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Project Team

NC State Principal Preparation
Faculty and Staff

Bonnie C. Fusarelli, Ph.D.

Bonnie C. Fusarelli, Ph.D., is a Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis at NC State University and a University Faculty Scholar. She earned a BA in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s in School Leadership from UT San Antonio and her Ph.D. in Educational Administration from The Pennsylvania State University.

Dr. Fusarelli’s research focuses on educational leadership and policy, the politics of school improvement, educational equity, and organizational change, with a particular focus on state-level education reform and leadership development. In addition to her two books, she has authored over 60 articles published in various research journals. To support her work, Dr. Fusarelli has received over $32 million in grant funding from various organizations including the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

She has served as a past President of the Politics of Education Association and has been ranked in Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings, which is a national ranking of scholars who are contributing most substantially to public debates about K-12 and higher education. Dr. Fusarelli serves on several advisory boards, including those for the educational leadership programs at Southern Methodist University and The University of Illinois, Chicago. Dr. Fusarelli is the recipient of numerous teaching awards at both the K-12 and university level, including being an inductee into NC State’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers.

Dr. Fusarelli is Program Coordinator for NC State’s Educational Leadership program and is the Director of NC State’s Leadership Academies, which are nationally recognized as innovative and effective at preparing school leaders for high-need schools. Please see:

Dr. Lance Fusarelli, Ph.D.

Dr. Fusarelli has been at NC State University since 2003 as professor of educational leadership and policy and director of graduate programs. He conducts research in the politics of education, federal education policy (ESSA), school choice and reform, and on superintendents/leadership preparation. He received his Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin (specialization in educational politics and policy), M.A. in government from UT-Austin, and B.A. in History and American Studies from Case Western Reserve University. In 2012, he was ranked 79th in the nation among scholars whose research contributes most substantially to public debates about schools and schooling. He is the author or editor of 7 books and more than 60 journal articles and book chapters. His research has appeared in Educational Researcher, Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of School Leadership, Journal of Educational Administration, Publius: The Journal of Federalism, and Educational Policy. He serves as Co-Principal Investigator on school leadership grants totaling over $11 million. He was the College of Education recipient of the 2014 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, is a member of NC State’s Academy of Outstanding Teachers and was the College of Education nominee for the Chancellor’s Creating Community Outstanding Faculty Award. He can be reached at

Faculty and Staff

Karen Anderson, Ed.D.

Mrs. Anderson serves as the Cohort Director for the Wake Cohort. She was the previous Cohort Director for the Wake Principal Leadership Program (WPLP). Karen is a proud NC Teaching Fellow and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education. She successfully completed the Piedmont Triad Leadership Academy and earned a Master of School Administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She received her Educational Specialist (Ed.S) program from Appalachian State University specializing in leading and promoting high-quality student achievement. Most recently, she completed her Ed.D. degree. Her experiences as a teacher, curriculum facilitator, assistant principal, and principal solidified her desire and passion for joining the NELA team in their pursuit of excellence in education. She can be reached at

Pat Ashley, Ed.D.

Dr. Ashley serves as the Cohort Director of the Durham Cohort. She was the previous Cohort Director for the NCSU Cohort and the Durham Principal Leadership Academy (DPLA). Dr. Ashley has a passion for student success and is committed to ensuring high student achievement by building high-performing schools and districts. Her recent prior experience leading District and School Transformation for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction focused on data-documented school and district turnaround. She oversaw the successful implementation of the NC Turnaround Initiative as well as NC’s ambitious turnaround effort for 12 districts and 123 schools as part of the Race to the Top grant. In 2013, she received the NC Public School Forum Jay Robinson Leadership Award for exemplary leadership with a statewide impact. Before returning to her home state of NC in 2006, she was Assistant Superintendent for Instruction of Kentucky’s Owensboro Public Schools— identified by Standard and Poor’s as an “outperforming” Title I district where student achievement far exceeded predictive variables. She began her career as a teacher before becoming a counselor and school psychologist. She was a middle school principal in an inner-city magnet school in Charlotte, NC; principal of a large comprehensive high school in State College, PA; and, after a family relocation to KY, she became the principal of an elementary school identified as low performing. Following a short period of great collaboration, this school became the highest achieving school in KY for multiple years based on statewide assessment data. Among multiple honors, the school was featured on the Today Show for educational innovation and selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. She received an undergraduate degree in history from Duke University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in school administration from NC State University. She studied in India on a Fulbright and is currently Teaching Assistant Professor at NC State. She can be reached at

Jenn Ayscue, Ph.D.

