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NLA Fellows Program Advisory Board

The New Leadership Academy Advisory Board is made up of leaders in higher education and related fields who have demonstrated a commitment to changing leaders, leadership, and leadership development to fit 21st century needs. The mission of the NLA Advisory Board is to aid the organization in providing outstanding and up-to-date leadership development resources as part of the NLA Fellows Program. The Advisory Board has a collective goal to grow NLA as a respected national leadership development program through ongoing engagement, ensuring that contemporary scholarship and research, as well as practitioner needs, are updated and integrated into the program.


Brighid Dwyer

Dr. Brighid Dwyer


Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
University of Pennsylvania

Brighid Dwyer, Ph.D. became the Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania in December of 2021. She previously served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at Princeton University. In this role, she was responsible for developing curricula and implementing training programs to enhance student, staff, and faculty learning on issues of diversity, inclusion, and identity. Before working at Princeton, Brighid spent seven years at Villanova University where she served as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Education and Counseling and the Department of Communication. She also held positions as the Director of the Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR), Assistant Director of Research and Training, and Ombudsperson.

During her time at Villanova, Dr. Dwyer played a critical role in assessing Villanova’s Diversity & Inclusion Strategic Plan and in shaping the University’s new Strategic Plan. In 2016 she was the recipient of Villanova’s Pohlhaus-Stracciolini Award for Teaching Excellence. Additionally, Brighid has been Adjunct Sociology Professor at Delaware County Community College and serves as a curriculum developer and instructor for the Race and Equity Center at the University of Southern California.

Before entering higher education, Brighid had a career in athletics. She served as an academic advisor, coach, and staff administrator at UCLA, University of Michigan, the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Presently, she is working with USA Swimming on their diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.

Dwyer is considered a national expert on Intergroup Dialogue and facilitation. She consults with higher education institutions, K-12 schools, corporations, and non-profit organizations on strategic diversity planning and utilizing dialogic approaches to solve organizational challenges. Brighid has published numerous articles and book chapters on the topics of organizational culture, equity and inclusion, intergroup dialogue, identity, leadership, and minority-serving institutions.

Dwyer has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.


Jorge Figueroa

Dr. Jorge F. Figueroa


Vice Provost for Curriculum and Strategic Initiatives
Professor of Bilingual and ESL Education
Department of Teacher Education
Texas Woman’s University

Jorge F. Figueroa, Ph.D., is the Vice Provost for Curriculum and Strategic Initiatives at Texas Woman’s University. He has over 20 years of experience working in higher education. As part of his role, he provides leadership for curriculum development undergraduate education, core curriculum, transfer agreements, and scheduling. He oversees first-year seminar instruction, college readiness testing, the university curriculum committee, the university course inventory, compliance with state and university policies for undergraduate education, and facilitates academic partnerships that support the strategic mission of the university.

Before his appointment as Vice Provost, he was the Associate Dean for Research, Inclusion, and Innovation for the College of Professional Education (COPE) where he oversaw COPE’s international education partnerships, the COPE’s Emerging Leaders Program,  and all research, inclusion and innovation activity in the college. He is a Professor of Bilingual and ESL Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Literacy and Learning. Prior to coming to TWU, he was an Associate Professor for the School of Social and Human Sciences at Universidad del Este, in his native Puerto Rico. He had trained pre-service and in-service teachers in North America, Latin America, and Europe.

His research focuses on the intersection between emergent technologies and emergent bilinguals with emphasis on extended realities (XR) and critical pedagogies. His research has appeared in Contemporary Educational Technology, Educación XX1, International Journal of Technology and Educational Innovation, Expert Systems, among others. He is an inaugural Fellow of the New Leadership Academy (University of Michigan-Ann Arbor), a Fellow at the Executive Leadership Academy at UC-Berkeley, a Fellow in the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership at Arizona State University/Georgetown University,  and a member of Cátedra ESCALAE at Universidad de Málaga in Spain.


Wendy Hobson-Rohrer

Dr. Wendy L. Hobson-Rohrer


Professor of Pediatrics / Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Education
The University of Utah
Medicine / Pediatrics

Wendy Hobson-Rohrer MD, MSPH is a tenured Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine and the Associate Vice President for Health Sciences Education at University of Utah Health. Majoring in Spanish and Latin American Studies in college led her to focus on Latinx populations. For the past 25 years, she has focused on teaching medical providers about and on caring for children with special health care needs, especially for those who are marginalized. As a pediatrician, she strives to meet the needs of families where they are, most recently opening a food pantry in the clinic. As one of the senior-most woman faculty members at University of Utah Health, she regularly mentors and advocates for women and under-represented people in health careers.


