Jason Alves, is the Director of Veterans Initiatives at WICHE. Bringing to the Behavioral Health programs over 13 years of service to Veterans in public and community led mental health. He serves as implementation manager for the Together with Veterans rural veteran suicide prevention program, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain MIRECC. Previously, he served as president of Washington State Chapter for the Farmer Veteran Coalition, Programs Manager for the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs. Alves utilized his G.I. Bill and received his B. S. in Political Science from the University of Oregon and M.P.A. in Public Non-Profit management from The Evergreen State College.
Sherri Artz Gilbert, assistant director of operations and member services for WCET, has been with WICHE since 1999. Her principal responsibilities include preparing and managing the budget, coordinating the membership effort, and database maintenance. Previously, she worked for the Reading Musical Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and facilitates music education and appreciation to preserve and develop musical experience and culture in Berks County, Pa. While there she was responsible for donor management and administration of the Blues in the Schools program. She received a B.S./B.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania with a major in management and marketing. Originally from Pennsylvania Dutch country, Sherri currently resides above 9,200 feet in the Colorado mountains with her husband and two dogs.
Tom Barrett has been doing human services program evaluation for most of his forty-year professional career. He was the first program evaluator for Bethesda Community Mental Health Center in Denver. He also supervised state-wide program evaluation services when he was the Mental Health Director for the state of Colorado. He conducted international mental health program evaluation activities when he was senior medical office for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Barrett co-authored “Human Services Program Evaluation: How to Improve Your Accountability and Program Effectiveness” which summarizes a variety of program evaluation techniques including cost benefit analysis. He was also co-director of the Colorado Legislative Task Force on people with mental illness in jails and prisons. This task force was responsible for developing legislation to address the serious problem of people with mental illness in Colorado Correctional Facilities. Dr. Barrett authored an article (with R. Slaughter and C. Jarrett) on “People with Mental Illness in Jails and Prisons – Colorado’s Model for Changing the System”, Spectrum: The Journal of State Government, Fall 2004.
Dr. Barrett has been the program evaluation consultant for the Colorado
Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) for two federal grants (Renaissance Services
Enhancement Team and the Dual Disorder Outreach Team). He is currently
the independent assessor for the Kresge Program Related Investment for the CCH.
One of the requirements of the Kresge Program Related Investment is an
independent assessment of the social outcomes that CCH is achieving. The
social outcomes include both residential stability improvement outcomes and
system cost reduction outcomes. The system cost reduction outcomes
include: reduction in detox use, reduction in emergency use, reduction in
hospitalization and reduction in emergency shelter use. As the
independent assessor, Dr. Barrett is responsible for verifying the accuracy of
the data collection and analysis completed by CCH. In addition, Dr. Barrett has
been the program evaluation consultant for a cost benefit study on the Dual
Disorder Outreach Team (DDOT) at CCH. This evaluation is examining the
cost of publicly funded services such as shelter costs, hospital costs, detox
facility expenses, jail expenses, and prison expenses. These cost savings are
then compared with the cost of providing program services to determine if there
has been a cost savings.
Barrett also serves as an adjunct professor at the DU’s Graduate School of
Professional Psychology (GSPP), an accredited program that has offered a Doctor
of Psychology degree since 1976. GSPP faculty have been awarded a number of
grants over the past few years, providing students with excellent opportunities
to develop their research and evaluation skills under the supervision of experienced
faculty members. Program evaluation projects are particularly germane to the
students’ development as practitioner-scholars: the emphasis on identifying,
operationalizing, and supporting clients’ short- and long-term goals;
developing practical, relevant outcomes; and appropriately conveying findings
and recommendations helps students master sustainable skills that will serve
them well throughout their careers.
Genevieve Berry is the Project Manager for the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MP-MHTTC), a WICHE project that operates in partnership with the University of North Dakota. Genevieve received her B.A. in psychology from Memphis University. Prior to joining the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team, Genevieve worked for the state of Colorado on the Multi-Use Network Project (MNT) and The Next Mile project, where she developed communications strategies and served as the liaison to rural communities, for each of the state funded broadband programs. In this capacity, she traveled the state presenting each of the projects to various rural communities and learning firsthand about the unique obstacles rural communities encounter when trying to implement and use broadband. For the past three years she worked for the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado. In her role as the Content and Community Outreach Manager, she was responsible for all external communications, website content and design, and she managed the Annual Coleman conference. For over three years, Genevieve worked to develop accessible content and products for people with cognitive disabilities and the communities who serve them.
