2019 National Symposium Presenters
Dr. Libby Adjei
Director Langston Hughes Academy
Dr. Libby Adjei is from Brooklyn, New York, where she taught high school. Dr. Adjei earned her Doctorate in Education from Oral Roberts University. Her research examined the lived-experiences of 15 African American female high school students who participated in a school-based mentoring program. Dr. Adjei has over a decade of experience in the field of education as an educator in both public school and higher education., and served students in the UPS system, TCC and is now the Superintendent of the Langston Hughes Academy in Tulsa. Dr Adjei inspires students at LHA to engage service learning and civic engagement.
Intern and Gradaute Teaching Assistant
Yasmine Alvarado holds a Masters’ degree in Social & Civic Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and expects to complete a Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Oral Roberts University in 2019. Alvarado also holds a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology & Spanish from Southern Methodist University. Currently, Alvarado works as a Women in Recovery Intern at Family & Children’s Community Services. Additionally, Alvarado works as a Graduate and Teaching Assistant at the College of Theology & Ministry.
Dr. Candice Dowd Barnes
Chief Operating Officer
Dr. Candice Dowd Barnes holds a doctorate degree in Instructional Leadership [with a concentration in Higher Education] from Argosy University-Schaumburg, IL. She is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Coach for Parker Education & Development, LLC. Dowd Barnes also is an Associate Professor at University Central Arkansas, Conway, AR.
Richard Z. Baxter is an Honors Graduate from the Paralegal Assistant Program at Tulsa Community College. Baxter brings extensive legal support experience from his work at Tate Law Firm as a Paralegal and the Tulsa Public Defender’s Office as an Intern Paralegal. He also has expert knowledge from the lived experience of being a formerly incarcerated African American male.
Dr. Joseph Boyne
Assistant Professor of English, Tulsa Community College
Dr. Joseph Boyne serves as Assistant Professor of English at Tulsa Community College where he teaches courses in Composition and Literature. A graduate of the University of Dallas and the Catholic University of America, Dr. Boyne specializes in the Literature of the American South, with a special emphasis on Robert Penn Warren and his expansive work on America's Civil Rights Movement, Who Speaks for the Negro? Along with teaching at TCC, Dr. Boyne has also organized the annual Oklahoma Poets Laureate Reading for the past four years, an event which brings together current and former state laureates to read their poetry and engage with students interested in pursuing the literary arts.
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Adam Brennan is a librarian at Tulsa Community College, and a graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies. He has worked in libraries for over fifteen years. Adam had presented at national conferences and been nationally published for his work in assessment of information skills in libraries.
Jennifer Hulsey Campbell
Reference and Instruction Librarian
Jennifer Hulsey Campbell is a librarian at Tulsa Community College. She has been a librarian and knowledge management consultant for twelve years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Tulsa.
Dr. Rochelle Cassidy
Assistant Director for the School of Community Health Sciences, Counseling and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Rochelle Cassidy serves as Assistant Director for the School of Community Health Sciences, Counseling and Counseling Psychology, at Oklahoma State University—College of Education. Dr. Cassidy completed a doctoral degree in Higher Education from Florida State University, a Master’s degree in Counseling from North Carolina A&T State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor (North Carolina) and National Certified Counselor and has 13 years of experience in higher education.
Donald E. Coley III
Assistant Professor of Professional Practice
Donald E Colley III is Undergraduate Advisor and an Instructor of Professional Practice at Oklahoma State University in the Department of Geography. He has hosted a broadcast site for Black Minds Matter, participated in university action forums and consistently attends and participates in sanctioned campus dialogues and conversations around issues of racism on campus. He is currently being trained as a Change Agent and Equity Advocate for the University, and his current research is on dialogues around race and diversity in honors education.
Director for Diversity and Inclusion Outreach
Ramona Curtis, MA, is the Director for Diversity and Inclusion Outreach at Tulsa Community College. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion works collaboratively with stakeholders across the college to foster and sustain an environment of inclusiveness that empowers students, staff and faculty to achieve their highest potential without fear of prejudice or bias. Among other awards, in 2015 she received the Baylor University Diversity Enhancement Award. She holds a Bachelors in Communication from University of Texas at Arlington, a Masters of Sociology from Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU), and is currently a doctoral student at PVAMU studying Educational Leadership.
