photo of Dr. Justin Bathon
Associate Professor and Department Chair
Sajjid Budhwani
Post-Doctoral Research Scholar
Executive Director and Professor
photo of Kristina Hains
Associate Professor & Extension Leadership Development Specialist
photo of Dr. John Nash
Associate Professor
Clinical Instructor and Director at UK Center for Next Generation Leadership
photo of Dr. Lu Young
Clinical Associate Professor


Emeritus Faculty



Administrative Support Associate
Department Success Specialist


Doctoral Students

See a listing of EDL doctoral graduates and dissertation titles (1938-present).

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Robert Appino

Robert is currently an Education Leadership Executive at Apple working with international schools in South East Asia supporting innovative learning and teaching across the region. He enjoys the creative and vibrant energy within schools and working in collaboration with leadership and teachers to support developing their educational technology vision to transform learning.

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Sylvia Basta

I am the Head of the Academic and Student Affairs department in an Egyptian post-secondary institution called “Gouna Technical Nursing Institute.” Since the inauguration of this project, I worked with the first-year students and shared their developmental journey which gave me a chance to witness the different challenges they face through the transition to the higher education setting. My work was concerned primarily with teaching biology and anatomy and physiology then expanded to facilitating support sessions and seminars that aim to enhance students’ success.

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Lafon Benton

Originally from Lexington, Lafon has worked in secondary public education in Kentucky for 23 years, teaching high school English and history for twelve years, and serving as a high school Assistant Principal for the past ten. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College in 1999 and was named a James Madison Fellowship recipient in 2000. She earned her Master’s degree from Georgetown College in 2002, and her Rank I in both Instructional Leadership and Supervisor of Instruction from Northern Kentucky University in 2006. Lafon began the Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Superintendency programs at the University of Kentucky in the fall of 2020. Her research interests include Covid’s effects on the roles and necessary dispositions of P-12 educational leaders. Over time, she would also like to explore the short and long-term effects of Covid in other areas of education, including the effects of those influences on graduate-level leadership preparation programs.

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Amy Cummings

I am excited to be included in the 2021 cohort to pursue my Ed.D! I am currently serving as the Professional Learning Coordinator for Cabarrus County Schools in Concord, North Carolina. Prior to my current position I have enjoyed being the Dean of Students/API at Cabarrus Kannapolis Early College High School and the Supervisor of Social Studies and Library Media for Roanoke County Schools in Virginia. I began my career as a secondary social studies teacher and library media specialist. Since graduating from high school in Ringgold, Virginia, just outside Danville, Virginia, I have earned degrees from Averett University, Radford University, and the University of Virginia. I currently live in Charlotte, North Carolina with my husband and enjoy travel, cooking, reading, and hiking.

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Shelby Daeschner

I am currently in the Ph.D. program for Educational Leadership. I am also working towards completing the Principal Certification Program as well. I live in Louisville, KY and teach high school biology. My research interests revolve around professional development and improving instructional strategies. The more I research and learn, the more excited I become to hopefully help shape the future of education!

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Sharmy Davis

Hi! I am Sharmy Davis. I live in Owensboro, KY – I previously lived in Lexington, KY. Currently, I am the Director of Cultural Diversity at Owensboro Community and Technical College (OCTC). I began my career at OCTC in 2019 as a Success Coach for OCTC students focusing on Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, and Associate in Fine Arts. Prior to coming to OCTC, I was an event manager for the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. I hold a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, a master’s degree in Public Administration from Eastern Kentucky University, and a master degree in Business Administration from Midway University.

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Lauren Doerner

Lauren lives in Lexington, Kentucky where she works at the University of Kentucky as an Assistant Director for Training and Development with Residence Life. Lauren hopes to one day oversee a division of Student Affairs and lead a university with equitable and empathetic policies. Recognizing these goals, the Educational Leadership PhD program was a special fit for her, and as of Fall 2020, she is finishing up her coursework in the program. Her research will focus on professional development for entry-level residence life professionals and professional competencies critical to their success. Lauren and her husband Doug have a young daughter named Emery. As a family unit, Lauren, Doug, and Emery have all appreciated and valued the ways in which the EDL faculty and cohort members have embraced Lauren as a professional, a parent, and a person.

