The 2023-24 cohort members and their bios are listed below:


Eliana Abu-Hamdi, Ph.D.

Eliana Abu-Hamdi, Ph.D. recently joined the School of Architecture in the newly created Associate Dean for Research (ADR) position where she will lead strategic efforts to promote and increase scholarship, creative work, and sponsored research; assist in cultivating faculty research projects; and work to develop innovative, collaborative and entrepreneurial initiatives within the School of Architecture.

As an experienced architectural practitioner and educator, Abu-Hamdi is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH), as well as the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Before coming to Syracuse, she was the Program Manager for the Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative (GAHTC)—an Andrew W. Mellon global humanities research grant, housed in the Architecture Department at MIT—and was a Visiting Associate Professor at Pratt Institute. Abu-Hamdi also taught courses on Global Poverty, the Ethics of Development, and the History of Urbanism and Global Cities at Hunter College in Manhattan, and Global Urbanism at Boston Architectural College.

An urbanist, designer, and Middle Eastern/Global South scholar, Abu-Hamdi’s work has been published in a number of journals and edited volumes. Her research on architecture and development in Jordan contributes to the debates on the political economy of urbanism in developing cities, thereby establishing a connection between their geopolitical histories and urban present.

Abu-Hamdi received her Ph.D. and Master of Science degrees in Architectural History from UC Berkeley with a designated emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies, as well as a Master of Architecture degree from the NewSchool of Architecture and Design.


Simone Adams

Simone Adams (She/Her) earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College and a Master of Arts from Syracuse University’s Marriage and Family Therapy program. Originally from Fresno, CA, Simone is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in NY state with 18+ years of clinical and leadership/supervisory experience in a range of professional settings including community non-profit, juvenile justice, child welfare, college mental health and private practice. She is also an Approved Supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. She currently serves as an Assistant Director at Syracuse University’s Barnes Center at the Arch Counseling Center, an adjunct professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program at Syracuse University and has owned a private practice for the last 13 years where she currently provides clinical supervision and consultation to mental health professionals/clinicians in the Syracuse community. Because of her training as a MFT, she believes in the healing power of relationships and believes in the significant impact community systems and relationships can have on our overall health and wellness. Simone is passionate about social justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion and feels committed to supporting the mental health of the Black community. She is a member of the DEIA committee in the Barnes center, has led a work group to create resources to support staff of color in Barnes, and facilitates a BIPOC group supervision for clinicians of color in the counseling center. Simone is also very aware of the risk of experiencing burn out given the intensity and depth of the work she does and because of this, she is passionate about her own self-care and overall health and wellness. She enjoys spending quality and intentional time with friends and family, traveling, knitting, and physical activity such as yoga, Pilates, volleyball and pole fitness. 


Carlota Deseda-Coon

Carlota Deseda-Coon has served as the Director of Academic Advising in the College of Arts and Sciences and The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs since 2018. Her focus is on nurturing relationships between the advising team and students, faculty, and parents and families, developing data-driven strategies to improve undergraduate student satisfaction and time-to-degree completion. She is passionate about developing policies and initiatives that promote sense of belonging, empower self-agency, and maximize opportunities for students’ during their academic journey. She previously held various roles in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, including Director of Student Success, coordinator of the Museum Studies program, and curriculum and publications specialist. Two decades of experience have provided her with a broad perspective into the world of academia.

Carlota has a long history of seeking and promoting collaboration between different offices at Syracuse, and has served in a number of committees at the college and University levels. She is committed to creating inclusive environments for students and colleagues, and has developed a comprehensive training program for onboarding advisors, to provide students with quality services and rooted in cultural awareness and respect.

Carlota earned her M.A. in Museum Studies from Syracuse University, and her undergraduate degree in design from her home country, Venezuela. She is currently pursuing doctorate studies at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies.


Emily Dittman

Emily Dittman currently serves as the Interim Director at the Syracuse University Art Museum. She earned her M.A. in Museum Studies and a M.S. degree in Library and Information Studies from Syracuse University, and her B.A. in History, with a minor in English, from Allegheny College.

