Alliance 2018 Annual Meeting | Speakers


Changing the World or Changing with the World

April 18-20, 2018
Seattle, WA

*Download the 2018 FINAL Program
(accessible version available upon request)


Photo of Pam Cox-OttoPam Cox-Otto is the founder and CEO of Interact Communications, a Wisconsin agency specializing in two-year college marketing. She has been working with community and technical colleges on research, strategy and creative content for 21 years. Previously, Cox-Otto served as vice president of College Relations at Western Technical College (WI) and director of public relations and marketing at Rio Hondo College (CA). She began her career as a television news reporter in Northern California. Cox-Otto received her B.A. in speech communications from Humboldt State University, an M.A. from California State University, Long Beach and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Photo of Chrissy Davis JonesChrissy Davis Jones currently serves as the acting vice president of student services at Spokane Falls Community College in Washington with direct oversight for all support services for students, as well as for drafting and implementing policies and procedures.  Prior to this position, she served as the dean of students for seven years, and has nearly 20 years of experience working at various post-secondary institutions with a focus on developing, restructuring, and implementing student services-related programs with an expertise in academic advising systems.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work at the University of Wyoming, a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver, and a doctorate in higher education from the University of North Texas.

Photo of Ben EspitiaBen Espitia joined the Goodwill Serving the People of Southern Los Angeles County (SOLAC) team as director of workforce development in July 2000. He currently represents Goodwill SOLAC on the Southeast Los Angeles County Workforce Development Board (Cerritos, California) having been chair from 2013 to 2015 and is secretary of the City of Long Beach Continuum of Care Board providing oversight to the city’s provision of services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.  Espitia holds a B.A. in speech and language pathology from the University of Texas at Austin and a master’s degree in communication disorders from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  He is also a graduate of the Leadership Long Beach Institute.

Photo of David FabishDavid Fabish has served as the instructional dean of liberal arts at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, since 2011.  In addition to administration of a large academic division, he has been a lead administrator of basic skills acceleration initiatives and in the development of “guided pathways” for degree and certificate completion and for transfer. Before entering administration, Fabish was a member and chair of the Cerritos College English department and the faculty union founding president. He earned a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach, and a Masters of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa.

Photo of Joel FarrellRobert "Joel" Farrell is the chief of academic analytics for Air University based in Alabama.  He directs analysis, research and planning activities to improve the quality of education across the United States Air Force.  He collaborates with leaders across the department of defense on topics related to quality and accreditation.  Previously, he served as associate provost for student support and academic services of National Defense University.  Farrell earned his Ph.D. in counselor education and supervision with a specialization in educational psychology from Auburn University, a M.Ed. in counseling from Auburn, a M.S. in religion from Amridge University in Alabama, and completed postdoctoral studies in bioethics at Georgetown University.

Photo of Carmen FernandezCarmen Fernandez was appointed president of Northern Marianas College (NMC) in 2016. Prior to becoming NMC president, Fernandez served in various leadership positions at other institutions of higher education including the University of Guam, Palomar College (CA), and Modesto Junior College (CA). As an elected senator in the 27th Guam legislature, she served as chair of education and housing, and as majority whip.  Fernandez’s first term as president of NMC was from 2007 to 2010, during which she successfully led the institution from a show cause accreditation sanction status to reaffirmation of accreditation in 2009.  Teaching business courses is a passion for her with experience at the Guam Community College, University of Guam, Argosy University in California, and University of Phoenix.

Photo of Dija FraserDija Fraser is a 25-year Starbucks partner, hired as a barista in 1992.  She has spent most of her tenure ascending through the operations ranks, running some of Starbucks most high-profile markets to include Seattle and New York. Fraser is currently the head of global talent acquisition for more than 25,000 stores in 75 countries around the globe.  She is responsible for recruitment at all levels from university internships to executives, and provides global mobility and immigration support to the organization.  Fraser proudly leads Starbucks Social Impact commitments, hiring veterans and military spouses, opportunity youth and refugees - creating opportunities for people who represent the communities served.

Photo of Juliet GarciaJuliet García is a national thought leader who has devoted her life's work to higher education, focused on sustaining the democracy of our nation by empowering first generation college students. Named the first female Mexican-American president of a U.S. college or university in 1986, her presidency spanned 28 years and is marked by her innovation in conceiving and implementing new higher education models in response to a rapidly changing higher education ecosystem.  As senior advisor to the chancellor of the University of Texas System, Garcia leads the office of community, national and global engagement. García earned a Ph.D. in communications and linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. and B.A. in classical rhetoric and public address and English from the University of Houston.

