Joint Annual Meeting - Forum and Alliance


At the Confluence: Academic Leaders Steering Their Communities Forward

April 20-22, 2016
Missoula, MT

*Download the 2016 FINAL Program



Photo of Nancy AebersoldNancy Aebersold currently serves as executive director of the central office of the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (HERC), a consortium of over 700 U.S. colleges, universities, teaching hospitals, research labs, and affiliated organizations that advances the ability of member institutions to recruit and retain the most diverse and talented workforce and to assist dual-career couples. Her innovative work with HERC provides a tangible resource to HERC member campuses as well as the faculty, staff, and administrators those campuses seek to attract and retain. Aebersold holds a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an M.A. in counseling psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

Photo of Sona AndrewsSona Karentz Andrews is the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Portland State University (PSU), an urban research university with a diverse enrollment of approximately 30,000 students. Andrews completed her B.A. in geography from Worcester State College in Massachusetts and her Master’s and Ph.D. in geography from Arizona State University. As well as PSU, Andrews has held faculty positions at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Boise State University. She has held leadership positions in the provost office at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; an American Council on Education Fellow; as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Boise State University; and as vice chancellor for academic strategies for the Oregon University System. She serves on the Oregon Humanities Board, is on the executive committee of the WICHE Western Academic Leadership Forum, and is a member of the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement committee.

Photo of Veronica AñoverVeronica Añover is a professor of French and Spanish at California State University San Marcos. Añover has held many leadership positions and has been nominated for several teaching awards. Recently she co-directed the Faculty Center and she served as department chair. In 2008 she received the President’s Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. Her research is centered on second language acquisition. She has authored several textbooks in French and Spanish. Añover is working on a Spanish textbook for health professionals incorporating the gaming approach.  She received her Ph.D. in French with a minor in Spanish from Florida State University.

Photo of David AttisDavid Attis serves as the senior director of academic research at the Education Advisory Board (EAB) where for the past eight years he has led best practices research studies for college and university administrators. Previously, he served as a senior director of policy studies at the Council on Competitiveness and as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney, both in their general consulting practice and in their global business policy council. Attis holds a Ph.D. in the history of science from Princeton University and a B.A. in physics from the University of Chicago.

Photo of Kevin AyotteKevin Ayotte is chair of the Academic Senate and a professor of communication at California State University, Fresno, where he has taught since 2002. His research and teaching focuses on rhetorical theory and criticism, U.S. foreign policy rhetoric, and public argumentation surrounding terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Ayotte received his B.A. in English from DePaul University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in communication from the University of Pittsburgh.

Photo of Estela Mara BensimonEstela Mara Bensimon is a professor of higher education at the USC Rossier School of Education and co-director of the Center for Urban Education, which she founded in 1999. Her current research focuses on issues of racial equity in higher education from the perspective of organizational learning and socio-cultural practice theories. She has held the highest leadership positions in the Association for the Study of Higher Education (president, 2005-2006) and in the American Education Research Association-Division on Postsecondary Education (vice president, 1992-1994). Bensimon earned a BA in Spanish and an M.A. in student personnel services from Montclair State University and an Ed.D. in higher education from Columbia University.

Photo of Loren J. BlanchardLoren J. Blanchard is the executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the California State University. A veteran higher education system and campus administrator, Blanchard previously served as the provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Xavier University of Louisiana – his alma mater. He is widely published and known for his research and scholarly articles addressing teacher education and educational strategies to support the success of students of color. Blanchard holds a BS in speech pathology education with a minor in psychology from Xavier University, a master's of education in educational administration and supervision from McNeese State University, and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Georgia.

Photo of Steven M. BloomSteven M. Bloom is the director of federal relations at the American Council on Education. His primary focus is on tax issues, health care reform, immigration, and labor and employment. Bloom came to ACE from the independent sector, where he served as senior lobbyist and director of government relations. Prior to coming to Washington, D.C., Bloom was a practicing attorney for 10 years in Boston, focusing on litigation including employment law, federal civil rights, torts, and commercial disputes. He also clerked for the Massachusetts Appeals Court. Before attending law school, he served as a fellow of the Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association in India. Bloom graduated from Oberlin College and the Northeastern University School of Law.