Drew Diamond, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. He joined the Federation staff in 2010 following two years as an Administrator with Union Public Schools and sixteen years as Director of Training for the Police Executive Research Forum. He is the retired Tulsa Chief of Police. Prior to joining the Tulsa Police Department he was an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation until he entered the U.S. Army and became an Agent in the Army Criminal Investigations Command. He is a graduate of Northeastern Oklahoma State University, the FBI National Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute.
Dr. Calvin Easterlig
Professor of Sociology
Dr. Cal Easterling is a tenured full professor at Oral Roberts University. He currently teaches Introduction to Sociology, Marriage and Family, The Child and Family in the Social Context, Cultural Anthropology, Minority Group Relations, Social Deviance, and taught Elementary Statistics for two years. He has taught and worked at ORU for 29 years. He served as Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Director of Institutional Research for seventeen years. He is a lifetime member of Alpha Kappa Delta, the national sociology honor society. As past President of the Oklahoma Sociological Association, Dr. Easterling is very active in several professional organizations.
Coordinator of SGA Programs
Melisa Echols is the Coordinator for Student Government Programs at Oklahoma State University. Since 2017, she has been part of Cowboys Coming Together (CCT) as a dialogue facilitator, and a member of the core team. She has facilitated leadership workshops for visiting Chinese student delegations focusing on building a bridge between leadership and team members. She is also the advisor for over eleven student organizations and therefore directly works with more than 300 student leaders. She is a member of OSU's Black Faculty & Staff Association and works tirelessly to improve the campus climate around issues of race.
Cristi Eschler-Freudenrich serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Freudenrich teaches research, advertising and public relations courses for undergraduate students and advises the University’s National Student Advertising Competition team, earning a Nationals Finalist, 7th-place finish in 2018. Her professional research interests include media ecology, media history, and message appeals. Her current doctoral dissertation research investigates racial discourse in Oral Roberts’ tent-to-television ministry in the earliest days of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She and her husband Darrell have four adult children and four grandchildren.
Geneology Chairman for the Descendants of Freedmen
Ronald Graham was born and raised in Okmulgee, OK. He graduated from Okmulgee High School, and attended Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, OK, and Langston University. Mr. Graham currently serves as Genealogy Chairman for the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association, and Vice President for the Black Genealogy Research Group of Oklahoma. Also, He was formerly the President for the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band and past President for the NAACP, Okmulgee, OK County branch as well as being fully engaged with the genealogy and history of the descendants of Freedmen for over 35 years.
Director of Military Student Support
Karen Harmon, M.S., is Interim Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, and Director of Military Student Support and Specialized Programs at Tulsa Community College. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion leads efforts to institutionalize diversity as a transformational force promoting professional growth and academic excellence. She received the 2018/19 Professional Staff Excellence Award for TCC’s Northeast Campus. She holds a Bachelors in English Education from Wichita State University, a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of Louisiana, and is currently a doctoral student at Grambling State University studying Developmental Education.
Dr. Pauline Harris
Principal of Administrative Consultants
Dr. Pauline Harris is Principal of Administrative Consultants, LLC and Human Rights & Title IX Coordinator for Tulsa Public Schools. Dr. Harris is professor at Tulsa Community College, Southern Nazarene University-Tulsa, and Langston University-Oklahoma City. Dr. Harris’ received her doctorate and master’s degree from Oklahoma State University; with a B.S. from Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg, Kansas. Her research includes an oral history study on the generational stories surrounding Tulsa’s 1921 Race Riot, Oklahoma’s State Negroes and Natives-of-African descendant’s experience in Indian and Oklahoma Territories.
Adjunct Instructor, Phillips Theological Seminary
The Rev. Thomas Hoffmann. MS, MDiv, is an Adjunct Instructor and a Doctor of Ministry student with Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK. His graduate research focuses on the formation of multicultural churches and the problem of racial bias. Hoffmann is also the lead pastor of St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, a predominantly White congregation which is on a journey to become more reflective of east side Tulsa—a multi-lingual and multi-cultural neighborhood with no racial-ethnic majority. He also consults as a long-range strategist for non-profit organizations.
Dr. Carlos Hoyt
Director of Community & Inclusion
Dr. Hoyt serves as the Director of Community & Inclusion at the Chestnut Hill School in Chestnut Hill Massachusetts. He has held teaching positions at Simmons College, Lesley University, and Boston University, providing instruction in clinical skills and practice, group dynamics, multicultural assessment, and cultural competence.
