2015-16 Fellows

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Sarah E. Anthony

Director of Finance & Strategic Partnership and Ingham County Commissioner Michigan College Access Network Biography

Sarah Anthony is the Director of Finance and Strategic Partnerships for the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN). In this role, Sarah is responsible for the financial and administrative functions of the organization. Additionally, Sarah maintains existing and cultivates new college access partnerships across the state, specifically partnerships with targeted populations. She also serves as the lead contact for Local College Access Networks in Southeast Michigan. Before joining MCAN, she worked as a Legislative Assistant in the Michigan House of Representatives, where she assisted the Higher Education Appropriations Committee. Sarah received a B.S. in Political Science/Legal Studies from Central Michigan University and an M.P.A from Western Michigan University. In 2012, Sarah was elected to public office as an Ingham County Commissioner. She currently serves as the Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee. In addition to her formal duties as an elected official, she is an active community volunteer, lending her time and talents to several nonprofit organizations in Mid-Michigan.

Ketra L. Armstrong

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Faculty Affairs and Professor University of Michigan Biography

Ketra L. Armstrong is currently the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs and Faculty Affairs, Professor of Sport Management in the School of Kinesiology, and an Affiliate Faculty in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Michigan (U-M). Prior to her employment at U-M, Ketra served as the Director and Professor of the Graduate Program in Sport Management at California State University, Long Beach, and as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Sport Management at The Ohio State University. Ketra’s scholarship converges on the topics of race, gender, and the social psychology of sport/leisure consumption and the management thereof. In addition to Ketra’s scholarly pursuits, she has amassed a wealth of practical experience in the sport industry. She is a former NCAA Division I scholarship student athlete (basketball player), coach (women’s basketball), and athletic administrator. Over the years, she has performed integral roles in the advising/consulting, research, management, marketing, and media relations for numerous youth, community, collegiate, professional, and international sport events. Ketra is also a freelance sport broadcaster, and received the 2001 Newsmaker of the Year Award from the Columbus, Ohio Association of Black Journalists. In 2009, she was the narrator and co-Executive Producer of Title IX: Implications for Women in Sport and Education (a 3- Disc, 14 chapter DVD), and in 2010 she received the Honorary Guiding Woman in Sport Award. She is presently the Faculty Advisor for the UM Student Chapter of the Association for Women in Sport Media.

Sofía Bahena

Senior Education Associate Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) Biography

Sofía Bahena is a Senior Education Associate at the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) in San Antonio, Texas, a non-profit organization committed to strengthening public schools to ensure equity of educational opportunity for every child. Prior to her work at IDRA, Sofía completed her doctoral studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research interests include understanding the contexts that support the academic achievement and educational attainment of Latino students in the United States. During her tenure at Harvard, she served as an editor for the Harvard Educational Review, where she also co-edited a book, Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline. In addition, she collaborated with the Hispanic College Fund to do a preliminary assessment of their summer college-preparation program. Previously, Sofía has been a policy and research assistant at the Alliance for Excellent Education (Washington, DC) and an AmeriCorps VISTA school partnership coordinator for the Greater Homewood Community Cooperation (Baltimore, Maryland). Sofía holds a B.A. in business administration and sociology from Trinity University, an Ed.M. in human development and psychology, and an Ed.D. in cultures, communities, and education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Candice L. Bledsoe

Director and Founder Cutting Edge Action Research Center Biography

Candice Bledsoe is the Director of the Cutting Edge Youth Action Research Center and Poetic Diamonds in Dallas, Texas. She has over 15 years of experience in education. Her interests are underrepresented students, diversity, and higher education. Candice is the recipient for the 2013 SMU Women’s Symposium Profiles of Community Leadership Award. She is a previous National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Fellow and Embrey Human Rights Fellow. Candice received a Doctorate in Education from The University of Southern California. She graduated with her master’s of liberal studies from Southern Methodist University, where she now is a faculty member. She completed her undergraduate studies at Baylor University.

