Team Drezner - Current Students & Alumni

Team Drezner - Current Students & Alumni

I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to work with amazing doctoral students both in my time at Teachers College, Columbia University and the University of Maryland. While we affectionately call ourselves #TeamDrezner, this group of young scholars and scholar-practitioners continue to teach me and push my thinking and research as much as I have helped them.

Current Doctoral Students

Abdul Abad Headshot
Ed.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University

Abdul B. Abad is the M.A. Student Advisor. He is an Ed.D. student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education Program at Teachers College. Abdul’s research interests focus on online teaching and learning, the assessment thereof, access and retention of underrepresented minorities, college affordability, and how these areas can be combined to bring about socially just outcomes. More specifically, he is interested in how or whether culturally relevant pedagogy could be incorporated into the online context. Abdul holds a Master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut. Before Teachers College, Abdul was an Academic Support Coordinator at the University of Connecticut and has worked in several positions related to assessment and research around learning.

Brian Allen Headshot
Ed.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University

Brian Allen is a higher education scholar practitioner. During his time in New York City, Brian has gained professional experience in diversity, multicultural, and student affairs while working in offices at private/public institutions, and graduate/community colleges. Also, a fourth year doctoral student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, his research focuses on utilizing intracommunity dialogue frameworks to encourage solidarity and coalition building among students of color at predominantly white institutions. Brian received his Bachelor's degree in English Linguistics and Spanish Language from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Master's in Higher and Postsecondary Ed from TC in 2017. Brian has helped launch social justice initiatives such as the Teachers College Black Lives Matter in Higher Education Series, as well as the viral #BlackAndHooded social (media) movement and non-profit organization.

Bret Beaufeaux Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Residence Hall Director, New York University

Bret (he/him) is a Ph.D. student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Bret's research interest generally pertain to retention and persistence of queer students within higher education, the exploration of virtual communities and environments, and the myriad ways physical and virtual environments are experienced by postsecondary students. In terms of practitioner experience, Bret currently works in housing and residence life, and has previously served in other student affairs, academic advising, undergraduate teaching roles. Bret holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of West Florida and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Miami. In his spare time Bret enjoys running, hiking, and travelling. 

G Capone Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Assistant Director of Equity Initiatives, Bank Street College of Education

G Capone (they/them) is a doctoral student in the Higher & Postsecondary Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Currently, they are the Assistant Director of Equity Initiatives at Bank Street College of Education. G is passionate about education because of the community and chosen family they have found within the walls of educational institutions. Their research interests focus on improving classrooms for trans students and faculty. Professionally, they have worked in various roles at Columbia University supporting the development, implementation, and facilitation of DEI-focused learning opportunities for the campus community. They received their M.A. from Teachers College and a B.A. in Political Science with honors from John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY). In their free time, you can find them walking their dog and drinking way too much coffee.

Rosa Chavarro Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Program Coordinator, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Rosa F. Chavarro is a scholar-practitioner of higher and postsecondary education. With a passion for helping students gain access to educational and career opportunities, Rosa has dedicated her career to building and implementing partnerships, communications, and programs that help students be successful academically and professionally.

Her research interests include immigrant students in higher education; mental health and acculturation among college students; diversity in admission and student affairs; and alumni engagement.

Rosa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History with Latin Honors from Wellesley College, and a Master’s Degree in International Educational Development from Columbia University’s Teachers College. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and has studied in Europe, North Africa, and Latin America. In her free time, Rosa loves to swim, volunteer, and cook. 

Photo of Zoya Chhabra
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Administrative Manager and Executive Assistant to the President, Barnard College, Columbia University

Zoya Chhabra (she/her) is a PhD student in higher and postsecondary education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Administrative Manager and Executive Assistant to the President at Barnard College. She holds an MA in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, and a BA in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her scholarly interests include civic engagement and student social movements. 

Alex Chin Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Editorial Assistant, Philanthropy & Education Decision Support Analyst, Office of Institutional Research, Planning, and Administration, Emory University

Alex is a PhD student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research focuses on educational sorting processes and how they reflect and shape our understanding of societal constructs such as race, merit, and prestige. Prior to joining Teachers College, Alex received his BA in Philosophy from Carleton College, MA in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and Ed.M. in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His professional experience includes institutional research positions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University, and Emory University.

