Alumni Notes

May 19, 2021

YVETTE MCELROY ANDERSON was named among the 2020 honorees for Michigan Chronicle’s Women of Excellence award. The recognition celebrates African American women who inspire the community through leadership, achievement and participation in various acts of service. Anderson, M.A. ’03 (Educational Technology), is the district director of government affairs at Wayne County Community College District. She and fellow nominees, including Lisa Reeves from the College of Education were honored in August.

COURTNEY BELL, Ph.D. ’04 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), became the director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison in July 2020. The WCER aims to improve educational outcomes for all students and improve education practice. Bell previously served as a principal research scientist with Educational Testing Service. 

Cassie J. Brownell

CASSIE J. BROWNELL, Ph.D. ’18 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), was named a 2020 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Research Development Awardee. The award provides research and professional development funding. Brownell is an assistant professor of curriculum, teaching and learning at the University of Toronto.

RICHARD BRYCE, TCRT ’03, assistant professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, was presented with the Sustained Efforts toward Excellence in Diversity Award from MSU in February 2020. Bryce was recognized alongside nine other Spartans and MSU organizations for the annual awards.

Marylee Davis

MARYLEE DAVIS, Ph.D. ’74 (Higher Education), was one of two recipients of the 2020 Public Policy Pioneer award. Given by the Michigan American Council on Education (MI-ACE) Women’s Network, the award recognizes women who have made a lasting impact on public policy, or who have taken “precedent-breaking action” on behalf of women and higher education. Davis is a former College of Education professor and MSU administrator; she was the first in the state and Big Ten to serve as a governmental affairs officer, and was the first woman to serve as corporate secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees. She has held numerous positions locally and nationally, was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and, in 2008, received MSU’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Diversity. Davis currently serves as president of the Leadership Solutions Group in Kingsport, Tenn.

LISA DOMKE was one of two individuals chosen for the 2020 Emerging Scholars Fellowship Program through the Literacy Research Association’s Reading Hall of Fame. Domke, Ph.D. ’19 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), is an assistant professor at Georgia State University whose research interests include biliteracy, children’s literature and disciplinary literacy, with a focus on language learners. The fellowship pairs researchers with a mentor during the initial years of their career to provide guidance on research, publication and other areas. 

Pamela Eddy

PAMELA EDDY received a 2021 Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia. It is the state’s highest honor that can be given to faculty at a higher education institution. Eddy, Ph.D. ’02 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was among the 12 honorees named in December. She is professor of higher education at the William & Mary School of Education and editor-in-chief for the journal New Directions for Community Colleges.

Andrew Flagel

ANDREW FLAGEL was named president and CEO of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area in July 2020. Flagel, Ph.D. ’08 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), will oversee 17 colleges and universities in the consortium, a nonprofit aimed at “advancing innovation and collaboration.” Previously, Flagel was vice president for advancement and member engagement at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Mo Gerhardt

MO GERHARDT, M.S. ’02 (Kinesiology), was named an honorary member of MSU’s Varsity “S” Club in January 2020. The club’s goal is to unify past, present and future Spartan athletes. Gerhardt, an advisor in the MSU College of Natural Science and a Spartan women’s basketball analyst with the Spartan Sports Network, was recognized for his extraordinary service in supporting MSU Intercollegiate Athletics and the university. 

Billy C. Hawkins

BILLY C. HAWKINS was named one of the 2020 top 10 most dominant Historically Black college and university (HBCU) leaders by the HBCU Campaign Fund. Hawkins, Ph.D. ’85 (K-12 Educational Administration), is president of Talladega College, a role he’s held since 2008. As president, Hawkins has guided the college in many areas, including expanded academic offerings and record-breaking enrollment increases.

Florensio Hernandez

FLORENSIO HERNANDEZ was appointed to the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December 2019. Hernandez, M.A. ’16 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), joined the 15-member Commission, which is dedicated to advising the state’s governmental leadership in the coordination and administration of programs to serve the Hispanic and Latino population. Hernandez is a senior admissions counselor at MSU. His appointment continues until early December 2022.

