WCET's 29th Annual Meeting
Friday Speakers
Mike Abbiatti
Executive Director and WICHE Vice President for Educational Technologies
Mike Abbiatti is the Executive Director of WCET and WICHE Vice President for Educational Technologies. Abbiatti assumed the WCET leadership position in January 2015. Previously he was the director of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) Educational Technology Cooperative. Abbiatti was formerly associate commissioner for information and learning technology for the Louisiana Board of Regents. He is the founding director of the successful Louisiana Board of Regents Electronic Campus, and former director of Distance Education for Louisiana State University. Abbiatti has been recognized by the Computerworld-Smithsonian Awards Program as a Laureate signifying leadership in the design, deployment, and utilization of Information Technology for the benefit of Louisiana's citizens, and is a past member of the EDNET Education Executive Advisory Board. Other national recognitions include the United States Distance Learning Association's Most Outstanding Achievement by an Individual in K-12 Award, Electronic Learning Magazine's Distinguished Achievement Award through the Educator of the Year Program.
0Dylan Barth
Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Dylan Barth is a Teaching, Learning, and Technology Consultant in UW-Milwaukee’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), where he coordinates the Online and Blended Teaching Program. Barth's areas of focus include online and blended pedagogy, asynchronous discussions, active learning classroom strategies, gamification, and learning analytics. He also serves as the online programs coordinator through the office of the Provost and teaches courses in Women’s and Gender Studies and the Honors College.
Brianna Bates
Head of Academic Compliance Office of General Counsel
Brianna L. Bates serves as the head of Academic Compliance in the Office of General Counsel at Coursera. In this role, she is responsible for compliance expertise related to all academic programs offered in partnership with Coursera’s University partners including national and international accreditation standards and requirements in addition to local, state and federal compliance regulations. Bates has previously engaged in policy research work in China, the Czech Republic, Uganda, South Africa and India to spearhead team engagements on behalf of NYU, funded fellowships and the United Nations. She is a graduate of The College of William and Mary with a BS in Psychology and Biology and of New York University’s (NYU) Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy with a specialization in International Policy. Bates is pursuing a Doctor of Law (JD) degree with a specialization in Intellectual Property and High Tech Law at Santa Clara University’s School of Law.
Dror Ben-Naim
Smart Sparrow
Dror Ben-Naim is the founder and CEO of Smart Sparrow, an educational technology company pioneering adaptive and personalized learning technology. Prior to founding Smart Sparrow, Ben-Naim led a research group in the field of Intelligent Tutoring Systems and Educational Data Mining at UNSW. The technology that the group developed was adopted by top universities in Australia and the US. In 2011, he and his fellow researchers founded Smart Sparrow to take Adaptive Learning to the next level and secured backing from venture capital investors.
Jeff Borden
Chief Innovation Officer
Saint Leo University
Jeff Borden is the chief innovation officer at Saint Leo University. Having spoken nationally and internationally to tens of thousands over two decades, Borden employs his base subjects of communication and education, as well as his performance history as a comedian, actor, and director to showcase innovative and scalable solutions by which to transform learning for all. Using his platform of Education 3.0, Borden seeks to create "best learning" by using neuroscience, education research, and education technology every day.
Niki Bray
Assistant Professor
University of Memphis
Niki Bray taught in the Memphis City Schools District for 18 years teaching 6th grade science, high school Biology, Honors Biology, Physical Science, and Physical Education & Health. A member of the University of Memphis Women's Basketball team from 1994-1997, Bray went on to coach girl's basketball at Airways Middle, Wooddale High, and Central High where she lead her Under Armour-sponsored nationally ranked team to a AAA State Championship in 2011. Bray earned her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction with an emphasis on Instructional Design & Technology. Her research interests center around adaptive learning and technology-enhanced learning. Br cayonsiders herself to be a student-centered instructor who believes in designing learning experiences that puts the learner in the center of the course design.
