MONTY SULLIVAN (President, Louisiana Community and Technical College System) was selected as the fourth president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System in February 2014. Prior to being selected as president, he served as Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans. He also served as Executive Vice President for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. Before joining the LCTCS, Sullivan served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Research for the Virginia Community College System.
Monty is married to Kelley Miles Sullivan, a Registered Nurse and a graduate of John Tyler Community College. The couple has four daughters and four grandsons.
MARTHA WIGGINS (Executive Chef, Café Reconcile). Growing up in Washington, DC, Wiggins started in the industry at local deli Pumpernickels at 15 years old. At age 20, she attended a culinary arts program in New Bedford, MA while also advancing her culinary experience in several fine-dining establishments.
The Times-Picayune’s list of Chefs to Watch 2015, Gambit’s 2015 Emerging Chefs list and her holiday cocktail snacks were featured on the cover of Food & Wine’s December 2015 issue. Her work garnered attention from the James Beard Foundation. In 2017, Wiggins was a semifinalist for the Rising Star Award; in 2018, she was among the semifinalists for Best Chef South.
In early 2018, Wiggins joined the opening team at The Elysian Bar at the new Hotel Peter & Paul, ranked number five among Bon Appetit’s 10 Best New Restaurants in 2019.
Today, Wiggins joins Café Reconcile as Executive Chef to pursue not only her culinary passion but desire to mentor and train young people and prepare them for the rigor of a competitive hospitality industry. Wiggins is dedicated to initiatives that bring attention to and eliminate inequities in the restaurant industry. She aims to create more equitable work environments that respect and reward the talents and contributions of all workers within a creative, diverse and dynamic industry.
FACILITATORS & GUEST SPEAKERS
CRISTEN MOORE (Director, HCM Strategists) is a talented policy professional committed to opening the doors of higher education for all of America’s students. At HCM, she supports the firm’s postsecondary education work on behalf of clients such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation’s Strategy Labs.
In her role as a Barbara Jordan Scholar on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Cristen provided research on health disparities to the committee during its consideration of the Affordable Care Act. Inspired by the policymaking process and dedication of HELP Committee members and staff, Cristen’s passion for policy was put to work in Rep. André Carson’s office, where she helped to garner bipartisan support for the Congressman’s efforts in forming the Higher Education Caucus to examine higher education issues.
A graduate of Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in legal communication, Cristen also earned her master’s of public administration degree from George Washington University in 2014. She volunteers with Operation More Hope as a tutor for fifth grade students and supports community service efforts for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
TOYA BARNES-TEAMER (Principal, HCM Strategists) provides expertise in state and system-level higher education research, policy and cross sector collaboration. Toya provides technical support to systems and institutions to support student success, as well as system and institutional assessments to identify barriers and opportunities to increase student retention and completion. Toya also helps to identify strategies focused on improving outcomes and closing achievement gaps.
With more than 25 years of experience in higher education administration, she most recently served as vice president for student success at Dillard University (LA). Previously, Toya served as senior vice president for academic and student affairs for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), after serving as vice chancellor/provost for Louisiana Technical College, District One. Prior to her tenure at LCTCS, Toya was associate director of admissions for recruitment and enrollment management at the University of New Orleans (LA) and associate director of admissions at Loyola University (LA).
Toya holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Loyola University New Orleans and received her Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of New Orleans.
PRECIOUS ALDRIDGE (Delgado Community College). New to New Orleans, Precious Aldridge brings greetings from her “Home Town” of Laurel, Mississippi. Precious completed her master’s program at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Higher Education Administration with an emphasis in Student Affairs in 2016, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in the same field. Presently, Precious serves as the Assistant Director of the Center for New Student Engagement and Transition, providing leadership for Career Services, Disability Services, Student Engagement Counseling, Veteran’s Affairs, and the Testing Offices at Delgado Community College. Prior to her position at Delgado, she was employed as the Director of Women’s Housing at Jones College in Ellisville, MS, and has also worked at The University of Southern Mississippi in various offices (Student Leadership & Involvement, Greek Life, Admissions). Precious believes that education is one of the biggest keys to success, and she strives to help all she encounters attain their goals. Her favorite quotes are, “If you can be anything, be kind,” and “When they go low, we go high.”
JERI BRUMFIELD (LSU Health New Orleans, her/she) is a New Orleans native. She has a Master’s degree in Business Administration with a Human Resource Management concentration. She has over 15 years’ experience working in higher education, currently working at LSU Health New Orleans with the Clinical Rehabilitation and Counseling Program. She has an interest in higher education access for students in New Orleans volunteering for years with a local chapter scholarship committee. She is also a member of the Inaugural class for the Leadership Academy for the Southwest Region of Delta Sigma Theta.
TYRA FLOWERS, M.ED. (Delgado Community College). Originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Flowers received her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of New Orleans in 2021. She received her undergraduate degree from Southeastern Louisiana University in 2018. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi in Higher Education Administration. She currently works at Delgado Community College as a Student Engagement Counselor as well as a Career Services Counselor. Her goal is to become a student affairs professional engaging in student development, emphasizing career development, facilitating educational organizations and promoting leadership. Her purpose within higher education is to ensure all students receive the necessary support services on their path to graduation!
NIA WOODS HAYDEL, PH.D. (Complete College America) serves as the Vice President for Alliance Engagement and Institutional Transformation at Complete College America. In this role, she provides leadership on initiatives focusing on strengthening partnerships with alliance members further developing strategies to build on existing college completion policy initiatives, and conceptualizing CCA’s work around institutional transformation. Prior to her current position, she dedicated over 20 years on envisioning, planning and executing strategic initiatives designed to elevate the student experience through tenures in Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, Intercultural Relations, and Student Affairs. Her diverse experiences have influenced her commitment to crafting learning environments that address the holistic needs of students thereby increasing their propensity for success. Her research interests are in the areas of social justice and education specifically focusing on power and privilege, and the responsibility of higher education to educate the community on social injustice (higher education as a public good). She earned a B.S. in Psychology from the University of New Orleans, M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Texas A & M University and a Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies from Georgia State University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc. New Orleans Alumnae Chapter. She resides in New Orleans, LA with her husband, Chase, and their 3 children, Issis, Chase and Noelle.