Dr. Hoyt’s approach to this challenging area of education, training, and growth combines preparing participants to interact fully, empathically, courageously, and candidly; grounding all content in state of the art facts; facilitating experiential opportunities for participants to be active synthesizers; and an emphasis on praxis – the translation of cognitive growth into personal action.
Grant Writer and Cultural Artist
Emily Imani served as the Grant Writer and co-founder of The Spirit of Africa festival in Seattle for many years before creating a series of her own cultural events and grant based project. Emily Imani is Cultural Artist, Dancer and Writer whose work and presentations have been featured at many events including The Seattle Urban Book Expo and The Women of Wisdom Conference and the Seattle Audubon Society. Emily Imani specializes in community building thru free workshops and facilitates community discussions at her local neighborhood library , utilizes her background in social work and a passion for bringing people together
Instructor of American Studies
Amy Lagers is a librarian at Tulsa Community College. She has been a Tulsa-area educator for more than 20 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Studies from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Environmental Sciences from Oklahoma State University.
Global & Community Engagement Coordinator
David Lassen is a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a dissertation focus of “The Nature and Effect of Elite Humor on Congress, the Media, and Voters.” Lassen is the Global & Community Engagement Coordinator for Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.
Instructor, Oklahoma State University (Department of Natural Resource Ecology & Management)
Inspired by student push back to the teachings of evolutionary biology, Laughlin works to challenge misconceptions of scientific knowledge about race and human diversity in her classes. As a graduate student, she helped integrate diversity training into the programming of a regional scientific conference. She has participated in several sanctioned on campus dialogue circles related to racism on campus and stigma associated with mental health issues.
Jake Lerner is a co-founder of Tulsa Changemakers, a youth leadership program that empowers young people to make meaningful change in their communities and a Program Manager at Leadership Tulsa. Jake is originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. In collaboration with the Wharton Social Impact Initiative, Jake co-created and facilitated social innovation and leadership identity workshops for high school students as well as undergraduates. He has also worked as a content advisor for Global Youth Empowerment’s entrepreneurship boot camp in Dubai.
Graduate Teaching Assistant
Shelley Martin-Young is in her 32nd year teaching in Oklahoma. She retired from Sand Springs schools after 30 years and is currently finishing her PhD at OSU. While working on her PhD, she teaches Children's Literature and Language Arts to education majors. She also teaches online masters courses in literacy for a college in Detroit. Shelley has presented her work locally, nationally, and internationally. Her research focus is on how history is taught in Oklahoma. Whose voices are heard and whose voices are silenced.
Dr. Valerie McGaha
Valerie McGaha , Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at Oklahoma State University. She is licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. Her research interests center around multicultural counseling, psychosocial adolescent development, mental and addictive disorders, at-risk adolescents’ court-mandated interventions, and suicide prevention and education. In her scholarly work, she has examined individual and collective factors related to academic, personal, and social success of various populations
Director, Green Book Travelers Project
Born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mike was graduated from Edison High School, and then received a BA in English from the University of Oklahoma, followed by graduate work in technical writing at the University of Tulsa. He taught science and computer classes in elementary – middle school for about five years (while raising two children), then started a
career in technical writing. During the last ten years, Mike moved back to Tulsa and has worked for several small non-profit arts organizations and as a freelance technical writer. Amplifying community projects with digital technology has become a passion.
Visionary Founder, Block Builderz
D’Marria Monday has an undergraduate degree in Entrepreneurship (minoring in Marketing and Management) from Oklahoma State University. She also holds a Business Management degree from Tulsa Community College. She has exceptional skills with strategic planning, legislative advocacy, national and local community organizing, media outreach, and expert knowledge from the lived experience of being a formerly incarcerated woman.
Assistant Professor/Instructional Services Librarian
Frederic Murray is an academic librarian at Southwestern Oklahoma State University, serving since 2006. His primary focus is information literacy. In 2017, he was selected as a writer for the Intellectual Freedom Blog of the American Library Association. He has presented at state, national and international conferences in the areas of library pedagogy, scholarly literacy, and student diversity. He served as Editor for Administrative Issues Journal, a peer-reviewed journal, from 2012 – 2018. In 2018, he was awarded “Best Paper” for his work on impacting publishing strategies for Graduate Students at the Academy of Business Research Fall 2018 Conference.