With nearly twenty-years’ experience in cultural institutions, Dittman began her nonprofit career in Washington, DC as a Curatorial Assistant at the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division, specifically working with the Swann Collection of Cartoons and Caricature Art. At the Syracuse University Art Museum, Dittman has held several positions ranging from Collections Assistant to Exhibition Manager. In her current position, which will transition back to Associate Director this fall, she leads the operations and strategic planning of the Syracuse University Art Museum, managing a staff of full-time and part-time employees, oversees the budget, grants, and fiscal management, leads the collections care team, and directs the marketing and communications strategic plan. Dittman also works closely with the University’s Advancement and Engagement team as a fundraiser for the museum and liaison for the Museum’s Advisory Board. Dittman is a faculty member of the graduate program in Museum Studies at Syracuse University, where she teaches the Collections Management course, as well as serving on the Board of Directors as Treasurer for Point of Contact.


Melanie Domanico

Melanie Domanico is the Assistant Director of Disability Access in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. In this role, Melanie has oversight of staff and faculty accommodations and assists with overall campus accessibility. Melanie utilizes an equity-based approach to workplace accommodations to address the individual needs of each employee. Melanie co-facilitates workshops on reasonable accommodations, combating-ableism and microaggressions with Office of Diversity and Inclusion and Center for Disability Resources colleagues. Melanie serves on the Accessibility Assessment Committee, which provides a review process for Information Communications Technology procurement requests, and the Information Communications Technology Accessibility Policy Council, which provides oversight of the policy’s implementation. She also serves on the Disability Access and Inclusion Council’s Evacuation Planning and Disability Event Planning Committees.

Melanie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Binghamton University and a Master of Science degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Hofstra University. Melanie has over 23 years’ facilitating workplace accommodations with prior experience in supported employment and insurance.


Maithreyee Dubé

Maithreyee Dubé leads the Enrollment Services function in collaboration with program leaders and field partners at Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF). The Enrollment Services team consists of a set of cross-functional subject matter experts who assess the entrepreneurial, education and training needs of veterans and military family members to identify the best program(s) which will meet those needs and prepare them for the journey. She also gives her passion to mentor and guide military connected entrepreneurs.

Dubé served as the inaugural Staff Representative to the Syracuse University Board of Trustees; in this role, she informed the board about staff profiles, needs, ideas and sought to bring staff capabilities to the forefront.

As the founder and Principal of Lasting Leaders, LLC, Dubé consults with organizations to coach senior leaders (the C-Suite) to elevate focus on the ‘people’ part of the triple bottom line (people, planet, and profit).

Dubé serves as an advisory board member for The Gifford Foundation in Syracuse, New York. She leads the board development committee and serves on the program committee.

Prior to joining the IVMF in October 2015, Dubé worked at Syracuse University’s School of Education for three years where she worked with faculty in the Teaching and Leadership department; she collaborated with the department chair and senior assistant dean to streamline processes within the department and the school to make the program administration efforts more efficient and provide a better experience for graduate students.

Before returning to Syracuse University, Dubé worked with New Horizons of Syracuse and Rochester where she was responsible for development and facilitation of classes in leadership and professional development.

Dubé holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the Whitman School of Management; a Certificate of Advanced Study in Conflict Resolution at Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs; and, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology; each degree is from Syracuse University. She is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Golden Key Honor Society.


Kirsten Elleby

Kirsten Elleby joined the athletics department staff as deputy athletics director and senior woman administrator in March 2022. Elleby came to Syracuse after six years as associate athletics director for student-athlete enrichment and senior woman administrator at the University of New Orleans. She also held athletics administrative roles at Atlantic Coast Conference member, Wake Forest University, and Coppin State University.

At Syracuse, Elleby serves as the liaison to the University’s Title IX Office, oversees gender equity initiatives, the athletics production/ACC Network unit and has specific sport oversight responsibilities, including women’s basketball, softball and volleyball. She represents Syracuse Athletics with her fellow ACC SWA’s at the conference level, and serves on several conference committees, including the ACC Women’s Basketball Committee, ACC Field Hockey Committee, ACC Women’s Tennis Committee, and the ACC Infractions & Sportsmanship Review Committee. 