Francheska Jimenez Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Program Administrator for Academic and Student Affairs, Center for Data Sciences, New York University

Francheska Jimenez is the Program Administrator for Academic and Student Affairs. She provides academic and career advising for both undergraduate and graduate students. She also advises all CDS student groups. Francheska was raised in the Bronx and still resides there. She has a BA in English and MA in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University, and is a first-generation graduate in her family! She is now pursuing an EdD in Higher & Postsecondary Education at Teachers College. Prior to working in higher ed, Francheska spent many years working in Harlem, mainly at a charter school network and non-profit organization. In her spare time she enjoys creating art, visiting galleries and museums, volunteering in her community, and listening to podcasts.

Jerée Matherson Headshot
Ed.D. Candidate, Teachers College, Columbia University Director of Presidential Correspondence, Georgetown University

Jerée Matherson is a doctoral candidate in Higher & Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her primary research interest lies in university partnerships with external institutions. She spent her graduate fellowship engaged in research, planning, and implementation efforts for Teachers College Community School, a public PK-8 school that demonstrates how affiliation with an institution of higher education can enhance public school education. Her dissertation investigates higher education-in-prison programs – as a case of university partnerships – and seeks to understand whether and how the function of these programs align with the civic mission of higher education. In addition to her forthcoming doctorate, she holds an MA and an EdM from TC and a BA from Coastal Carolina University.

Meg McGuffin Headshot
Ph.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Residence Hall Director, Columbia University

Meg McGuffin is the M.A. Admission Inquiries Coordinator.  She is a Ph.D. student in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College.  She received her Ed.M. in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College in 2020.  Meg is a two-time graduate of Auburn University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Media Studies and a master’s degree in Administration of Higher Education.  Her research interests surround equitable access to higher education for low socioeconomic status students from rural areas of the US South. Meg currently works in Residential Life and Housing as a hall director at Barnard College and previously worked as an orientation graduate assistant in First Year Experience at Auburn University.

Cynthia Tobar Headshot
Ed.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Associate Professor and Head of Archives at Bronx Community College

Cynthia Tobar is a doctoral student in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Proud to have begun her higher education journey at CUNY, Cynthia is a Hunter College alum who holds an MA in Politics from the New School and an MLS from Pratt Institute. Her current research interests are centered on using oral history methodology to understand issues of equity, inclusion, diversity and anti-racism in higher education. Currently, Cynthia is an Associate Professor and Head of Archives at Bronx Community College, where she creates socially-engaged art programming, community-based archiving and storytelling projects that incubate spaces of culturally responsive memory-building to further advance community engagement with the Archives and the college. She is also a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, where she has taught courses on social justice in Colombia and arts-activism

A.J. Vervoort Headshot
Ed.D. Student, Teachers College, Columbia University Senior Associate Director of Alumni Relations, Columbia Engineering

A.J. is passionate about education and is currently pursuing his EdD from Teachers College in Higher & Postsecondary Education. A.J.'s research explores why lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student activists organize around LGBT rights at non-Christian religious affiliated institutions of higher education. A.J. earned an MSEd in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in Business from Stockton University.

Professionally, A.J. is the Senior Associate Director of Alumni Relations at Columbia Engineering and Executive Secretary of the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CEAA). In this position, A.J. manages two of Columbia Engineering's alumni boards; oversees the volunteer engagement strategy; and manages the Alumni Representative Committee (ARC), composed of nearly 2,500 alumni volunteers globally who interview applicants to Columbia Engineering. A.J. is also a fundraiser for the Engineering School.

Personally, A.J. is passionate about giving back to his community. He serves on the Board of Education for the Monmouth Regional High School District, representing citizens from the beloved town of Shrewsbury Township, NJ. For the three town District, A.J. was appointed to serve on the Equity Council, Green Team, and Policy Committee. Through these committees, A.J. 's been able to bring his educational background and experiences to help design an inclusive, equitable school district for every student to excel and succeed in an increasingly heterogeneous society. A.J. 's vision also entails creating an even more sustainable school District. 

