WCET's 29th Annual Meeting
Wednesday Speakers
Linda Baer
Senior Consultant
Linda L. Baer, Consultants
Linda Baer is a senior consultant with Linda L. Baer Consultants. She has served over thirty years in numerous executive level positions in higher education including senior program officer in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, system senior vice chancellor, university senior vice president and interim president, and senior fellow with Civitas Learning. Her ongoing focus is to inspire leaders to improve student success and transform institutions for the future. Baer presents and publishes on educational transformation, partnerships, shared leadership and workshops on building capacity in analytics.
Jeff Borden
Chief Innovation Officer
Saint Leo University
Jeff Borden is the chief innovation officer at Saint Leo University. Having spoken nationally and internationally to tens of thousands over two decades, Borden employs his base subjects of communication and education, as well as his performance history as a comedian, actor, and director to showcase innovative and scalable solutions by which to transform learning for all. Using his platform of Education 3.0, Borden seeks to create "best learning" by using neuroscience, education research, and education technology every day.
Gates Bryant
Tyton Partners
Gates Bryant joined Tyton Partners as a partner in 2011 in the strategy consulting practice. Prior to joining Tyton Partners, Bryant was an executive with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, working in strategy, product management, and finance during a period of dramatic change in the educational publishing and technology industry. Prior to that role, he spent seven years as a strategy consultant with the Parthenon Group. Bryant began his career as an investment consultant with Cambridge Associates, evaluating global private equity and venture capital funds on behalf of foundations, endowments and other institutions.
Tonya Buchan
Instructional Designer
Colorado State University
Tonya Buchan is an instructional designer for The Institute for Learning and Teaching and Program Manager for the APLU Adaptive Courseware grant at Colorado State University. She received her MS. Ed in Curriculum and Instruction from Purdue University before working in employee and organizational development. Buchan started in Higher Education in 1999 as an online instructor at the College of Southern Nevada and later worked for Nevada State College as a course design and instructional technology consultant. Her interests include faculty development, online course design, blended classrooms, and active learning.
Deb Bushway
Provost & Consultant
Northwestern Health Sciences University, Lumina Foundation
Deb Bushway is Provost at Northwestern Health Sciences University and a consultant with the Lumina Foundation. She is interested higher education innovation focused on student learning and success. She has been deeply involved in the Competency Based Education movement, serving as senior advisor to the Undersecretary at the US Department of Education regarding educational innovation. She has served at University of Wisconsin – Extension, Capella University, and Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN. Bushway has more than 25 years of experience in higher education.
Lauren Carris
Director, Curriculum
Western Governors University
Lauren Carris seeks to inspire her teams and institutions to solve complex challenges in learning and workforce development. Today, she applies her leadership and drive for innovation to the increasing demand for affordable, attainable, quality higher education through competency-based learning at Western Governors University. There, Carris leads teams to design, deliver, and continuously improve programs at scale. She relies on the latest research in learning science and user experience and design to reimagine the definition of exceptional learning experiences.
Cody Connor
Manager of Course Design & Development
Purdue University
Cody Connor is the manager of course design and development at Purdue University, leading a team of twelve instructional designers. He serves as a member of the Teaching & Learning Technologies leadership team, collaborating with IT and academic leadership across campus to envision, develop and grow University-wide faculty resources and programs to support exemplary face-to-face and online course design and development. Connor also serves in a leadership role in Purdue's IMPACT program to redesign large foundational courses for student-centered learning and furthering Purdue's strategic goals toward student success and affordability.
Kevin Corcoran
Executive Director
Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium
Kevin Corcoran is the executive director of the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium (CTDLC). Corcoran is responsible for developing and growing the products and services offered to support eLearning initiatives. He also runs Connecticut’s Adult Education Virtual High School that supports the adult credit diploma program state-wide. Corcoran currently co-chairs the WCET e-Learning Consortial CIG as well as the NENY Blackboard Users Group, and New England OER organizations. He received his B.A. in English from the University of Connecticut and his M.B.A. with a specialization in technology management from Walden University.
