Staff and Senior Advisors

​​​​CIC staff support the operations of the Council and work in partnership with senior advisors to support member programs, services, and activities.

 CIC Staff



  • Sherita C.

    Sherita C. Ashmon

    Director of State Council Programs and Networks Support

    Sherita C. Ashmon joined CIC in 2010 and is the director of State Council programs and networks support. She serves as the primary CIC liaison to State Council members and provides leadership and support to the core services offered by the State Council program. Before joining CIC, Sherita served as membership coordinator for the Community Technology Centers’ Network and as operations and membership manager for the Neighborhood Funders Group. Ashmon received a BA in communications from Delaware State University and an MS in management with a concentration in organizational leadership from Wilmington University (DE). She initially started at CIC as a conference and program coordinator at CIC and was promoted to conference manager before being promoted again to her current position.

  • Allison

    Allison Blackburn

    Vice President for Conferences

    Allison Blackburn joined CIC in 2005. As vice president for conferences, her responsibilities include contract negotiations and logistical management of CIC’s conferences. Prior to joining CIC, Blackburn served as manager of conferences and meetings for the International Life Sciences Institute with responsibility for managing multiple international conferences each year. A native of Trinidad and Tobago, Blackburn brings with her a wealth of experience and training, including a master’s degree in Tourism and Travel Management from New York University, professional certification in meeting planning.

  • Faith

    Faith Brown

    Membership Services and Tuition Exchange Program Manager

    Faith Brown joined in 2021 and is the membership services and tuition exchange program manager. In this role, she supports membership engagement activities; annual membership and Tuition Exchange Program services; and several CIC programs, such as the Executive and Senior Leadership Academies and the New Currents in Teaching Philosophy institute. Brown graduated from Hope College in 2021 with a BA in political science and philosophy and a minor in religion. During her time at Hope, she worked as a political science research assistant and a teaching assistant for the college’s Washington Honors Semester. Brown was initially hired as a projects coordinator at CIC before being promoted.

  • Anthony G. C.

    Anthony G. C. Burton

    Project Management Specialist

    ​Anthony Burton joined CIC in 2023 and is the project management specialist. He is responsible for providing project management structure and smooth coordination and predictability to CIC. Previously, Burton worked as a project manager at Virginia Commonwealth University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Virginia State University and his master’s degree in project management from Strayer University. He is also a certified scrum master and holds the Certified Change Management Professional credential from the Association of Change Management Professionals.

  • Alana K.

    Alana K. Cassidy

    Director of Sponsorships

    Alana K. Cassidy joined CIC in 2017 and is the director of sponsorships. Her responsibilities include managing CIC’s sponsorship fundraising strategy and enhancing partnerships with businesses and other organizations. She also supports CIC’s leadership development programs, including the Executive Leadership Academy and the Senior Leadership Academy. Prior to joining CIC, Cassidy served as director of business development for Academic Search. Earlier, she held positions as events operations manager and as marketing assistant at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business marketing and a minor in Spanish from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Cassidy was originally hired as development manager at CIC.

  • Sheila

    Sheila Cooper

    Office Manager

    Sheila Cooper joined CIC in 2001 and is the office manager. She works with the president, executive vice president, and membership director on the Tuition Exchange Program (TEP). She is responsible for preparing office correspondence and other written materials, maintaining files, scheduling appointments, and coordinating mailings. Cooper also maintains TEP annual reports and registration forms. Prior to CIC, Cooper held numerous positions in human resources and sales in the hotel industry. She was originally hired at CIC as administrative/membership assistant.

  • Allison

    Allison Crean

    Editorial Content Specialist

    Allison Crean joined CIC in 2022 as the editorial content specialist. In this role, she drafts and edits correspondence, reports, social media posts, and other communications on behalf of CIC. Before joining CIC, Crean worked as a development coordinator in the Office of Principal Gifts in Development and Alumni Relations at Johns Hopkins University, where she was responsible for reporting and stewardship for major donors. Prior to her work at Johns Hopkins, she worked as a teacher at a French immersion school in Maryland. Crean received a BA from American University with a major in elementary education and a minor in French language studies.

  • Alonso

    Alonso De Los Rios

    Conference Coordinator

    ​Alonso De Los Rios joined CIC in 2022 and is the conference coordinator. He is responsible for the event registration process, logistics management, and providing client service for each CIC event. Previously, he worked for Strayer University as a faculty support & business development coordinator, as well as a logistics and finance associate for the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)’s event operations department. De Los Rios studied at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and graduated in 2018 with a business degree in supply chain management and analytics.