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Eleni Filippatos

Eleni Filippatos is a student in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program. She is a third grade ENL teacher at New York City Public School 8 in Manhattan. She believes in advocating for all learners and seeking equity and social justice in education. Eleni’s research interests include racial segregation in schools, school choice policies, and equitable access for marginalized populations. She is particularly interested in studying the role of elementary school leaders in supporting English Learners and their families in New York City’s middle school choice processes.

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Michelle Graham-Smith

Michelle Graham-Smith, LCADC, LSW, CRC, Michelle has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling and holds a certification as a Certified Rehabilitation counselor, a License in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor through the state of Kentucky. She has 7 years of experience working with adolescents and adults with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders co-occurring disorders providing various services which assist in case management, family dynamics, and transitional care plans. Michelle has worked in the field of case management and advocacy with individuals with various disabilities for the last 17 years and continues her advocacy through providing vocational evaluations, coordinating transitional work services, career exploration, resume building services, and job development and training skills. Michelle’s research interest is in substance abuse with a focus on early intervention strategies in adolescents.

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George Grant

George is apart of the 2020 cohort as a Ed.D. student. His responsibility is to help edible and ornamental growers across the country implement modern agricultural/horticultural practices. He is interested in evaluating the integration of virtual-based technology to aid in agricultural education. George was born, raised, and currently resides in the Southeast with a Australian Shepherd named Bear and a passion for fishing.

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Cadie Hall

Cadie Hall is a moderate intellectual disabilities teacher at a middle school in South Carolina. She is originally from Ashland, Kentucky, and has always wanted to attend the University of Kentucky. She is on the Ph.D. track and has research interests in how leadership impacts special education teachers from a district and classroom level. She currently serves on the Teacher Education Committee for Anderson University’s College of Education and their Teaching Fellows’ Advisory Council. She obtained her undergraduate from AU with certifications in elementary, early childhood, and special education. She went on to get her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction: Leadership from Liberty University. In her school, she runs a peer integration program for same-age peers to be buddies for students with intellectual disabilities.

Cadie has lived all over the country, including California, but recently bought a house in Greenville, SC where she spends a lot of her time hiking, swing dancing, and traveling.

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Chris Hall

I am a retired professional fighter and in 1995 I fought the heavyweight championship of the world. In 2009 I was honored to be inducted into the Martial Art Hall of Fame.

Presently, I am the Director of Database Technology and manage a team of highly experienced database administrators specializing in high-end, high-visibility databases. Published author on SQL Server performance improvement and monitoring and you can check out my book about database environments in crisis: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0841ZXNH9.

I current enjoy competitive powerlifting and have 3 state records.

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James Hall

Born in Memphis, TN. Currently live in Lexington, KY and married. B.S. in Biology and M.A. in Wellness. 2019 Morehead State University KHIS Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year. A Kentucky Colonel member. 2008 Natural Athlete Strength Association Hall of Famer. Research Analyst for U. of KY Center for Tobacco and Reference Products and a Personal Trainer for Elite U Fitness Center. The #1 Drug free bench presser in Kentucky: 562 bench press in the 220 class. On the cover of PLUSA the Magazine. Written articles for Monster Muscle the Mag and Powerlifting USA the Magazine. Co-author of two published research articles. A member of Omega Force Strength Team. Invited guess speaker for the UK Dr. Martin Luther King Center to talk on Wellness. Sponsored by Inzer Advance Designs. Favorite saying: It’s not how you start, but how you finish. Program: Ed.D. My research interest revolves around education and health disparities. It is my working hypothesis that a lack and/or absence of education can lead to negative health issues, revealing deep links between access to education and physical well-being. Access to education can help reduce poverty, change lives, improve financial crisis, improve overall wellness and reduce nutrition deficiency. By helping to equip communities with the access to education and knowledge about wellness, people’s lives can be improved and forever changed.

