Students | Adult Learning and Leadership | Organization and LeadershipSkip to content Skip to main navigation
Adult Learning and Leadership
Department of Organization & Leadership
The following is a sampling of our current masters degree students.
Tonia Casarin is the first TC student to receive a Lemann Fellowship, a program of Brazil’s Lemann Foundation, a major Brazilian educational philanthropy with strong ties to Columbia University. Casarin considers herself a case study in how Brazilian education and professional development lag behind the country’s economic success. Career advising is minimal in high schools and universities, she says. Students pick fields with little information and even less support to create their own path. In particular, they lack tools to become good managers or leaders. After earning her undergraduate business degree in 2007 from Rio’s Pontifícia Universidade Católica, Casarin worked for a telecommunications company and a consulting firm before taking a job developing a management program for a department of the Rio de Janeiro city government. She also certified in Coaching and still working with clients around the world. By strengthening her foundation in social and emotional learning at TC, Casarin hopes to return to Brazil ready not just to ramp up her coaching practice, but also to build the missing connections between schools, universities, and the working world. Although adults have been her focus until now, she is keen to start working with teens in Brazil, where, she says, too many opportunities remain confined to the rich and connected.
Brittany Chambers is a recent graduate from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Business Administration and minor in Psychology who is currently pursuing a M.A. in Adult Learning and Leadership at Columbia University Teachers College. During her undergraduate studies Brittany has served in various leadership roles such as an Orientation Leader, Residential Assistant, Organizational President, Mentor and Business Student Body Leader. Her diligent work ethic has led to her receiving 6 major awards and featuring in a television show and media article. Additionally, her experience working at two internationally renowned Fortune 500 organizations and as a business consultant at a Social Enterprise Accelerator in South Africa, strengthened her desire to bridge the gap between Business and Education on a creative platform. Brittany is an individual who is very passionate about learning and development across the lifespan with a particular interest in Adult Learning in impoverished communities. She enjoys her time at Teachers College and looks forward to serving as a future educator and leader in her community.
Andrea M. DiMarco
Andrea M. DiMarco is a first generation college student and has seen the true value of education first hand. After graduating from Montclair State University with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing, she entered the private sector full-time. While working, DiMarco noticed a "gap" between what is taught in the classroom and what is expected after college. She realized through this experience that her life goal is to better prepare students for life after college by providing students "life skills" prior to graduation. She is completing her M.A. in Adult Learning and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University. Currently, she is the Assistant Director of Planning and Academic Services at Stern School of Business at New York University.http://www.linkedin.com/in/dimarcoandrea
Chris Fenton is an MA candidate in the Adult Learning and Leadership Program. Currently, Chris is the Director of Talent and Leadership Development at HomeServe USA in Norwalk, CT. Prior to this role, he held positions of leadership in the OD functions at Montefiore Medical Center in NYC, Norwalk Hospital in CT, and United Healthcare based in Minneapolis. In his current role, Chris is designing the learning function from scratch, with an intense focus on leadership development, and is revamping the succession planning process. Chris came to the program at TC due to its reputation as the best master's degree in the field, and to formalize his ongoing love of learning. Chris holds a BS in Accounting from Salve Regina University, is an exercise freak, and rows crew on a regular basis. He lives in Darien, CT.
Jeffrey A. Fisher
Jeffrey A. Fisher, J.D., M.S. has been a Principal at Genesis International Advisers LLC, a management and consulting firm since 2014 and Special Programs Administrator and Teaching Assistant at Touro College and University System since 2002. Jeffrey holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Long Island University, C.W. Post campus (magna cum laude). He holds two graduate degrees, a Juris Doctor from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University and a Master of Science in International Business Finance from Touro College Graduate School of Business. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha the National Political Science Honor Society, Pi Gamma Mu, the International Honor Society in Social Sciences, Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honors Society and Kappa Delta Pi, the International Honor Society in Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Jeff is a member of the TC 21st Century Leaders Committee and is pursuing a Master of Arts degree in the Adult Learning and Leadership program.
Melissa Smisko Holmes
Melissa Smisko Holmes is a senior manager of Compliance training at Pfizer Inc. In her current role, she develops and deploys e-learning modules on Compliance topics such as healthcare laws and code of ethics, which are taken by ~90,000 people in 30 languages. Melissa is responsible for managing the Compliance Learning Management System, developing the annual Compliance training strategy, and ensuring training is rolled out to the appropriate audience and completed on time. She also participates in a cross-divisional team whose goals are to connect learning professionals across the company to share best practices and resources, improve the overall learning experience for employees, and foster culture change. She has held positions as a financial auditor at KPMG, internal auditor at Marriott and Pfizer, and as a client service manager at Cvent. Melissa has a BBA in accounting from James Madison University and is a CPA. Although she started her career as an auditor, Melissa has been involved in training in all of her roles and is passionate about learning. She is pursuing an M.A in Adult Learning and Leadership at Teachers College to formalize her post-graduate education and is interested in re-thinking the approach highly regulated organizations take towards required learning.
Samantha is an Active Duty Military Police Officer in the United States Army. She has served in various leadership and staff positions from Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Company Commander, Operations Officer, Force Protection Officer and Military Police Analyst. Samantha was stationed in Fort Richardson, AK, Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and Fort Eustis, VA and served a combat tour in Balad, Iraq. In addition to her roles and responsibilities as a Military Police Officer, Samantha is also a certified Resiliency Instructor and Non-Lethal Weapons Instructor. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geopolitics from the United Stated Military Academy. She is currently attending Columbia Teachers College in New York, NY and is enrolled in the Master of Arts Program in Adult Learning and Leadership (ALL). She believes that the foundation of the Army is its Soldiers and the success of the Army relies upon how well our Soldiers are trained and prepared. Samantha applied to the ALL program at Columbia Teachers College due to the rigorous nature of the program and the ability to explore different areas of interest related to adult learning.
