NC State
NC State Principal Preparation

NC State Principal Preparation
Faculty and Staff

Fusarelli_Bonnie_003Bonnie C. Fusarelli, Ph.D.

Bonnie C. Fusarelli, Ph.D., is a 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 $25 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: https://nela.ced.ncsu.edu/


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), poverty and demographic change, and on superintendents/leadership preparation. He received his Ph.D. in educational administration from the University of Texas at Austin, 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 two school leadership grants from the U.S. Department of Education ($6.7 million); as Co-PI on two state leadership grants ($2.6 million); and as Co-PI on a school leadership grant from The Wallace Foundation ($6.4 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 ldfusare@ncsu.edu.


Faculty and Staff


Karen Anderson, EdS

Mrs. Anderson serves as the Wake Principal Leadership Program Cohort Director. 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. Most recently she received her Educational Specialist (Ed.S) program from Appalachian State University specializing in leading and promoting high-quality student achievement. 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 klrosebo@ncsu.edu.


Shirley Arrington, Ed.D.

Dr. Arrington was the Cohort Director of the North Carolina Leadership Academy (NCLA) and currently serves as the NELA Post-degree Coordinator. Dr. Arrington earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education from North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount and her master’s degree, principal certification, and doctorate from Campbell University. She has held a number of leadership positions in North Carolina public schools. She has worked as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in the Edgecombe County School System, the Rocky Mount City School System, and the Nash-Rocky Mount School System. She joined the Principals’ Executive Program at the University of North Carolina in 1993 as an Assistant Director where she directed several leadership programs for school administrators including the Assistant Principals Executive Program, the Developing Future Leaders Program, the Higher School Performance Program, the Instructional Leadership for Reform Program, and the Leadership Conference for New Administrators. She was named Executive Director for the Model Teacher Education Consortium in 2006. Dr. Arrington retired on September 1, 2011 after over 34 years of service to public education in North Carolina. She has served as a professor at Gardner-Webb University, teaching in the Master’s of elementary education program. She also works part time as a program assistant and facilitator for the North Carolina Principals’ and Assistant Principals Association. She serves on the board of The Prodigal Son Foundation and the Lincoln Community Hospital Foundation Board. She can be reached at sharring@ncsu.edu.


Pat Ashley, Ed.D.

Dr. Ashley serves as the Cohort Director of North Carolina State University Educational Leadership Academy Cohort and was the previous Cohort Director for the Durham Principal Leadership Academy. 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 paashley@ncsu.edu.


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 Angles. 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 jayscue@ncsu.edu.


Lisa Bass, Ph.D.

Dr. Bass is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at NC State University. Before coming to NC State University, 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. Her primary research interest, however, 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 and Mindfulness in Education. Her goal is to positively impact education and educational outcomes for disenfranchised youth. She can be reached at lrbass@ncsu.edu.


Brenda Champion, Ed.D.

Dr. Champion serves as Executive Director of NC State’s Leadership Academies, working directly with Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli to oversee the work of all of NC State’s MSA cohorts. She earned her undergraduate degree in government from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. With two elementary education courses taken in the summer of 1986, her teaching career in NYC began that fall. After three years of teaching, feeling a desire to be a student again, she took a leave of absence for one year and received a Master’s Degree in Education in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her love of learning compelled her to obtain a second Master’s Degree of Science in Elementary School Science and Environmental Education from Brooklyn College after which she held various positions at both the school and district level in NYC. Finally, in 2004, she decided that she wanted to make an impact as an instructional leader and applied to the NYC Leadership Academy and was accepted as an Aspiring Principal. Upon completion of the program, she became the principal of a middle school with a large student body (1400) in Brooklyn where she remained for eight years. During her tenure as principal the urge to study came once more. She earned her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania. Understanding that change is inevitable and can present new challenges as well as opportunities, she joined NCDPI as a School Transformation Coach and has supported principals and their school communities in Halifax County. She can be reached at bdchampi@ncsu.edu.


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. His research interests include how K-12 education policies and practices shape principal and teacher effectiveness. He is currently Principal Investigator of the Wallace Foundation’s University Principal Preparation Initiative (UPPI). Dr. Drake can be reached at tadrake@ncsu.edu.





Anna Egalite, Ph.D.

Dr. Egalite is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development in the College of Education at NC State University. She holds a Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Arkansas, an M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the evaluation of education policies and programs intended to close racial and economic achievement gaps, such as increasing minority representation in the teacher workforce and the introduction of market forces into education through school choice and competition. Dr. Egalite can be reached at anna_egalite@ncsu.edu.




Dianne Griffiths

Dianne Griffiths

Dianne is Project Coordinator for the Northeast Leadership Academy at North Carolina State University. She earned her bachelor degree in Communications from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. She is an ardent supporter of public education and has served in a variety of educational volunteer positions for many years.

She can be reached at degriffi@ncsu.edu.






Greg Hicks, Ed.D.