  • Christopher

    Christopher Dodds

    Senior Director of Digital Communications and Strategy

    Christopher Dodds joined CIC in 2010 and serves as senior director of digital communications and strategy. He joined CIC through the merger with the Foundation for Independent Higher Education. His responsibilities include CIC's website, listservs, email communications, and IT infrastructure and support. Dodds previously held research positions for several policy and research organizations. Dodds studied international business and political science at Messiah College (now University) and, upon completing his bachelor’s degree, moved to China where he studied economics at Xiamen University and taught English as a foreign language. Dodds also holds a master's degree in applied economics from Johns Hopkins University.

  • Mike

    Mike Donnelly

    Assistant to the Senior Vice President of Academic Programs

    ​Mike Donnelly joined CIC in 2022 and serves as assistant to the senior vice president of Academic Programs. He supports the day-to-day work of the Academic Programs’ Office and contributes to the operation of the Chief Academic Officers Institute. Prior to joining CIC, he served as a litigation paralegal for a Cleveland-based law firm. Donnelly graduated from the University of Virginia in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in English and media studies. During his time at UVA, he served as a mentor for at-risk youth, wrote sports columns for a student-run publication, as well as held an internship with the University’s Special Collections Library.

  • Stephen

    Stephen Gibson

    Director of Programs

    Stephen Gibson joined CIC in 2001 and serves as director of programs. He oversees a wide range of projects, including the Presidents Governance Academy and seminars on Art History and Teaching Interfaith Understanding. Before joining CIC, he worked for many years as a bicycle messenger during which time he cofounded a zine called Mobile City that was featured in the NPR Morning Edition story, “Bards on Bikes.” Prior to joining CIC, Gibson served as an office assistant and editor at the bicycle clothing company Swobo in San Francisco, California. He earned a BA in history from Tufts University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Washington and his poems have been published in the Boston Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. Gibson started at CIC as projects coordinator, and was later projects manager, for an array of CIC programs including workshops on Digital Resources, Information Fluency, and Learning Spaces and Technology and seminars on American History and Classics.

  • Marjorie

    Marjorie Hass


    ​Marjorie Hass became president of the Council of Independent Colleges in 2021, after years of strengthening independent higher education in various leadership roles. From 2017 until her appointment to the CIC presidency, Hass served as president of Rhodes College. During that time, she expanded the college’s engagement with the city of Memphis, enhanced inclusive excellence, and led a comprehensive and inclusive strategic planning process, positioning the college for success in the next decade. Previously, Hass served as president of Austin College where she defined a strong vision for the college’s future, pairing academic excellence with a commitment to educational access for talented students regardless of financial background, along with a strategic approach to securing the resources needed to achieve that vision. Earlier, she spent more than 16 years as a member of the philosophy faculty and subsequently as provost at Muhlenberg College.
    Hass was a member of the CIC Board of Directors from 2012 to 2016, serving as vice chair for resource development on the Executive Committee from 2014 to 2016. She has been a frequent presenter at CIC’s annual Presidents Institute and most recently served as a faculty member for CIC’s New Presidents Program. Hass also has been active in the leadership of other prominent higher education associations, serving as a board member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities and as former chair of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She is the author of A Leadership Guide for Women in Higher Education. A philosopher by training, Hass earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has published widely on the philosophy of language, logic, and feminist philosophy and is an award-winning teacher.

  • Susan

    Susan Jenkins

    Vice President for Marketing and Communication

    After serving at two CIC member institutions, Susan Jenkins joined CIC in 2022 as assistant vice president and was promoted to vice president for marketing and communication to implement a new “digital-first” communications strategy. She previously led brand marketing and reputation efforts as assistant vice president of marketing and communications at Shenandoah University. Jenkins also managed the communications office of St. John’s College (MD) on the Annapolis campus, where she coordinated digital content and messaging across two campuses during a rebranding initiative and the announcement of a tuition reset and capital campaign. Other accomplishments include working as a reporter and editor for a newspaper, magazines, and community news websites. Jenkins has a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from George Mason University and a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from American University.

  • Philip M.