Dilip A. Das

Assistant Vice Provost University of Michigan Biography

Dilip Das began his career as a high school life sciences teacher at an international school in India. For 12 years he directed environmental education programs at three nature centers in two states, Illinois and Connecticut. Since 2003, he has been focused on administering higher education access and success initiatives at the University of Michigan. Specific areas of attention have included access and success for current and prospective students in one or more of the following categories: lower-income, middle-income, first generation college, underrepresented minority, community college transfer, or undocumented status.

Cynthia D. Dávalos

Office of the Vice Chancellor – Student Affairs University of California San Diego Biography

Cynthia Dávalos holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Barbara and the University of San Diego. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Leadership Studies with a focus on higher education leadership from the University of San Diego, School of Leadership and Education Sciences. Cynthia began her career in higher education in 1998 working closely with outreach, admissions, scholarships and financial aid, and academic advising and programming. In 2005 she began her career at UC San Diego serving as the Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor Student Affairs. In this capacity, Cynthia oversees special initiatives, community relations, and strategies that promote collaborations between Student Affairs and the larger campus. Cynthia’s accomplishments at UC San Diego include assisting in the establishment of the office for undocumented student services, parent and family programs, and the infrastructure of a retention program for select scholarship recipients from diverse backgrounds. In 2014 she co-created a summer STEM program with faculty and staff to attract underrepresented students to UC San Diego. In addition, she has created and co-taught a 13-week course to visiting Chinese student affairs practitioners studying English and American Higher Education at UC San Diego Extension. This partnership has fostered new relationships and exchanges between both groups.

Edith Fernández

Associate Vice President Nevada State College Biography

Edith Fernández is a proven administrative professional skilled in building relationships with community leaders and elected government officials. She has substantial experience in the field of higher education with expertise in institutional research, student success initiatives, and strategic collaborations as well as significant marketing and organizational leadership skills. As District Director for Congressman Steven Horsford, she monitored federal legislation and integrated the Congressman’s legislative plan with district activities. Edith recently joined Nevada State College as an Associate Vice President. Her career in higher education spans twenty years working with community college and university students with experience in financial aid, admissions, academic advising, service learning, study abroad, residence life and student life. Edith is a quantitative and qualitative researcher. She has been a principal investigator for research projects focused on intercultural competence, intercultural learning skills, and civic engagement on a global scale. Her current research focuses on student achievement and Hispanic-Servicing Institutions. As a result of these experiences, Edith has been sought out for numerous keynote engagements and is known for leading inspiring leadership and development trainings. Edith has received recognition for excellence in diversity and recipient of Ally of the Year for her dedication to social justice. As an Emerge Nevada alumna, Edith is known as a leader who brings a new perspective and just solutions to social and economic problems.

Jorge F. Figueroa

Associate Professor Universidad del Este Biography

For the last 15 years, Jorge F. Figueroa has been involved with higher education occupying different teaching, administrative, and leadership positions. He is currently an Associate Professor for English and TESOL in the School of Social and Human Sciences at Universidad del Este where he prepares learners to achieve proficiency in acquiring English as a second language and works directly with future or current educators, at the undergraduate/graduate level, in the training and development of competencies directed to the use of educational technology and new trends like gamification and game based learning. Some of his teaching experiences include providing teaching training at the graduate and doctoral level for institutions. In addition he is certified as a b-learning and e-learning instructor. Jorge’s tenure in higher education includes several administrative appointments. He was the person in charge to develop and direct the Student Leadership Institute at Universidad del Este, a project devoted to provide co-curricular training in leadership to students from Universidad del Este. He ran that project for 4 years. Other administrative experiences include Marketing Coordinator and Integrated Services Coordinator for Universidad del Turabo. He has served and chaired many institutional committees at Universidad del Este. Some of these include the MSCHE re-accreditation committee, the distributed learning committee, among others.