Photo of Clayton T. ChristianClayton T. Christian has served as Montana’s commissioner of higher education since January 2012. He served six years as a member and chairman of Montana’s Board of Regents of Higher Education before assuming the chief administrative leadership post in the Montana University System. His previous business experience includes title insurance and escrow services, real estate sales and development, commercial land ownership and management. He is a graduate of the University of Montana with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with emphasis in finance, management and advanced studies in economics.

Photo of Barbara DamronBarbara Damron is the cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Higher Education Department. She has oversight of the state’s 28 public institutions of higher education, the four tribal colleges, and the over 150 private and proprietary postsecondary schools. She also chairs the New Mexico Education Trust Board and is a commissioner of WICHE. Most recently she was associate professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) college of nursing and in the department of family and community medicine at the UNM Health Science Center School of Medicine. Damron previously worked as professional staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.

Photo of Sandra ElmanSandra Elman is the president of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in Redmond, Washington. Previously she served as chair of the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions and associate director of the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. She has lectured nationally and internationally on issues related to quality assurance; institutional finance and governance; and the roles of government and business/industry. She is an adjunct faculty member at Oregon State University. Elman serves as an evaluator for international quality assurance agencies including for the Center for Accreditation and Quality Assurance of Swiss Universities. Elman received her B.A. degree in history and political science from Hunter College in New York and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in policy, planning and administration from the University of California, Berkeley.

Photo of Amy GetzAmy Getz is the strategic implementation lead for higher education at the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin. She works with state systems and institutions to reform developmental and gateway mathematics programs through the New Mathways Project. Getz formerly served as the Dana Center’s manager of community college services and also led the development of the QuantwayTM curriculum in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation. Previously, Getz taught mathematics for 20 years in high school and college. Getz received her B.A. in English/theatre from Fort Lewis College and M.A. in secondary counseling from Adams State College.

Photo of Jessica Perea HoustonJessica Perea Houston is an associate professor in the department of chemical and materials engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU). She received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University. She became a director’s postdoctoral fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, then joined the faculty at NMSU. Houston’s research expertise is in the area of biomedical engineering, and her laboratory develops high-throughput optical methods for in vitro cellular analyses. Houston received the NSF CAREER award in 2012, the NMSU Early Career award in 2014, and the Outstanding Junior Faculty award by the NMSU Hispanic Caucus in 2010.

Photo of Daniel HowardDaniel Howard has been New Mexico State University’s executive vice president and provost since August 2013, and also serves as the chief academic officer. The academic success of NMSU students is a top priority, and the Office of the Provost supports their success through efforts such as Student Success Navigators, Discovery Days, and the Aggie Pathway to the Baccalaureate. Howard started his career at NMSU as an assistant professor of biology. Eventually, he earned recognition as a Regents Professor and served as head of the department of biology.

Photo of Nneka JenkinsNneka Jenkins is the program manager for Skills for America's Future (SAF), an employer-led workforce development initiative of the Aspen Institute. Jenkins joined the Aspen Institute upon earning her MPA from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and culminating a year-long fellowship as one of 3 National Association of Charter School Authorizer Fellows. As the project manager for national workforce development initiatives, she is the co-author Recasting Apprenticeship research paper, author of Collaborate in the Classroom. Compete in the Marketplace case study, and lead of research and evaluation projects such as the Capital One Foundation community college and community development project. Jenkins also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Photo of John A. LanningJohn A. Lanning currently is professor of chemistry, emeritus, and outreach liaison at the University of Colorado Denver. He has held several CU Denver faculty and administrative positions focusing on students transitioning from high school to the university, early intervention programs, support for academically deficient students, general education, and transfer programs. John represents CU Denver on the Colorado Department of Higher Education General Education Council helping to develop guaranteed transfer of general education, statewide articulation agreements, and transfer guides for students transferring from two-year to four-year institutions.

Photo of David LonganeckerDavid Longanecker has served as the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education in Boulder since 1999. Previously, he served for six years as the assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that he was the state higher education executive officer in Colorado and Minnesota. He was also the principal analyst for higher education for the Congressional Budget Office. Longanecker serves on numerous boards and commissions. He has written extensively on a range of higher education issues. His primary interests in higher education are: expanding access to successful completion for students within all sectors of higher education, promoting student and institutional performance, assuring efficient and effective finance and financial aid strategies, and fostering effective use of educational technologies. He holds an Ed.D. from Stanford University, an M.A. from George Washington University, and a B.A. from Washington State University.

