Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement (CEII)

Meet the Team

Segun Eubanks headshot

Dr. Segun Eubanks is the Director of the Center for Education Innovation and Improvement and Professor of Practice at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD).  Prior to joining UMD, Dr. Eubanks worked in various leadership roles at the National Education Association, including as Director of Teacher Quality and Director of Professional Educator Support.  He previously served 11 years as the Director of Teacher Quality for the NEA.  Dr. Eubanks also served as the Chair of the Board of Education for Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), a 132,000-student school district bordering Washington, DC.  In these roles, Dr. Eubanks led major policy initiatives and programs such as the Teacher Leadership Initiative, the Teacher Residency Taskforce, the National Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, and the NEA’s Committee on Professional Standards and Practice.

Dr. Eubanks has spent his professional career working to promote opportunity, access and equity in America’s education systems.  Dr. Eubanks is a staunch advocate for public education and an expert in teacher quality, teacher diversity and teacher professionalism.  He has served in various leadership roles with national non-profit education organizations including as Executive Director of the Community Teachers Institute and Vice President of Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.  Dr. Eubanks has given scores of speeches and presentations to a wide variety of audiences and has authored and/or contributed to many reports and publications on teacher quality and teacher diversity. 

Dr. Eubanks earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Educational Advocacy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a Master of Science degree in Human Services Administration from Springfield College, and a Doctorate of Education in Teaching and Learning Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Dr. Eubanks is the father of four and lives in Mitchellville, Maryland with his wife, Dr. Shyrelle Eubanks.

Picture of Jean Snell

Dr. Jean Snell is the Associate Director of the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement at the University of Maryland. Over the last twenty years, Snell has engaged with educators to help develop their capacity to close the achievement gap and to foster high-quality teaching and learning conditions for all students. As an independent educational consultant, Snell provided leadership coaching to school and teacher leaders and qualitative data evaluation services to school and program administrators. Snell has served as a certified Lead Inspector with Teacher Prep Inspection (TPI-US), a curriculum developer and teacher trainer for Educators Rising, a classroom evaluator for the DC Public Charter School Board, and a Leadership Coach with Ed Fuel and Leading Educators. Previously, she launched the Leading Educators Teacher Leadership Fellowship program in Washington, DC as the Regional Executive Director, directed the Maryland Master’s Certification program at the University of Maryland, and served as one of the founding Program Directors for the Center for Educational Leadership at the University of Washington. Snell earned her Doctorate in Education Policy at the University of Washington as well as the Danforth Leadership school administrator credential. She began her career in education as a secondary English teacher.

Doug Anthony

Dr. Douglas W. Anthony is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement at the University of Maryland- the very same institution where he earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees. Anthony, with over 27 years in public education, now leads the Anthony Consulting Group (ACG) where he works with school districts, universities and state departments of education across the country as a consultant and executive-level coach. Prior to leading ACG, he served as an Associate Superintendent for one of the largest school districts in the country. Anthony served in several roles throughout his career including: teacher; school development program facilitator; assistant principal; principal; director of school leadership; director of human capital management; interim chief of human resources; and executive director for talent management. He is recognized for successfully creating leadership development programs and opportunities, developing a principal pipeline, and developing strategic, meaningful partnerships. Anthony has presented nationally on several leadership topics, spoken on Capitol Hill, and has been featured in several articles, podcasts, and research reports on leadership.

Photo of Christine Neumerski

Dr. Christine M. Neumerski is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement.  She began her career as a middle school teacher in Washington, DC, serving students living in concentrated poverty.  These experiences led her to focus on understanding the systemic barriers that marginalized students face in accessing quality learning opportunities.  Her research and teaching focus on improving instruction in high-poverty, urban schools; instructional leadership; school system reform; and the relationship between public policies and classroom practices.  Prior to joining the faculty at UMD, Christine worked at Vanderbilt University and the University of Michigan, where she conducted several large-scale studies of school improvement efforts.  She has also worked in urban teacher and leader education, and most recently, she has pursued the development of research practice partnerships.  Christine received her PhD in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Michigan.

