OCCRL Staff and Affiliates
Professor of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, and Director of OCCRL
Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher is a Professor of Higher Education/Community College Leadership in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds a PhD in Higher Education Administration with a specialization in Community College Leadership and Educational Evaluation from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching, research, and consulting activities largely include women in leadership, psychosocial adjustment and transition of marginalized collegians, transfer, access policies, student development and services at community colleges. Her research has been published in various journals and scholarly texts, including Equity and Excellence in Education, Higher Education Policy, and New Directions for Student Affairs. Dr. Zamani-Gallaher has authored/edited seven books. Her most recent titles include Working with student in community colleges: Contemporary strategies for bridging theory, research, and practice (ACPA/Stylus Publishing, 2014), ASHE Reader Series on Community Colleges, Fourth Edition (Pearson Publications, 2014), and The Obama administration and educational reform (Emerald Group Publishing, 2014). Prior to joining the College of Education at Illinois, she previously held appointments as a faculty member at Eastern Michigan University and West Virginia University. Zamani-Gallaher was a former fellow at ACT, Inc. and Mathematica Policy Research Institute (MPR) in Washington, DC. Dr. Zamani-Gallaher is Past-President of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC) and is Director for Research and Scholarship for the American Association of Personnel Administrators (ACPA). She currently serves as principal investigator for the Illinois Community College Board projects and PI for the National Science Foundation LSAMP funded Transfer and the Undergraduate STEM Pipeline at Two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions research. In addition, she is PI of NSF-IUSE Collaborative Research: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3): Advancing Strategies for Success in STEM with colleagues Helen Burn, Vilma Mesa, and J. Luke Wood.
OCCRL Assistant Directors
Heather L. Fox
Assistant Director of Operations, Communications, and Research
Heather Fox serves as the Assistant Director of Operations, Communications, and Research for the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Dr. Fox’s research focus is the improvement of educational equity, including both access to and outcomes in postsecondary education. She works to facilitate collaborative systematic changes that are responsive and supportive of all students regardless of their identities or demographics, including socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, age, country of origin, gender, etc. Dr. Fox is co-PI on the Illinois Community College Board funded projects, providing support for Pathways to Results, the Illinois Reverse Transfer study, Minority Serving Community Colleges, and Career Technical Education Pre-apprenticeships projects as well as the NSF STEM transfer in Hispanic-Serving Two-year Institutions study. She was previously part of the Transformative Change Initiative (TCI) research team and Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) evaluation teams. Dr. Fox has a PhD in Human Resource Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a MNM in nonprofit management. Dr. Fox has experience leading community based organizations with over ten years of experience as an advocate for populations impacted by violence including victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and child abuse and neglect.
Associate Professor of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, and Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives and Research Partnerships
Anjalé D. Welton is an associate professor in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Assistant Director of Strategic Initiatives and Research Partnerships for OCCRL. Dr. Welton is co-PI on the Illinois Community College Board funded projects. Her work examines how opportunity structures in secondary school settings shape connections students of color make to educational resources and matriculate to college. Dr. Welton also explores issues of equity especially as it pertains to the politics of race and diversity in school reform and improvement such as the co-authored a report, Facing equity: Understanding P-20 equity conscious leadership for college and career pathways. Her professional experiences include coordinator of a leadership and empowerment program for urban youth in secondary schools, a facilitator of an urban education teacher preparation program, and a teacher in large urban districts. Dr. Welton received her PhD in educational policy and planning from The University of Texas at Austin.
Associate Professor and Higher Education Graduate Programs Director at Iowa State University
Dr. Baber previously contributed to the STEM College and Career Readiness (CCR) evaluation project, was co-PI on the initial Illinois minority serving community colleges (MSCCs) exploratory study. He continues on the OCCRL research team for the MSCCs project. His primary research agenda focuses on the impact of socioeconomic background and ethnicity on identity development and academic outcomes for postsecondary students. He is particularly interested in investigating the persistent educational achievement gap between minority and majority students at Predominately White Institutions. Additional research interests include examination of university-neighborhood partnership initiatives in urban communities and international comparative education.