Mark Kamimura-Jimenez

Dr. Mark Kamimura-Jiménez


Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion
Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Mark Kamimura-Jiménez (He/Him/His) is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Dean of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion at Washington University in St. Louis where he is a student-centered strategic leader focused on developing an inclusive experience that embraces the intersectionality of student identities on campus. Dr. Kamimura-Jiménez most recently served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs at Texas Christian University, where he led the practice and research on identity, diversity and inclusion initiatives for strengthening the connection culture of undergraduate and graduate students as an integrated part of their college experience.

During his time at the University of Michigan he served as the Assistant Dean for Programs, Policy and Diversity Initiatives, Director of Graduate Student Success in the Rackham Graduate School, the Vice Chair of the University Diversity Council, and Co-Founder of the Professional Latina/o/x at the University of Michigan Alliance (PLUMA). Dr. Kamimura-Jiménez has held leadership positions Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, UCI and Columbia Universityand been awarded nearly $17M in federal and private partnership grants as a principal investigator to strengthen the P-20 educational pipeline.

Dr. Kamimura-Jiménez has held academic appointments in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies and Women and Gender Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Texas Christian University, in the Education Policy and Leadership at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University, and in Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville. Dr. Kamimura-Jiménez is a contributor to multiple books on the topics of diversity, mentorship, leadership, access within the educational pipeline, and co-editor and author of the Latina/o Pathway to the PhD: Abriendo Caminos. He received his B.A. from the University of California, Irvine; M.A. from Columbia University; and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.


Deborah Keyek-Franssen

Dr. Deborah Keyek-Franssen


Associate Vice President and Dean
Online and Continuing Education
The University of Utah

Deborah Keyek-Franssen, Ph.D. and Associate Vice President and Dean of Online and Continuing Education at the University of Utah, is evolving a strategy for learning opportunities across modalities and credentials. She began her career at the University of Colorado, where she served as director of academic technology. As the AVP for Digital Education and Engagement at the CU System, she furthered CU’s involvement with NASH’s TS3 initiative. She served on the Colorado OER Council and sits on the TS3 steering committee. In 2020, she was EDUCAUSE’s DEI Leadership Award Recipient. Deborah graduated from Dartmouth College, completed her Ph.D. in German Literature, a master’s in Higher Education Administration, and a certificate in Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.


Sharlene Kiuhara

Dr. Sharlene A. Kiuhara


Associate Professor
The University of Utah
Special Education

Dr. Sharlene A. Kiuhara has over 20 years of experience working with children and adolescents who have high incidence disabilities and are English language learners, as well as with elementary and secondary school teachers, program specialists, and teacher candidates in higher education. After receiving her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Utah in 2009, she accepted a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in Special Education at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. Her research examines how argumentative writing can facilitate content learning for students with mild to moderate learning disabilities, particularly in mathematics literacy and mathematical reasoning.


Christopher Nellum

Dr. Christopher J. Nellum


Executive Director
The Education Trust—West

Dr. Christopher J. Nellum is the Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, a California-based research and advocacy nonprofit focused on educational justice and closing opportunity gaps for students of color and students from lower-income communities. He has been an education researcher and advocate for over a decade. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Nellum was at the National Center for Institutional Diversity, Young Invincibles, and the American Council on Education. He cut his teeth in education equity on college campuses working directly with students. Nellum completed his undergraduate degree at UC Santa Barbara, master’s degree at CSU Long Beach, and Ph.D. at the University of Michigan.


Nubia Pena

Nubia Peña

Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity, Office of Governor Spencer J. Cox
Director for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs

Director Peña has dedicated much of her career to bringing awareness to issues of anti-oppression through her professional endeavors and personal faith-based initiatives as a community organizer, advocate, and ally for marginalized populations. Nubia is currently the Senior Advisor on Equity and Opportunity to Governor Cox and the Director for the Utah Division of Multicultural Affairs where their mission is to promote an inclusive climate for Utah’s growing diverse community through training, outreach, and youth leadership development. She is a proud former member of the zealous team at the Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys where she advocated for youth rights during detention and delinquency proceedings. She is certified by the National Juvenile Defender Center as a Juvenile Training Immersion Program facilitator.