    Philip M. Katz

    Director of Projects

    Philip M. Katz has been CIC’s director of projects since 2013. His current portfolio includes faculty development programs in philosophy and the public humanities as well as the national Legacies of American Slavery network. Trained as an American historian, he has taught at Princeton and the University of Maryland University College, rose from program officer to acting executive director of the New York Council for the Humanities (now Humanities New York), and directed a national study of graduate education for the American Historical Association. Previously, he helped develop the American Graduate Fellowships program as a CIC senior advisor. Immediately prior to rejoining CIC, he served as assistant director for research at the American Alliance of Museums, where he helped create the Center for the Future of Museums. Katz was educated at Harvard and Princeton Universities and is the author of the award-winning book, From Appomattox to Montmartre: Americans and the Paris Commune.

  • Christoph M.

    Christoph M. Kunkel

    Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff

    Christoph Kunkel joined CIC in 2004 and is the senior vice president and chief of staff. He is responsible for CIC’s administrative and financial operations, and he plays a key role in shaping CIC's technology and investment activities. He serves as the main liaison to the CIC Board of Directors. A native of Germany, Kunkel studied political science, economics, and history at Heidelberg and Hamburg Universities and the London School of Economics, was a Fulbright Fellow, and received a master’s degree from Cornell University (NY) in government. He occasionally teaches for Cornell’s Summer in Washington program. Kunkel originally joined CIC as assistant to the president and later also served as assistant director of research and director of operations.

  • Vanessa N.

    Vanessa N. Long

    Manager of State Council Programs and Finance

    Vanessa Long joined CIC in 2015 and is the manager of CIC’s State Council programs and finance. She oversees the annual conference, grant initiatives, scholarship programs, and membership services for CIC’s State Council Members. After assisting with the NetVUE grant programs, Long brings grant program development and tracking experience to CIC and has event planning and administrative experience. Long previously served as office assistant for the American Association of Community Colleges, event and outreach coordinator for the DC Bar, and convention services coordinator for the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Long graduated summa cum laude from Delaware State University with a bachelor’s degree in general management and earned her master of tourism administration degree in event and meeting management from the George Washington University. She was originally hired as CIC’s conference and program coordinator before being promoted.

  • Siena

    Siena McCabe

    Conference Coordinator

    ​Siena McCabe joined CIC in 2023 and is a conference coordinator. She is responsible for managing event logistics, handling event registrations, and providing client services and support for CIC events. Prior to joining CIC, McCabe worked within the Office of the Provost at Stockton University, in southern New Jersey. In this role, she provided academic support and event management for several programs and committees that were active across multiple campuses, including Stockton's residential campuses in the Pinelands National Reserve, in Galloway Township, and in Atlantic City. Before becoming a staff member of the university, McCabe earned her bachelor's degree at Stockton, with a major in economics and a double minor in Spanish and business studies.

  • Emilee Jane

    Emilee Jane O’Dell

    Program Manager for Presidential Engagement

    Emilee Jane O’Dell joined the CIC staff as projects coordinator in 2021 and was promoted to program manager for presidential engagement. In this role, she provides support for the annual Presidents Institute, Presidential Renewal Program, and a variety of other programs in this general area. O’Dell graduated from Roanoke College in 2021 with a major in religious studies and a minor in public health. Throughout her time at Roanoke, she held positions as a service fellow in the Office of Civic Engagement, president of the Student Government Association, and resident advisor.

  • Jo Ellen

    Jo Ellen Parker

    Senior Vice President

    Jo Ellen Parker joined the CIC staff in 2019 and leads a team focused on membership engagement. She also plays a key role in developing new CIC programs and services. Parker brings extensive experience to this position, including appointments as president of Sweet Briar College, founding executive director of the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education, president of the Great Lakes Colleges Association, and associate dean at Bryn Mawr College. In addition, she served as president of the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Parker earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in English literature and is a Bryn Mawr College graduate. She previously served as vice president for communications at CIC and continues to play an important role in articulating the case CIC makes for the liberal arts and private higher education.

  • Robert

    Robert Powers

    Director of Finance

    Robert Powers joined CIC as director of finance in 2020, after serving as an independent contractor managing CIC’s accounting and human resources activities. Previously, Powers was the business manager of the Alexandria Country Day School, the director of finance for the Ford’s Theatre Society, and controller for Maret School. He currently serves on the board of the Westchester Corporation and has served on the finance committee of the board of trustees of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW). Powers earned a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Mississippi and did graduate studies in education at the University of Virginia Curry School of Education.

