Speaker Biographies

Welcome and Keynote

Dr. Lorenzo Baber

Dr. Lorenzo DuBois Baber

Lorenzo DuBois Baber is an Associate Professor and Program Chair of Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Baber's scholarly interest broadly examine equity and social justice in post-secondary education. His research foci include leadership within community college contexts; experiences of minoritized students in post-secondary STEM education; and use of critical theory to inform higher education policies and practices.

Dr. Baber is the author of nearly forty journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports. He has participated on research teams that have collectively secured over $5 million in grant funding. His scholarship has been published in leading higher education journals and featured in public spaces, including the National Science Foundation website and National Public Radio (NPR). Dr. Baber has served on over 60 doctoral dissertations committees and chaired 18, including on that was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Dissertation of the Year from the American Association of Hispanics in Education (Author, Dr. Renata Alejandra Revelo Alonso). He has taught sixteen different course topics in higher education.

Dr. Baber is an active member of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC), the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He currently serves as an elected member of the CSCC Conference Selection Site committee; and member of the 2020 CSCC conference program committee.

Dr. Baber holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies (with an emphasis in Higher Education and cognate in Sociology) from Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining faculty at Loyola University Chicago, he held tenure-line faculty appointments at Iowa State University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Baber has professional experience as a mid-level administrator in Undergraduate Admissions, Multicultural Affairs, and Residence Life. He proudly hails from Greensboro, North Carolina.


9:00-9:50 sessions

Assessing Motivation and Utilizing Motivational Interviewing in Introductory College Biology for Improved Student Success

William Martin

Assistant Professor of Biology, Aurora University, Aurora, IL


Assessment as Instruction: Strategies for Fostering Equity

Margeaux Temeltas, BA, MA

English department chair, National Louis University, Chicago, IL

Stephanie Poczos, BA, MA, EdS

Associate Dean of General Education, National Louis University, Chicago, IL


Evaluation of Non-College Programs for PLA: Access, Equity, Bias

Nicholas Hayes, MFA, MA

Assistant Director Office of Prior Learning Assessment, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Joseph Chen, PhD

Director Office of Prior Learning Assessment, DePaul University, Chicago, IL

Roni Buckley, EdD

PLA Advisor Office of Prior Learning Assessment, DePaul University, Chicago, IL


Inclusive practices: Building syllabi to support students during the Covid Pandemic

Jennifer Stringfellow, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jennifer Buchter, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Cori More, BCBA, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Inclusivity in/outside the Classroom

Lan Dong

Professor of English, University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL

Sarah Webb

Assistant Professor of English, University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL

Nicholas Dabbs

Adjunct Instructor of English, University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL

Scott Fenton

Instructor of English, University of Illinois Springfield, Springfield, IL


The Psychological Trauma of Black students and Black professionals on campus after the murder of George Floyd

Katherine Helm

Katherine M. Helm, PhD is a professor of psychology and director of Graduate Programs in Counseling at Lewis University where she teaches a wide range of graduate counseling courses in the clinical mental health counseling program. Dr. Helm’s scholarly contributions and publications are in the areas of individual and couples counseling, sexuality issues and education, counselor training and supervision, racial and multicultural issues in counseling, the treatment of trauma for sexual abuse, and pedagogy of multicultural courses. Dr. Helm has counseling and consultative experiences in psychiatric hospitals, community mental health, college counseling centers, and private practice settings.

Kristi Kelly

Kristi Kelly, Ed.D. is the chief diversity officer at Lewis University where she provides guidance on strategies that create an inclusive campus environment and multicultural programming that explores the history, victories, and challenges of marginalized groups for transformative change. Dr. Kelly’s experience in higher education includes developing, maintaining, and enhancing initiatives where advocating for access to quality education for all students and contributing to ones sense of belonging as well as creating a culture of care for students and employees are key priorities. Her research has focused on the experiences of black women, students, faculty and staff in the collegiate setting through the lens critical race theory and black feminist thought. In the community, she works with non-profit organizations by offering educational and leadership programs to youth and teens.

Tenille Allen

Tennille Nicole Allen, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Lewis University. She is also the director of Lewis’ African American Studies Program and the Ethnic and Cultural Studies Program. Her primary teaching and research interests are in the intersections of race, class, gender, identity, and place. She is the author of works on social networks, food inequalities, the sociological contributions of Zora Neale Hurston, as well as African American intimate relationships, and African American cultural and creative practices. Her current community-based participatory research projects focus on community memory and African American girls and women living in Joliet and Chicago as they understand and create resilient and resistive practices in their lives.