Jenn Ayscue is an assistant professor in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis and in Educational Leadership in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. Her research focuses on school desegregation and equitable educational opportunities in K-12 schools. Her work examines school desegregation trends, policies and practices that facilitate or constrain desegregation and integration efforts, and ways of remedying civil rights violations in education. Prior to joining the faculty at NCSU, Dr. Ayscue served as an American Educational Research Association Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate and as Research Director of The Initiative for School Integration at The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at University of California, Los Angeles. She earned a Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, an MA from Stanford University, and a BA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She taught elementary school in East Palo Alto, California, and in Charlotte, North Carolina. She can be reached at

Lisa Bass, Ph.D.

Dr. Bass is an associate professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at North Carolina State University. Before coming to NC State, she was an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma and completed postdoctoral research at the University of Vermont. She has a joint doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy and Comparative and International Education. She has two master’s degrees: the first in Business Administration and the second in Teaching. Her bachelor’s degree is in Economics. Dr. Bass enjoys comparing educational systems internationally and has traveled to Mexico, Ghana, Brazil, Hong Kong, and South Africa. Dr. Bass has a passion for students and mentoring them toward their realization of their research agendas, and to achieve to their fullest potential. To this end, she served as the co-director for the UCEA Barbara Jackson Scholar’s Network for five years. She currently serves UCEA on their Executive Committee; and AERA on the Professional Development Committee. Her primary research interest, broadly, is urban school reform through alternative approaches to schooling. She focuses her work on combatting the harmful effects of Poverty in Education, the Ethics of Caring, Mindfulness in Education, and Emotional Intelligence in Educational Leadership. Her interest in the Ethics of Caring led her to conceptualize the framework, Black Masculine Caring, which is delineated in her EAQ article, Black Male Leaders Care too: An Introduction to Black Masculine Caring in Educational Leadership; and in her edited book, Black Mask-ulinity, a Framework for Black Masculine Caring. Her goal is to positively impact education and educational outcomes for disenfranchised youth. She can be reached at

Tim Drake, Ph.D.

Dr. Drake is an assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at NC State University. He completed his Ph.D. in education policy studies at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Drake has an M.Ed. in international education policy and management from Vanderbilt and a B.A. in history teaching from Brigham Young University. Dr. Drake studies the policies and practices that influence the effectiveness of school leaders. Specifically, he works at the intersection of research, policy, and practice to inform the ways in which school leaders are trained and supported. His current research projects include educator data use, leadership preparation and development, early grades/pre-K leadership, and turnaround school leadership. Dr. Drake is Principal Investigator of the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI) for NC State. He can be reached at

Anna Egalite, Ph.D.

Anna J. Egalite is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development at North Carolina State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Arkansas, a masters in elementary education from the University of Notre Dame, and a bachelors in elementary education and history from St. Patrick’s College in Dublin, Ireland. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. In fall 2017, she served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Duke University.

In 2020, she was named a University Faculty Scholar, a program that recognizes outstanding early- and mid-career faculty members for their significant academic achievements and contributions to NC State and the greater community. Egalite was also included on Education Week’s 2020 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings as one of the Top 200 education scholars who had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy in 2019, one of only four junior faculty members in the nation named to the list. In 2017, the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas awarded her the Outstanding Young Alumni Award, and in 2015, she was the recipient of the University of Notre Dame’s Michael Pressley Award for a Promising Scholar in the Education Field.