Venessa Keesler

VENESSA KEESLER started a new position with AEM Corporation in November 2020. As a senior project director and subject matter expert, Keesler, Ph.D. ’10 (Measurement and Quantitative Methods), helps support states, districts and researchers on capacity building efforts, research practice partnerships and more. Previously, Keesler worked for the Michigan Department of Education as deputy superintendent.

Bomjin Lee

From July through December 2020, BOMJIN LEE was appointed as Vice President of Planning at Silla University in South Korea. Lee, Ph.D. ’04 (Kinesiology), currently serves as director of Leaders in INdustrial-university Cooperation Plus (LINC+), a project aiming to build collaboration between universities and industries. Lee has held the role since 2017, in which he directs and manages national projects.

ELIZABETH GUERRERO LYONS, M.A. ’08 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education) and Ph.D. ’20 (Educational Administration), was sworn in as a member of the East Lansing Public Schools Board in January 2021. She joins Associate Dean Terah Venzant Chambers on the board. Guerrero Lyons is also the director of minority student recruitment and an admissions counselor in the MSU College of Human Medicine

CHRYSOULA MALOGIANNI, M.A. ’11 (Educational Technology), became the assistant director of the Center for Learning and Teaching at Old Dominion University in November 2019. In the role, she assists in all operations, including workshops, consultations and more to help faculty integrate technology into their courses. Malogianni, who earned her doctorate from ODU in 2019, previously worked as a lead instructional designer at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.

LADONNA MASK, B.A. ’74 (Special Education), was one of 19 U.S. educators selected in May for the 2020 PBS Digital Innovator All-Star Program. The program celebrates pre-K-12 educators as leaders in and outside of the classroom. The program has Mask spending the 2020-21 school year expanding engagement opportunities for students, families, educators and WKAR at MSU. Mask’s career has spanned more than 40 years within the Lansing School District, most recently as principal of Kendon Elementary School.

MELISSA MCDANIELS became the associate executive director and associate scientist at the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experiences in Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. McDaniels, Ph.D. ’08 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), previously held leadership roles in MSU’s Graduate School, including as assistant dean and senior advisor to the dean for research mentoring. 

RENATA OPOCZYNSKI was named the assistant dean for student success assessment and strategic initiatives at Michigan State University. Opoczynski, Ph.D. ’17 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), started in the role in 2020, working with the university’s associate provost for undergraduate education to ensure all students can learn, thrive and graduate. 

SUE POPPINK, Ph.D. ’00 (Curriculum, Teaching and Educational Policy), became a full professor of educational leadership, research and technology at Western Michigan University in June 2020. In September of the same year, she retired as a professor emerita of the university. 

CHRISTINA RESTREPO NAZAR received the 2020 American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s (AACTE) Outstanding Dissertation Award. Restrepo Nazar, Ph.D. ’18 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), was recognized for her research: “Youth as Teacher Educators: Supporting Preservice Teachers in Developing Youth Centered, Equity-Oriented Science Teaching Practices.” Currently an assistant professor of K-12 science education at California State University Los Angeles, Restrepo Nazar was celebrated during AACTE’s annual meeting in early 2020. 

MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ, Ph.D. ’99 (Measurement and Quantitative Methods), began serving as interim dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development in August 2020. Rodriguez is a tenured faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology. In addition, he has served as the associate dean of undergraduate education, diversity and international initiatives; director and co-founder of the Educational Equity Resource Center and other leadership positions. 

Julie Rojewski

JULIE ROJEWSKI was named the director of Ph.D. Career Development at MSU’s Graduate School in February 2020. Rojewski, M.A. ’09 and Ph.D. ’18  (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), also serves as program manager for the MSU BEST (Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training) program. Previously, she served as director of MSU’s ADVANCE project with the National Science Foundation from 2013-15.