10:00-10:50 sessions

Diversifying Faculty and Staff at EIU: The Quality Initiative Proposal

Sace Elder

Professor and Chair, Department of History, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Catherine Polydore

Professor, Counseling and Higher Education, Assistant Dean, Honors College, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jeffrey Stowell

Professor, Department of Psychology, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Angela Vietto

Professor and Chair, Department of English, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Examining systems to support Students: A holistic approach to support students during challenging times

Jennifer Buchter, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Cori More, BCBA, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jennifer Stringfellow, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Freshman Connection

Heidi Larson, PhD

Professor, Counseling and Higher Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Aileen Tierney, BA

Counseling and Higher Education, Eastern Illinois University

Max Smith, BA

Counseling and Higher Education, Eastern Illinois University

Audrey Kim, BS

Counseling and Higher Education, Eastern Illinois University


Incorporating Brain-Based Learning into Virtual Career Support and Delivery

Angela Evans

Angela Evans is the Assistant Director of the Career Development Center at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and has worked in the not for profit sector and in higher education for nearly twenty years. Her experience includes career development, addictions, community and mental health counseling, programming, and training and supervision. Her professional credentials include: Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC), Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH), and Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CADC).

Angela is a first-generation college graduate who received her BS in Biology from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and M.A. in Human Services, with a concentration in Child and Family Studies and Doctorate of Public Administration (DPA), with specialization in Organizational Leadership and Management from the University of Illinois Springfield. Her work involves career advising/counseling, assessment, programming, and presenting to diverse audiences. Her research and interests focus on positive psychology, organizational behavior, brain-based learning, psychometric testing, mentoring and development.

Hannah Nicolaisen

Hannah Nicolaisen is a fourth-year student at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Along with being a career peer student mentor, she is a member of the UIS Volleyball team, a dean’s list scholar and member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. She is originally from Houston, Texas and spent two years in Kansas playing volleyball and studying at Cowley College where she graduated with an Associates of Science degree before transferring to UIS. In Kansas, she earned two-time NJCAA All-American recognitions and was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa academic honor society. Her interests include leadership training and development and she plans to apply to graduate school to further explore leadership, business, and psychology.

Mildred Wallace

Mildred Wallace is a third-year student at the University of Illinois at Springfield in the College of Arts and Sciences where she is pursuing a degree in Medical Laboratory Science (BS) and a minor in Biology. She is the recipient of the Health Professions and Wepner Scholarship, which has allowed her to engage wholly in the natural sciences. In her studies, Mildred is focusing on microbiology, training in laboratories to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of patients in need of urgent care. Her interest in healthcare and biology has been prominent since childhood, where curiosity, ambition, and determination drove much of her passion for the natural sciences. In addition to being a career peer student mentor, Ms. Wallace is a part of the organization Black Women of Excellence, which strives to create a safe place on campus for women of African American descent. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, she intends to gain experience in medical laboratories and in the future pursue a career as a Pathologist’s Assistant.


Supporting First Generation College Students in the Applied Music Studio

Rebecca Johnson

Assistant Professor of Flute, School of the Arts, Department of Music, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Elizabeth Sullivan

Assistant Professor of Oboe and Musicianship, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Brian Sullivan

Independent scholar


The NexSTEM Program: A Community Assets Program that Fosters the Next Generation of STEM Leaders

Maggie Evans, PhD

Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL

Sheri L. Glowinski, PhD

Director, NexSTEM Program, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL

Pennie Gray, PhD

Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL

Rebecca Roesner, PhD

PI, NSF S-STEM NexSTEM Grant, Associate Provost & Professor of Chemistry, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL


11:00-11:50 sessions

Educator Self-Care, Resiliency, and Inclusion

Carolyn B. Jester, BSE, MSE, EdD

Professor of Special Education, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR. Dr. Carolyn B. Jester is a Professor of Special Education at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR. The majority of her prior experience includes working in the public-school system as a special education teacher and then becoming the special education supervisor for the school district. Dr. Jester’s degrees include B.S.E. Dual-General Education K-6 and Special Education K-12, HSU M.S.E. School Counseling, K-12, Curriculum Program Administration in Special Education Supervision also from HSU. She received the Educational Psychology, Ed.D at Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA. jesterc@hsu.edu