Peace Bransberger leads the production and analysis of WICHE’s projections of high school graduates, research on the use of administrative holds, and other transfer, equitable college access, success and financing initiatives. Previously, Peace was a consultant and evaluation researcher with the Aspen Institute’s Economic Opportunities and Workforce Strategies Initiatives and Westat, in Washington, DC. Peace is a former foster youth and was the first in her family to graduate, with an M.A. from the American University in Washington, DC, B.A. from St. Cloud State University, in Minnesota and an adult educator license.
Erin Briley is the School Mental Health Coordinator for the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center Network (MHTTC) as well as a Technical Assistant Associate for WICHE’s Behavioral Health Program. As the school mental health lead, her work focuses on providing intensive technical assistance, resources, and training to school staff on ways to support school-based mental health. As a Technical Assistant Associate, her work is primarily focused on assisting the creation and implementation of Psychology Internship Consortiums in rural western states. Ms. Briley has over 20 years of experience working in the schools, serving primarily as a school psychologist for school districts in California, Hawaii, and Colorado while providing direct and indirect supports for children ages 3 through 22 of all developmental levels. Ms. Briley has also served temporarily as a special education as well as a School Based Behavioral Health program administrator, and also trained and supervised paraprofessionals providing individualized supports to children with special needs. Ms. Briley has extensive experience with psycho-educational evaluations; classroom and individual behavioral management; conducting Functional Behavioral Assessment and creating Behavioral Support Plans; special education legal mandates and rights related to IDEA and Section 504; as well as learning needs and accommodations to support. Ms. Briley earned her Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University, her Master’s in Counseling/School Psychology and a Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at California State University Los Angeles and is working on her PhD (ABD) in Clinical Psychology; she is also a Nationally Certified School Psychologist.
Ray Burgman Gallegos began serving as the Vice President, Programs and Services in October 2021. In this role, she increases student access to high-quality postsecondary education and fosters collaborations between institutions. The Programs and Services unit has four regional student access programs, which include the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), and the Online Course Exchange (OCE). It also manages the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders, the Western Academic Leadership Forum, and Interstate Passport ®. The unit also partners with Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) to provide institutions cost savings through four programs—the Master Property Program, MHECare Student Insurance Solutions, MHECtech, and Cyber Insurance. Previously, Burgman Gallegos served as director of programs and research at HERS (Higher Education Resource Services), a non-profit leadership development organization focused on women who work in postsecondary settings, for eight years. She also served as an administrator at DePauw University, located in Greencastle, IN, in Academic Affairs and the Office of the President and at New College of Florida, located in Sarasota, FL. Burgman Gallegos was also a tenured professor in economics and management at DePauw University. She also taught at two other institutions in Florida, Santa Fe College and the University of South Florida-St. Peterburg. She received a B.A. in Economics from New College of Florida and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Florida, located in Gainesville, FL.
Rosa Calabrese has been with WICHE since 2014. As the manager of digital and project support services for WCET, she is responsible for creating and maintaining WCET’s digital assets, and undertakes web and graphic design of WCET and its initiatives. Before coming to WICHE, she worked as a program assistant at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. She received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Denver, where she studied electronic media arts design and sociology. Outside of work, she can be found volunteering with both cats and dogs at a local animal shelter.
Madison Chamberlain is the Data Specialist for the Behavioral Health Program. Chamberlain received a Certificate in Data Analytics and Visualization from University of Denver in 2020, and her B.S. in Cellular Molecular Biology and minor in Psychology from Fort Lewis College in 2015. Prior to joining WICHE, Chamberlain has worked for non-profit and private organizations in Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapy, Special Education, and Health Care.
Dave Clark is WICHE’s chief of digital services. In this role, he contributes to and oversees all operational, tactical, and strategic IT operations and initiatives. His work experiences include research associate at UC San Diego (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), where he supported various geology/geophysics departments with network design and implementation, programming interfaces to geophysical equipment, and system/network administration; senior network engineer and director of IT at Cable Labs (where the cable modem specification was born), and director of infrastructure for two managed services/hosting service providers. Dave earned his bachelor’s in geology (University Honors Program) from the University of Delaware. His hobbies include drumming (since age 7), fossil/mineral collecting, and enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors.