David Dannenberg
Director, Academic Innovations & eLearning
University of Alaska Anchorage
David Dannenberg is the director of the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Academic Innovations & eLearning (AI&e). Reporting to a senior vice provost, he leads UAA’s efforts to innovate teaching through the use of instructional technology. In this role, he oversees the instructional design, eLearning/distance education, professional development, online student and ePortfolio Services.
Cheryl Dowd
Director, SAN
Cheryl Dowd is the State Authorization Network project director. Dowd worked at Sinclair Community College from 2012 – 2015 managing state authorization complexities as they related to Sinclair’s out of state activities as well as working on one of the student completion initiatives, Connect 4 Completion. She earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond in Virginia, master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, and bachelor’s degree in Political Science from James Madison University in Virginia.
Rene Eborn
Eborn Enterprises
Rene Eborn is a higher education consultant with twenty-eight years of experience.
Deb Everhart
VP, Design and Innovation
Learning Objects
Deborah Everhart is vice president, design and innovation, at Learning Objects, developing competency-based, interoperable learning environments and credentials. She has served as a strategic advisor for the American Council on Education, leading research and the publications "Communicating the Value of Competencies" and "Quality Dimensions for Connected Credentials." Everhart is a leader in the IMS Global working groups defining standards for CBE, extended transcripts, open badges, and digital credentials. She teaches as an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University.
Cristi Ford
Associate Vice Provost, Center for Innovation in Learning
University of Maryland University College
Cristi Ford, PhD, isassociate vice provost and offers leadership for the Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success at the University of Maryland University College. In this role she provides thoughtful leadership in identifying promising next generation online learning innovations and leads the implementation of this plan through rapid prototyping and piloting. She has been engaged in several innovation initiatives including adaptive learning, badging, several student success geared pilots.
Dominic Fried-Booth
Barnes & Noble Loud Cloud
Myk Garn
Assistant Vice Chancellor for New Learning Models
University System of Georgia
Myk Garn is an academic innovator and strategist with over 30 years of experience developing, deploying and leading college and state system instructional, operational, organizational, policy and strategic models. He is a committed academic change agent, focusing on the development and deployment of new instructional and educational operations with an emphasis on competency-based, student-driven, advancement-by-mastery models. He emphasizes the roles of faculty and needs of students throughout his work. His experience includes strategic planning, affordability, emerging trends, disruptive innovation, quality standards, governance, accessibility and accreditation.
Michael Goldstein
Co-Chair Education Practice
Colley LLP
Mike Goldstein is a partner in the Cooley Business department and co-chair of the Firm's Higher Education practice group. He was the founder and co-chair of the Higher Education industry practice at Dow Lohnes, which merged with Cooley in 2014. Goldstein has been a pioneer in the development and rational regulation of higher education in general and online learning in particular, and in the creation of innovative approaches to combining the resources and interests of the non-profit, public and for-profit postsecondary communities. He has served on numerous panels and committees on a variety of higher education issues, including as an expert member of the UNESCO-CHEA Task Force on Degree Mills and as a member of the National Advisory Panel for the enactment of the State Authorization Reciprocity Act. In 2014, Goldstein was honored with the WCET Richard Jonsen Award, which is given annually to a WCET member whose career has been committed to improving postsecondary educational programs and services through innovative uses of technology. He has been named in Best Lawyers in America for Education Law and recognized in Washington, DC Super Lawyers for Schools and Education.
Sharon Goodall
Director, Innovation, Design & Analysis
University of Maryland University College
Sharon Goodall is director of Innovation, Design and Analysis in Learning Design & Solutions at University of Maryland University College (UMUC), leading efforts in applying next generation instructional design approaches to online learning with the goal of improving student outcomes. With extensive agile course development experience, Goodall leads her team in focusing on student engagement through interactivity, simulation, and game-based learning. Prior to joining UMUC, she was a AI researcher; that experience is now coming full circle as machine learning and AI find application in online learning .
