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. I even have "team members" from Beijing Normal University, where I serve as a visiting professor. 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. 


Teachers College, Columbia University Team Members

Brain Allen                        Jerée  Matherson                A.J. Vervoort

Maria Anderson-Long          Chase McNamee                 

Bret Beaufeaux                  Ty McNamee

University of Maryland Team Members

Nina Daoud                       Sean Pepin                        Justin van Fleet

Jason Garvey                     Michael Puma                     Rebecca Villarreal

Jennifer Johnson                Candice Staples

Steve D. Mobley, Jr              Kozue Tsunoda

Beijing Normal University Team Member

Xianping Liang

Teachers College, Columbia University Team Members
Maria Anderson-Long
Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Maria is currently pursuing her Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher & Postsecondary Education. Her primary research interests are in the development and implementation of policies that create safer and more inclusive environments for transgender students. Following the completion of her degree, her goal is to work in a university setting to advocate for the creation of such policies. Prior to coming to TC, Maria received her Master's in Higher Education Student Affairs from The Ohio State University and worked in Student Activities at Brandeis University. 

Brian Allen
Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Brian Allen is a doctoral student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research interests focus on social justice and equity in relation to the mission of Higher Education--teaching, research, and service. He received his Master's from TC and his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During his time in New York City Brian has gained professional experience in diversity and multicultural affairs, working in offices at Columbia University. Teachers College, LaGuardia Community College and NYU. 

Bret Beaufeaux
Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Bret is currently pursuing his Ed.D. in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Professionally, he works as a Residence Hall Director for two upper-class apartment buildings at New York University. His research interests are to identify factors that affect the retention and persistence of trans-identified students at small liberal arts institutions and to evaluate policy factors to improve rates of degree completion for these students. Bret completed his B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of West Florida and his M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. His practitioner experience includes working in different functional areas of student affairs and academic affairs. Bret intends to become involved in research and inclusive policy development for trans-identified folks within communities of higher learning.

Jerée Matherson
Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Jerée Matherson is a doctoral student in the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is also the Manager of Special Projects in the President's Office. Her research interests are centered on colleges and universities as learning communities and on ​ how these institutions interface with their local community ​- an interest honed during her time working both in higher education and as a grade school teacher. She holds an MA and an EdM from TC and a BA in Elementary Education from Coastal Carolina University. Following the completion of her degree, her goal is to work in a university setting that enables her to cultivate productive university and community partnerships, while also pursuing related research.

Ty McNamee

Ed.D. Student, Higher and Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Ty is a doctoral student in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.  His research interests focus on equity and access in higher education for underserved and understudied populations, specifically for rural students, undocumented students, and students engaging in education abroad.  Ty recently graduated from the University of Connecticut with his M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs and before that from the University of Wyoming with his B.A. in English.  His internship roles have spanned many offices, including UConn Admissions, Yale University’s Office of International Students and Scholars, and the Office of U.S. Senator Mike Enzi.

Chase McNamee
Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University

Chase is pursuing his Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher & Postsecondary Education.  His research is focused on the alumni pathway and the connectedness between the admissions process, student involvement, and alumni giving and engagement after graduation. Chase also serves as a Residence Hall Director for Barnard College. 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.  During his time in Laramie he gained experience in internships while working in the UW Admissions Office and UW Registrar’s Office and in Student Services at Albany County Campus – Laramie County Community College, as well.  Chase also worked as the Senior Coordinator for Memberships, Alumni Networks, and Student Programs for the UW Alumni Association before coming to New York. 

A.J. Vervoort

Assistant Director of Individual Giving,

Columbia Business School

Ed.D. Student, Higher & Postsecondary Education
Teachers College, Columbia University


A.J.'s research explores alumni of color and LGBTQ alumni giving in higher education and how multiple social identities affect giving. He is also interested in colleges and universities role cultivating, soliciting, and engaging underrepresented alumni. A.J. was an Advancement Officer at University of the Sciences before pursuing doctoral studies at Teachers College and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Individual Giving at Columbia Business School. A.J.'s practitioner experience helps guide his research. A.J. earned his BS in Business from Stockton University and MSEd in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania.



University of Maryland Team Members
Jason C. Garvey, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor,
University of Vermont

Dr. Jason C. Garvey is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of Vermont. His research examines student affairs and college classroom contexts with focus on assessing and quantifying student experiences across social identities, with particular attention to people with marginalized sexual and gender identities.  Prior to his faculty appointment, Dr. Garvey worked in student services across a variety of functional areas, including academic advising, LGBTQ student involvement and advocacy, undergraduate research, and student affairs assessment.