Margo Colalancia directs WICHE’s student access programs – WUE, WRGP and PSEP– which provide access to a broad range of higher education options for 45,000+ students. Previously she served as associate project director for a trinational consortium of Mexican, Canadian and U.S. universities and colleges. She holds a bachelor’s in business French from the University of Colorado and the Université de Bordeaux III, and a master’s in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Colalancia spent seven years in Gabon, Central Africa, teaching English as a foreign language with the Peace Corps and on private contract with the Gabonese Ministry of Education.
Emilie Cook joined the Every Learner Everywhere team in April 2021. Emilie is also an adjunct professor for the Salisbury University Perdue School of Business where she teaches marketing and has implemented adaptive courseware. She began her marketing career at T. Rowe Price working for the global investments division and later the corporate marketing and communications division. Succeeding her career at T. Rowe Price, she became the events coordinator at the University of Maryland’s office of enrollment management. Upon relocating to Bethany Beach, DE, she joined the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce as the marketing & communications manager, transitioned to the D3 Marketing Agency, and most recently served as the marketing director for the Off the Hook Restaurant Group. Emilie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Dickinson College, and a Master of Science in Marketing from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.
Laura DaVinci has dedicated her career to helping increase educational outcomes for underrepresented students through innovative approaches and grant-funded programs. As the program manager for Every Learner Everywhere, she works with a strong network of partners committed to improving educational outcomes through technology-enhanced education. Prior to joining the Every Learner Everywhere team, Laura was the grants manager for Aims Community College, taught computer science, held multiple TRIO positions, and managed multiple international educational grants funded by the European Commission. She earned her M.B.A from Eastern New Mexico University, and her bachelor’s degree in international business in Romania.
Jasmine Davis is currently working as a Research Assistant for the NIMH Rural Monograph grant. Davis is a second-year Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the University of Denver. Davis received her B.A. in psychology from Saint John Fisher College and her M.S. in marriage and family therapy from the University of Rochester.
Van Davis has served as Chief Strategy Officer for WCET and Service Design and Strategy Officer for Every Learner Everywhere since 2021. As Chief Strategy Officer for WCET, he leads the organization’s strategy and planning work as well as coordinates WCET’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work and provides research and policy analysis assistance. As Service Design and Strategy Officer for Every Learner Everywhere, Van leads the development and implementation of new services and professional learning opportunities for use at higher education institutions. Previously, Van served as principal at Foghlam Consulting. Van has spent over twenty years in higher education in a number of roles including associate vice president at Blackboard Inc., director of innovation at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and a faculty member and academic administrator at several universities. Van received his M.A. and Ph.D. in 20th century United States history with an emphasis on civil rights from Vanderbilt University and his B.A. in history from Southwestern University.
Margie DeAnda is an administrative assistant for the federal grant program, Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Center. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration with concentrations in finance and marketing/sales from Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Margie enjoys hiking the mountains of Colorado and spending time with her family including a spunky Shih Tzu named Yo-Yo.
Liliana Diaz Solodukhin, policy analyst with WICHE, works on a diverse range of activities including conducting and communicating policy research on a wide array of higher education-related topics, developing and sustaining relationships with external stakeholders, and conceptualizing and executing short- and long-term collaborative projects with states. Diaz received her B.S. in journalism and mass communication, B.A. in film studies, and a certificate in Technology, Arts, and Media from the University of Colorado at Boulder, earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Denver.
Cheryl Dowd serves as the Senior Director, State Authorization Network and WCET Policy Innovations, and Cyber Fellow for WICHE. Dowd directs the activities and research to manage State and Federal regulatory compliance requirements for the out of state activities of the member institutions. As Cyber Fellow, Dowd is developing relationships with national education and security agencies to develop institutional data protection, privacy resources, and training opportunities to share with the WICHE community. Dowd earned her JD from the University of Richmond, MS in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University, and BS in Political Science from James Madison University.
Lindsey Downs is manager of communications for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and has a background in communications, marketing, instructional design, higher education,and educational technology. She holds a M.Ed. in adult and higher education and a certification in college teaching from Montana State University, and is a certified instructional designer. Lindsey’s interests include teaching with technology, effective classroom facilitation, training, and classroom design.When not enjoying her work, Lindsey spends time in beautiful Helena, Mont. with her husband, boxer dog Piper, and cat Boo. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @lindsey0427.