Photo of Cherise Hunter

Dr. Cherise J. Hunter is a Fellow at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement and the Project Manager for the Maryland PDS 2025 Project at the University of Maryland. She brings expertise in executing large-scale policy and research agendas in the areas of education, workforce development, and the post-secondary transition of youth with disabilities.  Recently, Hunter was the Policy Manager for the Howard County Public School System where she served under the Deputy Superintendent as the policy liaison to the Board of Education and was responsible for overseeing the development and adoption process of system-wide policies.  Hunter also spent over eight years as a Senior Research Analyst with the U.S. Department of Labor where she managed a multi-million dollar portfolio of workforce development evaluations and co-led a cross-agency federal committee to establish a youth transition research agenda.  In 2007, Hunter was awarded a doctoral fellowship from the University of Maryland’s Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children and Youth.  Before that, Hunter was a Governor’s Fellow with the Maryland State Department of Education’s Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services. She earned her Bachelors’, Masters’ and Doctorate degrees from the University of Maryland in Special Education. Hunter proudly began her career as a Special Education Transition Teacher/Coordinator.

Photograph of Laura Liccione

Laura Liccione is an Improvement Science Instructional Specialist for the University of Maryland’s Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement and the Prince George’s County Public Schools. She works directly with UMD staff, school system staff, and school leaders to support learning recovery and improvement in K-12 mathematics teaching. Before this, she held a supervisory role in the Maryland State Department of Education for over five years. During her service to the State, she worked on the College and Career Readiness pillar of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future and also led the evaluation of K-12 mathematics and English language arts curriculum in alignment with state content standards. Ms. Liccione’s career began over twenty years ago in Anne Arundel County Public Schools where she served in a multitude of capacities including as an elementary and secondary English Language Arts and mathematics classroom teacher; school performance specialist, Equity Liaison, and Assistant Principal. During her tenure, Ms. Liccione was nominated for Teacher of the Year and earned Master's Degrees from John Hopkins University, College of Education and McDaniel College in Instructional Technology for School Improvement and Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Educational Leadership. She also holds an APC for elementary and middle school, and certificates for Administrator I and II.

Damaries Blondonville-Ford

Damaries Blondonville is a critical source of professional knowledge on the CEii team. She is the strategic and sagacious Academy Director of the School Improvement Leadership Academy and project manager of the PDS 2025 Project. Before her work at CEii, she served as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist, and acting content supervisor in Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS) as well as the Assistant Executive Director of Professional Learning for the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). In 2017 Ms. Blondonville served as the project director of the 25-million-dollar United States Department of Education Teacher School Leader Incentive grant. The grant focused on teacher recruitment, retention, and development for 40 of PGCPS's highest-needs schools. In addition, she served as the PGCPS Continuing Professional Development liaison to the Maryland State Department of Education. 

Ms. Blondonville holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a minor in Special Education from Howard University, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Science Education from Loyola College. She holds both an Administrator Certification I and II and is currently a doctoral candidate at Morgan State University.

Pamela Callahan

Dr. Pamela Callahan is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement. Pamela studies the ways federal and state laws are interpreted and applied at the school and district level, with a special emphasis on the intersection of First Amendment speech protections and public schools. Her research has been published in Theory Into Practice, Education and Urban SocietyOn DemocracyWest's Education Law Reporter, and Action in Teacher Education. Before graduate school, she proudly served as a middle math teacher and department chair in Prince George's County, Maryland. Pamela earned degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park (Ph.D.), Johns Hopkins University (M.S.Ed), George Mason University (M.P.P), and the University of Pittsburgh (B.S.B.A). 

Willy V
Willy Viviani is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement. Willy began his career in education as a substitute teacher and then as a special education assistant. He taught high school mathematics for four years in Virginia before moving to Maryland to earn his doctorate. At UMD, Willy taught mathematics content and methods classes to elementary and middle grades preservice teachers, and supervised preservice teachers at the secondary level. His research interests primarily include teachers' feelings of preparedness to teach and enact other required elements of their job. He is also interested in mathematics task development, specifically around automatic assessment and feedback components. He earned his undergraduate degree in Mathematics at the University of Oregon, a Masters in Education at George Mason University, and his Doctorate in Education at the University of Maryland.

