Board of Visitors
The Board of Visitors serves as sounding board for the Dean of the College of Education (COE) on strategic planning and college priorities. They actively promote the strategic goals of COE to the external community and to alumni and friends of the college. In addition, they serve as the primary volunteer fundraising and capital campaign planning organization of COE.
Kevin Kruger, M.A. ’81, Ph.D. ’92. President, NASPA.
Dr. Kevin Kruger draws on more than 40 years of experience in higher education. Since 2012, he has served as president and CEO for NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. As NASPA president, Dr. Kruger represents student affairs at a variety of national forums and is a frequent contributor to higher education news stories on the college student experience. He has published and presented nationally on trends in higher education, student success, degree-completion strategies for low-income/first-generation students, and change management and leadership in higher education.
Dr. Kruger has deep roots at the University of Maryland having received both his M.A. and Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services in the College of Education. He also worked in Orientation, Campus Activities and Admissions at Maryland during the early part of his career. Finally, he is the proud father of two children, one a college senior and the other a first-year student – both at the University of Maryland College Park.
Jeanne Branthover ’77. Executive Search - Managing Partner, DHR International.
Jeanne is Executive Search - Managing Partner of DHR International and a member of DHR's North American Executive Committee. She is Head of DHR's Global Financial Services Practice as well as a leading member of the CEO & Board and Technology Practices. She specializes in senior leadership and board searches with an emphasis on ensuring representation of women and diversity on every assignment across all industries.
Jeanne has been named one of the World’s Top 50 Most Influential Headhunters by BusinessWeek. Jeanne has served as the United Way’s first female President of The Community Fund. Jeanne is a strong supporter and mentor to young women in the financial services and technology sectors and is also a regular speaker at both universities and corporations advising on the importance of diversity in the workplace. Jeanne received her B.S. in Elementary Education and is a recipient of the 2016 College of Education Award by the University of Maryland Alumni Association.
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, Ph.D. ’11. Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Brandeis University.
Mark Brimhall-Vargas, PhD is the Chief Diversity Officer and Vice President for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion at Brandeis University. He brings over two decades of expertise in campus-wide diversity and equity management and programming, cultural competency, and conflict resolution. As the CDO/VP, Mark is responsible for aligning diversity policy and programming for faculty, staff, and students across the university in areas of 1) recruitment, retention, and success strategies; 2) cultural competence training and preparation; 3) assessment, metrics, and creating a diversity dashboard; and 4) messaging, communications, and passive education around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. His portfolio currently supervises the Intercultural Center, Gender and Sexuality Center, Chaplaincies, and the Ombuds functions. Prior to coming to Brandeis University, Mark worked at Tufts University as the Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Provost, and at the University of Maryland as its Deputy Chief Diversity Officer.
Mark has a PhD in Social Foundations of Education at the University of Maryland. His academic expertise includes critically conscious pedagogy, social justice, and identity development (particularly religious, spiritual, faith-based identity). He also holds a Master's degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College. He originally hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Ali Clarvit ’13, M.Ed. ’14. Life Skills Teacher, Falls Church City Public Schools and Special Education Teacher, Manhattan Star Academy.
Ali Clarvit graduated from the University of Maryland College of Education in the years ’13 and ’14, completing a B.S. M.Ed in Early Childhood Special Education. She was given the opportunity to address her fellow classmates at her graduation from her master’s program at the College. Since then, she has been a Life Skills teacher in Falls Church City Public Schools in Virginia and a special education teacher at an independent private school in New York City for students with developmental disabilities. She has served on the Board of Visitors since its inception in 2015.
Richard Culatta. Chief Executive Officer, International Society for Technology in Education.