Madison Dupre is a proud Colorado State University graduate with a degree in Technical Science Communication and Graphic Design. She is currently completing a Masters in Theology. After a season as 3rd generation teacher, Madison is proud to work for the betterment of education in the western United States through WICHE.
Outside of work, Madison is a passionate reader, runner, and gardener. She also plays several instruments including piano, cello, and guitar.
Laura Ewing has been with WICHE since 2007 and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the President and to the 48 member Commission that governs WICHE. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Public Relations from Graceland University in Lamoni, IA. Community service is important to Laura. Most recently, she served and led the board of a local performing arts nonprofit for several years, and is an active volunteer with ministry programs.
Colleen Falkenstern serves as a research analyst in WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit. In her role, she supports the development of WICHE’s annual data resources—Regional Fact Book for Higher Education in the West, Benchmarks (of access and success), and Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West. She also provides analytical support for WICHE’s quadrennial projections of high school graduates, Knocking at the College Door. She received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the University of South Carolina—Columbia and a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Denver.
Joseph Garcia is the graphic designer at WICHE and spearheaded the organization’s new brand aesthetic in 2022. He is responsible for the design of numerous published works at WICHE, ensuring they have a polished appearance while effectively communicating their message. Prior to WICHE, he honed his skills in various industries throughout the Denver Metro area, including marketing, publishing, instructional design, educational technology, and journalism. He attended Metropolitan State University of Denver on a full scholarship awarded from the Rocky Mountain News where he got his start as a newspaper reporter before transitioning to graphic design. Outside of work, Joseph hosts an award-winning film review podcast with his twin brother, and is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic.
Vanessa Gonzalez is a Technical Assistance Associate for the Behavioral Health Program. She works primarily on the Rural Opioid Prevention Project, supporting the provision of TA to HRSA grantees. Additionally, Vanessa supports the coordination of activities for the Mountain Plains MHTTC. A May 2018 graduate of CU-Boulder, Vanessa earned a Double Bachelor of Arts — Biology, Environmental Studies, with Minors in Business & Communications, and a Certificate in Public Health. After completing her education accolades in four years, she is excited to join the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team.
Molly E. Hall-Martin, Ph.D. (Kul Wicasa Oyate/Lower Brule Lakota) serves as Director for the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA) where she manages the implementation, administration, and oversight of W-SARA. Prior to joining WICHE, Molly served as the Director of Student Preparation & Success for the South Dakota Board of Regents, as a staff member at Lower Brule Community College, and as an intern at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). Molly holds a B.A. in American Indian Studies from the University of North Carolina, an M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education from the University of Oklahoma, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Iowa.
Andie Hancock is a Budget Coordinator for the WICHE Behavioral Health Program. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas and has 37 years of experience in administration. She previously worked for the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department for 34 years and learned everything from flowers to financials!
Todd Helvig earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University after completing his internship at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center (UCHSC) in 2000. He began his clinical work as a Psychologist at the Colorado Department of Corrections’ Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, and became the Manager of Behavioral Health services for the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility in 2004. He supervised the work of correctional Psychologists, Social Workers, and Substance Use counselors alongside supervising the UCHSC correctional-based interns/internship. He then moved to the Division of Parole in 2007 where he was the Administrator of Community Behavioral Health Services and organized behavioral health resources in the community for offenders releasing from institutional settings who had mental health, substance use, or sex offender treatment needs. In 2013, Helvig left State correctional services to join Arapahoe Douglas Mental Health Network (ADMHN) as their Director of Business Development for community behavioral health. While developing new business opportunities for ADMHN, Helvig was also building a private consulting and coaching practice. Then, in 2018, his passion for nonprofit community behavioral health led him to CHARG Resource Center where he served as Executive Director of a consumer-centric organization supporting the social, emotional, and psychiatric programs and services for those managing chronic mental illness in Denver, Colorado.
Throughout these roles, Helvig has had the pleasure of working with a wide variety and broad scope of behavioral health programs and services. He has worked alongside both City and State leaders to identify gaps in mental health and substance use services, implement evidence based practices, and raise awareness for the needs of those for whom there are barriers to accessing services. He thrives not only on developing behavioral health resources, but on developing those professionals who are providing services, including: Doctoral Interns, Psychologist Candidates, and mental health as well as substance use treatment professionals. Helvig’s 20+ years of work in community behavioral health now joins the work of WICHE’s behavioral health unit in the goal to develop programs, processes, and professionals which create essential access to behavioral health services for all those in need.