Thomas J. Hernández

Professor & Chair, Department of Counselor Education The College at Brockport Biography

Thomas Hernández has served as a counselor, administrator, advisor, career counselor, and professor at colleges in the Western New York area for almost thirty years. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Rochester in Philosophy and Psychology and subsequently completed his M.S. and Doctor of Education degrees at the same institution. Thomas’ doctoral dissertation, entitled, The Concept of Career of Latinas in the Higher Education Machine, had him focusing his efforts on an understanding of the conceptualization of “career” Puerto-Rican American women in colleges and the ultimate effect of this notion on the career development process. In addition to his role as a faculty member, Thomas has served as Associate Dean and Interim Dean for the School of Education and Human Services at the College at Brockport. Professionally, he is also a member of the American Counseling Association, The National Career Development Association, and the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development. Thomas’ current research continues in areas of difference in the counseling process. Particularly of interest are issues of gender, culture, and disability in the social context in which we live. This includes a serious interest in the use of these conceptual notions in our society, and thus in our practice as counselors, and counselor educators. Thomas has taught courses in Career Counseling, Career Development Concepts, Individual Counseling Concepts, The Organization and Administration of Higher Education, and Psychopathology.

Christopher Jenkins

Assistant Dean for Academic Support Oberlin Conservatory Biography

Christopher Jenkins has served as Assistant Dean for Academic Support in Oberlin Conservatory since August of 2014. Previously, he served as Deputy Director and viola instructor at the Barenboim-Said Foundation in the city of Ramallah, located in the West Bank. He was Dean of the Sphinx Performance Academy for seven years and founding violist of the Catalyst Quartet, Sphinx’s chamber ensemble. Chris holds a master’s degree in viola performance from New England Conservatory and a master’s degree in international relations and public policy from Columbia University.

Omar S. López

Assistant Professor Texas State University Biography

Omar S. López is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Occupational, Workforce, and Leadership Studies (OWLS) in the College of Applied Arts at Texas State University. OWLS programs prepare nontraditional students for careers through high-quality academic, professional, and technical programs that include credits from prior learning such as work/life experience; credit for non-collegiate instruction; and credit by exam. Omar grew up in south Texas along the border in the Rio Grande Valley, in one of the poorest counties in the U.S. His daily observations of the effects from poverty on children and families left a definitive mark on his career decisions. Omar’s academic training includes the physical sciences, management, and education. This prepared him to work in different sectors as engineer, business consultant, and education policy researcher. While these occupations provided a way to make a living, his south Texas experiences gave him the passion to seek a meaningful life where his work could focus on using transdisciplinary methodologies to solve some of the thorniest problems confronting society’s most vulnerable populations. The result is that his publications are diverse, having published in the fields of educational technology, economics of education, teacher education accountability, higher education sustainability, and family studies. Omar earned his BSA from Trinity University, an MBA from the University of California at Irvine, and an MSBA in strategic planning from the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. in strategy and educational policy from the Public School Executive Leadership Program in the College of Education, The University of Texas at Austin. He resides in Round Rock, Texas with his wife, Marta Helena and they have two children, Gabriela and Diego.

Magdalena Martinez

Director, Education Programs University of Nevada Las Vegas, Lincy Institute Biography

Magdalena Martinez joined The Lincy Institute in September 2013 as the Director of Education Programs. Prior to UNLV, she served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the Nevada System of Higher Education. In her role she was responsible for strengthening P-16 education partnerships and examining education policy in order to increase access, equity, and success for underrepresented student populations. As Assistant Vice Chancellor she was responsible for the successful development and implementation of statewide college access grants from the U.S. Department of Education (College Access Challenge Grant) and private grants (USA Funds). In addition she worked closely with the Nevada Department of Education to develop and implement the Nevada statewide GEAR UP grant ($21 million) which serves low-income students. Magdalena’s experience also includes working at the National Forum of Higher Education for the Public Good at the University of Michigan. This initiative focuses on the role of higher education and the public good by examining the intersection of leadership and public policy. In addition, she served as a program evaluator for a three-year, W.K. Kellogg Foundation funded leadership program to prepare individuals for the presidency at minority serving institutions (HBCUs, HSIs, TCUs). Magdalena’s research interests encompass three interconnected areas focused on student access and success for underrepresented students, the role of community colleges, leadership and public policy to increase postsecondary access and success. Magdalena holds a Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan, a master’s of education from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science in business from the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Mahirami Meléndez-Burgos