Sabrina Smith-Campbell

SABRINA SMITH-CAMPBELL was appointed to the Detroit Country Day School Board of Trustees in May 2020. Smith-Campbell, B.A. ’93, M.A. ’95 and Ph.D. ’02 (K-12 Educational Administration), is a clinical instructional coach and adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University, helping teaching interns develop their skills in the classroom. Smith-Campbell has previously held teaching and leadership roles through the Detroit Public Schools system. 

ERIC STEMLE, M.A. ’81 (English-Secondary Education), published a book examining his final year of teaching in the classroom and providing guidance for new and soon-to-be educators. “I Was Not the Blossom: Growing with Your Students in a Nurturing Classroom” (independently published, 2020) includes blog posts and reflections on Stemle’s more than 40 years of teaching to provide perspectives on the teaching practice and profession. Stemle was the 2003 Wyoming Teacher of the Year, and was named an Outstanding K-12 Teacher of the Year in 2004 by the MSU College of Education.

MELODY STRANG, Ed.D. ’17 (Educational Leadership), was one of two Spartans to receive the Nancy A. Colflesh Distinguished Alumni Award from the MSU Department of Educational Administration in October 2019. The award recognizes those who are excellent practitioners in the area of educational leadership. Strang is the superintendent of the Genesee School District. Previously, she served as director of instructional technology and curriculum services and as a principal in Fenton Area Public Schools.

AMY STRINGER was named North Carolina College/University Physical Education Teacher of the Year by NC SHAPE in November 2020. Stringer, M.S. ’95 (Physical Education and Exercise Science), was given the honor by the state’s professional organization for health and physical educators. Stringer is an assistant professor at Western Carolina University’s College of Education and Allied Professions.

John VanWagoner

JOHN VANWAGONER became superintendent of Traverse City Area Public Schools in Michigan in July 2020. VanWagoner, M.S. ’03 (Kinesiology) and TCRT ’04, was previously superintendent of Alpena Public Schools, and has served on the MSU College of Education Alumni Board since 2014. He will complete his service with the board in spring 2021. 

JOHN VASQUEZ, Ph.D. ’20 (Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education), was named a 2020 American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE) Graduate Fellow. Participants attend the AAHHE National Conference, held in 2020 in Costa Mesa, Calif., present their research and develop a policy brief under the guidance of an AAHHE member. Fellow alumna Eliana Castro and doctoral student, Stephanie Aguilar-Smith (HALE), were named to the 2019 cohort. 

Danielle Wallace

DANIELLE WALLACE published “My Big Brother Troy” (R. R. Bowker, 2019), a children’s book covering the story of an African American family and their journey of life with a developmentally delayed son. Wallace, B.A. ’13 (Education), wrote the book to help teach children lessons on integrity, acceptance, love and understanding, especially with children with developmental delays. 

JON M. WARGO, Ph.D. ’16 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), was named a 2020 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. The award, which Assistant Professor Vaughn W. M. Watson also received, provides research and professional development funding for early career researchers studying critical areas in education. Only 30 scholars nationwide were selected for the 2020 cohort. Wargo is an assistant professor of teaching, curriculum and society at Boston College.  

Boyce C. Williams

BOYCE C. WILLIAMS, M.A. ’75 and Ph.D. ’82 (Counseling), was named dean of the College of Education at Frostburg State University starting in January 2020. Previously Williams, a notable teacher education leader, had served as the college’s interim dean since 2017. As dean, Williams will oversee departments and programs related to education, recreation, sports management, exercise science and more. 

ANDREA ZELLNER, Ph.D. ’17 (Educational Psychology and Educational Technology), was named vice president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) in July 2020. Zellner, a literacy consultant with Oakland Schools, has previously served as a representative-at-large with the organization. 


Several College of Education alumni were recognized as education leaders in the state of Michigan. 

Two alumnae were named 2020-21 Regional Teachers of the Year by the Michigan Department of Education. They were among 10 total honorees recognized in May 2020.

CHELSEE SCHRAM, B.A. ’13 (Elementary Education), is a second grade teacher at Laingsburg Elementary. In her sixth year of teaching, Schram also serves as a pedagogical expert with the Michigan Forest Association, with the goal of creating experiences for educators and students to learn about forestry and natural resources. 