Joyce Holliday is an administrative assistant for the Every Learning Everywhere program in the WCET unit of WICHE. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University and has 25 years of experience in administration. Joyce recently earned a Professional Certification of Excellence with the American Society of Administrative Professionals. She previously worked for CU Boulder for 22 years. Outside of work, she keeps busy with her Angora show rabbits, grooming and attending shows across the country. Joyce uses the fiber from her angoras and alpacas to spin and create various fiber art creations.
Kay Hulstrom serves as WICHE’s associate director of operations and academic leadership initiatives. She works on a variety of projects including Interstate Passport®, the Western Academic Leadership Forum, and the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders. The latter two are membership organizations for the chief academic officers of WICHE-region two and four-year institutions and system offices. She holds a B.S. in finance from Colorado State University.
Sarah Jordon is the Program Manager for the Together with Veterans rural veteran suicide prevention program, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain MIRECC. Before joining WICHE, she worked as a project manager providing technical assistance support to various Department of Labor contracts and in emergency management, supporting counties across the country with the utilization of their CARES and ARPA funds to ensure expenditures were compliant with Federal regulations. Additionally, as a consultant, she has supported organizations in their research, data collection and analysis, evaluation, and reporting. Sarah graduated from Prairie View A&M University with a B.A. in communications and the University of Denver with an M.A. in social science, where she is also finishing her Ph.D. in higher education.
Kathryn Kerensky has served as the Director, Director, Digital Learning, Policy, and Compliance with the State Authorization Network (SAN), which is a division of the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), since 2021. She assists with the overall activities of SAN, with a focus on related institutional and programmatic compliance rules and regulations, including accreditation requirements, international compliance issues, and strategies for institutional regulatory compliance when serving students by means of digital learning. Previously, she served as a state authorization compliance professional at the University of Louisville for 7 years. Kerensky received her B.A. in psychology and Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville.
Debra Kupfer has more than 40 years of public behavioral health experience as both a clinician and an administrator, including 15 years with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program as a senior consultant.
Kupfer spent 25 years with the Colorado Department of Human Services, serving as the mental health commissioner; manager; director of policy and planning of hospital services for the Colorado Office/Division of Behavioral Health; and as clinical therapist and adult division deputy administrator for the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan.
Currently, she is an executive board member for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners in Colorado and serves on the executive committee of National Dialogues on Behavioral Health. Kupfer also served as a reviewer, monitor, and consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Mental Health Block Grant for more than 15 years and as a national facilitator for Advocates for Human Potential’s Olmstead Community of Practice Initiative funded by SAMHSA.
Since 2007, Kupfer has worked with the U.S. Pacific Jurisdictions and the U.S. Virgin Islands on consulting projects, including:
behavioral health system analyses and redesign
crisis system development, strategic planning
curriculum development, public policy, and planning efforts
data reporting and quality management
rural workforce development
crisis system planning, staffing studies, safety and security assessments, and
developing opportunities to link behavioral health and primary care services in rural areas.
In recent years, Kupfer has served as the lead and/or supported several projects with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program, including:
the Colorado Behavioral Health Needs Analysis – Current Status, Strategic Positioning and Future Planning
Rural Veteran Suicide Prevention Project, in collaboration with the U.S. Veterans Administration
Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care Evidence-based Practices Quality Improvement and Technical Assistance Initiative in Arizona
Alaska Psychiatric Institute and Arizona State Hospital Technical Assistance
Idaho Behavioral Health System Redesign
Guam Transformation Transfer Initiative and Behavioral Health System Improvement Initiative, and
the Alaska Complex Behavior Collaborative.
Additionally, Kupfer is a technical expert lead on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) – Technical Assistance Project. These efforts have involved providing technical assistance, facilitating stakeholder groups, developing data collection instruments, leading focus groups, conducting key informant interviews, reporting findings, and developing recommendations for the enhancement of behavioral health systems.
Patrick Lane is the vice president of WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit. He previously was its director of data initiatives, a role that has included managing the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange, which seeks to improve linkages between state data systems to provide better information to students and their families while also improving education, workforce, and economic development policy. He previously coordinated WICHE’s Adult College Completion Network and has worked extensively on the Non-Traditional No More: Policy Solutions for Adult Learners project. Both projects focused on identifying policy and practice solutions to help adults with prior college credit return to postsecondary education to complete their degrees. Lane also coordinated WICHE’s College Access Regional Network, which focused on increasing the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education. He came to WICHE having spent several years working in education policy in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Lane received a master’s degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2007 and completed a Ph.D. in public administration at the University of Colorado Denver in 2015.