Lisa Clark
Dean of Online Programs
University of Northwestern Ohio
Position: Dean of Online Programs, Associate Professor, Quality Matters Coordinator Professional Background: English Humanities Baccalaureate from The Ohio State University Master of Arts in English and Women's Studies from The Union University/Vermont College Media Literacy post-grad certification from Appalachian State University Educational Media Instructional Technology post-grad certificate from Appalachian State University, Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership from Capella University. I am a Quality Matters Master Reviewer and on-site/online facilitator. I also serve in the Peer Corp for the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Preston Davis
Director of Instructional Services
Northern Virginia Community College
Wm. Preston Davis has worked in higher education for 20 years, including service as consultant, faculty member, manager of education programs, and Dean of distance education. Davis is currently director of instructional services and associate professor at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). He is responsible for learning and technology resources through NOVA’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) online campus and for instructional technology training for faculty at NOVA. He chairs the NOVA Testing Advisory Committee and is the NOVA representative for the statewide VCCS Textbooks Costs and Digital Learning Resources(TCDLR).
Van Davis
Associate Vice President, Higher Education Policy & Research
Van Davis is associate vice president of Higher Education Research and Policy at Blackboard Inc. where he works on competency based education and higher education policy issues as well as distance education, learning technology, and college affordability. Previously, Davis was director of innovations in higher education at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board where he coordinated the development of the state's first public CBE bachelor's degree as well as the state's adult degree completion project, course redesign project, and online faculty development initiative.
Luke Dowden
Director of Distance Learning
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Luke Dowden believes in authenticity. He wants to make a difference in people's lives by facilitating access to high quality postsecondary educational experiences. 2. He lives for helping people find their second chance in higher education, especially through online learning. 3. He is passionate about continuous improvement and is rarely satisfied with personal success because it is not permanent. 4. Dowden cares about his team members and is interested in impacting other's success. 5. He has a holistic systems view of organizations.
Deb Everhart
VP, Design and Innovation
Learning Objects
Deborah Everhart is vice president, design and innovation, at Learning Objects, developing competency-based, interoperable learning environments and credentials. She has served as a strategic advisor for the American Council on Education, leading research and the publications "Communicating the Value of Competencies" and "Quality Dimensions for Connected Credentials." Everhart is a leader in the IMS Global working groups defining standards for CBE, extended transcripts, open badges, and digital credentials. She teaches as an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University.
0Raymond Fleming
Chair, Biomedical Sciences; Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Raymond Fleming, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor of Psychology was a recipient of a 2014 WCET Outstanding Work Award for the U-Pace online instructional approach he co-created. Fleming directed the extensive evaluation studies of U-Pace and is a National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements Fellow.
0Renee Franzwa
Director of Higher Ed
Renee Franzwa leads Higher Education Strategy at EdSurge. She has worked on many collegiate levels, co-founded an edtech company, served in the US/abroad as a student advisor, and helped establish General Assembly-San Francisco. She holds a Master’s in Human Rights Education from the University of San Francisco, a BS from California Polytechnic (San Luis Obispo), and certifications in design thinking, product management, and partnership development. After traveling and teaching through 40+ countries, she believes in cooking as therapy and there is no better way to bring people together than a home-cooked meal.
Myk Garn
Assistant Vice Chancellor for New Learning Models
University System of Georgia
Myk Garn is an academic innovator and strategist with over 30 years of experience developing, deploying and leading college and state system instructional, operational, organizational, policy and strategic models. He is a committed academic change agent, focusing on the development and deployment of new instructional and educational operations with an emphasis on competency-based, student-driven, advancement-by-mastery models. He emphasizes the roles of faculty and needs of students throughout his work. His experience includes strategic planning, affordability, emerging trends, disruptive innovation, quality standards, governance, accessibility and accreditation.
Mitchell Gilbert
Compliance Specialist
Western Governors University
Mitch Gilbert leads Western Governors University’s Compliance Specialist team which is responsible for monitoring and tracking all new legislation and rule changes across the United States and its territories while providing compliance support to the university. He previously served as Assistant vice president of state authorization for Education Management Corporation, where his main responsibility was keeping four universities, 83 campuses, and three online campuses in 36 states complaint with the various state regulations.
Stacey Güney
Director, Digital Learning Solutions Network
Stacey Güney is an educational evangelist leveraging technology and innovation to increase access, equity, and student success. Stemming from her work consulting with a variety of institutions, she saw the need for more integrated solutions involving student metacognition and learning. This lead to the launch of the Austin Community College ACCelerator, the largest technology-enhanced learning environment in the world.