Photo of Debra GilchristDebra Gilchrist is vice president for learning and student success at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom, a community college in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, where she leads academic and student affairs, as well as accreditation and activities. Gilchrist co-designed and led national professional development programs for the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) focused on outcomes assessment and quality teaching and learning, and has received two national ACRL awards for creativity and excellence with teaching and learning. Gilchrist earned her M.L.S. from University of Denver and her Ph.D. in higher education leadership from Oregon State University. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the leadership role of academic librarians to influence instructional change at all levels of the academy.

Photo of Dan Greenstein Dan Greenstein, director of education, postsecondary success in the United States program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, oversees work to substantially increase the number of students who acquire a postsecondary degree or certificate. Before joining the foundation, Greenstein was vice provost for academic planning and programs at the University of California office of the president. In that role, he oversaw what academic planning is required at the university-wide level for this ten-campus 220,000-student system. Greenstein holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford (D.Phil.) and Pennsylvania (M.A., B.A.) and began his professional life as a senior lecturer in modern history at University of Glasgow in Scotland.

Photo of Judy Hay Judy Hay is currently the vice president for student services at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. She set up the Helena College’s disability services program and its first learning center and advising program. Hay’s executive administrative experience began with Montana State University – Great Falls College of Technology as she helped with the start-up of what is now another two-year college (Gallatin College) on the large Montana State University campus in Bozeman, MT. Hay has a master’s degree in education, adult and higher education, a bachelor’s in elementary education from Montana State University and a minor in special education from The University of Montana.

Photo of Marcia HultmanMarcia Hultman was appointed cabinet secretary of the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation (DLR) by Governor Dennis Daugaard in 2014. Prior, she had served in a variety of leadership roles with DLR for 17 years. Throughout her career, Hultman has been actively involved in the delivery of workforce training, employment, adult education and literacy, and unemployment insurance services funded by USDOL, as well as state specific wage and hour, workers’ compensation, and human rights programs. Hultman received a bachelor’s degree from Black Hills State University and completed the Council of State Government Henry Toll Leadership program in 2016.  

Photo of Keiki Kawai‘ae‘aKeiki Kawai‘ae‘a is the director of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College Of Hawaiian Language at the University of Hawai‘i Hilo. She has played a pioneering role in the revitalization of the Hawaiian language for nearing 40 years. Over the last decade her work has focused on improving culturally responsive education through the Nā Honua Mauli Ola cultural pathways and the Moenahā culture-based curriculum design and instructional method. Kawaiʻaeʻa received her Ph.D. in indigenous education from the Union Institute and University in Ohio and currently co-chairs the Board of Accreditation for the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium serving indigenous accreditation internationally.

Photo of Jason KruppJason Krupp is the director of workforce services at St. Petersburg College (SPC) in Florida. He facilitates systems and leads teams to deliver career services, internships, and activities leading to gainful employment. Since 1999, Krupp has worked for SPC in many capacities. As a career advisor and instructor, he developed the first online career and life planning course for the college. Before working at SPC, Krupp worked as a job developer and vocational evaluator.  He has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Florida, and a Ph.D. in community college leadership from Old Dominion University in Virginia.

Photo of Chuck LepperChuck Lepper has served as the vice president for student affairs at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) since July 2015.  Lepper has extensive experience providing strategic leadership for academic advising and career service offices at multiple institutions.  Additionally, Lepper serves as a two-year community college consultant for the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) and is a faculty member for its summer institutes.  Lepper received his B.A. in human resources from Ball State University, his M.Ed. in college student affairs leadership from Grand Valley State University in Michigan, and his Ph.D. in educational leadership administration and foundations from Indiana State University.

Photo of Mark MitsuiMark Mitsui became president of Portland Community College in September 2016. Prior to that, he served as deputy assistant secretary for community colleges at the U.S. Department of Education where he co-led the My Brother’s Keeper postsecondary completion interagency team. Before taking that position, Mitsui served as president of North Seattle College where he was the founding chair for Asian Pacific Islander Association of Colleges and Universities.  And previous to this, he served as vice president of student services at South Seattle College.  Mitsui holds a B.S. in physical education from Western Washington University, and an M.A. in education from the University of Washington.