Research Data Analyst Consultant
Cari Bishop is a research data analyst who consults on the Illinois Community College Board grant projects and previously worked on the Healthcare Professions Pathways (H2P) and NISGTC Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) grants. She previously worked at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's Center for Prevention Research and Development (CPRD) where she was an analyst for 14 years. During her last five years at CPRD, Ms. Bishop was the senior research data analyst responsible for oversight of the data entry, statistical analysis, relational data querying and web programming teams. Ms. Bishop has extensive experience working with schools and other state agencies to receive electronic data from large-scale, pre-existing data systems and creating relational databases to manipulate, integrate, analyze, and report these data.
Research Associate, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University
Darielle Blevins is a current doctoral student in the Joint Ph.D. program in Education between San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University as well as a Research Associate for the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL). She is on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3). Darielle’s passion for education and impacting the community through higher education informs her research interests. Her current focus is on the educational experiences of African American women and girls.
Doctoral Research Intern
Karie Brown-Tess is a doctoral student in Curriculum and Instruction program at the University of Illinois. Karie received her B.A. in Religious Education and a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction emphasizing in Mathematics. Her research interests include agency in mathematics and science learning as well as equity in access to quality STEAM education. Karie is on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3).
Mathematics Professor and Director of the Curriculm Research Group at Highline College
Helen Burn is faculty member in the department of mathematics and director of the Curriculum Research Group at Highline College where she has served as chair of the Pure and Applied Sciences Division and mathematics department coordinator. Her research, service, and leadership center on improving student success in the two-year college mathematics curriculum through redesigning curriculum, improving the mathematics placement process, and tailoring curriculum to special student populations including students in applied baccalaureate programs and the partner disciplines to mathematics. Burn served as mathematics consultant to the two-year college research team on Characteristics of Successful Program in College Calculus (NSF DUE 0910240, 2010-2016) and was Co-PI for The Math You Need, When You Need (NSF DUE-0920800/0920583, 2006-2013). She is co-chair of the Washington State Math Pathways to Completion Taskforce and member of the Mathematical Association of America’s Committee on Undergraduate Programs in Mathematics. In 2014, she received the Washington State Two-Year College Mathematics Education Reform Award. Her educational background includes a B.S. from The Evergreen State College, an M.S. in mathematics from Western Washington University and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education. Dr. Burn is a PI on the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3).
Research Associate, Educational Studies, School of Education at University of Michigan
Anne Cawley is a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan. She investigates the classroom experiences that students of color have within developmental mathematics classrooms, and how those experiences contribute to student success. She is also interested in studying the learning and instruction within developmental mathematics classrooms in community colleges with the goal to provide professional development on equitable teaching practices for mathematics faculty. Anne serves on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3). She has a B.S. and masters in mathematics from California State University, Long Beach.
Randi Congleton is in Higher Education. She works on the Pathways to Results and Minority Serving Community Colleges projects. Her primary research interest includes issues of transition, access and equity, and mentoring relationships in graduate education and the experiences of Graduate Diversity Officers. Her dissertation work examined the role of a graduate summer program on first year transition and socialization to the PhD role. Prior to graduate studies, Ms. Congleton served as Director of Multicultural Programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. She received her BS in Agricultural and Extension Education from The Pennsylvania State University and a MS in Community Services from Michigan State University.
Associate Professor, Educational Psychology
Dr. Cromley is an associate professor in Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focuses on two broad areas: 1) reading comprehension of illustrated scientific text and 2) cognitive and motivational predictors of STEM students' achievement and retention. Her studies include both basic processes (how learning works) and classroom interventions (how to help students learn better). She uses a variety of research methods, including questionnaires, think-aloud protocols, eye tracking, analyses of student work products such as sketches, and analyses of computer log files. Dr. Cromley’s research has been funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the National Science Foundation. She is a consultant to the Transfer and the Undergraduate STEM Pipeline at Two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions project.