Alumni from Teachers College, Columbia University

Maria Anderson-Long Headshot
Head of Student Life (Dean of Students) at Bard College Berlin

Dr. Maria Anderson-Long received her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher & Postsecondary Education. She received her Master's in Higher Education Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and her Bachelor’s in Women & Gender Studies and Theater Arts from Clark University. Her primary research interests are understanding how higher education responds to societal changes, specifically focusing on the creation of policies that better serve marginalized students. Her dissertation focused on understanding whether Gender-Inclusive Housing policies vary across institutional type and how, if at all, they support transgender students. Maria is currently the Head of Student Life at Bard College Berlin, a liberal arts college in Berlin, Germany, where she oversees Housing and Residential Life, Orientation, Health and Wellness, Study Abroad, Careers and Internships, Diversity Equity & Inclusion, Gender-Based Misconduct, and Peer Tutoring. 

Chase McNamee
Research Fellow, The Tzedakah Lab, Teachers College, Columbia University Associate Editor, Philanthropy & Education Senior Project Manager, Office of the Provost, University of Denver

Chase D. McNamee (he/him), Ed.D. is a higher education scholar-practitioner and current research fellow for The Tzedakah Lab. He is also an Associate Editor for Philanthropy & Education (Indiana University Press). He earned his doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher & Postsecondary Education, working closely with Professor Noah D. Drezner, his doctoral advisor. Chase’s research focuses on evidence-informed practice and policy in institutional advancement and identity-based philanthropy in higher education. His research centers institutional advancement in two critical ways: to increase awareness of how advancement practitioners can engage their alumni in more inclusive and equitable ways; and to better understand advancement practice to ensure organizational longevity for colleges and universities.

Chase has carried out a number of research studies and scholarly works. His most recent work includes “Breaking Stereotypes About Alumni Donors: Who Gives First? A Discrete-Time Hazard Model” in The Journal of Higher Education and his dissertation entitled “Evidence-Informed Institutional Advancement: An Organizational Understanding.”

In addition to his research and scholarship, Chase has served in a variety of roles in higher education and as a practitioner and leader in institutional advancement and higher education. He has practiced in alumni relations, donor relations & stewardship, fundraising, development strategy, and gift processing and management. His most recent role was Director of Alumni Relations at Bank Street College of Education. Chase was selected as CASE Advancement Intern, where he practiced at the University of Houston in the Data and Analytics department. He collected and compiled data for an institutional report on engagement scoring to be presented to leadership and staff members from data and analytics, alumni relations, and fundraising about data points for alumni affinity score at the institution. He also consults with Alumni Belonging Consultants, a fellow group of scholar-practitioners focused on belonging, justice, and liberation in institutional advancement.

In the field of higher education, he has worked in admissions, student affairs, residence life, counseling and dean of students work, and academic advising. He currently works full-time as a Senior Project Manager in the Office of the Provost at the University of Denver. Chase works closely with the Provost and the Chancellor’s Office, where he manages special projects, processes for the DU Impact 2025 Strategic Plan projects, and the Community + Values initiative, an initiative aimed at increasing the sense of belonging and community at the institution.

He completed both his Bachelor’s Degree in History in 2013 and his Master’s Degree in Counseling with a Mental Health emphasis in 2015 at the University of Wyoming (UW) in Laramie, WY. Chase actively gives to his alma maters, CASE, and non-profit organizations focused on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion. Some of these include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, Athlete Ally, the New York Public Library Food Bank for NYC, Wyoming Equality, and Colorado Public Radio.

Ty McNamee Headshot
Assistant Professor of Higher Education, The University of Mississippi

Ty McNamee is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Higher Education at The University of Mississippi. He completed his doctorate in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

Growing up as a poor and working class student on a farm/ranch in Wyoming greatly influenced Ty’s research interests. He uses critical, sociological, and anthropological lenses to conduct qualitative research on higher education access and equity for rural students, particularly those from poor and working class backgrounds, as well as college teaching and learning and faculty development at rural postsecondary institutions. His research has been funded by national organizations, such as the ECMC Foundation, College Student Educators International (ACPA), the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education (NODA), and the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students. 