Prior to law school, for close to a decade, she assisted survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking as a Law Enforcement Victim Advocate. Since 2007, Director Peña has served as the Training Specialist at the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) where she developed workshops on Youth Advocacy for Survivors and Social Justice in Youth Prevention Efforts. She is also a national consultant dedicated to bringing awareness to intersections of trauma and the School-to-Prison Pipeline, an epidemic that targets our most vulnerable youth by streamlining them into the juvenile justice system. In addition, she is also the founder and director of Royalty Rising Youth Ministry, a culturally relevant and gender-specific outreach initiative for at-risk and marginalized young adults. Director Peña received her Juris Doctorate from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. There, she was selected as one of 25 law students in the nation to be recognized and was highlighted for her social justice activism in the National Jurist, a leading news source in legal education. She was also selected as the recipient of the National Juvenile Justice Network 2019 Emerging Leader Award for her outstanding dedication to youth empowerment in the justice system.


Charles Roessel

Dr. Charles M. Roessel

Diné College

Dr. Charles M. Roessel is an educator, catalyst for academic innovation and higher education leader. He became the 18th president of Diné College in 2017 and has spearheaded DC’s transformation from a two-year institution into a four-year institution. As the first established tribal college, DC has served a predominantly Navajo student population for over 51 years across the 27,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation that spans across the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

Lauded as the first tribally-controlled collegiate institution in the United States, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, DC is a student-centric tribal college focused on complex challenges related to tribal sovereignty, language revitalization, multicultural education, and nation building. Under Dr, Roessel’s leadership, DC has established four new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Diné Studies and Education, the School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, the School of Arts, Humanities and English, and the School of Business and Social Science, and launched trailblazing initiatives including the Navajo Sovereignty Institute, the Navajo Cultural Arts Program, and important initiatives toward the establishment of the first Navajo law school.


Alvaro Rojas-Pena

Dr. Alvaro Rojas-Peña


Assistant Research Scientist Of Surgery
Department of Surgery, Section of Transplantation
University of Michigan

Dr. Alvaro Rojas-Peña’s is a physician and Assistant Research Scientist of Surgery in the Section of Transplantation at the University of Michigan (UM), Ann Arbor. Dr. Rojas received his MD degree from La Escuela Colombiana de Medicina -El Bosque University in Bogota, D.C. Colombia in 2002. He joined the faculty of the Section of Transplantation Surgery, in 2010. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, including research fellowship awards and best project abstracts from the American Society of Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) and The Transplantation Society (TTS). In 2009, Dr. Rojas was honored by the Republic of Colombia Chamber of Representatives Resolution Honor “Order of The Democracy -Simon Bolivar -in the rank of Cross of Great Chavelier”.

Dr. Rojas-Pena is an alumni of the NLA (2018-19), interested in access, acceptance and termination of college and higher education for students of underrepresented groups. He has mentored over 150 college students under the U of Michigan undergraduate research providing research projects for freshman and sophomores. He is the instructor of Surgery 499, a course for college students with emphasis in applied physiology. He has mentored medical students and surgical residents from Colombia and Peru in the last 10n years. He is a board member of the Professional LatinX at UM Alliance, a community of faculty and staff members at the University of Michigan that collaborate and support a diverse range of activities on LatinX culture.

His research interests include cardiopulmonary pathophysiology, specifically cardiopulmonary mechanical support systems and extracorporeal life support systems that can be applied to cardiac arrest, single and multiple organ acute and chronic failure (end-stage lung, heart, and liver diseases). His research expertise is in the development of large surgical models and biomedical engineering research projects to test novel extracorporeal support devices (pumps, catheters, and oxygenators), bio-artificial organs (artificial lungs, artificial kidneys, artificial pancreas and the artificial placenta). Dr. Rojas-Pena has worked to improve the techniques of extracorporeal support during cardiopulmonary resuscitation and organ preservation prior transplantation. In addition, he has assisted in the transfer and use of large animal research models to numerous laboratories, U-M principal investigators, and private corporations that needed training in this area of research primarily to test devices prior to FDA studies or clinical use.