Photo of Steve MullinSteve Mullin is president of the Washington Roundtable, a nonprofit organization comprised of senior executives of Washington’s major private sector employers. He is board president of the Roundtable’s education foundation, Partnership for Learning, an organization that communicates the need to prepare all Washington students for postsecondary education and career. Prior to his work with the Roundtable and Partnership for Learning, Mullin worked for several public affairs consulting firms, as a U.S. senate staff member in Washington, D.C., and as a legislative staffer in Olympia, Washington. He is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont and University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs. 

Photo of Gary PritchardGary Pritchard is currently the acting dean of academic affairs, dean of fine arts and communications at Cerritos College, and a governing board member of California’s 8th largest school district. As dean, his responsibilities entail complex administrative support. As a trustee, he directs policy for 50,000 students. Pritchard served as chair of the music department and professor of music history/ethnomusicology at Cerritos College and held lecture appointments at University of California, Irvine (UCI) and at California State University, Long Beach. Pritchard received a Ph.D. from UCI, M.A. from the Claremont Graduate University (CA), B.A. from Chapman University (CA), and recently completed the management development program (MDP) at Harvard University.

Photo of Jane ShermanJane Sherman, Ed.D., has been working as a consultant for Interstate Passport in the role of Passport State Coordinator for the past two years.  She retired as the vice provost for academic policy and evaluation at Washington State University (WSU), as well as the associate director for academic policy with the state of Washington’s Council of Presidents. Prior to her work at WSU, Sherman was the deputy director for academic affairs with the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. Much of her work in Washington has focused on helping institutions and sectors collaborate on policies related to student transfer, dual credit, reverse transfer, use of Smarter Balanced scores, performance funding, and other initiatives that support student progress and completion.  Her degrees are from Earlham College in Indiana, Boston University, and Idaho State University.

Photo of Allison SievingAllison Sieving, director of educational outcomes and effectiveness, joined Pierce College District (WA) in 2014.  She provides leadership in building and sustaining a district-wide culture of inquiry and assessment of student learning and success.  Previously, Sieving served as an instructor and managed program accreditation for the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. Sieving received her B.S. in biology from Bowling Green State University, M.S. in basic medical sciences from Wayne State University, and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Wayne State University.

Photo of Lynn StricklandDemetria “Lynn” Strickland began working for the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee in Washington as a program manager in February 2012, was promoted to deputy director in July 2012 and has served as executive director since August 2014.  Strickland and her team develop and implement apprenticeship education and training programs across the state in partnership with secondary, post-secondary, community-based organizations and advanced manufacturing employers.  Strickland is an Army veteran and has over 25 years of management experience in several sectors.  She has a B.A. in business administration, emphasis management and an M.A. in organizational leadership, and a graduate certificate in human resources.

Photo of Nick TilsenNick Tilsen is executive director of the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation and a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation. He has over 15 years of experience working with non-profits and tribal nations on numerous projects dedicated to creating social change. As the founding executive director, Tilsen has played a vital role in making Thunder Valley CDC into an organization that is working with local, grassroots people and national organizations to create sustainable solutions in Indian Country. In 2014, Tilsen was selected as an ASHOKA Fellow, joining a global network of the world's leading social innovators. And in 2016, he was selected as a Rockefeller Foundation Global Fellow on Social Innovation.

Photo of Mary WalshokMary Walshok, Ph.D. is associate vice chancellor for public programs and dean of Extension at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of more than 100 articles and reports on aligning workforce development with regional economic growth, including Invention and Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy, Public Universities and Regional Growth: Insights from the University of California, and the Oxford Handbook of Local Competitiveness. She oversees a $50 million, 200-employee division that annually serves more than 65,000 enrollees through innovative programs, including UCSD-TV and UCTV. Walshok earned a B.A. at Pomona College, Ph.D. at Indiana University and an honorary doctorate from the Stockholm School of Economics, 2017.

Jill Wakefield, chancellor emeritus of the Seattle Colleges, has spent her career in community college education, working as a classified staff member, faculty, and administrator. She served as president of South Seattle Community College and chancellor of the Seattle Colleges, the largest community college system in Washington. Her career highlights include the initiation of the I-Best program (integrating basic and technical skills), development of “College for Working Adults,” piloting one of Washington’s first community
college Bachelor of Applied Science programs, and starting “Completion by Design,” a program focused on student completion. Following her retirement, she served as interim president for Bellevue College. Wakefield currently works as a presidential search consultant for the Association of Community College Trustees and a higher education consultant for Collaborative Brain Trust (CBT).