allowed her to hone her skills while also experiencing the local culture.

Being inspired by the wonderful teachers she had in her life, she decided to take her skills back to the classroom and she currently teaches high school Spanish in Jefferson County.  She loves working with students of all ages and enjoys sharing her knowledge with any willing learner.  Since she’s not a native speaker, she is living proof that anyone can learn Spanish!

Outside the classroom, she loves to experiment in the kitchen, try new restaurants and read on her Kindle.

Burna L. Dunn- ESL Specialist

Burna L. Dunn pic

Burna’s first experience teaching ESOL was in Egypt for Egyptian managers at a Pepsi Bottling Plant. Fortunately a very innovative colleague mentored her, she had a great time, and a career was launched. Being an administrator, teacher trainer, and classroom instructor has provided her with the opportunity to continually learn from students and colleagues. Also teaching English to CEOs, newly arrived refugees, foreign students, and foreign trained medical professionals in community settings, workplaces settings and universities has been a marvelous way to learn more about the world. Burna has been a presenter at International TESOL conventions, Colorado TESOL conventions and national and state refugee conferences for the past 20 years.



Cate Phipps-Orive – Spanish Specialist

Cate Phipps Orive

Cate’s life with Spanish began when she was a little girl and first traveled to Mexico where she later ended up living for 15 years as an adult.  She has been teaching Spanish in Colorado since 2002, and she loves working with adult learners. Being able to share in the language development of adult professionals who strive to improve their skills and apply them everyday within the community is something she finds very fulfilling.Cate finds adult learning focused, fun, and very dynamic, and especially meaningful because it’s learning with a purpose and a vision! Cate is always inspired by the level of commitment she sees in class. She particularly enjoys building communities of practice that have a real effect on improving the quality of healthcare services in Colorado.

Raleigh Starbuck – Spanish Specialist

Raleigh photo

Raleigh’s interest in languages began when he was young. He would read foreign phrasebooks for fun and would memorize random words and phrases. When he started taking Spanish classes in school, he was hooked. He went on to major in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Arizona where he also minored in French and taught himself some German. He also attended graduate school at the same institution and earned his Master’s degree in Hispanic Linguistics. Raleigh has worked as a Spanish instructor at both the university and high school levels and has also worked as a freelance translator. He loves travelling and has visited Spain, France, and has taken several trips to Mexico.Raleigh loves teaching and learning foreign languages and would love to help you learn them as well. As a linguist, he has a good understanding of how people learn a language and the problems that students have in the process. He knows that learning a language can sometimes be a challenge (especially for adults), but believes it is well worth the effort and that anyone can do it with dedication and a knowledgeable teacher to guide them. He would love to get to know you and help you be successful!

During his free time, Raleigh enjoys outdoor activities and especially likes visiting the zoo. He loves animals and while at home, he often spends time taking care of his own “zoo” of many pets.

Saphire Stockman – Onsite Program Coordinator in Costa Rica

Saphire Stockman

Saphire first came to Costa Rica in 2011 to immerse herself in the Spanish language and culture through study abroad. She was a student at the University of Kansas at the time.She made the move back to Costa Rica in 2012 after graduating a proud Jayhawk, and has worked as a volunteer coordinator in Costa Rica since then. She has coordinated groups internationally in Guatemala and Peru as well. Saphire loves matching the energy, enthusiasm, and knowledge of international volunteers with local organizations communities that need support.

She has traveled extensively through the US, Central and South America. Her bucket list still includes: speaking a fourth language fluently, scuba diving, and working to someday become a FIFA soccer referee.

Sarah Goertzen – Customer Service Specialist

Sarah G

Sarah grew up in Slovenia and Colorado and loves to travel! Her mobile life has made her value being able to communicate across language and cultural barriers and is passionate about helping others do the same. She recently graduated from Wheaton College with an Interpersonal Communication degree. All of her life experiences and education have taught Sarah that no matter where you are in the world, some of the best communication happens over a cup of tea.Sarah loves anything to do with the outdoors; some of her favorite pastimes include riding bike, hiking, playing frisbee, and stargazing.



Mikkee Hall- Marketing Director

Common Ground International Marketing DirectorMikkee Hall recently relocated to Denver via Washington DC, and she loves her freelance writing and editing. She has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College. She loves being a godmother and loves to travel and only has two continents to go.

Common Ground International: Spanish and English Language Solutions