Graduate Student, OU; also a Graduate Assistant in the Western History Collection of OU Libraries
Jim North is currently a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. His degree will be a Master in Professional Writing from the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. His undergraduate work was in Professional Writing at OU, as well as his Associates degree from Tulsa Community College in Journalism and Mass Communication. Jim is a Graduate Assistant in the Western History Collection of OU Libraries. He has done journalistic work on the Tulsa Race Riot, as well as research on lesser-known aspects of the history of emancipation during the Civil War Era.
As founders of Parker Education & Development, LLC, Todd Scott Parker and Dr. Candice Dowd Barnes distinguishes themselves through the ability to deliver training in a dynamic way to various audiences. They uniquely blend evidenced-based strategies and techniques, to create sustainable models of success. Their impact ranges from a nationally recognized peer mentoring program— A Better Citizen (ABC) to working on the Cultural Civility training program. It combines courage, compassion, and civility with cultural humility to guide one’s behaviors toward the greater good. They’ve also co-written Success Favors Well-prepared Adults: Developing Routines and Relationships to Improve School Culture.
Kansas AmeriCorps Alumni
America B. Patton was born in north Germantown, Philadelphia. Patton grew up in Kansas City, Kansas. In the year of 2000, Patton graduated from J.C. Harmon high School. In 2001, he graduated from Coffeyville Community College. In 2006, Patton graduated from McPherson College with degree in History Education, with a minor in music performance. In 2010, Patton graduated from the University of Missouri with a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction. In summary, Patton is a Kansas AmeriCorps Alumni. Patton has 7 year old daughter named Gracie Patton. He is committed to education, arts, and service.
Dr. Wennette West Pegues
Retired Educator and Genealogy Expert
Dr. Wennette West Pegues has had a respected career in higher education. She retired from the Oklahoma State University College of Osteopathic Medicine as Associate Dean of Students, also having served as an administrator at the University of Tulsa and Langston University. Dr. Pegues was also the first Director of the University Center at Tulsa.
Dr. Pegues is also known nationally for her work on genealogy. Where was your grandmother born? Do your green eyes mean you have some Irish in you? If you sunburn easily does that mean your “roots” are Scandinavian? Volunteer and genealogy expert Dr. Wennette Pegues provides guidance to these types of research questions about family. She has also been married to Julius Pegues for 60 years. Their children are Michael Pegues (an attorney in Dallas), Mary Pegues (employed by a law firm in San Francisco) and Angela Guillory (a teacher who works with students with learning disabilities in Denver).
Program Manager - Leadership Tulsa & Co-Founder - Tulsa Changemakers
Andrew Spector joined Leadership Tulsa as Program Manager in 2017 after completing two years of service with Teach For America, where he was a 6th grade teacher for Tulsa Public Schools. He is the co-founder of Tulsa Changemakers, an afterschool youth leadership development and action program that came under the umbrella of Leadership Tulsa in spring 2017. Andrew is originally from Bedford, Massachusetts and is an alumnus of the Honors College at College of Charleston. While an undergraduate, Andrew founded Religious Life Exchange, an interfaith dialogue and ambassador training program. At his graduation, Andrew received the college’s highest honor, the Bishop Robert Smith Award, for his demonstrated leadership and academic excellence. He is also a Board Member for the Hillel of Northeastern Oklahoma and a member of Interfaith Youth Core’s Alumni Speakers and Trainers Bureau. In 2018, Andrew was honored with in Oklahoma's NextGen Under 30 Award.
Dr. Kristin Van Tassel
Chair of Communication, English, & Theater
Kristin Van Tassel teaches writing and American literature at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas. She writes essays and poetry about place, teaching, motherhood, and travel. Her work has appeared in publications, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, Liberal Education, World Hum, ISLE, The Journal of Ecocriticism, and The Los Angeles Review of Books.
Dr. Gary Peluso-Verdend
President Emeritus - Phillips Theological Seminary
Gary Peluso-Verdend is the President Emeritus at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. He is on sabbatical from Phillips (where he served from 1993-2000 and then again since 2005) until June 30, 2019. His next task at the seminary is to develop a center for religion in public life in Oklahoma. He blogs regularly about the intersection of religion, culture, and politics and is working on a book related to these topics. Originally from suburban Chicago, he and his wife live with their daughter in Tulsa. Gary’s three grown children and their families live in the Chicago area.
Michelle Place began working as the Business Manager for the Tulsa Historical Society & Museum in 2001 and was named as Executive Director in 2012. She is a 2016 Emmy winning writer and technical advisor for the documentary, BOOMTOWN: An American Journey. In 2018, she was named as one of thirty-five Global Women Drivers for Peace. Michelle is a member of the Rotary Club, the DAR, and the Boston Avenue Church where she sings in the Chancel Choir. A graduate of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and native of Little Rock, Michelle has lived in Tulsa for 32 years.