Nexi R. Delgado
Research Associate, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University
Nexi R. Delgado is currently a doctoral student in the Joint Ph.D. Program in Education offered by San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. He is on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3). He has a Master’s of Science in Public Health from the University of California Los Angeles and a Bachelor's in Psychology from the University of California Davis. Currently he has an appointment at the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) and collaborates with others to design studies, validate research instruments, aide with webinars and reports. In addition, he is working with CCEAL to understand the effects of community college campus design on student group participation and engagement.
Research Associate, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University
Stephanie Estrada is a research associate for the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) – Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) and undergraduate student in Urban Studies at San Diego State University. Stephanie serves on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3).
Asia Fuller Hamilton
Asia Fuller Hamilton is an associate supporting OCCRL work related to gender and racial equity, college readiness, and advanced placement. Ms. Fuller Hamilton is currently a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership in the division of Educational Administration and Leadership. Ms. Fuller Hamilton received her MEd in Educational Organization and Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research focus involves understanding and improving the cultural competencies of school leaders, with an emphasis on issues of equity. From 2014-2016 Mrs. Fuller Hamilton was a research assistant with the Pathways Resource Center (PRC). Prior to working with PRC, Mrs. Fuller Hamilton served in the Champaign Unit 4 school district as an educator and administrator, most recently as the Principal of Booker T. Washington STEM Academy in Champaign, IL.
Chaddrick Gallaway works on the Pathways to Results project at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Mr. Gallaway is a PhD student in Education Policy Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He received a BA in Sociology and minor in Community Action and Social Change at The University of Michigan, where he also worked as an undergraduate researcher for The Program on Intergroup Relations. Prior to working with OCCRL, Mr. Gallaway taught middle school in New Orleans. His research interests include intergroup relations within higher education, diversity education, and charter schools.
Research Scientist, Office of Strategy and Policy at University of Texas at Austin
Matt Giani is a Research Specialist at the University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include stratification and social mobility in higher education, high school to college transitions, and the use of quantitative methods in educational policy research. Dr. Giani was part of the research team for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training (TAACCCT) evaluations at OCCRL. He is currently conducting the quantitative research and impact analyses for the Credit When It’s Due initiative. He is also working on projects investigating the college destinations of top ten percent students in Texas, socioeconomic disparities in postsecondary transition rates, and how socioeconomic background impacts the labor market outcomes of college graduates. Dr. Giani completed his PhD in education policy and planning from the University of Texas at Austin with a specialization in applied statistical modeling.
Edmund H. Graham
Program Coordinator for Pathways to Results
Edmund Graham coordinates the Pathways to Results project and is on the minority-serving community colleges research team. Previously he contributed to the STEM Career and College Readiness (CCR) project at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Mr. Graham is an EdD student in higher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a BS in marketing from Grambling State University and MEd in work and human resource education from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Prior to working with OCCRL, Mr. Graham served as a student affairs administrator. His research interests include college student development, retention, and persistence.
Professor of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, and Director of the Pathways Resource Center
Donald G. Hackmann serves as the director of Pathways Resource Center for the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a professor of educational administration in the Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is a former middle school mathematics teacher, middle level principal, and high school principal, having served in school districts in the states of Missouri and Illinois. His research interests include leadership preparation program characteristics and reforms, educational leadership faculty characteristics, instructional supervision, school improvement, and the role of school leaders in promoting college and career readiness. He has worked closely with several Illinois high schools, assisting school leaders with implementing school improvement reforms and developing teacher leaders. He received his Doctor of Education degree in educational administration from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Web Designer and Developer, Editor
Julie King is a web designer and developer working with OCCRL to develop and maintain the current website. She also provides editorial assistance for various publications. She holds a BA in English, a JD, and an MS in computer science, all from the University of Illinois. Prior to becoming a programmer and developer, she worked as an editor and an attorney. Her professional interests include combining design and programming to create effective user experiences, using data science to efficiently manage and mine complex data sets, and using artificial intelligence, particularly machine learning, to improve natural language processing and document classification.