Angela Jackson
Online Program Manager
University of South Dakota
Angela Jackson is the online program manager at the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of South Dakota. Her main responsibilities include quality assurance of distance delivered courses, including accessibility, and also the primary trainer for all faculty who have been approved to teach online, DDN, hybrid delivery, correspondence study, video conference or any other distance delivered courses at USD. She obtained a B.S. in Information Systems from Capella University and her M.S. in Technology for Education and Training from USD.
Constance Johnson
Chief Academic Officer/Provost
Colorado Technical University
Connie Johnson, Ed.D, is Colorado Technical University's (CTU) chief academic officer and provost, working with both online and ground degree programs. She has oversight of academic affairs, including faculty, curriculum, classroom experience, and accreditation. During her time at CTU, Johnson has initiated adaptive learning technology implementation, leading academics through change, and effective technology implementation in the online classroom including the promotion of academics, faculty and student engagement through social media. Connie also serves as a peer evaluator and team chair for the Higher Learning Commission, and is a member of the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) and was recently appointed as an ACAO Digital Fellow. Her educational background includes a Doctorate of Education, organizational leadership emphasis (2010), and a Master of Business Administration in management (1991) from Nova Southeastern University; and a Bachelor of Science with honors in criminal justice from Florida State University.
Tanya Joosten
Director, eLearning Research and Development
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Tanya Joosten is the director of Digital Learning Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) where she works to guide strategic digital learning earning efforts at the campus, state, and national levels, to develop innovative programming for the UWM campus, and to lead a team of researchers to advance the field of digital learning. She is the co-director of the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) supported by the U.S Department of Education. See tanyajoosten.com for more info.
Shweta Kailani
Senior Instructional Designer
Texas A&M University
Shweta Kailani is a senior instructional designer in the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University. She collaborates and consults with faculty in integrating educational technology in their courses to increase engagement and student learning. She facilitates numerous workshops and professional development seminars for faculty in the college and across the university. Her areas of interest include Game Based Learning, Open Educational Resources, Web 2.0 Ed Tech tools, Universal Design, and User Experience/User Interface Design.
Stacia Klasen
Director of Academic Operations
Colorado Technical University
Stacia Klasen has been working in the field of higher education for over 12 years, where she has had the opportunity to support the success of adult learners in a variety of roles. She has worked within student advising, learning services, career services, and now, academic operations at Colorado Technical University, where a piece of her role includes partnering with college leadership to enhance the online classroom experience. Klasen earned her Ed.D. in adult and higher education from Northern Illinois University.
Judy Komar
VP of Educational Technology
Colorado Technical University
Judy Komar is Vice President of Educational Technology at Colorado Technical University (CTU). Recently, Judy has been working with the academic teams, specifically the Nursing Leadership team, to design new adaptive learning nursing maps powered by a learning analytic engine. In addition to creating a new model for nursing students, the Nursing Leadership team and Judy have also mapped all lessons in the program to the program outcomes within the adaptive learning system to provide increased information to the Nursing Leadership team.
Pat Lane
Director of Data Initiatives
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Patrick Lane is the director of data initiatives, a role that includes managing the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange, which seeks to improve linkages between state data systems to provide better information to students and their families while also improving education, workforce, and economic development policy. He previously coordinated WICHE's Adult College Completion Network. He came to WICHE having spent several years working in education policy in the Republic of the Marshall islands. He received a master's degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2007 and completed a Ph.D. in public administration at the University of Colorado Denver in 2015.
Sarah Leibrandt
Research Analyst
Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Sarah Ohle Leibrandt is a research analyst for the Policy Analysis and Research Unit at Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Prior to joining WICHE, she worked for the Colorado Department of Education and Red Rocks Community College. Leibrandt earned a Ph.D. in Education Policy from University of Colorado Boulder and a Bachelors degree from Wellesley College. She is a proud Colorado native.
Sharon Leu
Senior Policy Advisor, Higher Education Innovation
Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology
Sharon Leu leads the Office of Educational Technology’s higher education innovation initiatives, including next generation assessments, individualized learning pathways, use of open resources and platforms, and strategic partnerships with stakeholders. Leu also works in offices across the Department to design programs that improve quality of education and increase success of students and adult learners. Prior to joining OET, she oversaw the design and implementation of the Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, the largest federal investment in postsecondary innovation and systematic infrastructure change. Leu can often be found leaping from boulder to boulder with a heavy backpack and dreams of becoming a park ranger when she grows up.