Amy Haston
Educational Technology Consultant
Purdue University
Amy Haston is an educational technology consultant in the Teaching and Learning Technologies group at Purdue University. Her team supports Purdue’s faculty in the use of educational technology to help facilitate student learning. Haston assists faculty with many types of tools, but her main areas of focus and expertise are with classroom response systems and lecture capture. She earned a BA in Communication from Purdue University.
Kelly Hermann
Vice President For Accessibility Strategy
University of Phoenix
Kelly Hermann is the vice president for accessibility strategy at the University of Phoenix. Hermann oversees services to students with disabilities and guides accessibility initiatives to ensure all students with disabilities are granted equal access to the University’s programs and activities. She chairs the special interest group on online learning and distance education for the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) and frequently presents on the topic for AHEAD, OLC, and other national organizations.
Mike Hess
Founder and Executive Director
Blind Institute of Technology
Mike Hess is the founder and executive director of the Blind Institute of Technology. He brings more than two decades of blindness experience, leadership, and thoughtfulness to the mission. As the token blind guy in private Fortune 500 companies, he experienced just what it takes to build organizations through people, processes, and tools. Hess managed 7- and 8-figure projects throughout his career, and states it is because of his blindness, not despite his blindness, that he became a 6-figure engineer. Even though he had great success in his corporate career, he always had the notion of leaving his thumbprint on humanity. Thus, he left corporate America to begin the mission at Blind Institute of Technology. After 4 years of challenges and successes, he has created partnerships with Davita, Uber, Oppenheimer and many other organizations to meet the goals of BIT. Along the way, because of key partnerships and wins, the Denver Post, Denver Business Journal, and CBS News 4, have all done significant stories on Blind Institute of Technology.

Sukhwhant Jhaj
Vice Provost for Academic Innovation and Student Success
Portland State University
Sukhwant Jhaj, vice provost for academic innovation and student success at Portland State University, provides vision and leadership to advance student success and undergraduate learning at Oregon's urban research university. Trained as a designer, Jhaj uses design thinking to discover new solutions for incremental and disruptive challenges facing the academy. Jhaj is an active researcher with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Association for Public and Land Grants Universities, and government agencies. He is an expert in design thinking, design of student services, managing change, open innovation and user centered design. Jhaj earned his terminal degree, Master of Architecture, from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He also holds an MBA from Portland State University and has completed Leading Change and Organizational Renewal program at Stanford Business School and Achieving Breakthrough Service program at Harvard Business School.
Sally Johnstone
Sally M. Johnstone is the new president of the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems and executive director of the Foundation for Student Success. She recently served as a vice president at the Western Governors University.She has also served as a provost at a public comprehensive university, in an executive role the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), and as a faculty member. Johnstone is a commissioner on the U.S. UNESCO Commission, and on the editorial boards for Change magazine (USA) and the Journal of Open Learning (UK). She has given scores of talks and authored dozens of articles, books, and reports on issues of integrating information and communication technology into academics.
Athena Kennedy
Senior Instructional Designer & Faculty Associate
ASU Online - EdPlus
Athena Kenndedy serves as a senior instructional designer and faculty associate at Arizona State University EdPlus, where she is an instructional design liaison for the international PLuS Alliance and the lead instructional designer for Continuing Education. She has served as a project director, instructional technologist, researcher, instructor, and student services professional in higher education for over a decade and taught college courses in technical writing and digital media, communication, marketing, GRE test preparation, the first-year experience for college students, and indoor cycling.