At the University of New Orleans, Elleby served on the executive leadership team and was responsible for the management and advancement of academics, NCAA compliance, student-athlete development, community outreach, and sports medicine. As SWA, she was a key decision-maker involved within the department and was responsible for managing student-athlete well-being, gender equity and Title IX issues. She served on the Southland Conference awards committee and was the Advisory Council liaison to the conference SAAC and the women’s volleyball head coaches.

A member of a military family which moved often while growing up, including stops in Fort Bragg, NC, Heidelberg, Germany, and Baltimore, MD, Elleby completed her B.A. in economics from Spelman College and her M.S.Ed. in sports management from Old Dominion University. Elleby is a 2021 graduate of the prestigious NCAA Dr. Charles Whitcomb Leadership Institute.  She is also a member of National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), Minority Opportunities Athletic Association (MOAA), Women Leaders in College Sports and completed the NACWAA/HERS Institute for Administrative Advancement program in 2009.  Elleby is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.

Elleby resides in Jamesville with her daughter, Angely.


Sara Garvey

Sara Garvey has been at Syracuse University for nearly seven years with almost four years at Whitman as the Director of Corporate Relations and three years in a central relationship management role. Prior to her time at SU she worked in industry for over 11 years in various corporate communications roles for Time Warner Cable. Sara was recently elected to the national NACRO board and serves in other local board roles currently.


Amanda Griffin

Amanda Griffin oversees annual and special events for the Newhouse School. Since joining Newhouse in 2014, she has worked on several large-scale fundraising and cultivation events, including the dedication of the Newhouse Studio and Innovation Center with Oprah Winfrey in 2014 and the 50th anniversary gala in New York City the following year. Her team executes the annual Mirror Awards competition, Toner Prizes Celebration, Newhouse School Convocation ceremony and the Leaders in Communications speaker series as well as other school events.

Additionally, Amanda has planned and executed alumni engagement events, including alumni receptions at the Sundance Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, as well as Syracuse University’s yearly Orange Central and Family Weekend events for the Newhouse School.

Amanda's career began in Manhattan at O, The Oprah Magazine during its launch. Prior to her tenure at Newhouse, she honed her event management skills as the assistant manager of corporate events at Sesame Workshop producer of the famed Sesame Street program.

She lives in Syracuse with her husband Sean and children, Claire, Riley and Cooper.


Chandice Haste-Jackson

Chandice Haste-Jackson was appointed Associate Dean of Falk College Student Services in 2022. An associate teaching professor in Falk’s Department of Human Development and Family Science (HDFS), Haste-Jackson previously held several HDFS positions, coordinated the first year Gateway course in Falk College, was chair of the Dean’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion and is a University Senator. In 2021-22, Haste-Jackson served as interim director of the First-Year Seminar course, collaborating with faculty, administrators, and students across the University to develop and deliver the new course.

With experience in international settings, faith communities, non-profit administration, women’s issues, and youth development, she has a track record of bringing people together to solve problems and address community needs at the local, national, and international level. She sits on several university committees and is well known for her calm, supportive and inspirational leadership.   

Haste-Jackson earned a Ph.D. in child and family studies from Syracuse University, an M.S. in behavioral sciences from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and a B.A. in cultural anthropology from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.


Candace Hayden

Candace Hayden serves as the executive director of major events at Syracuse University where she leverages strategic vision, creativity and cross-functional leadership skills to guide the events team in designing experiences that reinforce the university’s educational and philanthropic goals. Over nearly two decades, Hayden has collaborated with colleagues to conceptualize and produce memorable premiere events that have advanced the missions of various organizations in the Tri-State area and Central New York.

During her tenure at Syracuse University, Candace utilizes her extensive project management, interpersonal relationship-building and event production expertise to implement innovative and impactful experiences that fosters engaging communities of first-class researchers, leaders and innovators whose impact is felt locally and around the world.

This proud Philadelphia native, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania in 2004 and a Master of Science in Communications degree from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in 2023.

Quality time spent laughing with family and friends, nurturing her houseplants and embracing new opportunities for personal and professional growth are essentials that keep her centered.