Outside of his research, Ty co-founded and ran the Rural Education and Healthcare Coalition, a Teachers College, Columbia University student, faculty, and staff network focused on rural education and healthcare programming and research. He also actively serves in professional organizations, including the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Ty received his Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the University of Connecticut in 2015 and his Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wyoming in 2013. He also completed in 2022 a Graduate Teaching Certificate from Colorado State University.

Alumni from University of Maryland, College Park

Jason Garvey Headshot
Friedman-Hipps Green and Gold Associate Professor of Education at the University of Vermont

Dr. Jason C. Garvey (he/him/his) is the Friedman-Hipps Green and Gold Associate Professor of Education for the Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration graduate program at the University of Vermont. He is also a Fulbright-British Library Eccles Centre Scholar.

Jay’s scholarship, teaching, and service are closely tied to his educational journey as a queer person. His research examines queer and trans collegians across educational contexts primarily using quantitative methods. Jay often frames his scholarship through critical cultural perspectives, including intersectionality and queer theory, and he foregrounds salient experiences for queer and trans collegians, including identity development, retention, campus climate, and belonging. Jay proudly identifies as a quantitative queer, navigating the borders of post-positivistic quantitative methods and post-structural queerness.

In 2020, Jay launched Queer and Trans People in Education (QTPiE), a multi-institutional research team with a mission to educate, advocate, and build coalitions that advance equitable policies and practices for queer and trans people in higher education. Please visit the QTPiE website for more information.

As a public scholar, Jay has collaborated with local and national organizations to promote positive social change for queer and trans collegians, including the Pride Center of Vermont, Campus Pride, ACPA, the Spencer Foundation, and the National Science Foundation. He currently serves as the Executive Associate Editor for the Journal of College Student Development and recently guest-edited a special issue for the Journal of College Student Retention on queer and trans collegians.

Prior to his faculty appointments, Jay worked in college student services across a variety of functional areas, including queer and trans student involvement and advocacy, student affairs assessment, residential life, academic advising, and undergraduate research. He received his PhD in College Student Personnel Administration from the University of Maryland with a certificate in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation.

Jennifer Johnson Headshot
Assistant Professor of Policy, Organizational and Leadership Studies College of Education and Human Development, Temple University
Jennifer M. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of higher education in the Department of Policy, Organizational and Leadership Studies at Temple University. She is an active scholar-practitioner in the fields of college access and student retention. A former Philadelphia middle school teacher with a background in science and mathematics, she spent several years working as a counselor and advisor for college access and success programs. Her research interests include pre-college access programs, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs, and high-achieving students of color. This scholarship explores the ways race, gender, and class intersects to shape the educational experiences of students across diverse institutional contexts. Her research team, the College Success Research Collaborative, engages in projects designed to inform best practices in student success, with a particular emphasis on advocacy for populations historically marginalized in education. Dr. Johnson earned her PhD in Higher Education from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Steve D Mobley, Jr. Headshot
Associate Professor of Higher Education Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy School of Education and Urban Studies Morgan State University

Steve D. Mobley, Jr., Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy in the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. His scholarship focuses on the contemporary placement of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Particularly, Dr. Mobley, Jr.’s research underscores and highlights the understudied facets of HBCU communities including issues surrounding race, social class, and student sexuality. He earned his B.A. in Communication & Culture from Howard University.  Upon graduating from Howard, he completed his MS.Ed. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, and his Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of Maryland.

His scholarly work has also garnered national attention as he is the recipient of three national dissertation awards. His dissertation, Difference Amongst Your Own: The Lived Experiences of Low-Income African-American Students and Their Encounters with Class within Elite Historically Black College (HBCU) Environments has received recognition from the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education (AABHE), the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) and the Southern Association for College Student Affairs (SACSA) respectively. Dr. Mobley is also a 2022 Diverse: Issues In Higher Education Emerging Scholar, and a 2021 College Student Educators International (ACPA) Emerging Scholar-Designee Awardee. He has also published his scholarship in Teachers College Record, The Journal of Higher Education, The Journal of Homosexuality, The Urban Review, and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