Consultant on Pathways to Results
Heather McCambly previously served as project manager for the Pathways to Results Initiative at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). She currently serves as a consultant to PTR. Prior to moving to Illinois, Ms. McCambly was a program associate in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. A passionate advocate for educational equity, Ms. McCambly has dedicated her career to increasing college access for non-traditional, low-income, and racial and ethnic minority students. For four years, Ms. McCambly worked on a college campus in Portland, Oregon, managing student support programs and led diversity and international initiatives. Ms. McCambly has also conducted educational research, evaluation, and policy analysis at the Gateway to College National Network, Portland State University, Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and the Oregon University System. Ms. McCambly received her M.A. with honors in Educational Leadership and Policy from Portland State University in 2013. She completed her thesis on the equity implications of performance based budgeting systems.
Associate Professor of Education at the University of Michigan
Vilma Mesa is Associate Professor of Education at the University of Michigan. She investigates the role that resources play in developing teaching expertise in undergraduate mathematics, specifically at community colleges and in inquiry-based learning classrooms. She has conducted several analyses of instruction and of textbooks and collaborated in evaluation projects on the impact of innovative mathematics teaching practices for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She served as Associate Editor for the Journal for research in Mathematics Education from 2000-2004 and is currently serving as associate editor for Educational Studies in Mathematics. Dr. Mesa is a PI on the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3). She has a B.S. in computer sciences and a B.S. in mathematics from the University of Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and a master’s and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Georgia.
Devean R. Owens
Devean R. Owens, M.Ed. is working on Career and Technical Education projects in the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Owens is a Ph.D. student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. She received her B.A. in advertising and public relations & strategic communication as well as her M.Ed. in educational leadership from Southern Methodist University. Owens previously worked as an admission coordinator at an independent school in Dallas, TX. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion, access and equity, student development, and the Black female experience.
Director of the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE)
Dr. George Reese consulted on the STEM College and Career Readiness (CCR) evaluation project at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL), focusing on K-12 and community college connections. Dr. Reese is the director of the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) in the College of Education. Before coming to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he was a high school teacher in New Mexico where he taught mathematics and English at the Santa Fe Indian School. His current interests include teacher professional development, vertically aligned curricula, and connecting career and technical education to core mathematics and science content. His research project investigates the impact of curricular changes on students' understanding of mathematics.
Marci Rockey works on the Pathways to Results and Illinois Reverse Transfer projects at the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL). Ms. Rockey is currently a PhD student in higher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She holds a Master of Science in Education with a concentration in College Student Personnel Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Illinois State University. Prior to working with OCCRL, Ms. Rockey served as a community college student services administrator with adjunct teaching experience in college success skills, leadership development and public speaking. Her research interests include community college student transition and retention and rural student access and success in higher education.
Assistant Professor, School of Education and Director, Office of Community College Research and Policy at Iowa State University
Soko Starobin, Ph.D., serves as the lead evaluator for the TLC3 grant and engaging in formative and summative evaluation of the project. Starobin began her higher education in Architecture at Toyota National College of Technology in Japan. After receiving her undergraduate degree, as a transfer student, she completed Counseling Associate Studies (B.S.), Counseling and Student Services (M.Ed.), and Higher Education (Ph.D.). Starobin served on the faculty in the School of Education and was recognized for exemplary research performance at Iowa State University. Dr. Starobin also was the Director, Office of Community College Research & Policy at ISU. Dr. Starobin is one of the foremost key researchers in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) fields, particularly STEM literacy, access, and participation in STEM at community colleges. Starobin served as the principal investigator of the evaluation research project for the Iowa Project Lead the Way (PLTW) (pre-engineering programs in high school and community colleges. She was PI for a third-party outcome and impact evaluation team for two statewide consortiums and two community colleges that received the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Dr. Starobin’s expertise has also been tapped in serving on NSF funded project advisory boards (i.e., DUE 0969474, EEC 1428502, and HRD 1102461).