She has served as Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator on grants totaling over six million dollars. Egalite’s scholarly articles have appeared in the journals Economics of Education Review, Education Finance and Policy, World Development, and Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Her research has been featured in a number of mainstream media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, and The Atlantic. Her research focuses on the evaluation of education policies and programs intended to close racial and economic achievement gaps. Her studies have examined principal effectiveness, school choice policy, school size, the influence of family background on intergenerational economic mobility, and the diversification of the educator labor force. Dr. Egalite can be reached at

Dr. Bill Harrison

Dr. Bill Harrison has been an educator in the public schools of North Carolina since 1974. He has been an elementary school teacher, served as a principal at the elementary and high school levels, worked as an associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction and spent 22 years as a local superintendent. From 2009-13 he chaired the State Board of Education and served as Governor Beverly Perdue’s Senior Advisor for Education Transformation and as a member of her cabinet. Since retiring from the Alamance Burlington School System in 2018, he has been serving as an Instructor for the NCSU MSA program and as a Senior Education Advisor with Participate Learning. Dr. Harrison can be reached at

Henry Johnson, Ed.D.

Henry Johnson currently serves on the graduate faculty in the College of Education at North Carolina State University, where he serves as a Professor of Practice. Also, he serves as an Executive Coach in the Principal Preparation Program. Prior to this he served as Senior Consultant to Learning Forward, formally the National Staff Development Council; Senior Advisor on the Baker & Daniels Consulting’s Education Team; and as Acting Commissioner of Education for the nation of Bermuda.

Prior to this, Henry was Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, United States Department of Education. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U. S. Senate in 2005. His experiences include service as State Superintendent of Education in Mississippi and Associate State Superintendent of Education in North Carolina. Additionally, he has served in a variety of other positions, including State of North Carolina Coordinator of Staff Development and Consultant for Education of Gifted Students, and Director of Research and Policy for the North Carolina School Boards Association. Henry has developed a wealth of experience from 50 years of service as a high school science teacher, principal, senior local central office administrator, senior state school administrator, and senior national school official. During these experiences his primary focus was, and remains, improving educational outcomes for all students by enhancing instruction and leadership. He can be reached at

Teresa Pierrie, MSA

Ms. Pierrie is the Cohort Director for the inaugural Cumberland County Cohort. Her career spans 36 years of service to Wake County Public School System (Raleigh, NC). She was a secondary English teacher, district and school administrator. Most recently she served as the Director of Programs for WakeEd Partnership, an education non-profit that brings the business community and community-at-large together to support public education in Wake County. As a first generation college graduate, Ms. Pierrie’s greatest professional accomplishment has been her work in early college programming. She was the inaugural principal of Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy, a proud OWL – Outstanding Woman Leader. Ms. Pierrie earned two degrees from NCSU: Master’s degree in Adult Education Training and Development and Master’s degree in School Administration. She is the proud parent of three children, one of whom is a doctoral candidate in the NCSU College of Education. She can be reached at

Fran Riddick, Ed.D.

Dr. Fran P. Riddick currently serves as the Executive Director of Leadership Innovation and Teaching Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University (NCSU). She has over 20 years experience in K-12 Leadership and Administration with her most recent position being the Assistant Superintendent for Innovation and Strategic Development for a school district of over 35,000 students in North Carolina. A first generation college graduate, Dr. Riddick was a Teaching Fellow and graduated from NCSU with a B.S. in Mathematics Education and a minor in Psychology. While working full time, she went on to graduate from NCSU with a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction, a Master’s degree in School Administration, and a doctoral degree in Educational Administration and Supervision. Dr. Riddick resides in Clayton, NC with her husband and two school-age children. She can be reached at

Mike Ward, Ed.D.

Dr. Mike Ward is a professor of practice in educational leadership at North Carolina State University. He also serves as a consultant in states across the nation on matters related to education leadership, school improvement, and assessment. From 1997 to 2004, Mike served two terms as State Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina. During his tenure, the state of North Carolina was recognized as one of the most rapidly improving states in education by the National Education Goals Panel and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Mike is a past president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, whose members include state superintendents and education commissioners across the country. He is also a past member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers NAEP, the Nation’s Report Card. A three-time graduate of North Carolina State University, he received the University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He is a past recipient of North Carolina’s Superintendent of the Year award. While on the faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi, he was cited as a Hero of Katrina and received the College of Education and Psychology’s Excellence in Teaching Award. Mike is an active volunteer. He is engaged with community development in South Sudan. He chairs the board of directors of the North Carolina Education Corps. He is chair of the College of Education Board at North Carolina State University. Mike’s wife, Hope Morgan Ward, is the bishop of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. They have two children and four grandchildren. Dr. Ward can be reached at

Cathy Williams, Ed.D.