Andrew Magda
Manager of Market Research
The Learning House, Inc.
Andrew J. Magda is the manager of market research at The Learning House, Inc. He leads in the development of custom and large-scale market research studies and assists partner institutions with their research needs. Prior to Learning House, Magda was a senior analyst at Eduventures and a project manager at the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut.
Jesus Moreno
Project Manager
LeCroy Center/ DCCCD
Jesus Moreno is a project manager for Dallas County Community College District where he has created several innovative applications that have been implemented within the district. Moreno has been developing professionally in academia since 2003 starting in California working for the Kern County Office of Education. He has won the innovation of the year award for his institution for three out of four years that he has been with the district.
Cali Morrison
Associate Dean, Alternative Learning, Alternative Learning
American Public University System
Cali M.K. Morrison is associate dean, Alternative Learningof alternative learning at American Public University System and a doctoral (Ed.D.) candidate in higher education administration at Montana State University. Previously Morrison was the assistant director, communications and analysis at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and project director of Transparency by Design at WCET, where she became interested in studying adult learners and accountability. Current research interests include competency-based education and its practical and policy implications for higher education. Morrison holds a B.A. in Public Relations from Western Kentucky University, a M.Ed. in Adult & Higher Education from Montana State University, an online graduate certificate in Women's Studies from Western Kentucky University.
0Rhonda Newton
Instructional Designer
Rhonda Newton is an instructional designer at Triseum (an educational gaming company) where she works collaboratively with different game design units and SMEs to create interactive educational games for higher education and K-12. Newton a has a keen interest in leveraging technology to enhance authentic, contextual learning.
Hae Okimoto
Director, Academic Technologies
University of Hawaii System
Hae Okimoto has over 25 years of planning, developing, and implementing an effective distance learning program serving over 9,000 students annually for the 10 campus University of Hawaii system; including the faculty development and student orientations, access and availability of academic and student support services for distance delivery. For the last 17 years, her focus has been in developing and delivering a customer focused suite of technology services, including expansion of the technical infrastructure and establishment of software solutions for all faculty, students, and staff for the UH system.
Laura Pedrick
Executive Director, UWM Online
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Laura Pedrick, executive director of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Online, oversees the University’s online and blended programs. She is the campus lead for UWM’s participation in the competency-based UW Flexible Option initiative. She managed two Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Next Generation Learning Challenge grants on UWM’s innovative U-Pace instructional model, and she is a co-author of Policy Practice for Social Workers: New Strategies for a New Era, a multimedia textbook with web-based case studies, forthcoming from Routledge.
Russ Poulin
Director, Policy and Analysis
Russ Poulin organizes WCET's national policy and research activities, edits WCET's Frontiers blog, coordinates WCET's research efforts, and works on elearning consortia issues. He represented the distance education community in the U.S. Department of Education's 2014 Negotiated Rulemaking process. Previously, he coordinated distance education activities for the North Dakota University System. He holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado Denver and a Master's from the University of Northern Colorado. Poulin enjoys going to the films with his wife, Laurie.
Lou Pugliese
Senior Innovation Fellow and Managing Director
Arizona State University
As former CEO of Blackboard and director of strategy at ETS, Lou Pugliese has more than 25 years of experience developing a wide variety of technology solutions to radically improve teaching and learning outcomes. He also serves as an Advisory Board Member for Educate Global Fund, an impact fund investing in social businesses that significantly improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children. His expertise leads ASU’s efforts to understand, advocate for, and enhance the digital learning environment.
0Emilio Ramos
District Director of Instructional Technology
LeCroy Center/ DCCCD
Emilio Ramos has experience managing a complex information technology environment, managing and designing enterprise implementations of CRM, back-office and business systems, and large scale Learning Management systems. Ramos has a proven ability to lead seamless implementations and deliver next-generation innovations and technical solutions improving revenues, margins and productivity. He holds extensive knowledge of the processes, policies and overall environments of educational institutions.