Dawn R. Johnson

Dawn R. Johnson is Associate Professor of Higher Education, in the School of Education. Her research focuses on the effects of the campus racial climate and classroom climate on the persistence and sense of belonging of under-represented students of color in STEM, particularly for women of color. Dr. Johnson’s scholarly work in this area includes serving as a co-principal investigator for the Upstate NY Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation grant (funded by the National Science Foundation) and founding member and lead faculty for the WiSE Women of Color in STEM program at Syracuse University. She also co-founded the Critical Quantitative Research Group with her colleagues in the School of Education. Her work has been published in Review of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, New Directions for Institutional Research, and in several book chapters. Dr. Johnson currently serves as an Associate Editor for The Journal of Higher Education and is among 13 current Senior Scholars for ACPA-College Student Educators International. Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland, M.Ed. in Counseling and Psychological Services from Springfield College, and A.B. in Anthropology from Bowdoin College.


Déirdre Joyce

Déirdre Joyce is Head of Digital Stewardship and the Digital Library at Syracuse University Libraries, where she started as the Metadata Services Librarian in 2017. Her department is responsible for enhancing organization-wide focus on a variety of specialized, digital activities and the necessary infrastructure to ensure persistent access to the Libraries’ unique digital collections. As the inaugural department lead, Déirdre supports the campus community by efficiently managing the Libraries’ digital collection initiatives through the entire digital curation lifecycle. She is also instrumental in identifying infrastructure platforms and processes that enable the Libraries’ to showcase and share its archival materials. Her work has expanded to include cross-campus collaboration, for example projects with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, La Casita and other partners. She was elected to serve on the University Senate beginning in 2023. Her previous digital collections and archival experience includes serving as Project Coordinator for New York Heritage Digital Collections and as founding Project Manager for the Empire Archival Discovery Cooperative for the Empire State Library Network. Prior to moving to Upstate New York, she worked as the University Archivist at the University of Texas at Tyler. She received both her master’s degrees in History and Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Jing Lei

Jing Lei is a Professor of Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation (IDD&E) and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Education. She served as department chair of IDD&E from January 2017 to December 2022. Her research interest focuses on how information and communication technology can help prepare a new generation of citizens for a globalizing and digitizing world, including digital citizenship, emerging technologies for education, technology supported subject learning, the design of digital learning environments, and social, cultural and psychological impact of technology.


Laura Machia

Laura Machia is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Syracuse University. She received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Purdue University. Her research focuses on the factors that contribute to relationship success and failure, with a particular emphasis on the role of psychological needs and support in relationships. Her research has shown that the reasons why people decide to leave a relationship are not simply the inverses of the reasons why people stay in a relationship, and she has identified a number of signature cognitive processing techniques that people use when they are considering leaving a relationship. Ultimately, her work aims to promote fulfilling relationships and smooth relationship transitions, both of which play integral roles in improving people’s overall well-being and reducing their loneliness. She currently serves on the editorial boards of several journals (Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, and Personal Relationships), has previously served as an associate editor at Personal Relationships, and is a fellow of the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. At Syracuse, she teaches courses on social psychology, social dilemmas, and close relationships.


Cory Miller

Cory Miller has over 14 years of event and program planning experience with a diverse background in budget, size, audience and style of events, both across the country and internationally. She is an energetic and passionate professional with the ability to curate, execute and evaluate all kinds of exciting experiences and events. Cory provides strategic direction for alumni engagement events on campus and across the country while overseeing Orange Central, select national athletic events, alumni affinity group reunions and alumni award productions. She went to College of Charleston for theater and arts management and was then awarded the Dean's Fellowship scholarship to attend Drexel University where she received her Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration. She is also a certified yoga instructor with Syracuse Yoga where she leads weekly classes and retreats. Cory enjoys international travel, good books and her two rescue dogs - Kyle and B.


Anh Murphy

Anh Murphy is an educator specialized in student development and academic affairs. Her experience includes working with undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students in order to help them achieve their academic, personal, and professional goals. She currently works at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management as an academic counselor for the online graduate business programs.