Dr. Williams currently serves as the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) Cohort Director. She previously served as Cohort Director for the Johnston Principal Leadership Academy (JPLA) and for NELA Cohort VI. She has been a part of the NELA Instructional Team since the very beginning.She was born in raised in Chicago, Illinois and began her teaching career in North Carolina in 1990. She retired in 2014 after spending nine years as a classroom teacher, three years as a Central Office administrator, and twelve years as a school administrator. Dr. Williams earned her Master’s Degree in 2002 and her Ed.D. in 2011, both in school leadership, from North Carolina State University. She is the mother of four adult daughters and has nine grandchildren. She can be reached at


Lesley G. Wirt, Ed.D.

Dr. Wirt serves as the Associate Director of Principal Preparation at NC State University. She earned her undergraduate degrees in psychology and early childhood education from James Madison University in VA. She taught elementary school for two years in VA. She then decided to work in higher education and received both her master and doctoral degrees in Higher Education Administration from NC State University. She has worked at NC State University and Edgecombe Community College recruiting prospective students, advising new and current students, tracking student achievement, planning programs, and enhancing student retention and success. She also assists with grant writing and managing budgets as well as teaches in the principal preparation program and serves on doctoral dissertation committees. She greatly enjoys working with the Master of School Administration (MSA) Leadership Academies’ students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders. She can be reached at

Graduate Assistants

Shawna Daniels, M.Ed

Shawna is a doctoral student in the Adult, Workforce, and Continuing Professional Education (AWCPE) Program in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development. She earned her undergraduate degree in Multidisciplinary Studies (African and African American Studies) from NC State before receiving an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood (Fayetteville Technical Community College) and a Master’s Degree in Adult and Community College Education from NC State. Shawna has over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Education, working with children (birth to 12 years old), their families, and educators in a variety of roles. In the last 10 years, she has focused on coaching, mentoring, and supporting pre-service and in-service Early Childhood educators in all areas related to classroom management, child development, and professional development. Shawna is also a part-time instructor at both Nash Community College and Durham Technical Community College. She is passionate about improving the quality of professional development for Early Childhood educators to ensure that every young child receives the best early learning experiences possible. Shawna can be reached at

Austin Gragson, Ed.M.

Austin Gragson is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University studying program and policy analysis in early childhood education. He earned an undergraduate degree double majoring in Psychology and Anthropology, with a minor in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After working as a teacher, he attended Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, earning a Master’s degree in Education while conducting research on social-emotional learning in the EASEL Lab. He has also worked for Boston College on early childhood development interventions and program capacity building, and currently works for the NELA program at NC State. He can be reached at

Mario Jackson, EMEM

Mario is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis program at NC State University. He earned his undergraduate degree in Science Education (Biology) and a masters degree in Educational Management from the Mico University College in Kingston, Jamaica.

His research draws upon qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the intersection of educational policies and practices and equity for students, and their learning outcomes. His other interests include principal preparation, school leadership, and school reform. He can be reached at

LaTasha Reid-Daniels, MIS

LaTasha Reid-Daniels is a second-year doctoral student at North Carolina State University, in the Teacher Education and Learning Sciences (TELS) program, studying Educational Psychology. She earned her undergraduate degree in Industrial Technology with a concentration in Information and Computer Technology from East Carolina University. After several years in the workforce, LaTasha attended North Carolina Central University (NCCU), where she earned a Master’s degree in Information Science. While at NCCU, Latasha discovered a passion for being a beacon of light for disenfranchised and underrepresented women of color, in both academia and STEM careers. LaTasha can be reached at

Mary Ashley Rose, M.Ed.