Chelsee Schram

SHANTEL VANDERGALIEN, M.A. ’07 (K-12 Educational Administration), is an eighth grade English teacher and instructional coach in Wyoming Public Schools, where she has spent her 16-year teaching career. She has also served with the Michigan Network of National Board Certified Teachers, currently in her second year as president. 

Shantel VanDergalien

In addition, three alumnae were recognized as Top Teachers in 2020 by Jackson Magazine. The publication annually recognizes 10 local Michigan educators for their exemplary teaching. Each honoree receives financial resources to use in their classroom. 

MARNIE HADE, TCRT ’05 (Secondary Education), was named Teacher of the Year. Hade is a teacher and advisor for the communication arts program at Northwest High School. Hade has also coordinated opportunities to job shadow, receive college credit and publish content with several Michigan-based organizations, including MLive, Jackson College and WILX. 

Marnie Hade

SARAH RUNKEL, B.A. ’06 (English-Secondary Education) and M.A. ’13 (Teaching and Curriculum), is an eighth grade English teacher at Northwest Kidder Middle School. She also serves as chair for the Language Arts Department and co-advisor for the school’s chapter of the National Junior Honors Society.

LISA EBENER, MMUS ’18 (Music Education), is a music teacher at Northwest Elementary School.


Two Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE) alumni were honored at the 2020 ACPA College Student Educators International conference. They were recognized by the Coalition for Sexuality and Gender Identities with the Dr. Sheltreese D. McCoy Advocacy Award, recognizing individuals for their impact on and contributions to the queer, transgender or intersex and people of color communities. 

LOUISE MICHELLE VITAL, M.A. ’05 (Student Affairs Administration) and Ph.D. ’15 (HALE), assistant professor of international higher education at Lesley University 

MIKE HOFFSHIRE, M.A. ’11 (Student Affairs Administration), director of student engagement and academic success at St. Mary’s College of California


Several College of Education alumni were named 2020-21 officers or trustees for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The organization is committed to highlighting and incorporating scientific research to “provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.” The Spartans were formally inducted to their positions in May: 

Karin A. Pfeiffer

Vice President: KARIN PFEIFFER, M.S. ’97 and Ph.D. ’01 (Kinesiology). Pfeiffer is a professor in MSU’s Department of Kinesiology. 

Trustee of Basic and Applied Science: PETER KATZMARZYK, Ph.D. ’97 (Physical Education and Exercise Science). Katzmarzyk is professor and associate executive director for population and public health sciences at Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Regional Chapter Trustee: HEATHER HAYES BETZ, Ph.D. ’11 (Kinesiology). Hayes Betz is chair of and associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at Albion College. 

Student Trustee: KERRI VASOLD, Ph.D. ’19 (Kinesiology). Vasold is an evaluation specialist at Michigan Fitness Foundation.


Three Spartans received the Best Article Award for their work on “Twelve Years Unslaved: Lessons from Reconstruction and Brown for Contemporary School Leaders.” They received the honor from the Journal of Research on Leadership Education during the 2020 University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) annual meeting.

  • ELIANA CASTRO, Ph.D. ’20 (Curriculum, Instruction and Teacher Education), assistant professor at the University of Vermont
  • CIERRA PRESBERRY, B.A. ’08 (Special Education), M.A. ’12 (Teaching and Curriculum) and Ph.D. ’20 (CITE), curriculum development specialist at MSU.
  • MSU College of Education Professor and Associate Dean TERAH VENZANT CHAMBERS

PHOTO CREDITS: The Consortium (Flagel); Doug Gilman at University of Vermont (Castro); MSU alum Iris Shen-Van Buren (Hernandez); Chuck Thomas, senior photographer, Old Dominion University (Malogianni); Lori Jean Nichols (Rojewski); Eat Pomegranate Photography (Schram); Adam Bird, Bird + Bird Studio (VanderGalien)