Peggy Woodall, BS, MS, PhD

Professor in the Advanced Instructional Studies Department, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR. Dr. Peggy Woodall is a professor in the Advanced Instructional Studies Department at Henderson State University. She teaches courses in both special education and education leadership. Her career in the field of education spans over 40 years of active roles in both special education and public-school administration as well as adjunct and professor roles in higher education. Her credentials for the licenses include full endorsement in gifted and special education categories and three administrative levels as principal, supervisor and superintendent. Dr. Woodall holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in Gifted Education and Special Education Administration from Ft. Hays Kansas State University. Her doctorate degree is from the University of Santa Barbara California in Special Education and Legal Issues. woodalp@hsu.edu

Tammy Wrobbel

Candidate in the Master of Education Developmental Therapy Program, Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, AR. Ms. Tammy Wrobbel is a Candidate in the Master of Education Developmental Therapy Program at Henderson State University and an Inclusion Specialist in the State of Illinois at Early CHOICES. She has served as a Coordinator of Special Services and a Developmental Therapist in the State of Illinois. With 19 years of experience in the field of early childhood, Ms. Wrobbel enjoys serving children, families, and staff as well as collaborating with community agencies. Ms. Wrobbel is also a Certified Infant Massage Instructor, Youth Trauma Yoga specialist, and a Volunteer Advocate for the State of Illinois. tammywrobbel@gmail.com


Highland’s Project Succeed program

Anthony Sago

Director of TRIO, Eastern Illinois University

Anthony Sago, Is the Director of TRIO Services at Highland Community College. Being a first-generation college student himself, Anthony is known by the student body as a constant resource. With 15 years of experience working with underrepresented students at HCC, that experience allows for a collaboration between of students, staff, and faculty to better serve the college community. To his credit, Anthony teaches college seminar and financial literacy courses to new and continuing students. Providing much-needed college assets and tools for success. Faith, Family, and Community guides Anthony’s dedication to Highland Community College s community.


Level Up On Diversity, Inclusion and Equity

Jack Blahnik

Esport Graduate Assistant, Campus Recreation, Illinois State University, Normal, IL


Lost in a Free Land: A Personal Narrative

Amy Davis, PhD

Assistant Professor, Elementary Literacy,Teaching, Learning, and Foundations, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


12:00-12:50 sessions

Built-in @ Booth: DEI as a library priority

Kirstin Duffin, MLIS, MS

Associate Professor of Research, Engagement, and Scholarship, Library Services, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks. Kirstin Duffin is a research support librarian at Booth Library and liaison for the sciences and math departments. She is co-director of EIU iSTEM, a group committed to encouraging and empowering underrepresented students in the STEM fields. She holds an MLIS from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an MS in Biological Sciences from EIU.

Stacey Knight-Davis, MLS, MS

Professor, Head of Library Technology Services, Library Services, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks. Stacey Knight-Davis is the head of Library Technology Services at Booth Library and the librarian for nursing and public health. She holds an MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MS in Technology from EIU. Stacey joined the EIU library faculty in 2002 and holds the rank of professor.

Beth Heldebrandt, BS, MA

Public Relations Director, Library Services, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks. Beth Heldebrandt is the public relations director at Booth Library. She is an adjunct instructor for the EIU School of Communication and Journalism, and an analyst for Ad Fontes Media. Beth earned a BS in journalism from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale and an MA in English from EIU.

Zach Newell, BA, MA, MS, PhD candidate in Library and Information Science, Simmons University, Boston, MA

Dean of Library Services, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks. Zach Newell is dean of Library Services at Eastern Illinois University. Zach earned a BA in Philosophy from Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA; an MA in History of Art from University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and an MS in Library Science from Clarion University, Clarion, PA. He is a PhD candidate in Library and Information Science at Simmons University, Boston, MA. He served as a Fulbright Scholar in Alexandria, Egypt, in 2012.


Disrupting Norms to Increase Diversity of Teacher Candidates: Restraining Forces for Junior Faculty

Cori More, BCBA, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jennifer Buchter, MSW, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jennifer Stringfellow, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Inclusive Innovation: How We Shortchange Startups and Limit Innovative Impact

Kate Jackson

Kate teaches design thinking, inclusive innovation, and the resilient entrepreneurial mindset. She also leads the college’s elevator pitch, social innovation and business venture pitch competitions.

Passionate about building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems, she focuses on addressing barriers for women, people of color, people in rural communities, and people with disabilities. She believes expanding access for all entrepreneurs will help build more resilient communities, cultivate jobs skills, provide more tax revenues, and lift more people out of poverty. Helping lift and launch entrepreneurs regardless of place, race, or gender is not just the right thing to do it’s the smart thing to do. During the pandemic, Kate launched Mother Funders, LLC to support women, especially mothers, disproportionally affected by the crisis.