Photo of Melanie Hardy

Mel Hardy-Skeberdis is a graduate assistant at the CEii and a Ph.D. candidate in the Teaching, Learning, Policy and Leadership department with a specialization in Teacher Education and Professional Development. In addition to her work with the center, she teaches literacy and language acquisition skills to pre-service teachers. Her research focuses on induction and retention of teachers representing marginalized identities and university partnerships with school-site mentor teachers. She also serves as the co-president of the TLPL Graduate Student Association and as Secretary of the UMD Graduate Assistant Advisory Council.

Prior to her work at the University of Maryland, she served as a middle and high school ELA and drama teacher. She also served as the English Department Chairperson for DeKalb County, where she helped to compose writing-based curricula, and partnered with the Kennesaw Mountain branch of the National Writing Project to present her research to the National Council of Teachers of English. Mel has earned a M.A.T. at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA, and a B.A. at Clark University in Worcester, MA.

Photograph of Cody Norton

Cody Norton is a graduate assistant at the CEii and a Ph.D. student in the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership department with a specialization in Teacher Education and Professional Development. Before graduate school, he worked as an elementary teacher for 11 years in Washington, DC. Cody then served as an instructional coach for the teacher preparation program Urban Teachers and as a coordinator in the Content and Curriculum division for DC Public Schools. His research interests focus on examining how the intersection of community schools, community organizing, critical pedagogy, and teacher preparation can challenge structural inequality and existing systems of power. Cody has earned an A.A. in Humanities from Jamestown Community College, a B.A. in Sociology from Ithaca College, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University.

Photograph of Cesar Guitunga

César Herculano Guitunga Jr. is a graduate assistant at the CEii and a Ph.D. student in the Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership department specializing in Teacher Education and Professional Development. He worked as an elementary teacher in Washington, DC, and is a board member at a school in Mozambique, where he did curriculum analysis and improvement work. Beyond education, César worked with the American Red Cross and Deaconess Health Systems. In addition, he collaborates with the Mozambican embassy in Washington, DC, to advocate for Mozambican students and young professionals in the United States. Driven by a commitment to address income inequality and workforce development, he is particularly interested in exploring the role of innovative educational approaches in bridging these gaps. César holds a B.S. and M.S. in Health Services Administration from the University of Evansville and an M.Ed in Elementary Education from Loyola University Maryland.

Michaela Duranti

Michaela Duranti is a graduate assistant at the Center for Education Innovation and Improvement at the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. student in Special Education. Before graduate school, she worked at a not-for-profit independent college preparatory school in New York City. As a sixth-grade Humanities teacher, she provided both individualized learning and personalized differentiation for her twice-exceptional (2e) students. Her research interest consists of best practices for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Inclusion in the classroom. Michaela earned an M.Ed. from Goucher College in Reading Instruction and a B.S. in Special Education from Towson University where she was a part of the Women’s Lacrosse program. 

Other Affiliated Staff

Iris Bond Gill

Iris Bond Gill is a Consultant at the Center for Educational Innovation and Improvement at the University of Maryland, College Park. She brings more than 20 years of education policy and management experience to the table to propel agencies and nonprofit organizations to deliver on their missions. Most recently, Bond Gill led development and implementation of a successful three-year digital literacy and web literacy program at the Mozilla Foundation. Prior to this, Bond Gill was Assistant Superintendent of Elementary and Secondary Education for the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education, where she oversaw federal programs, served as a member of the Superintendent’s leadership cabinet, and liaised with other education leaders and local elected officials. Between 2002 and 2012, Iris worked in Washington, DC-based policy and advocacy organizations focused on secondary school reform, school improvement, and education and youth policy. Bond Gill has a Master’s degree from the H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Arizona State University.