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Brian Hamilton

Brian Hamilton currently serves at the Assistant Director for the University of Kentucky’s Center for Graduate and Professional Diversity Initiatives. He completed undergrad at the University of Missouri where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and later earned his Master of Education in College Student Personnel from the University of Louisville. Before joining the University of Kentucky and CGPDI team, Brian served as the Senior Multicultural Admissions Counselor at Hanover College.

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Christine Harper

I currently serve as the Associate Vice President of Student Success, and Chief Enrollment Officer for the University of Kentucky. I have 20 years of higher education experience in various areas of student affairs and enrollment management, including direct experience with the registrar, financial aid, first year transitions, student success, as well as undergraduate and professional admissions. In addition, I hold an adjunct faculty position in the College of Dentistry and teach Koru mindfulness courses to students, faculty and staff at the University and community. I have utilized action research frequently during my career and focus mostly on areas of access and equity in admissions, holistic review, empathy building and student resiliency, and gaining efficiencies in the workplace to impact staff workload and customer experience. My area of interest in my doctoral research is the use of mindfulness as an intervention for stress and resilience in higher education.

Aalboe, J. A., Harper, C., Beeman, C. S., & Paaso, B. A. (2014). Dental school application timing: implications for full admission consideration and improving diversity of dental students. Journal of dental education, 78(4), 575–579. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24706687/

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Christopher Hayden, IV

Education is a fascinating area of study for so many reasons including its importance to society, rich history and diversity of thought and approaches. Opportunities for social enterprise and innovation make it one of the most exciting fields to be a part of. Originally from Southern California, I have been living abroad in Indonesia for the past ten years, teaching and leading at International Baccalaureate (IB) schools. I have a Masters in Education from San Diego State University and am currently interested in developing machine learning approaches to decision-making in education and also skills-based education, service-learning, student agency building and technology integration in general. I believe the biggest calling for us in the field of education today is to develop exponential solutions in response to disruptions of digital and economic landscapes.

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Sara Hendricks

I am currently living and teaching at an international University in Japan (Asia Pacific University – Ritsumeikan). I teach English language full-time and like spending time with my husband and three kids. I also like paddle boarding, listening to podcasts, and researching equality in the classroom.

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Ellie Holliday

Ellie is a Lecturer in the University of Kentucky College of Education Department of Curriculum & Instruction and serves as the college’s Coordinator of International Partnerships. She earned her M.A. in Diplomacy and International Commerce from the Patterson School at UK in 2014 and began Ph.D. studies with EDL in Fall 2019. Her research interests include international education, internationalization, study abroad, and infusion of global competency into the curriculum of educator preparation programs and K-12 schools.

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Marjorie Johnson

Marjorie is in the PhD program for Educational Leadership Studies. She hopes to complete her dissertation in 2022. She lives in Georgetown, KY with her husband and two daughters. She works for the Scott County School District and is an assistant principal at Scott County Middle School. Her research interests include global competency for high school graduates, education reform, and assessment analysis for instructional improvement.

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Albert Kalim

Albert holds Master’s degrees in Computer Science and in Business Administration from the University of Kentucky (UK) with professional certifications in Project Management, Global Commerce & Strategy, Lean Six Sigma, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace. He has been working as the Webmaster of the UK Alumni Association for 15 years and as an adjunct at UK and Asbury University teaching technology, multimedia, and seminar courses for many years. Albert is a recipient of the 2004 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for Service. He is also recognized (2010-2020) as one of the Teachers Who Made A Difference by UK College of Education. He enjoys spending time with family and friends.

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Stuart Keogh

My name is Stuart Keogh. I have been in education for 11 years. The first 8 have been as a classroom secondary science teacher and soccer coach. The last 3 have been as a campus instructional coach. I completed my undergraduate degree in biomedical science in 2008 from Texas A&M and my masters in 2020 from Tarleton State University. I live in Northlake, Texas with my wife who is a school administrator and my 2 kids.