Victor Saenz

Dr. Victor B. Sáenz


Chair & Professor
University of Texas at Austin

Victor B. Sáenz, Ph.D. is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy at University of Texas at Austin. He is a Fellow in the Sid W. Richardson Regents Chair in Community College Leadership, and he holds courtesy appointments with the Center for Mexican American Studies, Mexican American and Latino Studies, and various other research centers across the University. Since 2007 he’s been a faculty member with the UT-Austin College of Education, and prior to that he was a visiting professor and postdoctoral scholar at UCLA. His current work advances research-informed best practices and policy solutions that improve educational outcomes for underserved students in postsecondary education, with a special emphasis on young men of color. In 2010 Sáenz co-founded an award-winning initiative at UT-Austin called Project MALES, a multi-pronged effort focused on advancing educational outcomes for boys and young men of color.

Over the years, Sáenz has received various research and service recognitions from both scholarly and practitioner communities. His work has been featured in two co-authored books and cited in numerous policy reports, scholarly publications, and by local and national media. He has presented his research at countless conferences and meetings across the country, including at the White House, the National Press Club, and on Capitol Hill. Sáenz is also on the Board of Directors for various local, state and national organizations, including the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education and the Texas Lyceum, among others.

Sáenz earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA in 2005. He also earned a Master’s degree in Public Affairs (‘99) and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (‘96) from UT-Austin.


Hideko Sera

Dr. Hideko Sera


Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
Morehouse College

Dr. Hideko Sera, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at Morehouse College, is a seasoned higher education female leader of color with a proven commitment to educational and social justice. She has worked in clinical psychology, PK12 to life-long learning, and DEI leadership (diversity, equity, and inclusion); she has also served in numerous national-level positions such as the Board of Educational Affairs for the American Psychological Association. Matters related to first-generation students, the internationalization of the US education system, women’s education and leadership, BIPOC leadership development and retention of BIPOC faculty and students, and mentorship relationships have been part of Dr. Sera’s portfolio as she examines power, privilege, and intersectionality within these domains.


Nelson Soto

Dr. Nelson E. Soto


Albizu University

Dr. Nelson Soto became the sixth president of Albizu University in August of 2022. He previously was the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Union Institute & University headquartered in Walnut Hills. He holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies from Indiana University, Bloomington, a master’s in education and a Bachelor of Arts in business from the University of Cincinnati. As provost at Union, he was in the unique position to advance the university’s mission as a vehicle for change in the community through diversity and education. He provides leadership in engaging and empowering adult learners in the larger society in which they live and work, building a mutually beneficial, expansive and collaborative community that lives beyond the classroom.

Dr. Soto has focused his career on enabling and encouraging change and access. Dr. Soto is deeply committed to ensuring that all individuals, no matter their background or circumstances, have access to higher education and opportunities to improve their own lives and those of their families. In his leadership role at Union Institute & University, he brings the mission and vision to life: to engage, enlighten and empower each adult in a lifetime of learning and service.


Maurice Taylor

Dr. Maurice C. Taylor


Vice President for Academic Outreach & Engagement
Morgan State University (retired)

Maurice C. Taylor worked at Morgan State University for twenty-seven years in a variety of positions including Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Vice President for University Operations. He served as Chair of the University’s Steering Committee that coordinated Morgan’s successful 2018 Middle States Commission on Higher Education Self-Study, MSCHE Peer Review, and reaffirmation of accreditation. Dr. Taylor retired January 1, 2021, as Morgan’s Vice President for Academic Outreach and Engagement. Dr. Taylor also served as a member of a number of Maryland’s Higher Education Commission (MHEC) task forces including Maryland State Plan for Post-Secondary Education committees, MHEC’s Subcommittee charged with the final review of the 2005 Partnership Agreement between Maryland and the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, and as a member of MHEC’s COVID-19 Advisory Committee. He is the former Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at St. Augustine’s University.

Dr. Taylor is the former Chair of the Graduate Record Examination Board, former President of the Council of Historically Black Graduate Schools, and former Secretary of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. He is a former member of Campus Compact Mid Atlantic’s Senior Advisory Group for Engagement and former Chair of the Baltimore County Human Relations Commission. Dr. Taylor is a member of the Executive Committee of the State of Maryland’s African American Museum Corporation Board of Directors and he chairs the Prince George’s County Financial Advisory Committee of the County’s Economic Development Incentive Fund.

Dr. Taylor received a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Juniata College, master’s and doctorate degrees in Sociology from Bowling Green State University, and a juris doctorate from Duke University. He received additional instruction in higher education leadership through the Kellogg Foundation Minority Serving Institutions Leadership Program, and through the Harvard University Graduate School of Education’s Institute for Educational Management.


Last Updated: 1/26/24