Executive Director, WCET & Vice President for Technology-Enhanced Education, WICHE
Russ Poulin is the executive director for WCET. He directs the team’s work in supporting the efforts of postsecondary institutions from all 50 states with a focus on the policy and practice of digital learning. He is a highly sought-after expert and leader regarding policy issues for distance education and on-campus uses of educational technologies. As WICHE vice president for technology-enhanced education, he advises on policy and projects for the regional higher education compact. Russ’s commitment to the field is continually noted, and he was honored to have represented the distance education community on federal negotiated rulemaking committees and subcommittees. Russ has received recognition from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), the Presidents’ Forum, Excelsior College, and the National University Technology Network (NUTN) for his contributions to postsecondary digital education and educational policy.
Russ received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Denver and holds a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado. For no discernible reason, Russ also writes movie reviews for WCET members. As a movie enthusiast, Russ is most fascinated with characters and plots that surprise him. In addition, Russ is a recovering trivia guy who is also partial to cats and to his wife, Laurie.
Grants Manager, Every Learner Everywhere
Jenni Atwood joined Every Learner Everywhere in 2022. In her role, she leads contract, financial & grant administration for all Every Learner Everywhere projects. In addition to extensive project management experience, she is also a book editor and is a regular panel chair and federal grant reviewer for various federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. She holds a Masters’ degree in Global Studies from the University of North Carolina and a graduate certificate in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. Jenni is passionate about elevating issues surrounding invisible disabilities such as Sjogren’s, one of the most common, and yet most undiagnosed, autoimmune diseases in the United States.
Manager, Digital Design, WCET
Rosa Calabrese has been with WCET since 2014. As the manager of digital design, she is responsible for creating and managing WCET’s digital assets including both web and graphic design of WCET and its initiatives. Before coming to WCET, she worked as a program assistant at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen. She received a bachelor’s degree in 2013 at the University of Denver, where she studied both Electronic Media Arts Design and Sociology. Outside of work, she can be found volunteering with both cats and dogs at a local animal shelter.
Communications Manager, Every Learner Everywhere
Emilie Cook joined the Every Learner Everywhere team in April 2021 as communications manager. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Dickinson College and later earned her Master of Science in Marketing from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.
She began her career with Nationwide Insurance before venturing to Malaga, Spain where she taught English for several months. Upon returning to Baltimore, MD, Emilie began her marketing career at T. Rowe Price working for the global investments division and later the corporate marketing and communications division. Her success at T. Rowe Price led to her promotion as events coordinator at the University of Maryland’s office of enrollment management. Most recently Emilie has served as the marketing director for the Off the Hook Restaurant Group.
Emilie remains dedicated to the field of education and, in addition to serving as communications manager for Every Learner Everywhere, is also an adjunct professor for the Salisbury University Perdue School of Business where she teaches marketing and implements adaptive courseware into her teaching practices. Outside of work, Emilie enjoys spending time with her husband Jason, son Benjamin, and daughter Adelaide Mae in Bethany Beach, Delaware, where they reside; she and her family savor the beach life and all that it offers. Her current favorite character is Mindy Kaling, author of Why Not Me.
Associate Director, Every Learner Everywhere
Laura joined the WCET team in June of 2018 as the associate director for Every Learner Everywhere. In her current position, Laura oversees Every Learner Network operations, cross-network communication, and information sharing. She also manages multiple highly complex projects which entail collaboration with diverse partners, institutions, consultants, and our funder, along with multiple other organizational stakeholders. In each of her endeavors, Laura builds and maintains strong relationships with partners while ensuring timely progress on all projects.
Laura’s expertise and specialized skills have contributed to the success of numerous projects within the field of education. More specifically, she has streamlined network activities, increased team ability to track and report on multiple complex projects, and increased the consistency while maintaining continuous improvement and transparency within network operations. Prior to joining the Every Learner Everywhere team, Laura was the grants manager for Aims Community College and taught computer science at the college level. She has also held a number of TRIO positions helping poverty affected and first-generation students enter and be successful in college. Additionally, Laura has managed multiple international educational grants funded by the European Commission.