Cecilia Retelle Zywicki
Vice President, Strategic Partnership Operations
Wiley Education Services
Cecilia Retelle Zywicki is vice president of strategic partnership operations for Wiley Education Services. Zywicki oversees the state systems initiative, federal & state policy, and partnership agreements with associations and foundations. She joined the business through the acquisition of Ranku, which Wiley acquired in 2016. Prior to co-founding Ranku, Zywicki was the senior director of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and lobbyist at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. She holds a law license and inactive K-8 teaching license in the State of Minnesota. She has a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver and a Masters of Education and a Bachelor of Science in Foundation of Education from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where she played for the Women’s Ice Hockey team.
Steve Rheinschmidt
Director of Learning Innovation
Saint Leo University
Steve Rheinschmidt is often referred to as the former, 10-year executive director of the Iowa Community College Online Consortium (ICCOC). But since leaving Iowa four years ago, he has wandered the Earth promoting program growth and innovation using a partnership platform in a more commercial venture. At Saint Leo, Rheinschmidt now promotes management, direction, and aggregation of a portfolio of Learning Innovation initiatives, while heading up some new strategies like the lowering of course materials costs while maintaining the highest quality possible.
Robert Rosenbalm
Project Leader
LeCroy Center, DCCCD
Robert Rosenbalm serves as the managing director of the National University Technology Network (NUTN) housed at the acclaimed R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, a leader in distance learning since 1972. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University and a Master of Arts from Amberton University. In addition, he is a graduate of multiple leadership programs including the DCCCD (2004), North Texas Community College Consortium (2005) and the Instructional Technology Council (2010).
Michael Sano
Higher Ed Community Manager
Michael Sano is the higher ed community manager at EdSurge. He has dedicated his career to supporting students in reaching their academic and personal goals. Most recently as an associate dean of students, Sano has also served as director of academic support services, director of experiential education programs in Nicaragua, and provided direct support to students with disabilities through ed tech initiatives. He thinks a lot about innovation and affordability in higher education.
Kim Schmidl-Gagne
Program Manager
Keene State College
Kim Schmidl-Gagne is the program manager for accreditation processes and for diversity and multicultural student initiatives at Keene State College. After 20 years in residential life, she joined the staff of the provost and chief officer for diversity and multiculturalism as the accreditation liaison officer and to assist with coordinating a variety of programmatic efforts, including the American Democracy Project ADP, the symposium and numerous speaker series as well as efforts to integrate academic affairs and student affairs. Kim Schmidl-Gagne is an instructor for Statistics and Quantitative Literacy at Keene State College, as well as the Curator for the AASCU Economic Inequality Blended Learning Course and a member of the ADP/TDC Economic Inequality Steering Committee.
Ruth Tarantine
University Dean of Nursing
Colorado Technical University
Ruth Tarantine holds the position of dean of nursing for Colorado Technical University. Her academic career has focused on leveraging technology to design new online nursing programs with a focus on quality, scalability and compliance. Research interests focus on the use of simulation in multidisciplinary education as well as reducing 30 day hospital readmissions.
Nick White
Director of Competency Based Learning Solutions
Capella University

Nick White is the director of Competency Based Learning Solutions at Capella University. White's constant goal is to find ways to make learning more effective and efficient for adult learners through innovative design practices and the smart use of technology. He leads a team of curriculum specialists assessment specialists, instructional designers, project managers, editors, and course producers that work collaboratively with faculty members to design exceptional online programs and courses. He has a master's degree in instructional design, is an award winning instructional designer and administrator, and is a frequent speaker at national conferences.

Melissa Williams
University Program Director
Colorado Technical University
Melissa Burton-Williams is the undergraduate program director for Colorado Technical University’s College of Business and Management. Williams obtained her Doctorate in Management (Organizational Leadership). Her SAGE Publication was a discussion of her dissertation findings relating to elected leaders management capacity. Her work experience includes over 25 years in the public sector, which includes 15 years in management/leadership. Her attention now is on assessment and data trends towards improved student performance.
Scott Woods
Director of Programs
Colorado State University
Scott M. Woods, Ph.D., MBA, serves as director of Online Programs at Colorado State University. In this role, he facilitates the transformation and management of programs in business and engineering from the traditional environment to hybrid or online. Scott is also an affiliate faculty member for the School of Social Work teaching courses in conflict resolution and research methodology. Previously he served as regional director of academic affairs with the University of Phoenix.