Stacey Love

Stacey is an experienced higher education professional that has spent the last two decades building bridges to K-12 education while concentrating on the recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff. She is passionate about collaboration, team-building, improving and developing community partnerships, and identifying barriers that prohibit college access for historically underrepresented populations. Stacey is in the Ph.D. program and her research interests include taking a deep dive into the systemic barriers that prohibit the transition between secondary and post-secondary education and how those obstacles impact student retention and graduation. Stacey currently serves as Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Outreach and Student Success at John Carroll University (OH). She resides in University Heights, Ohio with her husband, son, and fluffy kitty.

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David Lucian

I currently live in Connecticut, where I teach computer technology in a K-8 school in Waterbury. Working in an inner city school district has heightened my interest on fixing the achievement gap that exist between urban and suburban schools. Using technology daily, I see the importance of using up to date computers and software that will best help our students thrive. Providing such a learning environment can be the challenging part and is a focus of mine that I would one day love to improve in districts like the one I am currently working in.

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Ian MacPhail

I am currently the History Department chair at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham, MA. I coach lacrosse and soccer here, and I’m in charge of the boys dormitory. I’ve been teaching since 2011 and I hope to someday run an independent school, teach education at the collegiate level, or both.

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Shary Marshall

Shary Lyssy Marshall currently serves as deputy head of school at the Bavarian International School in Munich, Germany and is in her second year of the Ed.D. program. She has held a variety of leadership and educational roles in international schools in China, Taiwan, Bulgaria, Czechia, Israel and the US, including a stint in higher education at the University of Vermont and as a freelance journalist in Florida. Her research interests include organizational culture and positivity, Kagan’s Theory of Adult Development, Heifetz’ technical/adaptive model and the intersection of teacher and student agency, well-being, and motivation.

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Jessica Martinkosky

I’ve been an art professor at Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia for 13 years. I teach ceramics, art history and appreciation, 3-dimensional design and co-teach a humanities survey of non-western cultural traditions that focuses on the Buddha Road in Asia. I also just completed a graduate certificate in communications at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and will now be able to teach communications at BRCC. I did a leadership program at BRCC, became more confident in my leadership skills and decided I wanted to take the next step in leadership development.

On a personal level, my husband and I have a 17 year old son, a 6 year old daughter and a 4 year old son. My husband is also back in graduate school, so things are pretty academic in our house right now.

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Janae Mobley

Currently an Assistant Principal at Noblesville High School in Indiana over Seniors, Counseling, Safety, Testing, MTSS, Diversity, and our Alternative School.

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Bryley Murphy

I am a math teacher at Randall Cooper HS in Boone County, Kentucky. I am pursuing an Ed.D in Educational Leadership with an interest in organizational culture and identity. I earned my B.S. in education from UK and it is great to be back for my graduate work.

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Amy O’Neill

Amy O’Neill is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership while also completing work on an Executive Educational Leadership Certificate. She is a certified K-6 educator and administrator, a US Army veteran, an Army wife, and a mother to six children ages 3-15 years. She holds an Ed.S. in Administration and Supervision, and her culminating research project for that degree was a field study on the Mathematical achievement of males versus females after the implementation of a STEM program. Her current research interests include topics related to military students including resiliency, frequent geographic relocation, and how different leadership styles support the unique needs of military children. Amy is active in the Catholic Women of the Chapel at her church, as well as the local historical society. She serves on the School Community Council at the nearby middle school and holds an Executive Board position with a military organization that gives back to the local community. In addition to her new hobby of reading long academic publications, Amy enjoys running, playing golf badly, and paddle boarding near her home in the beautiful state of Hawai’i.

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Kyle Pepin

Kyle Pepin is a student in the Ph.D. in Educational Leadership program. He is an instructor of Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Engineering for the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system and its partnered dual enrollment high schools. He believes in workforce development, career and technical education, and STEM education as practical and growth oriented education mediums for great careers, entrepreneurship, and lifelong learning. Kyle’s research interests include improving recruitment and retention in these types of education programs as well as facilitating partnerships between industry, colleges, and high schools for dual-enrollment and student career progression.