Outside of work, she can be found traveling and enjoying nature whether it is hiking, camping, or fishing with her family. Laura is a knowledge seeker and book lover, and her favorite character is Hermione Granger – after all, who doesn’t want to have some magic?
Chief Strategy Officer, WCET, Service Design and Strategy Officer, Every Learner Everywhere
Van joined WCET in 2021 as chief strategy officer where he is responsible for all aspects of WCET’s strategic planning; diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; and assisting the team with policy and research efforts. Van also serves as service design and strategy officer with Every Learner Everywhere where he leads the development and delivery of the organization’s Service Design and Delivery work.
Van is a valuable asset to the team, having over 25 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member, academic administrator, state policy maker, and edtech leader. Van holds a PhD in 20th century US history with an emphasis in civil rights from Vanderbilt University, and his commitment to education is evidenced in both his professional and personal successes. Additionally, Van led the creation of the Texas adult degree complete project and the development of the first competency-based bachelor’s degrees at Texas public institutions of higher education during his time on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
Van lives outside of Austin, Texas, with his beloved wife Lisa and two cats and, when not working, spends time collecting Lego models and dreaming of the day he can complete his western US camping trip. Van’s favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird, and his favorite movie is Dr. Strangelove.
Senior Director, State Authorization Network & WCET Policy Innovations
Cheryl joined WCET in August of 2015 as the director of the State Authorization Network. She currently serves as the senior director, policy innovations. She directs the overall activities of WCET’s State Authorization Network (SAN), including coordination of staff addressing interstate policy and compliance, along with other ancillary compliance issues. As senior director, Cheryl also serves the overall WCET membership in addressing emerging and special regulatory issues related to digital learning in postsecondary education. She brings extensive experience in education and compliance to the WCET team and is a contributing author for State Authorization of Colleges and Universities, a guidebook for understanding the legal basis for State and Federal compliance for activities of postsecondary institutions.
Cheryl holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Richmond, a master’s degree in criminal justice from Bowling Green State University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from James Madison University. She is the mother of four kids, all of whom have been instrumental in helping her develop new interests in theatre, hockey, and figure skating. Outside of work, Cheryl enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid fan of movies and TV shows written by Aaron Sorkin.
Assistant Director, Communications and Community, WCET
Lindsey started with WCET as a consultant in March of 2016 and became the manager of communications for WCET the following September. Now in her current role, Lindsey represents WCET to the outside world through press relations, social media, and publications. She develops content such as member newsletters and collects and summarizes higher education digital learning news articles and is the administrator and community manager for our virtual community platform, wcetMIX. Lindsey is an integral part of our team and each year she manages the WCET Awards program to honor our innovative members and serves as the editor for WCET Frontiers.
Prior to joining WCET, Lindsey worked in the Montana State University Information Technology Center on their communications and instructional technology teams and with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, first as a training specialist and then as an instructional designer. Lindsey holds a Masters of Education in Higher Education and Adult Learning, a College Teaching certification from Montana State University, and a Masters Certificate in Instructional Design with an Online Learning Specialization from Walden University.
Lindsey affectionately calls her home filled with two rambunctious boxer dogs (Piper and Bogart) and an energetic toddler (Josie), her “circus,” and loves spending time chasing her kiddos around the trails throughout Helena, MT with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys baking and cooking, especially when her recipes actually turn out well. Lindsey is an avid reader who enjoys reading about many book characters, namely Harry from Harry Potter and Josephine March from the classic Little Women. In fact, Jo March happens to be her daughter’s namesake.
Administrative Assistant, State Authorization Network
Leigha joined WCET in December 2020 as an administrative assistant for the State Authorization Network (SAN). In addition to providing administrative support for SAN, Leigha coordinates both member and renewal management and oversees accounting for the department. Prior to joining WCET, Leigha worked in property management and insurance, assisting with sales, resident retention, customer service, social media, and strategic marketing. In each of her roles, Leigha excelled at building rapport with clients and brings her passion for customer service to our organization.