Richard Culatta is an internationally recognized leader in innovation and learning. His work has centered around using technology to accelerate innovation in education, corporate, and government settings. Culatta was the first Chief Innovation Officer for the State of Rhode Island and was appointed by President Obama as the Director of the Office of Educational Technology for the US Department of Education. Culatta is currently the CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and serves as an innovation fellow for the Masie Center and as a design resident for the San Francisco-based innovation and design firm IDEO. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish teaching and a master's degree in educational psychology and technology, both from Brigham Young University.
Melanie Folstad ’92. Senior Vice President - Financial Advisor, RBC Wealth Management.
Melanie has more than 25 years of experience in financial services. She has earned the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor®, Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy®, Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor and has her CFP®. In addition to her degree from the University of Maryland in Speech and English Secondary Education, she has an MBA from The George Washington University. Melanie is on the Board of Trustees for the Greater Washington Community Foundation and serves as Board Chair for the Montgomery County Advisory Board. She served on the board including Board Chair of The Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce. Melanie was a board member and Board Chair of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area and together with her husband co-chaired the Centennial Campaign for LSS-NCA. She recently served on the financial resources committee for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. Melanie and her husband live in Chevy Chase and have three children.
Ellen Gaske ’75. Senior Vice President, Academics for Specialized Education Services Inc. (SESI) a Catapult Learning Company.
Dr. Ellen Gaske is Senior Vice President, Academics, for Specialized Education Services Inc. (SESI), a Catapult Learning Company, where she is responsible for the coordination and implementation of academic programming in all SESI schools. In this role, Dr. Gaske coordinates the efforts of the Assessment, Curriculum, and Instruction (ACI) team to oversee each academic region.
Dr. Gaske began her special education teaching career working for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS), where she worked as a Special Education Teacher, Resource Teacher for the Office of Special Education, and later as a Supervisor of Special Education (grades K‐12). Over the course of forty years in the field of special education, Dr. Gaske has conducted extensive training in Reading for general and special education teachers; she has also taught courses for Johns Hopkins University in the areas of Reading and Written Language Disorders. Dr. Gaske received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland with dual certification in special and general education followed by a Master’s Degree in Communicative Disorders from the Johns Hopkins University as well as her Doctor of Education Degree in Special Education, with an emphasis on Learning Disabilities, in 1991, also from the Johns Hopkins University. A member of a number of professional organizations, Dr. Gaske also served as a board member for MANSEF (Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities) for four years.
Robert Kelly, Ph.D.’05. Vice President & Special Assistant to the President, Loyola University Maryland.
Robert D. Kelly is the president elect of the University of Portland. In July, he will assume the role as the 21st president of the University of Portland, a thriving Holy Cross Catholic university of more than 4,000 students from around the nation and the world, located up on a bluff overlooking the Willamette River and the city of Portland, Oregon.
Dr. Kelly, is wrapping up his tenure as University Vice President & Special Assistant to the President at Loyola University Maryland where he oversaw areas such as Mission and Identity, Intercollegiate Athletics, External Affairs, and the Division of Student Development. He previously oversaw the University’s diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
For over 25 years, he served in various executive roles such as Chief of Staff at Union College and Vice President for Student Development at both Loyola University Chicago and Seattle University. He began his professional career at Colgate University. In addition to his administrative positions, Dr. Kelly has served as clinical professor teaching a number of courses both at the graduate and undergraduate levels including, among others, "Leadership in Higher Education" and "Law in Higher Education”. He has published and presented papers on various aspects of college life, leadership development and equity and inclusion in higher education.
Dr. Kelly’s research focuses on areas of administrative ethical decision-making, equity and inclusion in higher education, and transforming the college environment for institutional success. He has written two books, “Transformational Encounters” and “Disruptive Transformation”. Kelly received a Ph.D. in Education Policy, from the College of Education at the University of Maryland, a master's degree from The University of Vermont, and a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Loyola University Maryland, where he served on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees before joining the administration.
He is married to Professor Bridget Turner Kelly and father to Robert Alexander (15) and Addison Elizabeth (11).
Nancy Jolson Leber ’72. Freelance Writer/Educational Consultant.
