Executive Bios

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Rochelle Mathias 

Founder and CEO 

Rochelle Mathias  brings over 30 years of expertise in e-commerce and business start-ups together with her core belief that high-quality education is the main determining factor of future success in life. She founded Mother’s English in 2017 on the principle that globalization necessitates a common shared language and that all students, regardless of socio-economic status, should have access to the educational supports necessary to become English fluent. Under her leadership, ME has grown from a handful of volunteers operating in a private kindergarten program at TongLiGong to 250 volunteers working across several public primary school programs in Dalian. Her current focus is on expanding English speaking opportunities to primary students in Shenyang, Changchun, Chengdu and Chongqing. 

She is the Deputy Assistant Governor for NE China Rotary International and she serves on the executive committee American Chamber of Commerce China Northeast chapter. Through these leadership roles, she strives to connect the international business community, university and high school students, and local citizens to volunteer opportunities that create a deeper sense of community and enhance the English learning experience for primary students of China. 


A Canadian citizen living in Dalian for the past seven years, her family business takes her all over the world but Rochelle’s favorite pastime is meeting new people over a good glass of wine at one of the many excellent establishments in Dalian.  

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Lilian Li (Li Ning) 

Operations Manager Northeast 

Lilian Li  is a native of Dalian with a career background in the American education system. She was an operations manager for a private American K-12 education company in San Diego, CA for several years serving as a liaison to Chinese high schools across China.  

This experience gave her a foundation of knowledge in the key differences between the Sino-U.S. education systems and a deep appreciation for what she sees as the “core value” of education, which is respecting students wherever they are in the learning continuum and helping them become more open-minded and confident. She also believes that education should never be for profit but solely for student success. 

She serves as ME’s liaison between volunteers and each ME public program and leads recruitment, training, and organization of volunteers. She also supports the development of classroom teaching materials to support students in their acquisition of English-speaking proficiency.  

For Lilian, the most important inheritance she can give her 10-year-old son is by modeling volunteering so that he can learn the invaluable spirit of giving back to his community. She hopes that one day he will be a mentor and volunteer to students in China.  

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Helen Wu (Wu Liping) 

Educational Consultant  

Helen Wu  brings over 20 years English teaching experience to her role as an educational consultant for Mother’s English. She has a wide range of experience studying, speaking, and teaching English. She has taught English at all academic levels, including pre-school through university. Most recently, she was an English teacher at DaLian University. 

She has professional experience providing business English training for the employees of international companies Inabata & Co., Ltd. and Moba Beijing Co. As the CFO for AMMAT and Kruger & Associates, LLC she used English to communicate with colleagues and foreign clients. 

Helen organizes the ME English program at TongLiGong in KaiFaQu and trains and works with the volunteers there. She enjoys seeing her students succeed in English and believes the multiculturalism of the volunteers enhance the students’ learning experience. 

When Helen isn’t in the classroom, she spends her free time with her five-year-old daughter, Juniper. They enjoy spending time together singing karaoke, learning to play songs on the Ukulele, reading books and watching Juniper’s favorite movies together.  

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Susanne Smith 

Director of Communications 

Susanne Smith  brings more than 25 years of experience in the public affairs sector to Mother’s English, including a background in communications, education, fundraising, project management, and strategic planning. 


She leads strategic and tactical communications for ME and is the lead writer for ME’s outreach efforts. As a writer, her work has been published both in print and online for various publications in the United States and China. 


She is based in Portland, Oregon after living 6 years in Dalian, China where she coordinated a volunteer program to deliver English language instruction to children at the Dalian Orphanage. Before living in Dalian, she was the director of communications for the Oregon Department of Education where she led public outreach efforts to increase achievement standards for Oregon’s K-12 students.  


She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Radford University in Virginia and a master’s degree in political science from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and has served on multiple fundraising and advocacy committees relating to children’s safety and education. 


When Susanne isn’t advocating for ME, you will find her on the hiking trail or reading a good book. She is a volunteer mediator for the Portland community and court systems. 


Sarah Rose Higbee-Tindell  

Operations Manager Southwest 

Sarah Higbee-Tindell is a Chongqing transplant, having moved there in 2015 as part of the United States Peace Corps. Following Peace Corps service, a year in Dalian introduced her to Mother’s English as a volunteer, and when life took her back to Chongqing she decided she should take Mother’s English with her!


In the Peace Corps, Sarah taught undergraduate students oral English and Western culture, sought to understand her students’ lives more deeply, and worked with her fellow volunteers to create a more healthy volunteer community through work on peer-support and crisis response committees. Since then she has been working in early childhood education in Dalian and Chongqing, China. This wide variety of educational and professional contexts has given her an intergenerational and cross-socioeconomic understanding of English education in China.


She holds bachelor’s degrees in anthropology and East Asian languages and literatures and certificates in teaching English as a second language and international relations, from the University of Florida and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in international relations with a concentration in international development as a Coverdell fellow at American University.


In her spare moments you may find Sarah learning Spanish, on a nighttime run along the Jialing River, or up one of Chongqing’s winding alleyways searching for a new café to study at.