Nina Daoud

Ph.D. Candidate, Higher Education

University of Maryland, College Park



Nina Daoud is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. Broadly, her research addresses two main areas: (1) college access and choice; and (2) the experiences of Black students in higher education, with a particular focus on diversity within the Black community. Additionally, Nina has had a number of experiences working at higher education research and policy organizations in Washington DC, including the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Nina holds a B.A. in Biology and Society from Cornell University and an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Jennifer Johnson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Temple University


Steve D. Mobley, Jr., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Higher Education

Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies

The University of Alabama



Dr. Jennifer M. Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Higher Education Program 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.

Dr. Steve D. Mobley, Jr., is a proud native of Washington, DC and has dedicated his life to enhancing the post-secondary educational experiences of underrepresented students.  He is currently an assistant professor of higher education at The University of Alabama in the department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies.  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 Master’s in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, and most recently he earned 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. 

Sean Pepin, Ph.D.

Director of Student Development

West Valley College



Currently Sean is the Director of Student Development at West Valley College, in Saratoga, California and a PhD Candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to doctoral work, Sean has worked at campuses in Washington, Michigan, and Florida, all in areas of student engagement and student development. Currently, he is working on his dissertation, which focuses on the challenges of engaging in social justice work among student affairs professionals. The dissertation project is part of a larger research agenda, which includes: infusing critical pedagogy into student affairs practice, enacting radical democracy in higher education, and fostering student activism as a form of civic engagement. 

Michael Puma

Ph.D. Candidate, University of Maryland &

Director, Loyola University Maryland



Michael Puma was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  He is a graduate of Fordham University (BS – American Studies & Psychology) and Syracuse University (MS – Higher Education).  He has worked at Loyola University Maryland since 2002 in a variety of roles including Associate Director of Student Life and most currently as the Co-Director of Messina, a living-learning communities program for first-year students.  He has also served as president of Loyola's Phi Beta Kappa chapter from 2009-11 and is a coordinator for OUT Loyola - Loyola's LGBTQ group for faculty, staff and administrators.  He is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at the University of Maryland, College Park.  His research interests include philanthropy and  fundraising in higher education, student affairs campus partnerships and third space theory.  

Candice L. Staples
Ph.D. Student, Higher Education
University of Maryland College Park


Candice Staples is a doctoral student in the higher education concentration at the University of Maryland – College Park. She has extensive experience with directing programs for underrepresented
populations and HBCUs. Her research interests are women of color, faculty, administration, campus culture, and intersectionality. Ms. Staples also serves as the Graduate Coordinator for Flexus: the Dr. Marilyn Berman Pollans Women in Engineering Living and Learning Community at the A. James Clark School of Engineering. In this role, Candice is responsible for advising, supporting, and reviewing the retention of women in engineering.

Kozue Tsunoda, Ph.D.

Associate Director, Leadership Giving Swarthmore College



Kozue Tsunoda, Ph.D. is a scholar-practitioner in the field of Asian and Asian American philanthropy in higher education. Dr. Tsunoda has published a number of articles on related topics, and her dissertation entitled, “Unraveling the Myths of Chinese American Giving: Exploring Donor Motivations and Effective Fundraising Strategies for U.S. Higher Education,” debunked four myths regarding Chinese American giving in U.S. higher education while revealing philanthropic characteristics and motivations of Chinese American mega-gift donors. Currently a major gift officer at Swarthmore College, Dr. Tsunoda continues to apply her academic background when engaging alumni and parent prospects in the U.S. and Asia. 

Justin van Fleet is Chief of Staff to Rt. Honourable Gordon Brown, MP, in the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. van Fleet graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in international education policy and holds a Master degree from Harvard University in the same field. Dr. van Fleet also serves as a nonresident fellow at the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and an advisory board member of the Global Business Coalition for Education. van Fleet’s research focuses on education in developing countries, particularly the role of corporate social investments and philanthropic financing of education systems, as well as the dynamics influencing public-private partnerships. van Fleet has dozens of publications and conference presentations on philanthropy, public-private partnerships, global citizenship, and education in developing countries.

Rebecca C. Villarreal, Ph.D.

Project Officer, The Kresge Foundation


Rebecca C. Villarreal is a program officer for The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. Before joining Kresge, Rebecca worked in project management at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in North America. Previously, she held administrative, teaching and research positions at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., the National Association of College Admission Counseling in Alexandria, Va., and Oakland University in Rochester, Mich. Rebecca earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., as well as a master’s degree and Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Maryland.



Beijing Normal University Team Member
Xianping Liang

Ph.D candidate, Higher Education

Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University


Xianping is a doctoral student in Higher Education Institution of Beijing Normal University. She is also a visiting doctoral student in Teachers College, Columbia University in Higher & Postsecondary Education. She received her Master’s in College student development from Beijing Normal University. She did comparative research

in student development theory and evaluation tools. She had internship in student affairs in Beijing Normal University. Currently, her research focus on motivations of alumni giving and factors effects on alumni giving especially in China cases. Moreover, she interests in the policies for improving the philanthropy in Chinese higher education.