Photo of Elizabeth MarksElizabeth (Liz) Marks is a principal in the Los Angeles office of Mercer Health & Benefits and has 30 years of consulting experience, including expertise in the design, financial management and evaluation of employer-sponsored group health plans. Marks also consults with a number of higher education clients on their student health plans. She is chair of the Board of Emperor’s College, a professional graduate school of traditional oriental medicine. She attended Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, where she majored in English. In 1982, she received the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation, sponsored jointly by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Photo of Jean McLaughlinJean McLaughlin is an associate director at the American Council on Education, where she has worked since 2006, managing the Alfred P. Sloan Projects for Faculty Career Flexibility. McLaughlin is published in Academic Medicine, the Journal of Dental Education, Change magazine, and co-authored a book chapter in Establishing the Family-Friendly Campus: Models for Effective Practice. She is the co-editor and co-author of Faculty Retirement: Best Practices for Navigating the Transition (2014). McLaughlin received a B.A. in art history from the Catholic University of America, and an M.A./A.G.S. in career counseling from the University of Maryland.

Photo of Gail O. MellowGail O. Mellow has served as president of LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens since 2000. A member of the City University of New York system, LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for achieving boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. Mellow is co-author of Taking College Teaching Seriously: Pedagogy Matters! (2015), which explores a groundbreaking digital model for improving college teaching to increase student success. An expert on the history and future of the American community college, Mellow co-authored Minding the Dream: The Process and Practice of the American Community College (2014). She is a member of several national commissions, including the Commission on Postsecondary Education of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Education.

Photo of Ricardo MoenaRicardo Moena is the chairperson of the Transfer Module Mathematics Committee of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, and also the co-chairperson of the Ohio Mathematics subgroup, focused on redesigning the Ohio Transfer Module (OTM) course criteria and processes. Previously,  Moena was the chair of the math and applied sciences department of the former University College of the University of Cincinnati. He is an associate professor of mathematics in the mathematics department at the University of Cincinnati, where he serves as director of entry-level mathematics. Moena received his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1990 from the University of Cincinnati, and an M.S. in mathematics from the University of Concepcion, Chile.

Photo of Robert MokwaRobert Mokwa is a professor and head of the mathematical sciences department at Montana State University. He recently completed a one-year appointment as MSU’s first presidential leadership fellow and previously served as chair of the MSU Faculty Senate and chair of the Montana University System Faculty Association. Mokwa played an integral role in the successful design and implementation of a performance funding allocation model that is now used by all state institutions in Montana and he is actively involved in the Montana Math Pathways initiative. Mokwa earned a Ph.D. from Virginia Tech, an M.S. from Purdue University and a B.S. from Virginia Tech.

Photo of Kristen NicholsKristen Nichols is currently a vice president of cloud operations at Oracle and has been with Oracle for the past five years. She manages 100+ global resources within project management, development, provisioning operations, and budget, specializing in mergers and acquisitions. Previously, she served as director project management for NuVox Communications, headquartered in Greenville, SC and held a career in management consulting at BearingPoint. Nichols has an M.B.A. from Thunderbird, International School of Business and a B.S. in management from Arizona State University.

Photo of Robynn M. PeaseRobynn M. Pease serves as the director of the academic affairs office of work-life and greater Oregon higher education recruitment consortium at Oregon State University. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of work-life, including director of work-life at the University of Kentucky. She serves on the executive committees of the College-University Work-Life-Family Association and the Higher Education Recruitment Consortium Advisory Board. Pease received her Ph.D. in sociology with an emphasis in gerontology from the University of Kentucky; an M.A. in German studies from San Francisco State University and a B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Photo of Mary Ellen PetriskoMary Ellen Petrisko has served as WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) president since September 2013. Previously she served as vice president of the Middle States Commission for Higher Education as the liaison to approximately 80 public, private, and for-profit institutions. Petrisko is a former deputy secretary of higher education for the Maryland Higher Education Commission; vice president for academic affairs at the University of Maryland University College; and academic vice president of the Tai Sophia Institute (now the Maryland University for Integrative Health). Petrisko holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Boston University.