Nancy Jolson Leber has a B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maryland and an M.A. in Special Education from George Washington University. She was a resource room teacher (Prince Georges County, MD) before becoming an editor, first at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and then at Scholastic Inc. Nancy has written over 45 books for emergent readers and educators for Scholastic and other educational publishers. She lives in New York City, where she currently has a tutoring practice for elementary school children with learning differences, in addition to being a freelance writer.
Gary W. Michael. President, NAIMichael.
Gary Michael is the President of NAI Michael. NAI Michael provides commerical real estate services to the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. For over 30 years, Mr. Michael has worked in all fields of commercial real estate, including sales, leasing, property management, and development. Gary has been a strong advocate for the College of Education for over 10 years. In 2015, he helped launch the College of Education Board of Visitors as its Chair. Gary is passionate about improving the lives of students and teachers in Prince George's County and the surrounding community. He attended the University of Maryland's Finance and Business Administration program and pursued advanced studies in real estate from American University.
Debra Munk, M.A. ’83, Ph.D. ’91. Educational Consultant, Power of Leadership Development (PLD).
With 34 years of experience in public education, Debra remains committed to promoting the profession, particularly to the development of future educators. She obtained both her Master’s degree (English, 1983) and Doctorate (Educational Policy and Administration, 1991) from the University of Maryland. Since retiring from Montgomery County Public Schools in 2017, she has worked as an educational consultant, particularly in the area of assessment and standard-setting. Additionally, an avid quilter, she realized a long-time dream of starting a long-arm quilting business. In 2010, she was honored to receive the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award, an award given annually to an administrator who has shown an exceptional ability to encourage academic excellence, positive, relationships and strong community outreach. Throughout her career she has intensely focused on closing the achievement gap and increasing the academic achievement of all students.
Beverly O’Bryant, M.A. ’74, Ph.D. ’99. Dean of Behavioral and Social Sciences, Coppin State University.
Dr. Beverly J. O’Bryant, M.S. in Counseling, Ph.D. in Counselor Education, University of Maryland, College of Education. Currently, full professor and Founding Dean College of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Coppin State University with academic responsibility for 10 undergraduates and 4 graduate degree programs, 7 certificate programs in Psychology, Counseling and Behavioral Health, Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement, Applied Social and Political Sciences and Social Work. Past President American Counseling Association (ACA), American School Counselor Association (ASCA) and Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD). Daily Records Top 100 Women in Maryland, 2014; Executive Producer and Host, “Coppin Connection” on Dr. B Show, WOLB 1010 AM. Published 30 refereed journal articles and 5 book chapters.
Jody Olsen, Ph.D. ’79. Former Director, Peace Corps.
Dr. Josephine (Jody) Olsen, Ph.D., served as the 20th Director of the Peace Corps between March, 2018 – January, 2021. With the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Olsen made the unprecedented decision to evacuate all 7,000 Peace Corps Volunteers and bring them safely back to the United States. Dr. Olsen also championed global women's economic empowerment, opened Peace Corps in a new country, Viet Nam, and re-opened three countries in which Peace Corps had previously served. Dr. Olsen began her career as a Peace Corps Volunteer, serving as an education Volunteer in Tunisia from 1966-1968. She has also served the agency as Acting Director (2009), Deputy Director (2002-2009), Chief of Staff (1989-1992), Regional Director (1981-1984), and Country Director (1979-1981). Prior to returning to the Peace Corps in 2018, Dr. Olsen was Visiting Professor at the University of Maryland-Baltimore School of Social Work and Director of the University’s Center for Global Education where she developed and directed inter-professional global health projects for health graduate students, oversaw health research projects in ten different countries, and taught international social work, global social policy, and global health.
Dr. Olsen received a B.S. from the University of Utah, and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and a Ph.D. in Human Development from the College of Education, University of Maryland, College Park. Among her many awards, in March, 2021, she received the University of Maryland President’s Award in March 2021. Throughout her career, Dr. Olsen has championed the expansion of service, learning and international opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds.