Leigha lives in Springboro, Ohio with her husband Jon and four children: Jake, Trace, Bayleigh, and Ava. Outside of work, Leigha enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, attending her children’s sporting events, playing golf, and cheering on the Ohio State Buckeyes. Her favorite character is Alex Cross (played by actor Morgan Freeman), from the suspenseful book and film series Love, Kiss the Girls, and Along Came a Spider.
Senior Director, Operations and Membership Administration, WCET
As Senior Director of Operations and Membership Administration, Sherri oversees many of the logistics that facilitate the growth and sustainability of our organization. More specifically, Sherri is responsible for preparing and managing the annual budget and managing our membership database and integrations. She is also responsible for member retention and membership administration along with maintaining our team’s day-to-day operations. Additionally, for the past 15 years, Sherri has been chair of WICHE’s Administrative Policy Advisory Committee (APAC). APAC is charged with developing, reviewing, revising, and recommending internal administrative and management policies to the WICHE president.
Prior to joining WCET, Sherri worked for the Reading Musical Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and facilitates music education and appreciation in order to preserve and develop musical experience and culture in Berks County, Pennsylvania. In her previous role, she was responsible for donor management and administration of the Blues in the Schools program. Sherri received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania with a dual major in Management and Marketing.
Originally from Pennsylvania Dutch country, Sherri currently resides above 9,200 feet in the Colorado Rocky Mountains with her husband and dogs. Two of her favorite films include Silver Linings Playbook and Christmas Vacation.
Manager of Network Programs and Services, Every Learner Everywhere
Norma joined WCET in August 2020 and brings more than 20 years of higher education experience to the Every Learner Everywhere Network. As manager of network programs and services for Every Learner Everywhere, Norma leads service design and delivery initiatives including marketing, facilitates strategic assessment and reporting, and supports network partners in continuously improving service offerings.
Prior to joining our team, Norma worked in the private sector as a consultant and led the development of a new distance learning product line at a science education and supply company. Norma was also an associate dean at CCCOnline (Colorado) and a tenured faculty member and associate professor at Sinclair Community College. She earned both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso.
In her spare time, Norma can be found hiking the Rocky Mountain trails and volunteering with the Denver Area Boy Scout Council. One may also find her watching one of her two favorite films: Fried Green Tomatoes or Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.
Administrative Assistant III, Every Learner Everywhere
Joyce started as an administrative assistant with Every Learner Everywhere in November 2017. In this role, Joyce represents Every Learner Everywhere by assisting team members in multiple areas of support. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and has 25 years of experience in administration. Before joining our team, Joyce worked for CU Boulder for 22 years. Outside of work, Joyce can be found either outside or in her barn where she stays busy with her fiber producing animals which currently include angora rabbits, alpacas, and goats. A life-long learner, Joyce enjoys mastering new fiber art skills in spinning, weaving, knitting, crocheting, and felting. She remains passionate about utilizing her animal science degree and expanding her knowledge of husbandry, genetics, and livestock species. In fact, her favorite movie is Temple Grandin, a film about a remarkable woman who became world renown in her animal behavior research and her contributions to understanding how people with autism process their world.
Director, Digital Learning Policy & Compliance, State Authorization Network
Kathryn joined us in July 2021 as the director, digital learning policy, and compliance where she assists with the overall activities of the WCET State Authorization Network (SAN). In collaboration with the senior director for policy innovations and the director, interstate policy and compliance, she focuses on institutional and programmatic compliance rules and regulations, including accreditation requirements, international compliance issues, and strategies for institutional regulatory compliance when serving students by means of digital learning. Kathryn coordinates training materials, builds communities of practice, and canvasses members for compliance strategies; she is an integral asset to our team.
Previously, Kathryn worked on state authorization and related compliance issues for the University of Louisville for seven years, during which she gained experience in analyzing and interpreting various federal, state, and accreditor requirements while developing institutional policies and procedures for compliance. Her exemplary work and dedication earned her institution three SANsational awards along with multiple invitations to present at conferences and webinars.