In her decades-long career at Accenture and Deloitte Consulting, she designed and implemented major change initiatives at both Fortune 500 companies and non-profits to improve performance and build greater resiliency. She has worked across multiple cultural contexts and industry verticals from the west coast to the east coast to the midwest to Asia and Europe, making change happen in large, established organizations. She learned that taking a human-centered approach (i.e., focusing on and working with the people impacted) is what makes change stick.

Kate received her BA and MA from The University of Chicago and her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.


Intersectionality as a Framework to Develop Best Practices to Improve Access to Higher Education for Marginalized Groups

Danielle Bank, M.Ed.

Disability Support Services Coordinator, Academic Enrichment Center, Dominican University, River Forest, IL. Danielle Bank has 15 years of experience in both business and education sectors. After working in human resources, with a focus on recruitment and training, she transitioned to education, earning her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration at Loyola University Chicago. In 2010, she began serving as Career Counselor at North Central College partnering with students to help them identify and achieve their career goals. Transitioning from her role in Career Development, Bank served as Learning Specialist at Benedictine University, leading Disability Services in the development of policies and programing to ensure educational access for students with an emphasis on self-advocacy and retention. Bank continues to provide students with academic support as the Coordinator for Disability Support Services at Dominican University. She meets students where they are, aiding in study skills development and ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to be successful and persist to graduation.

Manu Kaur, Ph.D.

Professor (Mathematics), Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL. Manu Kaur is a William B. Scholl endowed science professorial chair at Benedictine University. She grew up in India and taught at the University of Delhi for five years before earning her doctoral degree in mathematics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her current research interests include mathematics pedagogy and diversity and inclusion in STEM. Through her teaching she aims to make mathematics interesting and accessible to all, irrespective of social and cultural background. A working member of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America, she currently serves on the MAA committee on Technology in Mathematics Education, and on the steering committee for the International Congress on Mathematics Education. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, traveling and being with her daughters.

Pat Somers, Ph.D., LCPC

Assistant Professor (Clinical Psychology), Director of Intercultural Education, Department of Psychology, Benedictine University, Lisle, IL. Pat Somers is the Director of Intercultural Education at Benedictine University, Lisle, IL. She is an assistant professor in the Master of Clinical Psychology program and teaches graduate courses in ethics, social and cultural foundations (multicultural counseling), and research methodology. She is co-chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action, Advisory Council. Her scholarly interests include the value of social justice education and the integration of the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching into the curriculum and co-curriculum. She is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking/hiking, stimulating conversation, and almost anything that involves being in nature.


Striking a Match to Institutional Bridges: Co-Conspiring to Overcome Barriers to DEI Work

Alex Berry

Director, Student Development, Richland Community College, Decatur, IL

Clarice Thomas

Student Success Coach, Richland Community College, Decatur, IL


1:00-1:50 sessions

Binding the Burden of Blackness: Facing History to Redefine Ourselves

Carole R. Collins Ayanlaja, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Creating a Trans-Inclusive Classroom

Tori Neal, MA, PhD

Student and Instructor, Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL


Identifying Diversity and Committing to Inclusivity in the Online Classroom

Holly Farley, EdD, RN

Assistant Professor, Chair of the Gail and Richard Lumpkin School of Nursing, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks

Jacy Ghast, DNP, RN

Assistant Professor/Clinical Coordinator/Advisor, Gail and Richard Lumpkin School of Nursing, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Integrating Literacy and Literature within LGBTQ+-Based Curricula

John H. Bickford, PhD

Professor of Social Studies/History Education, Department of Teaching, Learning, and Foundations, Eastern Illinois University, SelectedWorks


Kill Them Before They Grow: Racial Disparity in Conduct

Amanda Mesirow

Coordinator, Code of Conduct, Moraine Valley Community College, Palos Hills, IL. Amanda Mesirow (she/hers) currently serves as the Coordinator, Code of Conduct and as a Title IX Investigator at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. She earned her BA at Eastern Illinois and her MS in Counseling and Educational Psychology from Kansas State University, and has 16 years of experience in higher education. Mesirow has presented and published professionally numerous times to campus through international audiences; most often on topics of social justice, sexual assault, leadership development, individual and organizational trauma response, and campus threat assessment and safety. She also offers workshops and speaking engagements through AJM Keynotes & Workshops. Mesirow is pursuing her PhD in Higher Education Administration at Illinois State University.