Jason L. Taylor
Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at University of Utah
Jason L. Taylor is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. He received his PhD in higher education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a research specialization in evaluation methods and concentration in public policy. His broad research interests are at the intersection of community college and higher education policy and educational and social inequality. Dr. Taylor has conducted and led several quantitative and mixed methods studies related to college readiness, developmental education, adult pathways to college, dual credit/enrollment and early college experiences, transfer policy and reverse transfer, LGBTQ students and educational access and equity. He is currently the Co-PI with Dr. Debra Bragg and co-leading the research agenda for the Credit When It’s Due initiative, a 15-state effort to develop and implement reverse transfer programs and policies.
Chauntee Thrill is on the research team for the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3) at OCCRL. Ms. Thrill is currently a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership where she studies Higher Education. Ms. Thrill received her MEd in Higher Education Administration from Mercer University and MBA from the University of Maryland University College. Her research focuses on developmental education in the community college, and issues of access and success for minority student populations. Prior to pursuing her doctorate degree, Ms. Thrill worked for 10 years in Enrollment Services.
Angel Luis Velez
Angel Luis Velez is a Ph.D. student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership with concentrations in History of Education and Latina/o Studies. Broadly speaking, his research interests explore notions of citizenship, racial formation, and Latina/o higher education history. Angel was born and raised in Puerto Rico and have lived in Chicago, Boston, and Champaign. He enjoys spending time with family, reading books, and watching movies. Mr. Velez is on the research team for the Transfer and the Undergraduate STEM Pipeline at Two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions project.
J. Luke Wood
Associate Professor of Community College Leadership and the Director of the Doctoral Program in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University
J. Luke Wood, PhD, is Associate Professor of Community College Leadership and the Director of the Doctoral Program in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU). Dr. Wood is also Co-Director of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), a national research and practice center that partners with community colleges to support their capacity in advancing outcomes for men of color. M2C3 houses the National Consortium on College Men of Color (NCCMC), which hosts trainings, information sharing sessions, and provides resources to colleges with initiatives and programs supporting college men of color. He is also Chair-Elect for the Council on Ethnic Participation (CEP) for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Director of the Center for African American Research and Policy (CAARP), and Co-Editor of the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. Wood’s research focuses on factors affecting the success of men of color in the community college. In particular, his research examines contributors (e.g., social, psychological, academic, environmental, institutional) to positive outcomes (e.g., persistence, achievement, attainment, transfer, labor market outcomes) for these men. Dr. Wood is a PI on the NSF Collaborative Research Grant: Transitioning Learners to Calculus in Community Colleges (TLC3).
Research Associate, Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) at San Diego State University
Soua Xiong is a Research Associate for the Community College Equity Assessment Lab (CCEAL) and doctoral student in the Joint PhD program in Education with San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University. His research focuses on the experiences and outcomes of Southeast Asian students in postsecondary education.
HyeJin Tina Yeo
HyeJin Tina Yeo is on the research team for the Transfer and the Undergraduate STEM Pipeline at Two-year Hispanic Serving Institutions project. She previously served in secondary and postsecondary settings in Korea and the United States as a teacher, an instructional specialist for online learning, and a faculty/director of English curriculum and instruction more than 13 years. Ms. Yeo strives to assist students and teachers with developing greater self-efficacy, self-motivation, and empathy to promote a socio-culturally responsive teaching and learning environment. She plans to complete her Ph.D. in higher education, teach at the university level, and contribute to improve education quality for all students. Her research interests lie in diversity and equity, college access and transition, achievement gaps, teacher/faculty education, social mobility and stratification, and racial microaggressions.