Jeff King
Executive Director Center for Excellence Transformative Teaching Learning
University of Central Oklahoma
Jeff King, Ed.D., is executive director of the University of Central Oklahoma’s Center for Excellence in Transformative Teaching and Learning. His research and application interests have long focused on what faculty can do to help students learn, to be motivated toward deep learning strategies, and to persist in their educations. Over the years as a college faculty member and in faculty professional development, King has matched passion to position in helping students succeed.
Jeanne Kitchens
Associate Director
Center for Workforce Development, Southern Illinois University
Jeanne Kitchens is part of a team helping with the Credential Transparency Description Language (CTDL), an open schema for credentials and competencies. The CTDL promotes collaboration and harmonization across initiatives that are developing data models, vocabularies, and schemas related to the major credential properties based on the principles of Linked Data. Along with CTDL the Credential Engine Registry (CER) is intended as an open metadata registry. Partners are helping to design and test these technologies to capture and connect credential and quality assurance information and competency frameworks.
Jessica Knott
Learning Design Manager
Michigan State University
Jessica Knott is the learning design manager and applied researcher for Michigan State University Information Technology. She has worked in information technology since 1998, spanning the public and academic sectors. Find her on Twitter @jlknott.
Mark Leuba
Vice President, Product Management
IMS Global Learning Consortium

Mark Leuba leads IMS Global Learning Consortium’s portfolio of technical standards and programs that are pioneering new ways to connect learners to employment opportunities. Leuba is active in the Connecting Credentials initiative, the Credentials Engine, and led TIP: the Technical Interoperability Pilot project for the Competency-Based Education Network (C-BEN), a major research project published in the Educause Review. Prior to IMS, he held several positions as a technology executive in the education industry.

Kim Lynch
Senior System Director for Educational Innovations
Minnesota State
Kim Lynch leads an innovative team that facilitates the use of technology for academic and student success across 37 colleges and universities in Minnesota. Prior to her position with the Minnesota State system, she worked for Anoka-Ramsey Community College in various roles, including Dean of STEM, Chief Information Officer for both Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College, Dean of Innovative Teaching & Learning, and teaching faculty member deeply committed to faculty development and effective online learning.
Demarée Michelau
Vice President of the Office of Policy Analysis and Research
Demarée K. Michelau is the vice president, policy analysis and research, at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). In this role, she manages WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit and oversees externally-funded projects related to adult learners, projections of high school graduates, college access and success, and the development of a multistate longitudinal data exchange. The author of numerous reports and policy briefs, she also has experience in a variety of higher education policy issues, including articulation and transfer, equity and attainment, accelerated learning options, college affordability, common academic standards, and K-16 reform. 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.
Patricia O'Sullivan
Adaptive Learning Program Manager
University of Mississippi
Patricia O’Sullivan is the manager of the University of Mississippi's Personalized Learning & Adaptive Teaching Opportunities (PLATO) Program. She holds advanced degrees in Theology and History, and has been an educator for over 20 years. With a background in instructional design and online learning, O'Sullivan transformed her large, lecture Health Ethics course into a flipped hybrid using adaptive courseware and employing collaborative problem-based learning.
Tina Parscal
Executive Director
Tina Parscal is the executive director of Colorado Community Colleges Online (CCCOnline), the online consortium of thirteen community colleges that comprise the Colorado Community College System. In this role, she provides strategic leadership and administrative direction for CCCOnline’s operational, academic, educational, and technical activities. She also chairs the Learning Technology Council for the Colorado Community College System. Parscal has more than 25 years of experience providing academic and administrative leadership in higher education and has served in such roles as provost/chief academic officer, dean, program director, and faculty.
Lena Patterson
Operations Director
Lena Patterson has been a part of the eCampusOntario team since the organization opened shop in August 2015. She worked closely with the government to establish the consortium model in Ontario and now heads up a growing project team in her role as operations director. Patterson focuses on cross-pollination, stakeholder relations, and the promotion of access and innovation in online and technology-enabled teaching and learning. She has a BA and an MA in English Lit from Dalhousie University. You can find her on twitter @lpatter10.
