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Kate Sonka is the Assistant Director of Academic Technology at the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University. She is interested in second language acquisition, the role of language in identity development, and the intersection of accessibility and experiential learning. Her instructional experience includes a first-year writing course for non-native English speakers; a study abroad on language acquisition and global English in China; a study away to Los Angeles for students to explore and meet leaders in the film and creative industries; and a study away to Silicon Valley for students to engage and build relationships with tech companies around accessibility. Stemming from her interest in how accessibility exists in professional and academic spaces, Kate was recently named the Executive Director of Teach Access, has consulted with the U.S. Department of Labor on accessible hiring practices, and is the founder and director of the Accessible Learning Conference at Michigan State University.
Keegan uses his background in science, pedagogy, technology, and design to provide others with holistic solutions for their instructional and technological needs. As an educational technologist, Keegan supports faculty and instructional designers as they work together to create and run online masters programs for the the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Oklahoma. Day to day, Keegan continuously explores technologies to determine their viability in online classrooms — open and accessible tools are his favorite! Being a certified chemistry teachers, Keegan also strives to understand where technologies transfer across classrooms and disciplines.
Keegan enjoys creating open web projects and designing professional development curriculum — his projects includes GOBLIN, eXperience Play, WebFest, and Canvas Camp. Since Keegan loves meeting new people and learning from others, reach out to him on Twitter, his blog, or over email. Ask him about hedgehogs or his involvement in conferences
Tina Rettler-Pagel serves as a Faculty member and Director of Online Learning/Chief Online Learning Officer at Madison College, in Madison, Wisconsin. Tina also serves as one of the college’s Quality Matters (QM) Coordinators, as QM Master Reviewer, and QM online facilitator. Tina holds a B.S in Education with an emphasis on Emotional Disabilities from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S. in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is currently working on a Student Affairs Administration Doctorate through the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Additionally, Tina has completed an Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Teaching Certificate, as well as OLC’s Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) in 2017.
Her research interests include factors that influence retention and persistence in the online classroom, impostor syndrome, women in higher education leadership and governance, digital equity, and community college approaches to teaching and learning.
When consulting with faculty, and in her own teaching and learning practice, Tina shares three important lessons: each person brings something important to the table, engagement matters, and never underestimate the power of kindness and being inclusive. Tina’s hashtags? #Mom #CommunityCollegeProud #OnWisconsin #A11yAdvocate #DoctoralCandidate #Includer #Kindness #Connector #OnlineLearning #TechNerd #Resilience #StrongGirlsStrongWomen #Hockey #Fishing #ImpostorSyndromeFighter #AnythingSummer #JamMaker #ComeAsYouAre #TinaSwag #StartWhereYouAre
Veronica Armour is an educator and learning designer interested in developing learning experiences that make creative use of technology. She is an instructional designer in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University where she also teaches part-time for the Information Technology and Informatics program. She serves on the Executive Board of the Emerging Learning Design organization and is involved with the NJ Makers community. She has experience with developing online courses, workshops, and events related to teaching and learning with technology. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and workshops at the local and national level. Her current work involves practical application of learning design research in the areas of course development, active learning, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. As Raspberry Pi Certified Educator she enjoys tinkering with technology and hosting workshops to inspire interest in STEM activities.
Ben serves as the Lead Design Strategist in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. As a member of the Design Initiatives team, Ben partners primarily with K12 school communities to drive human-centered, intrapreneurial innovation through design-based approaches. In non-jargon speak, that means Ben works to build sustaining, energizing partnerships with communities that want to reinvigorate their schools.
A perpetual student and frequent novice, Ben earned master’s degrees in philosophy of education (MA) and business administration (MBA) from The Ohio State University, and is currently a doctoral student in Education Leadership and Innovation (EdD) at ASU. Ben is also a former educator with Chicago Public Schools, where he taught high school social studies. In whatever spare time theoretically exists, Ben enjoys exploring the architecture and geography of new (to him) places, and is most likely to be found eating pizza of some variety.
Nicci hesitantly began her academic journey in community college with very little faith in her ability to be successful in higher education. Twelve years later, she has earned a BA in Linguistics with a minor in Counseling from San Francisco State University, is currently working on an MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Northern Arizona University, and plans to pursue a doctorate. She has also worked and volunteered in multiple roles in student affairs for ten years, so it’s safe to say that higher education has worked out well for her!
She credits much of her success to the on-campus work and extra-curricular activities she was engaged in and to the mentors who challenged her to see herself differently and dream bigger. Her experiences have inspired her passion for helping college students develop academically, professionally, and personally. She currently works as the Administrative Services Manager at THINK TANK, where she manages a team of student and professional staff who welcome students and help them connect to academic support services and resources. Nicci values the variety in her work and how she can improve the student experience at THINK TANK from the details of streamlining administrative procedures to the expansive work of creating meaningful professional development opportunities for Desk Assistants.