Lennie Kang is a master's student with a passion for continuous development and education. She did her undergraduate studies in sunny San Diego at UCSD, obtaining degrees in Political Science and Anthropology. After a year of working at a management consulting firm in Southern California, she felt the itch of academia again and decided to make her way to New York. She has been fortunate enough to have had a variety of experiences since starting down the career path of adult learning. Some notables positions being a product development management intern at a successful educational tech company, assisting with organizational flow and process, as well as a talent management intern at an exciting video game publisher working with talent planning and corporate education initiatives. In her off hours, she enjoys crossing things off of lists and animals of all shapes and sizes.
Elyse Kolin received her BA from UC Santa Barbara in Film and Media Studies with a Minor in Spanish. Since graduating, Elyse has established a career in higher education at a private Art University. While here, Elyse worked extensively with both Undergraduate and Graduate students, faculty, and administrators through admissions processes, academic counseling and program development. In addition to her university work, Elyse is involved with several nonprofit community arts organizations in the San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. Elyse is pursuing her MA in Education with a Concentration in Adult Learning and Leadership to further explore her passion for lifelong learning within adult populations. Elyse was drawn to the Department's emphasis on Transformative learning as well as Teachers College's strong reputation, global perspective and long tradition of forward thinking.
Peirui Mao is a full-time M.A. candidate in Adult Learning and Leadership program. Freshly graduated from Shanghai International Studies University, she went directly to Teachers College to continue her education. Having worked part-time in Bain, L'Oreal, Golin Harris with focuses on management consulting, human resources and public relations, she found her ambition and curiosity in exploring the corporate world. While her experience in teaching English and Chinese in education institutions made her realize her way of making a difference. Peirui loves the ALL program for the focus on Adult Education and Organizational Learning offers courses that promise an exciting expedition into cutting-edge practices of curriculum and instruction, and most importantly foster social inclusion, which she believes is an essential component in any lifelong learning program. She felt so lucky to be a member in the program with such a warm and lovely cohort.
Michael Andres Palmieri
Michael Andres Palmieri is a transmedia writer/producer/consultant. He has been designing, developing and leading transformational immersive educational programs geared to creative entrepreneurs for 17 years. Currently, he is the Executive Director of Creative Lab - a new State of Hawaii economic development initiative. There, he designs, develops and leads programs for writers, producers, directors, actors, musicians, fashion designers, and tech entrepreneurs. Creative Lab's commitment is to develop the State of Hawaii as a nexus for creative entrepreneurs in the Pacific Rim and the world. He has guest lectured at the University of Southern California, UCLA, Columbia College, Chapman University, AFI, Loyola Marymount, University of Texas, University of Hawaii, and Hawaii Pacific University. In media, he has worked at Fox Broadcasting Company, and at various production companies based at TriStar Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, Polygram, Twentieth Century Fox and Walt Disney. His written and produced works include projects in motion pictures, television and new media. He holds a Bachelor of Arts interdisciplinary degree from the Annenberg School of Communication and the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California, has participated in Landmark Education programs for 15 years, and participated in the Northwestern University, Kellogg Innovation Network program.
Kate Sweeney is an instructional designer and senior trainer at Exec|Comm, specializing in presentation, negotiation, writing, selling, and leadership skills. She trains global fortune 500 clients in large and small group settings, as well as privately coached sessions. Before joining Exec|Comm in 2007, Kate spent 12 years in the United States Army as a Chinese, French and Italian linguist. Having lived and worked in countries as diverse as Japan, China, India, Italy and France, she used her skills to liaise effectively with embassies and diplomats worldwide. In the United States, Kate worked for the Department of Defense, training military personnel in leadership skills. Kate is a mediator with New York City Peace Institute, specializing in community and parent-teen mediation. She is also a facilitator at Soliya, which specializes in online cross-cultural education with universities worldwide to provide students with a deeper understanding for the perspectives of others around the world on important socio-political issues. Kate holds a B.S. in International Relations and an M.S. in International Management from the University of Maryland University College. She chose Teachers College because the ALL program perfectly married her passions for both leadership and adult learning, which she hopes to use to find new ways to inspire her participants
Wen Zhang is a master student in Adult Learning and Leadership Program (ADUL), Organization and Leadership Department. And she received her bachelor degree in Public Affairs Management in Capital Normal University in Beijing. Before joining the master program, she worked full-timely as assurance program coordinator and data analyst in PricewaterhouseCoopers for two years. Her working practices also spread in diverse cultural backgrounds (China, Nigeria, and United States) and multiple industries (Accounting, PR, Advertising, Education, and NGOs). With the learning passion on people development and analytic, the ADUL program provides her systematical training on how to find the trends and patterns from people through discourse and behavioral observation and how that likely impact an organization. The more action learning practices accumulated, the more data support she get for further analyzing how to utilize and leverage individual's collective intelligence for performance improvement and synergy build-up in the organization.
Yuan Zhou is the Director of Leadership Solutions at KSI Advisors in New York, where she is responsible for team management, training and program development. Yuan also leads the Program & Curriculum Development at RoboTerra, a spin-out KSI company backed with venture capital investment, which provides robotics educational toolkits and course packages to students and schools. Yuan worked in both China and US, taught hundreds of students ranging from elementary school to graduate school. She also conducted teacher training programs and staff training guidelines for different sectors such as Chinese local government, cultural exchange companies and nonprofit organizations. Yuan earned a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and Technology in China and a Master's degree in Applied Statistics from Teachers College, Columbia University. Yuan fell for education at Teachers College and decided to devote herself into lifelong learning development. The Adult Learning and Leadership program at TC is able to provide her the best resources and assistance in her career.