Karen Pedersen
Chief Knowledge Officer
Online Learning Consortium
Karen Pedersen currently serves as the chief knowledge officer for the Online Learning Consortium. Prior to joining OLC, Pedersen served in various leadership positions at public and private colleges/universities. Her responsibilities included leading a system-wide enrollment management transformation as well as managing marketing, student success, technology, and academic operations. She has envisioned over 25 innovative online degree programs. Pedersen holds BS and MS degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD from Oklahoma State University.
Russ Poulin
Director, Policy and Analysis
Russ Poulin organizes WCET's national policy and research activities, edits WCET's Frontiers blog, coordinates WCET's research efforts, and works on elearning consortia issues. He represented the distance education community in the U.S. Department of Education's 2014 Negotiated Rulemaking process. Previously, he coordinated distance education activities for the North Dakota University System. He holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado Denver and a Master's from the University of Northern Colorado. Poulin enjoys going to the films with his wife, Laurie.
Karl Rectanus
Learn Platform
Karl Rectanus is an educator, entrepreneur, and adviser. As cofounder and CEO of Learn Platform, an education innovation Benefit Corporation that empowers educators and their institutions to organize, streamline and analyze education technology through its research-backed LearnPlatform, Rectanus leads schools and districts, states, and networks, and colleges and universities in their efforts to simplify edtech selection, procurement, implementation and measurement. He works with learning organizations and networks across the country to establish and elevate standards of practice that drive personalized learning at scale, student achievement and equity in access. Originally an educator and administrator in the US and abroad, he has started and led multiple education innovation organizations, and currently advises districts, states, and foundations. Rectanus has lived, worked, and studied in over 12 countries, and was an NC Teaching Fellow and James M Johnston Scholar at UNC-Chapel Hill, and graduate courses at UCLA’s Anderson Business School and CalTech Executive Extension. He, his wife, and three daughters now live in Raleigh, NC.
Rob Robinson
Senior Director, Strategic Services
Civitas Learning
Rob Robinson is a senior director of Strategic Services at Civitas Learning where he works with colleges and universities to help them leverage data analytics to further their mission of student success. Robinson holds a BS and a Ph.D. from UT Austin and an MBA from St. Edward’s University. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). From 2008 to 2012, he chaired the Distance Education Advisory Committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the State of Texas.
Cyndi Rowland
Associate Director
Center for Persons with Disabilities, Utah State University
Cyndi Rowland is the associate director of a large research-training-and-service center, the Center for Persons Disabilities (CPD) at Utah State University. The CPD is in a national network of University Centers of Excellence in Disability; with one in each state. She directs projects on, technology and disability. She is the founder and executive director of WebAIM (www.webaim.org) and the technology director of the National Center for Disability and Access to Education (NCDAE; www.ncdae.org).
Christopher Sessums
Learning Strategies Consultant
Christopher Sessums is a learning strategies consultant with D2L Ltd working with clients and prospects across the globe to optimize student success and institutional effectiveness. Prior to joining D2L, Sessums rved as a faculty member and administrator at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, the University of California, Berkeley, and at the University of Florida, both centrally in the Office for Distance, Continuing, and Executive Education and within the School of Education.
Peter Smith
Orkand Chair, Professor of Innovative Higher Education Practices
University of Maryland University College
Peter Smith is the Orkand Chair and professor of innovative practices in higher education at the University of Maryland University College. The founding president of the Community College of Vermont, California State University, Monterey Bay, and the Open College at Kaplan University, and a member of the board of the Open Education Consortium, he brings a deep reservoir of knowledge and experience to this conversation.