When she is not working or studying, Nicci enjoys binge watching TV shows that were popular two or more years ago, reading about personality types and introverts, making Instastories about waiting for laundry to dry, and trying to resolve her chronic existential dread.
Caitlin Kerrigan received her M.S. in Student Affairs at Oregon State University and is currently pursuing her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University. Caitlin is in her 6th year in the field of Student Affairs and currently is the Coordinator of Faculty Programs at the University of Arizona. Caitlin’s diverse professional experiences range from housing, multicultural affairs, to her role now working with faculty to support students outside of the classroom. Housed in Campus Life, Caitlin works with folks across the university including faculty, staff, administrators, and students. Caitlin sees firsthand the value of relationship building between students and faculty. Caitlin is a member of NASPA and hopes to continue to contribute to the field while supporting young professionals and students find their voice as they enter into student affairs.
Melissa Silva was raised Bi-nationally on the border of Douglas, AZ and Agua Prieta, Mexico. She completed her Masters in Leadership Administration from Northern Arizona University and a BS from Northern Arizona University in Hotel and Restaurant. She worked for the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino Resort in multiple operational capacities such as Compensation, Hiring and Orientation, Benefits, and Employee Relations. She managed a medical clinic in which she led inclusion practices for HIV/Aids patients. Her work experience includes other Human Resources related job capacities in which she was a key player for diversity and inclusion initiatives. She has a true passion for helping people and providing excellent customer service. She joined the University of Arizona in April of 2012 and enjoys mentoring and advising students about their degree as well as their career options. Melissa has noteworthy long term relationships with the binational Mexico/US community and has a strong desire to create a culture of education on the border. Co-founder of the Connections Project (Conexiones) that supports family and school relationships, parent engagement workshops, inclusion and educational technology for Naco, Sonora and Naco, Arizona. Host and Co-Producer of the weekly Binational Education Section Show for Manantial Radio to promote a cultural of education in the binational region. She also serves on the executive board for the AZ Community Foundation of Cochise, the Douglas Area Community Fund, Chiricahua Community Health Centers, and the Douglas Education Partnership Council and is the Chair for the Diversity Committee at UA South.
In 2013 she founded the Education Unidos Scholarship Fund at UA South that partners with the Mexican Consulate in Douglas and the University South Foundation to financially lend support to students enrolled in Douglas and in pursuit of a higher education degree. The Education Unidos Scholarship for UA Douglas enrolled students that currently holds 100% retention and graduation of scholarship recipients. Founded and played key role in the development and launch of the Education Unidos Internship Program under the Bilateral Forum of Academic Mobility Initiative between the U.S. and Mexico (FOBESII) that brought Academic Scholars from Mexico to participate in an Action-Research Project for the University of Arizona. Designation from the Secretary of External Relations in Mexico of Education Unidos Internship as a “Best Practice” within the Bilateral Forum of Academic Mobility between the U.S. and Mexico. Selected in the summer of 2018 by the University of Arizona as one of five individuals to participate in the National Inclusive Excellence Academy to help develop an inclusive excellence translation project for UA leadership. She has received numerous recognitions such as 2017 UA Award for Excellence, 2017 Sun Magazine Important Contributor to Education on the Border, 2015 UA South Students Choice Award, 2015 Expect More Arizona Judge’s Spotlight Award, 2015 Mexican Consulate in Douglas International Woman, 2015 UA Outstanding Academic Advisor.
In addition, she is Adjunct Faculty for a Student Success Course at the local community college, where she teaches freshman students topics that include motivation, empowerment, interdependence, overcoming barriers, strategies for bridging the gap between high school and college, cultural diversity and inclusion and many other tools to build the skills for a successful college and professional career.
Nikolas has worked in Higher Education for almost 20 years. She was born and raised in Kansas, graduating from Kansas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. After undergrad, she served in the Americorps on a trail crew in Massachusetts. After a few more years in Massachusetts, she decided she’d had enough snow for a lifetime and moved across the U.S. to Tucson, Arizona. Shortly after arriving in the desert, she came to work at the University of Arizona as an Admissions Counselor in Undergraduate Admissions. In her 13 years at the University, she has held a variety of positions, with increasing levels of responsibility; most notably in support of the suite of student applications on campus. She now serves as the Director of the Transfer Student Center where she is in the process of reimagining programming initiatives to help support a healthy and productive transition environment for transfer students the University of Arizona. In her free time she can be found keeping up with her two boys and urban farm, making fun of IPA drinkers, and getting outside whenever a spare minute can be found.