Meet Your Florence Faculty and Staff!

Emily Woodroof

Site Director
Class: Cross Cultural Experience

Emily Woodroof joined the Lipscomb study abroad program in the summer of 2016.  She received her B.A. in French from Harding University in 2008, including a minor in Biology.  

Upon graduation, she worked for one year at Harding University’s Speech and Hearing Clinic as the Office Manager.  Following her time there, she then spent two years doing mission work in Italy in collaboration with the Avanti Italia program, sponsored principally by College Church of Christ in Searcy, Arkansas.  During her time with Avanti Italia, she received an advanced certification in the Italian language from the Lorenzo de’ Medici language school in Florence, as well as completing her C1 level tests of the C.I.L.S. (Certificazione d’italiano come lingua straniera – Italian Foreign Language Certification) in June of 2011.  After a short return to the States, she then accepted the position of Assistant to the Director with Harding University's program in Florence, Italy in May of 2013, working with that program until July of 2016.

She enjoys spending her time running with her dog Zoey, riding horses, reading, and knitting.


Deby Samuels

Interim Site Director

Deby Samuels retired from Lipscomb in January 2017 after a 42-year career in marketing, the last eight years serving as the university’s senior vice president of marketing and communication. She earned a bachelors degree from Lipscomb and her master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri, spending almost half of her career in the creative departments of several advertising and PR agencies in Texas, Tennessee and Arkansas. The last 15 years of her career were spent in senior strategic marketing positions with major Nashville corporations, including Comdata and AmSurg.  As the oldest child of a career naval officer, Deby grew up in more than a dozen locations, including two foreign countries.


Dafne Mazzanti

Local Professor
Class: Renaissance Art History

Mazzanti has been teaching in study abroad programs for the last 20 years specializing in 1400 & 1500 Art, Architecture and Italian Gardens. She received her terminal degree from the Università di Firenze. She has also worked in administration as Dean of Academic Affairs for a Florentine study abroad program. Currently she teaches at Pepperdine University and has for the past 10 years. 

Dafne views the city of Florence and its art as her classroom. Her job of educator has the objective of widening your point of view, while helping you identify the implications that art history, philosophy, ideas and thinking have on the present world.


Marco Prina

Local Professor
Classes: Italian; World Literature

Prina was born and raised in Italy and spent eight years in the U.S. as an adult. During these years, he earned his Ph.D. in Italian Studies & Medieval Studies from U.C. Berkeley and has been teaching Italian language, literature and culture to English speakers since 2007. His doctoral dissertation focused on Dante’s poetry in the political, social and cultural context of medieval Florence, with special attention devoted to medieval Florentine monuments and spaces. His teaching, like his research interests, interweave various disciplines and interests to yield a multi-faceted and engaging approach to language in context.


Amanda Williams

Faculty-In-Residence (Spring 2018)
Classes: Cultural Impact of Disease

Amanda teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in scientific research methodology and microbiology.  Amanda also mentors graduate and undergraduate students in her research project studying immunoproteasome activation.  She received her BS in biology from Lipscomb in 2003, her MS in Laboratory Investigations from Vanderbilt University Medical School in 2008, and has completed her Ph.D. in Immunology from Meharry Medical College in 2017.  She attends Otter Creek Church of Christ where her family regularly volunteers with the hospitality ministry.  She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, Rick, daughter Anna (8), and son Asa (6).