Kathryn earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and her Juris Doctor from the University of Louisville and is a licensed attorney in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Outside of work, Kathryn spends time with her family (her husband, son, and three cats). From running to fostering cats and kittens for a local rescue organization to listening to podcasts, Kathryn keeps plenty busy and, when she’s not busy chasing around her toddler son, she enjoys immersing herself in various craft and video projects.
Currently, her favorite character is “the Joker” (Heath Ledger, from the Dark Knight).
Coordinator, Events and Programs, WCET
Kim joined WICHE in 2013, working in the Program and Services Unit where she coordinated the Student Access Programs. In May 2020, she became the WCET coordinator for events and programs, a position in which she oversees logistics for WCET’s numerous webcasts and member events, the Annual Meeting, and the Summit. Her attention to detail and strategic facilitation help make many of our events and programs possible.
Before moving to beautiful Boulder, CO, Kim spent several years herding hospital executives at a hospital in West Virginia. She earned her bachelor’s degrees in international studies and Spanish from West Virginia University. In her spare time, Kim can be found cuddling her senior pugs and exploring Colorado’s abundant parks and hiking trails with her husband and toddler. Kim’s favorite character is Alexis Rose from the infamous television series Schitt’s Creek.
Content Manager, Every Learner Everywhere
Patricia O’Sullivan joined the Every Learner Everywhere team in September 2020. She has worked in higher education since 2000 as an instructor, student advisor, faculty development specialist, instructional designer, and grant manager. In her role as content manager, she works with Network partners to develop, update, and curate ELE resources. She taught World Religions at the University of Mississippi (UM) for 14 years, and currently teaches Health Ethics in the UM School of Pharmacy. She holds a B.A. in Communications from UMass Amherst, an M.A. in Theology from Assumption College, and an M.A. in history from the University of Mississippi.
Senior Director, Membership and Programs, WCET
Megan has been with WCET since June of 2007. As the senior director of programs and membership, she oversees member recruitment and activities and manages various programs, most notably the Annual Meeting, Summits, monthly webcasts, and Closer Conversations. Megan brings 20 years of higher education experience to her current position and holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Fort Lewis College and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Health Education. Prior to joining the WCET team, Megan worked as the assistant director for student housing and conference services at a small liberal arts college where she was entrenched in student affairs.
In her spare time, Megan enjoys racing mountain bikes, skiing, and chasing her son on his bike or feet. Her two rescue pups include a 75-pound lap dog and a quite cunning shepherd mix whom she is sure is plotting to take over the world. Megan’s favorite television character is Saul Goodman from Better Call Saul.
Director, Open Policy, WCET
Tanya is the director of open policy at WCET where she leads the National Consortium of Open Educational Resources (NCOER) initiative, which focuses on the policy, practice, and implementation of Open Educational Resources in compact regions, states, systems, and higher education institutions. She and her team conduct research, share best practices, and initiate efforts to ensure all students have equitable access to low-cost, openly licensed, high-quality learning materials. As director, she collaborates with the regional compacts (MHEC, WICHE, NEBHE, and SREB) to implement open educational resources in states and systems across the nation.
Tanya joined the team in 2016 and previously served as the director for distance education and state authorization for the North Dakota University System. Her continual commitment to the field is evidenced by her engagement in multiple capacities, from co-authoring two national reports to co-creating and teaching at the SPARC Open Educational Leadership Program. She was also presented the 2020 MHEC Outstanding Service Award.
In her spare time, Tanya can be found at the ice rinks cheering on her kids Dakota and Ruby as they play ice sports, although one can also spot her singing or acting in a local musical production.
Director, Interstate Policy & Compliance, State Authorization Network
As director for interstate policy and compliance, Rachael supports the mission and activities of WCET’s State Authorization Network, an institutional membership organization that provides training, support, and opportunities to collaborate and navigate regulatory compliance for distance and out-of-state activities. In this role, she coordinates and builds communities of practice, strategies, and resources to address state-by-state requirements pertaining to postsecondary education.