Photo of Peter QuigleyPeter Quigley is the University of Hawai'i System Community Colleges' associate vice president for academic affairs and co-chair of the Interstate Passport Initiative. He is responsible for academic program planning, evaluation and assessment; course and program articulation; regional accreditation; federal higher education and workforce development issues, and collaboration with external agencies. He also has served as interim vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and chancellor at Leeward Community College. Prior to coming to Hawai'i, Quigley served as dean of the college of arts and humanities at Minnesota State University and as dean of academics/chief academic officer at Embry Riddle University. Quigley has held tenured professorships in Europe and the US, and has been awarded two Fulbright awards to the University of Bergen in Norway. In addition to his administrative position, Quigley holds a tenured full professor position at the University of Hawai'i, Manoa.

Photo of Kevin ReillyKevin Reilly is president emeritus and regent professor at the 26-campus University of Wisconsin System, having served as president from 2004-2013. He came to Wisconsin from the State University of New York System, where he was associate provost for academic programs and then secretary of the university. He has written on higher education leadership, policy, and accreditation, as well as Irish studies. One of his final innovations as president was to establish competency-based degree programs in the UW System. Reilly earned his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, and his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, all in English.

Photo of Duane RoenDuane Roen serves as dean of the college of letters and sciences and the dean of university college at Arizona State University. Previously, he held the positions of assistant vice provost for university academic success programs, director of the Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence, and director of composition. He has served as president of the Council of Writing Program Administrators and secretary of the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He has written widely about composition curriculum and pedagogy. Roen earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Photo of Casey SacksCasey Sacks has been at the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) office in academic affairs for the past seven years. She leads special projects in the office of the provost with an emphasis in grant program management. Her project portfolio includes programs in developmental education, career and technical education, analytics, immersive learning, and credit for prior learning. Sacks received her Ph.D. in higher education administration at Bowling Green State University, an M.A. in clinical psychology from the University of Colorado, and B.S. in psychology from Colorado State University.

Photo of Joe SchafferJoe Schaffer serves as the president of Laramie County Community College, Wyoming’s largest community college. Prior to joining LCCC, Schaffer held many positions at Montana State University-Great Falls, including adjunct faculty, director of outreach, assistant dean of outreach and workforce development and associate dean/chief academic officer. From 2008 to 2012 he served as the campus’ dean and chief executive officer. He received his A.A. degree from Bemidji State University, a B.S. in recreation resource management from The University of Montana, an M.S. in technical communication from Montana Tech and an Ed.D. from The University of Montana.

Photo of Tom SugarTom Sugar is responsible for Complete College America's external and legislative affairs. As former chief of staff to a U.S. senator and nearly 25 years working in government and political campaigns, Sugar brings a wealth of experience building grassroots initiatives and engaging with a variety of stakeholders at state and federal tiers of government. As senior vice president, Sugar oversees engagement with federal policy initiatives, monitors legislative activity relevant to the college completion agenda at both the federal and state levels, and manages Complete College America's relationships with external partners in state and federal policy venues.

Photo of Caroline Sotello Viernes TurnerCaroline Sotello Viernes Turner is professor and graduate coordinator for the doctorate in educational leadership program at California State University, Sacramento, and serves as immediate past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE). Her research focuses on access, equity, leadership, and qualitative approaches to policy research. Previously, she served as Lincoln professor of ethics and higher education at Arizona State University (ASU) and as professor of educational policy and administration at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Turner received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of California, Davis and her Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Photo of Jan YoshiwaraJan Yoshiwara is the deputy executive director for the education division at the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Her primary responsibilities are education policy and strategic planning for the community and technical college system, and management of the education division, including instruction, student services, eLearning, policy research and performance accountability. Yoshiwara works with senior staff at colleges, universities, higher education and K-12 agencies, governor’s office, legislators and state business and labor partners on education goals and policies. She joined the SBCTC in 1984, previously serving as associate director of planning and information services and assistant director for student services and minority affairs. Yoshiwara earned her B.S. in zoology  from the University of California, Davis and M.Ed. in student personnel administration for higher education from Western Washington University.