Sean Pepin Headshot
Regional Coordinator, Greater LA Region Success Center for California Community Colleges
Sean is a student and equity centered scholar-practitioner with over 15 years of experience. Sean's prior roles have spanned 2-year, 4-year, public, and private colleges, along with work at system offices, non-profits, and policy centers. His work focuses on collaboratively creating the conditions that increase student completion, eliminate racial and economic equity gaps, and cultivate a culture of thriving among historically and persistently marginalized communities. Sean holds a PhD in Student Affairs from the University of Maryland, College Park, an MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership, and a BA in Ethnic and Gender Studies. 
Candice Staples Headshot
Director of Alliance Engagement, University Innovation Alliance

Dr. Candice Staples joins the UIA as the Director of Alliance Engagement where she is responsible for the development and oversight of the UIA’s member engagement and support strategy. Candice is an experienced leader in the nonprofit and higher education sectors. She advocates for institutional equity by shedding light on understudied populations in postsecondary institutions.

Previously, Candice worked for Charitable Ventures, the University of Maryland, the Consortium on High Achievement and Success, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. She has been recognized for her research by the University of Maryland Graduate Research Interaction Day (GRID) and had her dissertation funded partly by the University of Maryland College of Education Support Program for Advancing Research and Collaboration (SPARC) grant. Candice holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Hampton University, an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy from the University of Maryland – College Park.

Kozue Tsunoda Headshot
Senior Development Officer, Harvard Business School

Kozue Tsunoda is a Senior Development Officer at the Harvard Business School. Prior to joining HBS, she worked at the Harvard Asia Center, the Swarthmore College, and the Johns Hopkins University. She holds a B.A. in Chinese Studies from the University of Tokyo Foreign Studies, an M.A. from Hiroshima University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. She lives in Arlington, MA with her husband and their three children.

Justin van Fleet Headshot
President of Theirworld and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education

Justin W. van Fleet, Ph.D is President of Theirworld and Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition for Education. Justin previously served as the Director of the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity and Chief of Staff to the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown where the landmark “Learning Generation” report put forward a pathway to finance and deliver the ambitions of Sustainable Development Goal 4 – inclusive and equitable quality education for all. He has been a passionate advocate for financing education, playing an instrumental role in the establishment of the Education Cannot Wait Fund for education in emergencies and the new International Finance Facility for Education.

van Fleet was a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Universal Education in Washington, D.C. where his research focused on corporate social investments and philanthropy for global education.  He has previously held various non-profit and academic posts, including as Deputy Chair for Education at the Clinton Global Initiative, an Instructor at the University of Maryland and Associate Director of the Council on Foreign Relations Center for Universal Education. He has consulted for various international and national organizations and foundations.

van Fleet served on the Board of Trustees of Creative Minds International Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. from 2011-2015.

He graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in international education policy and holds a Masters degree from Harvard University in the same field.  A native of Western Maryland in the foothills of the Appalachian mountains, he completed his Bachelor of Arts at Frostburg State University in international politics and Spanish. He has lived in Bolivia and Argentina.

Rebecca Villarreal Headshot
Senior Director, Jobs for the Future

Rebecca Villarreal is a senior director at Jobs for the Future. A member of the Center for Justice and Economic Advancement, she is responsible for helping stakeholders change the narrative and remove structural barriers that systematically exclude the more than 70 million people with criminal records from opportunities for economic advancement.

Her skills and areas of expertise include:

  • Postsecondary education and workforce training
  • Postsecondary education in prison
  • Partnership development
  • Program design and development
  • Leadership development
  • Community and economic development

Before joining JFF, Rebecca was the director of education philanthropy at Ascendium, a national philanthropy committed to increased socioeconomic mobility through postsecondary education and workforce training for learners from low-income backgrounds. Before that, she served as a program officer on the education team at The Kresge Foundation. She also held positions at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the University of Maryland, College Park.

She says that she was drawn to JFF because of “JFF’s comprehensive commitment to creating and curating research, working with partners, especially impacted leaders, to promote advocacy and awareness leading to policy and systems change to drive transformations that bring equity and opportunity to people impacted by the justice system.”

Rebecca has a doctorate and a master’s degree in higher education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's in strategic communications from Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

She says that, outside of work, “I love to travel and spend time enjoying the outdoors—camping, kayaking, and hiking. My partner and I are cat parents and are outnumbered by Ricky, Lucy, and our newest addition, JJ.”

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