Dr. Monte Randall
Dean of Academic Affairs
Dr. Monte Randall is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and a Veteran of the United States Navy. He is a graduate of Haskell Indian Nations University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, the University of Oklahoma with a Master of Arts in Native American Studies, and Oral Roberts University with a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education Administration. His dissertation “The Effect of a Life Skills Curriculum on the Problem-Solving Abilities of Tribal College Students” correlates the present impacts of intergenerational stress and historical trauma of Native Americans with the issue of maladaptive abilities in problem-solving.
Dr. Sandra Richardson
Professor of Professional Counseling
Dr. Sandra Richardson, Ed.D., LPC has 28 years of professional experience as an educator, professional counselor, and administrator. She is a Professor of Professional Counseling at Oral Roberts University and the Director of Assessment. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Approved Supervisor. She was instrumental in establishing the Tulsa Area Community Intervention Center, which served Tulsa and surrounding counties working extensively with civic and community leaders throughout Oklahoma. Dr. Richardson has counseled youth and families in community mental health, juvenile delinquent maximum security facility, and directed a community federal corrections facility. She travels extensively as an international conference speaker.
Bi-Lingual Multicultural Director/LPC
Tayrin Saldivar-Hernandez holds a Masters in Science of Rehabilitation from Langston University, and she is a graduate of Leadership Tulsa Class 39, along with having completed a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the Universidad de las Americas. Currently, she is the Bi-Lingual Multicultural Director/LPC for CREOKS Behavioral Health Services. Previously, she worked as Multicultural Coordinator for Dayspring Community Services.
Assistant Professor of Education
Carolyn Stubbs is Assistant Professor of Education at Oral Roberts University, where she teaches Human Growth and Development, provides academic support for at-risk students, and coordinates ORU’s Advantage Program, a concurrent and dual enrollment program for high school students. Carolyn has conducted research on the development of critical consciousness in students and has presented on this topic before educators. Carolyn seeks to help educators understand how they can prepare students to become more socially aware and responsible. She is passionate about preparing the next generation to positively impact culture and society. Carolyn Stubbs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-495-6186
Dr. Sherri Tapp
Professor of Graduate Education
Dr. Sherri D. Tapp is a professor of graduate education at Oral Roberts University. She currently serves as Vice Chair of the Tenured Faculty Council, a National Board Member for SIETARUSA, Vice Chair for the Board of Directors for the Greenwood Cultural Center, the President and Founder of a an educational consulting company (Tapp into Excellence!), and provides expertise through courses taught in Culturally Responsive Education, Leadership Studies, and Effective Communication Strategies for Educational Leadership.
Director of CASNR Multicultural Programs
Jose Uscanga is the Director of CASNR Multicultural Programs in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University. Jose grew up on a farm in Veracruz, Mexico. Jose is a first generation student and the first person earning an advance degree in his extended family. He has worked in private, public and non-governmental agricultural organizations in Mexico and the United States. He believes in relationships of mutual respect and understanding, promoting difference within the University.
Dr. Angela Watson
Angela Watson holds a B.S. in Secondary Education, an M.A. in Public School Administration, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She has authored or co-authored several peer-reviewed publications including a monograph, a book chapter, and several journal articles and encyclopedia entries. She was honored by the American Educational Research Association SIG Religion and Education for the 2016 Outstanding Dissertation Award, designed to recognize and encourage emerging scholars. From 2011-2013, Watson worked at Oklahoma Wesleyan University in the graduate education department. In 2013, she began to serve as a professor of psychology in the Behavioral Sciences department at Oral Roberts University.
Eder Williams McKnight
Jane Beckwith has taught at Holland Hall since 1997. She co-founded the Downtown Tulsa Studies project at Holland Hall, and has co-founded Tulsa Term with Eder J. Williams-McKnight. Eder J. Williams-McKnight is a teacher and poet who joined Holland Hall in 2014. Her work in schools has included experience-based learning, leading teaching teams, and civic engagement. Markham Johnson has an MFA from Vermont College and is a published poet. In 2016 he was the first writer from Oklahoma in 47 years to win the Pablo Neruda Prize. He has taught at Holland Hall and led experience-based programs for 22 years.