  • Jason

    Jason Rivera

    Senior Director of Strategic Research

    Jason Rivera joined CIC as director of strategic research in 2021. He oversees CIC’s research functions, such as research on member institutions to better understand their needs and to guide strategic programming at CIC, as well as data and research activities, such as the Key Indicators Tool (KIT), Financial Indicators Tool (FIT), and various research reports and figures available on the CIC website. Prior to joining CIC, Rivera served as a leader in institutional research and effectiveness at various independent institutions throughout the country, including Williams College, University of Bridgeport, Dickinson College, and Pitzer College. His work always centered the student experience and was explicitly focused on identifying, addressing, and removing barriers to access and equity for minoritized and historically underserved student populations. He earned a BA in psychology and organizational studies from Pitzer College and an MA in psychology and PhD in education from Claremont Graduate University.

  • Leslie A.

    Leslie A. Rogers-Brown

    Director of Conferences

    Leslie A. Rogers-Brown joined CIC in 2001 and is director of conferences. She is responsible for supporting the Institute for Chief Academic Officers, managing the Presidential Spouses and Partners Program, arranging the myriad logistical details involved in each event, and supervising workshops and conferences onsite. A native of Washington, DC, Leslie attended the University of the District of Columbia for two years before entering the workforce. Prior to CIC, Leslie was a secretary at the U.S. Department of Justice, and she worked briefly for the GED Testing Service of the American Council on Education. She was initially hired as administrative assistant to CIC's Consortium for the Advancement of Private Higher Education (CAPHE), and she was promoted to conference coordinator then conference manager before being promoted again to her current position.

  • Samantha

    Samantha Sabalis

    Director of Development

    Samantha Sabalis joined CIC through the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program for recent PhDs in the humanities in 2018 and became a full-time CIC employee in 2020. As director of development, she works on the solicitation and management of foundation and federal grants and assists with management of grant-funded programs. Before joining CIC, Sabalis was a postdoctoral teaching fellow at Fordham University. She also worked as an educator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Morgan Library and Museum in New York. Sabalis received an undergraduate degree in English from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and an MPhil in medieval language, literature, and culture from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. She received a PhD in English from Fordham University in 2017.

  • Kathleen

    Kathleen Smith

    Executive Assistant to the President

    Kathleen Smith joined CIC in 2019 and is the executive assistant to the president. She handles the responsibilities for the president’s office. Previously, Smith worked in the University Career Center as well as the Office of Student Conduct at Auburn University while completing graduate work. Earlier, she was an undergraduate intern at Lobbyit, a public policy advocacy group based in Washington, DC. Smith earned BA degrees in philosophy and political science from Furman University (SC) and an MEd in the administration of higher education from Auburn University. She previously served as projects manager at CIC.

  • ​Suzanne

    ​Suzanne Smith

    Designer and Visual Media Specialist

    ​Suzanne Smith joined CIC in 2022 and is the designer and visual media specialist. Her responsibilities include conceptualizing, designing, strategizing and producing a wide range of marketing collateral for multichannel platforms; and, as the sole designer on staff, providing creative direction for the organization. Before joining CIC, Smith served as the director of creative services at Shenandoah University. Her experience beyond higher ed includes retail brand marketing and designing for several New York-based magazines including Forbes, SmartMoney, Essence, and CosmoGirl. Smith received a BFA in graphic design from East Carolina University.

  • Sabrina

    Sabrina Sturgeon

    Project Coordinator, Inclusive Excellence

    Sabrina Sturgeon joined CIC in 2023 and is the project coordinator for inclusive excellence programs. She manages Belong: An Inclusive Learning Community, which is a first of its kind network in collaboration with the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE). Previously, Sturgeon served as professional development manager at NASPA organizing conferences and workshops. She earned a master's degree in higher education and student affairs at Virginia Tech and a bachelor's degree in communication studies from the University of Southern Indiana.

  • Matt

    Matt Trainum

    Vice President of Networks and Strategic Partnerships

    ​Matt Trainum joined CIC in September 2022 as the inaugural vice president of networks and strategic partnerships. In this role, Trainum focuses on strengthening CIC’s current networks (including the online course sharing consortium, NetVUE, the tuition exchange program, and the State Council Network) and exploring new opportunities for CIC members. Industry partners and CIC members seek out Trainum for discussions around networks and partnerships that advance the collective success of independent higher education. Trainum previously was a senior consultant for strategy at Credo, a higher education consulting firm focused on strategy and student success by transforming student outcomes. Before Credo, he served in multiple leadership roles at The George Washington University and as adjunct faculty at American University. Trainum received a doctorate from GWU in human and organizational learning with a focus on disruptive innovation, and how leadership teams manage through tumultuous change. He also has a master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M University and a bachelor’s degree in history from James Madison University.