Anh received her B.A.from Ithaca College, and her graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (M.Ed.) and Syracuse University (M.S. I.D.D.E). She is currently working on her doctoral studies at Syracuse University's School of Education. Anh Murphy is a mother, wife, student, and lover of noodles.


Melissa Pepling

Melissa Pepling is a Professor of Biology and currently serves as Department Chair. She received her BS in Biology from Cornell University and MS in Biology from Adelphi University. She earned her PhD in Genetics at the State University of New York, Stony Brook for her work with Dr. Peter Gergen on the molecular biology of embryogenesis in the fruit fly. Melissa went on to Dr. Allan Spradling’s lab at the Carnegie Institution of Washington for her postdoctoral investigations into mammalian oocyte development. Research in the Pepling lab focuses on signaling pathways important for establishing the ovarian reserve required for fertility using the mouse model. Work in her lab has been funded by grants from NIH and NSF. Dr. Pepling has served as Associate Editor for the Biology of Reproduction Journal and as a standing member of the NIH CMIR study section, and currently chairs the Syracuse University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Society for the Study of Reproduction Awards Committee.


Abby Perer

Abby Perer is an Associate General Counsel in the Office of University Counsel. In that role, Abby defends the University against threatened and filed legal claims, assists with regulatory compliance, and counsels University administrators on various legal and policy issues ranging from federal anti-discrimination laws to student and employee conduct. Prior to joining Syracuse, Abby was an associate in the New York City offices of DLA Piper LLP where her practice centered on commercial litigation and regulatory and criminal investigations. Hailing originally from Pittsburgh, PA (Go Steelers!), Abby is a long-time New Yorker, receiving her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and B.A. from Hamilton College.


Rachel Razza, Ph.D.

Rachel Razza, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Human Development and Family Science (HDFS) Department in Falk College. Her work explores associations among different facets of self-regulation, biological and contextual predictors of self-regulation, and implications of various self-regulatory skills for children’s academic competence and psychological wellbeing. Her SELF research lab also examines mindfulness-based practice as a potential intervention strategy to enhance self-regulation and reduce the negative impact of trauma among children, youth, and adults. Dr. Razza also serves as Associate Director for the Contemplative Collaborative, Coordinator for the Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies minor, and Co-Director for the HDFS Graduate program.


Jennifer L. Ross

Jennifer L. Ross is an award-winning biophysicist studying the organization of the microtubule cytoskeleton and enzymes using high-resolution single-molecule imaging techniques. Ross earned her B.A. in Physics and Mathematics from Wellesley College in 2000, her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 2004, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine from 2004-2007. She started as a professor of physics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2007 and was tenured and promoted In 2013. Ross is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is also a Cottrell Scholar, and winner of the Margaret Oakley Dayhoff Award from the Biophysical Society. As a Cottrell Scholar, Ross pioneered innovative, hands-on teaching techniques for active learning courses that have been adopted around the world. She is also known as an advocate for women and under-represented groups in physics and science fields. Ross has held a number of leadership positions in the research community including serving as the Secretary-Treasurer and Chair of the Division of Biological Physics at the American Physical Society and as a Council member for the Biophysical Society Council. In June 2020, Ross was named the chair of the Physics Department at Syracuse University.


Amy Schmidt

Amy Schmidt is the Assistant Director for the undergraduate Citizenship & Civic Engagement major, which entails supporting students in their community placements, student advising and managing the CCE office. Amy is from Syracuse and has spent many years working in the Central New York nonprofit sector, both professionally and as a volunteer. She earned a master of public administration (MPA) with a focus on nonprofit management from the Maxwell School, and was selected a John Ben Snow and Vernon Snow Fellow in Nonprofit Management. Prior to returning to Maxwell, Amy worked at local organizations including Home HeadQuarters, the Everson Museum of Art, and the Central New York Community Foundation. She currently resides in Pompey with her husband and two children.


Bei Yu

Bei Yu is a Professor and the PhD Program Director at the School of Information Studies. Her research areas are Natural Language Processing and Computational Social Science. Her recent work focuses on using machine learning and natural language processing techniques to improve science information quality, such as developing NLP methods for identifying exaggerated claims in science papers and press releases.


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