Amy Stevens
VP, Academic Resources and Communication
Southern New Hampshire University
Amy Stevens did her doctoral work in American Intellectual History at Boston College, earned a Master’s in Teaching with Technology from Marlboro College Graduate Center, and has been driving innovation ever since. Since joining SNHU in 2011, she has grown and led a number of teams to support SNHU’s commitment to student success, academic excellence, and rapid expansion. As the vice president of academic resources and communication, she leads high performing teams that implement learning support models, support accreditation and compliance concerns and drive thought leadership.
Megan Tesene
Adaptive Learning Program Manager
Georgia State University
Megan Tesene is the adaptive learning program manager based in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Georgia State University. She is also a doctoral candidate in the Department of Sociology at GSU. Tesene has taught introductory and upper-level undergraduate courses at Georgia State, previously earning the Certificate of Excellence in College Teaching from CETL. In addition to sociological research, she has extensive experience in program evaluation, critical pedagogy, instructional support, and active learning communities.
Sasha Thackaberry
Assistant Vice President for Academic Technology and New Learning Models
Southern New Hampshire University
Sasha Thackaberry is the assistant vice president for Academic Technology and New Learning Models at Southern New Hampshire University. Prior to that role, she was the district director for eLearning Technologies in the Office of eLearning and Innovation at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. Focus areas include Next Generation Learning models like Competency-Based Education, MOOCs, digital badging, alternative credentialing, PLA and the development of integrated ecosystems to support innovative learning environments.She enjoys writing and has published articles as a guest blogger on e-Literate, WCET, and evoLLLution, as well as peer-reviewed publications for EDUCAUSE Review, eLearn Magazine, Distance Learning, and the League for Innovation’s Learning Abstracts. She is the co-recipient of the 2013 MOOC Award for Excellence through the Open Education Consortium, and a 2010 Innovation of the Year award through the League for Innovation. Thackaberry holds a PhD in higher education administration with a research focus in Competency-Based Education as well as an MAT from Kent State University. Her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance is from the University of Akron, proving that tech and arts can coexist and that the performing arts create a transferable skill set.
Evangeline Tsibris Cummings
Assistant Provost and Director
University of Florida
Kara Van Dam
Vice Provost
University of Maryland University College
Kara Van Dam, PhD serves as vice provost and dean of the Undergraduate School at UMUC. In this role, she ensures that the school, its faculty, staff and students - both overseas and stateside - are supported in rich learning environments, and that the school's more than 30 bachelor's degrees and undergraduate certificates help students develop as competent and confident people and professionals.
Heather Welzant
Associate Vice Provost, Academic Performance Improvement
University of Maryland University College
Heather Welzant is associate vice provost, academic performance improvement at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). She is responsible for partnering with other areas of the academic community at UMUC to achieve the greatest possible performance impact by ensuring that robust, systematic, aligned, and consistent quality processes are deployed in order to capitalize on evidence-based decision making. Welzant joined UMUC with over 17 years combined experience educating and training adult learners in both educational and business arenas. Further, she brought 10 years of higher education teaching experience; both traditional and online. Welzant holds a PhD in Education with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement from Capella University. Her research interests are with faculty and student performance relevant to online teaching and learning.
Allison Woods
Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Development
University of Maryland University College
Allison Woods has worked in higher education for over twenty years as a faculty member, course designer, faculty trainer, and now as the AVP of Faculty Development for University of Maryland University College. She earned her undergraduate degree from Ohio University and her master's from Bowling Green State University.
Margaret Wu
Educational Technologist
Purdue University
As an Educational Technologist with Purdue Teaching and Learning Technologies, Margaret Wu help improve students’ academic experience by piloting educational technologies for which there is an enterprise level need. Her expertise as an educator and former assessment professional allows her to contribute in the tool adoption process from the exploration to the assessment phase. She is passionate about the pedagogically sound use of educational technology to improve educational outcomes for all students. She earned a BA in English Education and an MSEd in Literacy and Language Education from Purdue University.
Ryan Yang
Associate Director Academic Technology
Michigan State University
Innovator, strategist and designer of education experience in higher education since 2000.