  • Titilayo

    Titilayo Ufomata

    Senior Vice President for Academic Programs

    Titi Ufomata joined CIC in 2022 as senior vice president for academic programs. In this role, Ufomata has lead responsibility for CIC’s annual Institute for Chief Academic Officers, annual Workshops for Department and Division Chairs, and other academic programs. She also supervises the Council’s development operations. As a member of the senior leadership team, she helps oversee operations and shape CIC’s strategic direction. Ufomata previously served as provost and senior vice president at Saint Mary’s College (IN). Earlier, she was the provost and dean of faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges as well as associate provost and distinguished professor at Kentucky State University. Before Kentucky State, she served as assistant dean of the faculty of arts at the University of Benin, Nigeria, where she taught English and phonetics. Ufomata has received several international awards, including the Fulbright International Education Administrators Seminar Award to France, an associateship of the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town, and a British Academy visiting fellowship at University College London; she also is a laureate of the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa. She earned degrees in English from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and a PhD in phonetics from University College London.

  • Keith A.

    Keith A. Wallace

    Director of Administration

    Keith Wallace joined CIC in 2001 as the director of administration. He assists with staff hiring, acts as liaison with the building manager and engineers, and oversees office management, administrative, and technical issues for CIC. Prior to joining CIC, Wallace was office manager for the American MidEast Education and Training Services and Phillips Publishing Inc. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of the District of Columbia.

  • Jane E.

    Jane E. Walters

    Projects Coordinator

    ​Jane Walters joined the CIC staff in 2023 as a projects coordinator. In this role, she supports academic programs and CIC's Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE). Prior to joining CIC, she worked as an events coordinator for the children and teens department at Politics and Prose Bookstore. Walters received a bachelor's degree in Greek and Roman Studies from Rhodes College in 2019 and a master's degree in fine and decorative arts and design from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London.

  • Jeff

    Jeff Woods

    Vice President for Member Engagement

    Jeff Woods joined CIC as director of presidential engagement in 2022 and was promoted to vice president for member engagement. In this role, Woods has responsibility for CIC’s President’s Institute, the largest annual meeting of college and university presidents in the country, and other CIC initiatives involving college presidents. Woods previously was a professor of history at Arkansas Tech University. During his more than twenty years at Arkansas Tech, Woods served as head of the Department of History and Political Science, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and co-chair of Arkansas Governor’s School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in history from the University of Arkansas, and a PhD from Ohio University.

 CIC Senior Advisors



  • Steven Bahls

    Senior Advisor and Director, Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Program
  • David G. Brailow

    Senior Advisor, Crafting Democratic Futures Program and Fundraising
  • Edward J. Clark

    Senior Advisor and Director, Tuition Exchange Program
  • Jenifer Corn

    Evaluator, North Carolina Community College Transfer Pathways Project
  • Stephanie Davidson

    Evaluator, Ohio Consortium for Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts
  • April Edwards

    Project Director, Funding the Future Workshops for Computer Scientists and Grants Officers
  • Richard Ekman

    President Emeritus
  • Michelle Friedman

    Senior Advisor, Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Program and Presidential Renewal Program
  • Winnie Gerhardt

    Project Director, Ohio Consortium for Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts
  • Jonnie Guerra

    Senior Advisor, Ohio Consortium for Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts Project and Academic Programs
  • Edward Hall

    Senior Advisor and Director, New Currents in Teaching Philosophy Institutes
  • Thomas L. Hellie

    Co-Director, Presidents Governance Academy
  • Constance Currier Holoman

    Senior Advisor, Presidential Spouses and Partners Program
  • Michael Le Roy

    Senior Advisor and Co-Director, Presidential Renewal Program
  • Frederik Ohles

    Senior Advisor and Director, Presidential Vocation and Institutional Mission Program
  • Michele D. Perkins

    Co-Director, Presidents Governance Academy
  • Elfred Anthony Pinkard

    President in Residence
  • Celeste Schenck

    Senior Advisor and Co-Director, Presidential Renewal Program
  • Mary Pat Seurkamp

    Senior Advisor and Director, New Presidents Program
  • Anne M. Valk

    Senior Advisor and Director, Humanities Research for the Public Good
  • Mike Williams

    Senior Advisor, Data and Benchmarking Services

 NetVUE Staff