Nathaniel Longmore is the Digital Communications Coordinator at WICHE. He maintains WICHE’s social media presence, assists with the management of wiche.edu, compiles content for WICHE’s e-newsletter, and supports the overall communications strategy. Longmore holds a bachelor’s degree in communication and media arts from Montclair State University.
Demarée K. Michelau is the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Located in Boulder, CO, WICHE was established through the Western Regional Education Compact and works to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states leverage their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. As WICHE’s president, Dr. Michelau serves as the chief executive officer of the organization and at the pleasure of the 48-member, gubernatorially-appointed WICHE commission. Prior to serving as WICHE’s president, Dr. Michelau was WICHE’s vice president of policy analysis and research, a role in which she managed WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit and oversaw externally-funded projects. The author of numerous reports and policy briefs, she has experience in a variety of higher education policy issues, including those related to equity and attainment, governance, strategic planning, adult learners, transfer, accelerated learning options, affordability, and workforce. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Previously, she held positions with the National Conference of State Legislatures and with former Colorado Congressman David Skaggs. Michelau received her bachelor’s degree in public law from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Dennis Mohatt is vice president for behavioral health at WICHE, leading since 2001 its behavioral health program and its Center for Rural Mental Health Research. He has over 30 years of public mental health service. His work has included direct clinical care, clinical supervision, and CEO tenure in a rural CMHC serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Additionally, he led a HRSA-funded effort in the early 1990s to successfully integrate mental health and primary care in multiple rural family practice settings. During the late 1990s, he was deputy director for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, also serving as the state’s commissioner of mental health. He has served as a member of the National Rural Health Advisory Committee, and led national efforts relating to rural mental health including a role as chief consultant to the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He is actively engaged in efforts focused on improving services to Veterans, Guard, and Reserve and their families; rural mental health policy; workforce development, and increasing adoption of integrated approaches to behavioral and primary care practice. His graduate training, supported by a NIMH Fellowship, focused on rural community-clinical psychology.
Mikayla Nelson believes in getting back to the basics of human connection, which drove her studies of Psychology at Western Washington University. She has over 10 years of customer support experience in various industries including manufacturing, human resources, animal care and financial services. She is thrilled to be working with WICHE as an Administrative Associate III in the Together with Veterans program, as she has the opportunity each day to play an influential part in helping support unique communities.
Mikayla is also certified by the State of Colorado as a notary public. Outside of the office environment, Mikayla spends her time training animals, watching movies, and cooking elaborate meals for friends and family
Patricia O’Sullivan joined WCET in 2021 and has served as the Every Learner Everywhere Content Manager since 2020. She oversees the development and publication of network assets in both text and video formats, collaborating with authors, reviewers, designers, and communications specialists. She has been an educator for nearly 30 years at both secondary and postsecondary levels. She previously worked at the University of Mississippi for 19 years where she held various positions including grant manager, teaching and learning specialist, instructional designer, student advisor, and instructor. O’Sullivan received her B.A. in communications at the University of Massachusetts, an M.A. in theology at Assumption University, and an M.A. in history from the University of Mississippi.
As the executive director of WCET, Russell Poulin leads an organization focusing on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET member institutions and organizations hail from all fifty states and Canada. As WICHE’s vice president for technology-enhanced education, Poulin advises on policies and projects. Poulin served on federal negotiated rulemaking panels and received recognition for national policy contributions. Poulin previously lead distance education collaboration for the North Dakota University System and earned a bachelors from the University of Colorado Denver and masters from the University of Northern Colorado. Poulin is partial to movies, cats, and his wife.
Megan Raymond has been with WICHE since 2007. She directs the programs, events, and sponsorships for WCET, the national leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Prior to WICHE, Megan was entrenched in student affairs at a small liberal arts college. In her spare time she enjoys racing mountain bikes and chasing her son on his bike or feet. Her overly hyper and eternal puppy, Rango, also keeps her on her toes.