As a native from a small college town in Northwest, PA, Rachael cares deeply about access and affordability of postsecondary education and its impact on the viability and prosperity of rural communities. Her fascination with and passion for interstate compliance are ever present and her observations of the growth and reach of online programming and innovative pedagogical practices (i.e. physical presence triggers) continue to fuel her commitment to the field. We are honored to have her a part of our team.
Previously, Rachael oversaw the management and coordination of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) with the New England Board of Higher Education. In prior roles, she focused on building institution-wide coordination and operational capacity for improved academic services.
Outside of her respective profession, Rachael is a classically trained bassoonist who enjoys listening to the works of Bach, Mendelssohn, and Stravinsky. She is also a fan of the character Veronica Mars.
Director, Every Learner Everywhere
Jessica is the director of Every Learner Everywhere, a network of organizations with a mission to help institutions use new technology to innovate teaching and learning and better serve Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students, poverty-affected students, and first-generation students. As director, she provides leadership and vision for the network and leads the operation of the network strategy.
Prior to this role, Jessica served as the completion grant initiative project director for University Innovation Alliance. She also worked as project director in Georgia State University’s Office of the Senior Vice President of Student Success. During her time at Princeton University, Jessica served four years as a diversity fellow in the Office of Academic Affairs and Diversity and was honored with the Patrice Y. Johnson *80 Memorial Service Award by the Association of Black Princeton Alumni in recognition of her high levels of performance and service to the university. Jessica has devoted her career to helping institutions better serve marginalized students.
Jessica earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and earned both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. She is also a mother of four children. As her spare time allows, Jessica enjoys traveling and escaping into the world of literature. Currently, her favorite literary character is Janie Crawford, from Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.
STEM, Digital Learning Strategist for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, WCET
Elaine Villanueva Bernal is a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University Long Beach and STEM, Digital Learning Strategist for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for WCET. Her research interest is in professional development for STEM faculty in higher education and K-12. Elaine is the internship program coordinator for the CSULB College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and serves as faculty lead for the California State University Office of the Chancellor Campus as a Living Lab project. Her work for WCET includes hosting the Frontiers Pod, developing member resources, and serving as an expert on a variety of discussion topics in our wcetMIX Ask the Expert community.
Content Development Partner, WCET
Content Specialist, WCET
Erin Walton is a professional writer and editor who collaborates with WCET as a content specialist. In her current role, Erin develops and edits content for the blog, website, and other internal communications as well as researches and writes summaries for higher ed digital learning news articles.
She has been a professional in the field for over ten years, providing editorial experience and content development to a variety of organizations and individual authors. With each collaboration, Erin couples her nuanced understanding of language and storytelling with a keen eye for details and grammar. She earned her MFA from Pacific University and her masters in IO Psychology from CU-Denver and would gladly stay a life-long student if it were financially feasible.
Outside of work, you can find her hunkered in the quiet corner of a coffee, nursing her Zadie Smith addiction or at home on a comfy couch re-watching episodes of “Twin Peaks” or “The Office.” Erin currently resides in Loveland, Colorado with her husband Phil and dog Juno, a rottie with equal parts spirit and sweetness.
Recruitment, Membership and Programs, WCET
Kiara Williams is a radiant Afro-Asian-Latina with a passion for education. As a recent graduate of Georgia State University, she received her degree in human learning and development, with focuses on family & community literacy, counseling, and working with multilingual populations. Throughout her collegiate journey, Kiara acquired a deep interest in working with people from diverse backgrounds and differing environments. She has served as a teacher, mentor, world traveler, school ambassador, leader, programs director, Every Learner Everywhere Network fellow, and is now taking on the nonprofit field! Kiara currently serves as the education outreach coordinator for 3D Girls, Inc., where she is able to bring energy, fun, and excitement to the organization’s school-based programs and partnerships, while educating, empowering, and advocating for the girls they serve.