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Elisabeth Read

Elisabeth Read is pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. Elisabeth started her Doctoral journey in 2019 and is simultaneously working toward her Principal and Executive Leadership Certificates. Her research interests include Leadership for Numeracy, Anti-Racist Pedagogy, and impact of teacher beliefs on practice. Elisabeth is an Instructional Coach for Jefferson County Public Schools in Kentucky. She was a middle school math teacher, but has found a passion for helping teachers and families develop and build numeracy with Elementary age students. Elisabeth has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hanover College (Indiana) and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Bellarmine University. Elisabeth lives in Louisville with her husband, two children, three bonus daughters, and a menagerie of furry friends. If she’s not at home in Kentucky, you’ll probably find her on a beach with a book!

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Kelli Reno

Kelli is a member of the 2021 Ed.D. cohort in Educational Leadership. Her research interests are centered on collaborative structures in education as they relate to teacher efficacy and student engagement. A native of Lexington, Kelli is the teacher-librarian for Frederick Douglass High School (Fayette County Public Schools). Before being offered the chance the build the library program from the ground up at FDHS, she taught English for STEAM Academy (FCPS), where she was introduced to her amazing partners at UK EDL. Kelli holds a B.A. in English from Saint Michael’s College (Colchester, VT), a M.A. in English from the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College (VT), and completed her post-graduate certification in P-12 School Library Media at Eastern Kentucky University. She plans to complete her Principal certification along with her Ed.D. In addition to her daily work at Frederick Douglass and her EDL studies, she serves as a member of the Kentucky Bluegrass Award title nomination committee for grades 9-12 and as the grades 9-12 title selection committee coordinator for the Kentucky Shared Collection, the Commonwealth’s statewide ebook consortium for school libraries.

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Savannah Robin

Savannah is the Internship Coordinator for the Equine Science and Management Undergraduate program within the College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. She earned dual Bachelors of Science degrees from the University of Kentucky in 2009 in both Career and Technical Education (Agricultural Education) and Community and Leadership Development (Communications emphasis). She earned her Master of Science in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education with a research interest in education and agricultural advocacy. In 2019, she completed the Principal Preparation program in the Educational Leadership Department. In Fall 2019 she began her Ed.D. studies with the Educational Leadership department. Her research interests include career, professional, personal, and employability preparedness of college students.

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Ray Scheetz

Ray is a Ph.D. student in the Educational Leadership program. Having earned a B.A. in English from the University of Southern Mississippi, an M.A. in English Literature from Belmont University, and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School, Ray now lives in middle Tennessee with his wife and two children. He is a history teacher and IB Diploma Program Coordinator for Williamson County Public Schools. His research interests include teacher leadership, leadership succession, and building learning organizations. A lifelong baseball fan, Ray published Leading Off: 19th Century Superstars Who Shaped Professional Baseball in 2019.

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Ryan Schubert

Mr. Schubart began his teaching career in 2002 at First Colonial High School. After teaching in the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial for eight years, he served as an Assistant Principal for nine years at Princess Anne High School and Frank W. Cox High School. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership, both from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. He is currently completing his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky in Education Sciences with a specialization in Educational Leadership and holds a certificate in School Technology Leadership.

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Chavis Sims

Greetings! I am in the Ed.D program and I am from Hickory, North Carolina. I am currently entering my second year in school administration as an assistant principal at a large, diverse elementary school. I am interested in researching the impact of culturally relevant curriculum in the lives of ethnically heterogeneous student populations.