Rachel Petty, Ph.D. ’81. Former Professor and Dean Emeritus, University of the District of Columbia.
Rachel M. Petty has more than 45 years of distinguished service in higher education. Until 2018, she served for nearly 15 years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC). She also held other administrative appointments at UDC, including Acting Chief Operating Officer, Interim Chief Academic Officer, Chair of the Department of Psychology. Her commitment to continued involvement in research has yielded peer-reviewed publications in the areas of trauma, childhood resilience, and student persistence. She earned a Ph.D. in Human Development and Psychology at the University of Maryland, and her Masters and Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology from Howard University. As a practicing psychologist, Rachel was a member of the Maryland State Foster Care Review Board and boards of the DC Psychological Association and Lutheran Social Services. She is the recipient of the Paul Cooke Lifetime Achievement Award, the NAFFEO Researcher of the Year, and the PathMaker Leadership Award (UDC Foundation).
Barbara Shapiro ’55. M. Sigmund and Barbara K. Shapiro Philanthropic Fund.
Barbara Kloze Shapiro graduated from the College of Education at the University of Maryland in 1955 with a degree in early childhood education. Barbara and her late husband M. Sigmund Shapiro are the parents of three children and four grandchildren. She is a life-long resident of Baltimore City and proud advocate for the city and its future. Barbara is also a respected philanthropist who invests in projects that make a difference in the lives of individuals and families.
Daniel Schwab. Co-President, D&H Distributing Co.
Dan Schwab is the Co-President of D&H Distribution - a top 100 private wholesale distribution company in the United States. Dan and his wife are proud parents of their daughter Maddie '22 who is a current student in the College of Education. Dan received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and serves on the Wharton School Undergraduate Executive Board. He is a founding member of Harrisburg University and a member of the Board of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation.
Clemmie Solomon, Jr., Ph.D. ’96. College Wide Dean of Student Engagement and Takoma Park/Silver Spring Student Affairs, Montgomery College (MD).
Dr. Clemmie Solomon is the Collegewide Dean of Student Engagement and Takoma Park/Silver Spring Student Affairs at Montgomery College (MD). He previously served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of the District of Columbia; Dean of Student Life at the Community College of Philadelphia; and Dean of Student Services and Director of Counseling and Student Development at Bowie State University.
Dr. Solomon holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Social Foundations (specializing in International and Comparative Education) from the University of Maryland, College Park (1996); M.S. in Counselor Education from the University of Dayton; and B.S. in History Education from Central State University (Ohio). He is a former President of the Association of Multicultural Counseling and Development and Board Chair of the American Counseling Association Foundation. Some of his other leadership roles include serving as a member of the Prince Georges County Personnel Board; University of Maryland Alumni Board; and member of Leadership Philadelphia, Leadership Greater Washington, and Leadership Montgomery. He recently served as Board Chair of Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area and currently serves on the Montgomery County Sister Cities Board and Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland College of Education.
Gretchen Van der Veer, Ph.D., ’91. Chief Executive Officer, Fair Chance.
Gretchen Van der Veer received her Ph.D in Education, Policy, Planning and Administration with a specialization in leadership studies in 1991 from the College of Education. She has been Chief Executive Officer at Fair Chance since 2013 and has served in the higher education, government, and nonprofit sectors for over 25 years.
Early in her career, she worked at the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland College Park. She was then tapped to help launch AmeriCorps during the Clinton Administration and eventually became the Director of Leadership Development and Training for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) responsible for capacity building for thousands of CNCS nonprofit grantees. Having served on many nonprofit boards, she is a current appointee to the Federal Reserve Bank's Community Investment Council (5th District) and an adjunct faculty for George Washington University's Human Service and Social Justice program teaching Nonprofit Management and Ethical Leadership.