Professor Universidad del Este, Puerto Rico Biography

Mahirami Meléndez-Burgos is the Director of the Student Leadership Institute at Universidad del Este in Puerto Rico. Currently, she is about to finish her doctoral studies in educational leadership. She is very passionate about communications and public relations studies. In addition, she enjoys studying about social media as an efficient way to do marketing and as a way to communicate with college students. Right now her line of investigation is about the use of Facebook as an academic tool in higher education in Puerto Rico.

Catalina Ormsby

Associate Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) University of Michigan Biography

Catalina Ormsby is Associate Director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) at the University of Michigan. Among her core responsibilities, she develops academic programming and strategies for recruiting and engaging diverse students in programs such as community college transfer student initiatives. She is passionate about serving underrepresented students and providing them with tools and resources to maximize their potential while learning skills necessary for navigating their academic and social environments during their time on campus and beyond. She teaches an undergraduate course that explores current research in Latino studies at the University of Michigan. She serves as an adjunct lecturer at the School of Social Work where she teaches a graduate course designed to give graduate students a foundation in the awareness and knowledge for understanding diversity and social justice issues through dialogue. In addition, Catalina is involved with campus climate initiatives and is committed to fostering inclusive and welcoming environments for students. Prior to her current role, she was a Senior Financial Analyst for the College of Literature Science and the Arts Dean’s Office and served as the business manager for the National Center for Institutional Diversity. She attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Colombia and finished her bachelor’s degree with honors at Eastern Michigan University. She received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy. She is particularly interested in access to higher education, adaption, and retention of students of color.

Eva Serrano

Assistant Professor and Director, Latino Initiative Aurora University Biography

Eva Serrano is an Assistant Professor at Aurora University (AU) and Director of AU’s Latino Initiative. She holds a Doctor of Education degree from Northern Illinois University (2009), an MBA from the University of Dallas (1987), a Bachelor of Arts degree from Mundelein College of Loyola University (1983), and an Associate of Arts degree from Morton College (1981). Eva is also a graduate of Harvard University’s JFK School of Government Executive Education Program (2005). Eva is a faculty fellow of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, and a fellow of the National Hispana Leadership Institute, ENLACE Leadership Institute, and Leadership Greater Chicago. She also completed executive training programs at the Center for Creative Leadership and Gallup Leadership Institute. Eva has experience in community-based organizations and higher education. Prior to joining Aurora University in 2004, she directed a U.S. Department of Education Title V Grant targeting Hispanic student success, and was a fellow in the USDA’s Hispanic Serving Institutions National Fellows Program. From 1987-2000, Eva held leadership positions with the following non-profit organizations: El Valor, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, and Girl Scouts of the USA (Whispering Oaks Council). Eva teaches first-year undergraduate courses at AU in Latino Studies, and has also taught graduate courses. In addition to teaching responsibilities, Eva serves as the AU faculty advisor to the Latin American Student Organization (LASO). In 2004, Eva co-authored with Ms. Sylvia Puente and Dr. Martha Zurita, Strategies for Success: Cicero Education Forum Summary (University of Notre Dame, Institute for Latino Studies). Research interests include Latino/a student retention and graduation in higher education, the advancement of Latinos in higher education, and leadership development.