Annette Robertson, LMSW is a Fidelity Reviewer with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program and has been a licensed social worker for more than 25 years. She earned a Master of Social Work degree with a focus in Policy, Administration and Communities from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Moorhead State University, Minnesota. Prior to joining WICHE in 2017, she delivered: behavioral health services to adults in one of the largest populated counties in the U.S.; school based behavioral health services to children and their families on an Ojibwe reservation in rural Minnesota; family based services to families whose children were at risk of being placed out of the home; and for a brief period, supported persons with chronic kidney failure. Annette currently works on a contract with the State of Arizona Medicaid program, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, one of the first Medicaid programs to bring integrated mental and physical health care to its residents. For WICHE, Annette evaluates adult behavioral health programs’ ability to meet the fidelity of SAMHSA’s Evidenced Based Practices being used throughout Arizona.
Christina Sedney is the Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives at WICHE, where she works on a variety of topics including the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA), approaches to serving underrepresented student populations, higher education governance issues, and policy solutions for adult learners. Prior to WICHE, Sedney worked for international nonprofit Teach For All and completed a fellowship with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. She also held multiple roles with the AmeriCorps program City Year, from classroom-based corps member to project manager on their public policy team. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Melanie Sidwell is the director of communications at WICHE, where she supports our mission through strategic communications, media relations, and content services. Prior to joining WICHE, she served in marketing and communications, alumni relations, and advancement roles at the University of Colorado, and she worked as a journalist for newspapers in Nebraska, Florida, and Colorado. A first-generation college graduate, Sidwell holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master’s degree in media studies from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is the proud parent of a first-year college student.
Ivory Tubbs: Prior to earning his doctorate in psychology, Ivory served in the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Shield in logistics in 1991. Prior to his discharge from the military, Ivory’s career in the mental/behavioral health field began in Las Vegas, Nevada as a crisis intervention specialist. Later, he transitioned to the role of child development assistant with Clark County Family Services.
In 1999 he was appointed as the Executive Director of Windsor Village Social Services, an agency working in conjunction with FEMA to provide emergency food, shelter and utility assistance for area residents. In addition to fulfilling his duties as Executive Director, Ivory was also a Senior Public Health Investigator with the City of Houston, Bureau of Epidemiology conducting psycho-social assessments regarding sexual practices and opioid use within the HIV/AIDS community for the CDC. After his simultaneous roles as Executive Director and Senior Public Health Investigator, Ivory began adding to his knowledge base by joining the University of Texas School of Health Sciences, Psychiatric Center working with acute and subacute psychosis patients as well as patients in the forensic psychology unit for the Houston Police Department.
Ivory was also a Psychological Assessor focusing on dual diagnosis patients as well as outpatient therapy to monitor psychotropic drug interactions. Ivory took a hiatus from behavioral health to become an HR Manager in compliance and performance management for Walmart US. Ivory has served on several boards of directors and has done extensive work in the homeless community. He has also held the role of director working with the developmentally delayed population.
Olivia Tufo is the manager of community engagement and development for the Programs & Services unit at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). The Programs and Services unit broadens student access to postsecondary education and fosters higher education collaborations that increase institutional effectiveness. Tufo manages membership of the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders and the Western Academic Leadership Forum. Tufo also works on initiatives that bring together the West’s higher education leaders to address common goals and issues, such as the No Holding Back study and the Interstate Passport Network which aims to streamline the student transfer process through a nationwide network of institutions.
Jana Walser-Smith joined SAN in September of 2022 as the Director, Interstate Compliance and SAN Member Outreach where she assists with engaging, training, communicating, and supporting SAN members. Jana serves as the lead educator addressing foundational principles of state authorization and state-to-state institutional approvals through the development of training events and resources that reinforce the foundational principles of interstate compliance. Additionally, Jana serves as the chief communicator in the development of efficient communication practices to engage SAN members.
Jana comes to SAN from Southern New Hampshire University and previously from the University of North Carolina (UNC) System Office, UNC Greensboro, and Appalachian State University where she served in various compliance and state authorization roles. She additionally has many years of experience as a Faculty Lecturer and Adjunct Faculty at institutions in North Carolina. Prior to these roles, Jana also worked in corporate finance for multiple fortune 200 organizations.
Jana holds an EdD degree from Appalachian State University, MA from Wake Forest University, and a BS from High Point University. Beyond her role at SAN, Jana enjoys traveling, perusing antique and collectable showrooms, working with church and community projects, spending time with her husband and three adult daughters, and rearing her 11-year-old great-niece.