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April Stanley

My name is April and I am Momma to four who currently resides in Nicholasville, though I am originally from Pikeville. I graduated from the University of Pikeville (Pikeville College back in my day) with a BA in History and Political Science with intentions of teaching high school history/government courses. Life happened and I landed here in Central Kentucky eventually attending UK to earn a Masters in Higher Education focusing on Policy Evaluation in August of 2019. At the time I worked for KCTCS. I currently work for the Kentucky Department of Education as Program Consultant working with alternative programs across the state. I was accepted into the Educational Leadership Ed.D program earlier this year and though I am nervous I am also excited to learn and grow as an educational professional. My research interests truly lie back in higher-education as I am sure my career will take me back to someday. Much of my master’s work focused on remedial education and performance-based funding. I am also interested in inclusion/diversity initiatives, Appalachian education, and quality standards across all of education. I look forward to meeting everyone and working together in this exciting program.

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Deanna Vatan

I am excited to join the UK Educational Leadership Studies community as a member of the 2020 Ed.D. cohort. My career journey has had me traversing the higher education landscape as a student affairs professional at both public and private, small and large institutions in Ohio and New York. Presently, I serve as Assistant Dean of Student Life at Mercy College of Ohio, a Catholic institution focused on healthcare programs located in Toledo, Ohio.

I have both professional and personal interests in leadership. Professionally, in my current capacity, I help cultivate the leadership skills of the students with whom I work. Through retreats, workshops, and scholarship programs I encourage students to explore a variety of theories and principles to better inform their own leadership philosophies and foundations. Woven throughout these leadership initiatives are the concepts of the servant leadership model.

I embrace the same model of leading by serving in my personal life by focusing on the power of collaboration, communication, and positivity and on the growth and well-being of the people in my life and the community in which I live.

I am interested in further exploring how the work of higher education professionals impacts the transfer student population in matters such as their transition to the institution, curricular and co-curricular experiences while attending an institution, and their overall success.

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Jane Walsh

Jane Walsh is pursuing a PhD. in Educational Leadership Studies. She is from a suburb of Chicago and currently living in Charlotte, N.C. with her family. She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida State University and master’s degrees in Teaching and Biology from UNC Charlotte. Jane taught high school chemistry for several years, and most recently assisted in teaching undergraduate biology classes. During that time she developed virtual laboratory activities to complement the lecture material. Her current research interests include leadership’s role in the willingness and readiness of teachers to use technology and project-based learning methods in their classrooms.

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Geelyn Warren

I started my academic career at West Kentucky Community and Technical College (WKCTC) seeking a transfer degree and working as work-study student in the Financial Aid Office. It was there my passion for Higher Education and its impacts really began. I received a full-time position in the FA Office where I worked for 7 years and discovered a further interest in data and research. I chose my Graduate program focusing on data analytics and left the FA Office for a position as the Coordinator of Institutional Research (with WKCTC). I have been in the role for almost four years and truly love what I do and wish to advance in a similar role impacting policy and decisions to ultimately better serve students.

I live in Western Kentucky and have one four year old daughter, a four year old step-daughter (they are three days apart so basically twins), and a 3 year old step-son. I also have two dogs, a Corgi and a Husky to ensure if the children aren’t making a mess, there will at least be dog hair on everything.

I was extremely nervous to take the next step and apply for the Ed.D program but am so excited for the opportunity to continue to learn and grow as a leader and advocate for education.

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Daniel Wolford

Dan Wolford is a first-year Ph.D. student in Educational Leadership. His research interests include the potential for community-based school systems to uplift historically oppressed communities. Dan is a world history teacher and Assistant Director of Academic Engagement at Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School in Detroit, Michigan. He creates student-driven learning experiences that elevate student voices. He engineers educational systems centered around student expression, creativity, and high performance, such as his extracurricular hip-hop program Lyrical Crusaders. He received his Bachelor’s in Social Studies Education and his Master’s in Curriculum from Michigan State University.

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Dan Wright

I completed my BA in History from the University of Cincinnati in 2013 and my MA in War and Society in 2015. After graduating with my masters I joined the College of Arts and Sciences advising team at the University of Kentucky. In 2018 I moved back to my alma mater, where I currently work as a Senior Academic Advisor in the Enrollment Management Office at the University of Cincinnati.