The middle of five children, Dr. Hicks, is a first-generation college graduate. Both of Dr. Hick’s parents grew up during the depression and neither graduated from high school. With degrees from Elon University (B.A.), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (M.Ed.), and NC State University (Ed.D.), Dr. Hick’s has spent his entire career (35+ years) serving the children of North Carolina. Beginning his career as a junior high math teacher and coach (football, wrestling, and baseball), Greg knew early on that he wanted to “do more,” to “help more,” so he pursued school administration and became an assistant principal in 1985. Later, he served as a middle school and high school principal before retiring in 2010 as an assistant superintendent for human resources and finance with Orange County Schools in Hillsborough, NC. In 2006, Dr. Hicks was asked to teach a class on school personnel to an NC State Master of School Administration (MSA) cohort that was meeting in Henderson, NC, and he has been working with NC State ever since. Currently, he serves as a Teaching Assistant Professor (part-time) and is the campus supervisor for the NC Principal Fellows program while also coordinating MSA and Ed.D. internships. Dr. Hicks can be reached at gehicks@ncsu.edu.


Henry Johnson, Ed.D.

Dr. Henry Johnson has an undergraduate degree in biology from Livingston College (Salisbury, N. C.), a master’s in science education from UNC- Chapel Hill and a doctorate in school administration from NC State University. He has served in many leadership roles in over forty-five years in education.
Henry is an Executive Coach with the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) at N.C. State University and is a Professor of Practice working with the North East North Carolina Doctoral Cohort. Henry’s work experiences include serving as Senior Consultant with Learning Forward, formerly the National Staff Development Council; Senior Advisor on B&D Consulting’s education team (Washington, D. C.); Chief Operating Officer of the Bermuda Department of Education; Assistant Secretary for Secondary and Elementary Education, U. S. Department of Education; Mississippi State Superintendent of Education; and Associate State Superintendent at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI). Other experiences include work as Assistant Superintendent in Johnston County (NC) Public Schools, Assistant Superintendent in Pleasantville (NJ) Public Schools, Director of Policy Development and Research for the North Carolina School Boards Association, Director of Middle School Programs in Wake County (NC), middle school principal, coordinator of staff development (NC DPI), consultant for programs for gifted students (NC DPI) and teacher of biology, physics and math in North Carolina and Virginia. During his career Henry has served on many boards, including the Southern Region Education Board and the National Assessment Governing Board. He currently serves on the board of directors of the National Council on Teacher Quality and the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children. In addition, he serves on the steering committee of the Florence Aid to Students and Teachers, North Carolina (FAST NC), a group formed to assist students and teachers impacted by Hurricane Florence. He can be reached at hljohns6@ncsu.edu.


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 Fran_Riddick@ncsu.edu.


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 co-founded and chairs FAST NC (Florence Aid to Students and Teachers of North Carolina) and serves on the board of the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the College of Education at North Carolina State University. Dr. Ward can be reached at meward@ncsu.edu.


Cathy Williams, Ed.D.

Dr. Williams currently serves as the Johnston Principal Leadership Academy (JPLA) Director, but 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 six grandchildren. She can be reached at ccwilli3@ncsu.edu.




Wirt9.2014Lesley 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. She greatly enjoys working with the Master of School Administration (MSA) Leadership Academies’ students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders.

She can be reached at lesley_wirt@ncsu.edu.


Graduate Assistants


LeelynnPinionHeadshotLeelynn Biggers, MSW

Mrs. Biggers serves as 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 is a current doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where 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 is now serving her third externship at Alpha Neurobehavioral Clinic in Jacksonville, NC. She is passionate about education for all, leadership, and promoting student success. She is excited to be a part of the NELA team. She can be reached at leelynn_biggers@ncsu.edu.


Allie Cataldi

Allie is 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 is currently pursuing her M.Ed. in Clinical Mental Health and Counseling. 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 amcatald@ncsu.edu.




 Ashley McMillan, MSW

Ashley is a Graduate Assistant for the Northeast 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. Ashley is a current doctoral student in the 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 and looks forward to working with the NELA team.She can be reached at amcmill@ncsu.edu.




Mary Ashley Rose

Mary Ashley of Rocky Mount, NC is a May 2018 graduate of Meredith College with a BA in psychology and a minor in social work. She is currently earning her master’s of education in school counseling at NC State. Mary Ashley hopes to work as a counselor at the high school level with a focus on adolescent leadership development. She is excited to join the Educational Leadership Department as a graduate assistant. She can be reached at mrose4@ncsu.edu.








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 leplatt@ncsu.edu.






Former Graduate Assistants


 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 sbmckin2@ncsu.edu.


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 ekmilly@ncsu.edu.






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 lsswinso@ncsu.edu.


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 vavalent@ncsu.edu.




Angela VanGorder, M.Ed.

Mrs. VanGorder joined NC State University’s Northeast Leadership Academy in January 2015 and is pursuing a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis. 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 abvangor@ncsu.edu.