Nelson E. Soto

Vice President for Academic Affairs Union Institute & University Biography

Nelson Soto serves as the vice president for academic affairs at Union Institute & University. He provides leadership to assure the quality of the university’s academic programs, advancing the university’s mission of engaging, enlightening, and empowering students and continuing development of enrollment. “My vision for Union Institute & University is to have the theme of social responsibility permeate our curriculum and interdisciplinary scholarship, to provide an innovative space for faculty to explore new ideas to enhance curriculum and course offerings that parallel to current technological trends, and to foster an environment for thoughtful educators— individuals who inspire and teach learners to pursue their career aspirations and contribute to our global society.” Nelson came to Union Institute & University from Harrison College, Indianapolis, where he served as associate provost and vice president for curriculum and instruction from 2010 to 2013. Prior to Harrison College, he served as an assistant dean in the graduate office at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) from 2008 to 2010 and as an instructional development specialist at IUPUI’s Center for Teaching and Learning from 2005 to 2008. Nelson served on the faculty at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the School of Education; at Indiana University, College of Arts and Sciences; University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Education; and the University of Cincinnati, University College. He holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies from Indiana University, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Cincinnati. His dissertation research focused on teachers’ perceptions and beliefs of Latino middle school (im)migrants, particularly rural communities that witnessed an increase in Latino/a immigrants.

Alexander Villalobos

Sergeant of Criminal Investigation Texas State University Biography

Alex Villalobos is a Police Sergeant, supervising the Criminal Investigations Division at the Texas State University Police Department. Alex Villalobos received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice and his graduate degree in public administration. He is an 8-year veteran of law enforcement and has taught basic self-defense for 6 years. Alex is a certified law enforcement instructor and seasoned criminal investigator. He has served the Texas State Hispanic Policy Network (HPN) as Secretary, President Elect, and Currently as President. Alex’s areas of teaching and research interests are race and ethnicity studies, immigration, policy evaluation, public administration, intelligence analysis, threat assessment, emergency management, self-defense tactics, and criminal investigation.

Mary Ann Villarreal

Director, Strategic Initiatives & University Project California State University Fullerton Biography

As Director, Strategic Initiatives and University Projects at California State University, Fullerton, Mary Ann Villarreal manages the implementation, execution, and coordination of the university’s strategic plan. She joined the university staff in June 2014, having previously served as Associate Dean at the University of Denver – Colorado Women’s College. There she oversaw the college’s enrollment management team and four degree programs: Business Administration, Law and Society, Communication, and Information Technology Studies. Mary Ann previously held tenure track positions at the University of Utah and University of Colorado at Boulder. Her research focuses on South Texas and the formation of a Texas Mexican identity through the lens of business. Her teaching areas include oral history, the American West, and Chicano/a history. Villarreal has published in The Oral Historian and the Journal of Women’s History and book chapters in An American Story: Mexican American Entrepreneurship and Wealth Creation and Border Rhetorics: Citizenship and Identity on the US-Mexico Frontier. Her manuscript, “Listening to Rosita: The Business of Tejana Music and Culture, 1930-1955” is under contract with the University of Oklahoma Press. A 2013 HERS Wellesley fellow, Villarreal earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College and Ph.D. from Arizona State University.

Brian S. Yandell

Professor of Statistics & Horticulture Chair of Statistics University of Wisconsin-Madison Biography

Brian Yandell works on a variety of problems related to statistical genomics, with the goal of unraveling the complex relationships between observable traits (such as flowering time or clinical signs of diabetes) and molecular signals (mRNA expression, protein and metabolite levels, etc.). His primary interest in statistical methodology has evolved into development of informatics platforms that allow biologists and data analysts to share data and algorithms. This work includes model selection for gene mapping (QTL), expression hotspot analysis and causal phenotype models.

Yolanda Zepeda

Assistant Provost, Office of Diversity and Inclusion The Ohio State University Biography

Yolanda Zepeda is assistant provost for Diversity and Inclusion. In her work, she advocates for a more diverse and inclusive campus, overseeing a broad set of programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and coordinating diversity efforts in partnership with academic units on campus. Yolanda also actively nurtures community partnerships to promote best practices for recruiting and supporting the success of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. The targeted programs that she oversees support single parent students, leadership development for women of color, LGBTQ students, Latina and Latino student success, and students in STEM disciplines. She also manages publications for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, including the Drum and ¿Qué Pasa, OSU? magazines. Prior to joining the staff of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Yolanda worked at the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the academic consortium of the Big Ten Universities. There she led academic collaborations, particularly those in the area of international education, Asian American and American Indian Studies, and graduate education and diversity.