Mary Ashley was a Graduate Assistant for the North Carolina State Education Leadership Academy from 2018-2020. She graduated from Meredith College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. While at Meredith College, she served as a first year student advisor and studied abroad in Sansepolcro, Italy. Mary Ashley was recognized by the Meredith College Psychology Department as the “Outstanding Student in Applied Psychology” on Celebrating Student Achievement Day in April of 2018. She earned her M.Ed. in school counseling from NC State in 2020. Mary Ashley served as the student services intern at Broughton High School in Raleigh, NC during the 2019-2020 school year. She can be reached at

Zainab Qaabidh, MSEd

Zainab is a second-year doctoral student in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis program at NC State University. She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Business Administration. While teaching students with disabilities in Brooklyn, NY, she earned her master’s degree in General and Special Education. During her tenure with NYC DOE, she served as a teacher, literacy coach, data specialist, and administrator. In 2007, she completed her post-graduate advanced certification in School Building Leadership (SBL) and School District Leadership (SDL). She is passionate about education and advocates to ensure all students have equitable access that promotes success. Zainab can be reached at

Claudia Smith, MA, MSA

Claudia Smith is a doctoral candidate in the Educational Leadership program. She earned an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with double minors in French and Hispanic Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While teaching, she earned her English as a Second Language (ESL) licensure. She then attended Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned a Master’s degree as a Literacy Specialist, and interned at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). Upon returning from graduate school, Claudia led her school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) team as a K-5 bilingual RTI specialist. Later, while working as a dual language instructional coach and running her own consulting company, she attended North Carolina State University where she received her Master of School Administration (MSA). Claudia Smith can be reached at

Keisha White, MSA

Keisha White graduated from NC State University where she received a Master of School Administration degree through the NC Leadership Academy, a highly selective graduate program designed to develop school leaders for districts in rural northeastern NC. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. As a former third grade teacher, Keisha was recognized as Northeast Elementary’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year and WITN Channel 7’s “Teacher of the Week”. Keisha has served as Grade Level Chair, Beginning Teacher Mentor, Read to Achieve Representative, and guest panel speaker for the NC New Teacher Support. During her time at Kinston High School, Keisha served as Principal Resident from 2017-2018 and Digital Learning Specialist from 2018-2019. She was the Superintendent of Paul R. Brown Leadership Academy in Elizabethtown, NC. Keisha can be reached at

Former Graduate Assistants

Krista Baker

Krista Baker is a second-year Master of Social Work student at North Carolina State University. She earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelors of Science in Health, and Human Sciences, majoring in Child and Family Studies while minoring in Psychology. Krista has experience working with children, families, and educators in a variety of roles. While at NC State, she serves as a clinical social work intern for UNC’s Department of Psychiatry Child and Adolescent Outpatient Clinic. Krista can be reached at

Leelynn Biggers, MSW, Ph.D.

Dr. Biggers served Research Associate and Webmaster for the Northeast Leadership Academy. She attended NC State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2014 and a Master of Social Work in 2016. Leelynn learned the value of excellent school leaders through her work with schools both in North Carolina and abroad. She served families in need at StepUp Ministry. Leelynn also worked with court-involved youth as a case manager and group leader at Haven House Services in Raleigh, NC. She originally joined NELA as a graduate assistant in 2014.  Leelynn earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. She completed a graduate fellowship at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Leelynn enjoys working with rural schools and served her first school psychology externship in Pender County Schools. She completed her second psychology externship at Coastal Carolina Neuropsychiatric Center and served her third externship at Alpha Neurobehavioral Clinic in Jacksonville, NC. She is passionate about education for all, leadership, and promoting student success. She can be reached at

Victor Cadilla, MAT

Victor Cadilla earned his undergraduate degree in history and Spanish from Wesleyan University. He was awarded a teaching fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and completed his Master of Arts in Teaching at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Victor then taught high school social studies in Durham Public Schools for 9 years. He is currently a third year doctoral student in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development. Victor can be reached at

Allie Cataldi, M.Ed.

Allie was a Graduate Assistant for the Northeast Leadership Academy 2.0. She graduated in 2011 from Temple University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. In 2017 she completed a graduate certificate in Youth Development and Leadership at NC State. Upon graduation Allie began working in the nonprofit sector where she found a love for working with youth in high needs communities and schools. She earned her M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health and Counseling in 2020. Much of her research is focused on youth trauma and the effects it has on development into adulthood. Her future goals include pursuing licensure and working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system. She can be reached at


Stephen McKinney, MAT

Stephen was a research graduate assistant for the NELA 2.0 project team. Stephen graduated from Appalachian State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. He completed his MAT in ESL Education at NC State in 2019. During his time at ASU—Stephen had the opportunity to study abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, an experience he credits with having a strong impact on his interest in working with English Language Learners. Stephen is committed to working with children in high-needs schools and communities. Over the summer, Stephen worked as a teacher at the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) STEAM Summer Camp—a camp that works to prevent summer learning loss among children in one of Durham’s most impoverished areas. You can learn more about Stephen’s experience at the camp here. Stephen also wrote a poem called “Diamonds” that was included in the May 2019 College of Education commencement. Read and hear about the poem here. He can be reached at

 Ashley McMillan, Ph.D.

Dr. McMillan was Graduate Assistant for the North Carolina State Education Leadership Academy. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2009. In 2011, she graduated with a Master of Social Work from Boston College. In 2020, Ashley graduated with a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration program at North Carolina State University. She has a background in student and academic affairs, serving in NC State’s Fraternity and Sorority Life department and Graduate Admissions for the UNC Chapel Hill School of Social Work. Ashley is passionate about ensuring students from rural, low-income, underrepresented communities have equitable access to education.She can be reached at

Liz Prue, MSA, M.Ed.

Mrs. Prue earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Early Childhood Education at Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. She earned her master’s degree in K-12 Reading, New Literacies, and Global Learning from NC State University. Liz served as a second grade teacher at Willow Springs Elementary in Wake County. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the non-profit Read and Feed. She served the ELPHD department at NCSU as a Graduate Assistant 2017-2018. Liz graduated with her MSA degree in May 2019. Liz can be reached at

Lacey Seaton, MSA

Mrs. Seaton earned an undergraduate degree in adapted special education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Lacey received her master’s degree from North Carolina State University (NCSU) through the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA). She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in education administration and supervision at NCSU. Lacey taught in the Exceptional Children’s Department in Granville County. Lacey completed her Principal Residency at Williford Elementary School then served as an Assistant Principal in Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. She can be reached at

Adair Sheppard, M.Ed.

Adair Sheppard is a Graduate Assistant for the NC State Education Leadership Academies for the 2020-2021 school year. She graduated from NC State in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. While at NC State, she served as a student teaching intern at various schools across Wake and Johnston Counties in grades K-5.

She completed her M.Ed. in school counseling from NC State in 2022. She can be reached at

Lisa Swinson, Ed.D.

Dr. Swinson has been an educator for over 20 years. She began her career as an elementary teacher in Pitt County. After obtaining her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and becoming a Nationally Board-Certified Teacher, Lisa decided to leave the classroom after nine enjoyable years of classroom teaching. Then for one year, she aided teachers at one of the state’s lowest performing schools as a Team Reviewer with the NC Department of Public Instruction State Assistance Team. Lisa then worked as curriculum director at a Title I school in Wilson County. After obtaining a K-12 Administrators Certification, Lisa continued to work at that Title I school but switched roles as the principal. After six years, she yearned to be a change agent on a state level and became an education consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Lisa just finished her doctorate in Educational Leadership at NC State University. She can be reached at

Valarie Valentine

Mrs. Valentine is a doctoral student in the Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis program at NC State University and served as a graduate assistant during the 2018-2019 academic year. Valarie earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from South Carolina State University. After teaching high school mathematics in Harnett County, North Carolina, her interest in data analysis and integration led her to assist educational teams answer questions and evaluate programs by creating reports and strategic monitoring tools for use in instruction, discipline, and intervention. Valarie worked as an Instructional Data Analyst for a middle school administrative team in Montgomery County, Maryland and as a central office data analyst for Durham Public Schools in North Carolina. She can be reached at

Angela VanGorder, Ph.D.

Dr. VanGorder joined NC State University’s Northeast Leadership Academy in January 2015 and finished a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis in 2019. She served as a graduate assistant from 2015-2019. Previously, she directed MBA employer relations at the College of Charleston and career services at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Originally from South Carolina, she earned a Bachelor of Science in business management from Anderson College, a Master of Education in higher education administration from Clemson University, and certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a board member for the Friends of Wake County Guardian ad Litem program, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission to change the lives of abused and neglected children by supporting the work of Guardians ad Litem who advocate for the best interests of foster children in the Wake County court system. Additionally, she was a member of the 2015-2016 North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program, a 10-month professional development program designed for emerging leaders with a common interest in education and a belief in its power to shape the lives of individual North Carolinians and their communities. She can be reached at