ALEIDA OCHOA (Tulane University) is a Financial Aid Counselor at Tulane University. She has been working in the higher education field for over 10 years. Aleida currently hold a master’s degree in business administration. I enjoy helping students and families reach their educational goals. In my free time I like to read and spend time with my family.
STACEY ROBERTSON (Delgado Community College) is currently employed at Delgado Community College as Program Director of Student Support Services. A program that works to assist first-generation, low-income students successfully persist. She was a participant in two TRiO programs: Upward Bound and Student Support Services. She holds a master’s degree in Social Work and has over ten years of higher education experience. She truly enjoyed working with pre-collegiate students and assisting in the college choice process. In the future, Ms. Robertson would like to work with programs that support and empower student parents. She was a student parent during her time at Dillard University. She understands the level of support it takes to break the cycle of poverty. She lives by the quote: The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about- author unknown.
KEISHA SMITH (EdTrust) has spent 15 years working in various education settings including adult education, corporate training, graduate-level teaching, and K-12 advocacy and policy work. She also brings 11 years of nonprofit leadership experience and 8 years of experience as a grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Education. Her advocacy work has focused on ensuring students have access to high-quality public education guided by meeting their wholistic needs and informed by those who most understand and support them – parents, caregivers, and community. Born and raised in Louisiana, Keisha holds a B.S. in Biology Pre-med from Xavier University, an M.Ed. in Adult Education, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Research from Louisiana State University.
TIA TEAMER (Delgado Community College) received her B.A. in Mass Communication from Loyola University New Orleans and her M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of New Orleans. Tia provides expertise in institution and state-level higher education practice, research, and policy. Throughout her career, Tia seeks to identify barriers and opportunities to increase student retention and completion as well as career advancement. She is currently employed as a Student Engagement Counselor at Delgado Community College focusing on first-time freshmen enrollment and retention as well as career services. Tia continues to develop her career by participating in organizations such as the American Association of Blacks in Higher Education Rising Leadership Institute; she has also ventured into publishing articles focused on adult learners and a book chapter titled African American Women Leaders: Leadership Requires Courage, Collaboration, Communication and Commitment. Tia is committed to improving outcomes and closing achievement gaps.
EBONY TURNER, PH.D. (Dillard University) is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Coordinator of Programs, Evaluations, and Grants at Dillard University. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Xavier University of Louisiana in 1996 and a Master of Science in Applied Mathematics in 1998. In 2006, she received her Ph.D. in Urban Higher Education Administration after successfully defending her dissertation entitled “An Analysis of Preparedness of College Seniors for the Workforce” for the Executive Ph.D. program at Jackson State University. Dr. Turner has over 20 years of experience envisioning, planning, and executing strategic initiatives, totaling more than a million dollars annually. She was instrumental in preparing grant proposals worth over 22 million dollars primarily in the area of Workforce Development.
Dr. Turner is certified in Effective Teaching Practices with a concentration in Career Guidance and Readiness Issued by ACUE. Her areas of expertise include program management, workforce development, education and training, grants management, and evaluation. She currently serves as a grants reviewer for several agencies including the National Institute of Health, the Department of Labor, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Education.
DR. ERIN WHEELER (College Beyond). With more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Wheeler has leveraged her knowledge of STEM, cognitive science, student development, entrepreneurship, and leadership to help institutions holistically improve college completion rates. She is the Executive Director of College Beyond, a non-profit that provides free success coaching and microgrants to students from under-resourced communities to help them complete college. She is a social entrepreneur, author, productivity coach, and podcast host.
MONICA WHITE (Dillard University) is the Director for Recruitment, Admissions and Programming at Dillard University. She is originally from Kansas City, Mo, but moved to New Orleans to attend college. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from Dillard University in 2007 and her master’s degree from Tulane University in Liberal Arts in 2010. She is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc
Monica started her career in higher education 18 years ago by working her way up from a student assistant in the office of Admissions during her collegiate career at Dillard. She credits most of her success to the brave, bold and superior women to have paved the way for her within this career path in higher education. She receives great joy in playing an active role in changing the lives of high school and college students by assisting them through the college admission process and serving as a mentor. “It means the world to me when a prospective student calls and says, Ms. Monica thank you for helping me get through this process.”
She hopes to one day start a non-profit organization for at risk youth, focusing on enlightenment, cultural awareness and essential fundamentals. And she also hopes to one day become a published author of a children’s series. Giving back is something that Monica prides herself on. She is a product of a single parent, low income household, so she knows all too well of what it means to go without daily necessities. She has spearheaded fundraising and community service campaigns for her students at Dillard University, so they in turn know and will always remember the value of doing something for others. She also has a passion for animals and often volunteers her time at the Animal Rescue-New Orleans (ARNO) shelter.
RENÉ CINTRÓN (Louisiana Community & Technical Colleges System) serves as the Chief Education and Training Officer with Louisiana’s Community & Technical Colleges (LCTCS), a public system serving a diverse student population seeking workforce development training, academic programs of study, and the high school equivalency. Cintrón provides leadership in academic affairs, adult education, institutional effectiveness, manufacturing extension, student services, and workforce development. He finds it exciting to be part of the team that supports an equitable and inclusive environment in which students can be successful from pre-application through post-graduation.
Prior to LCTCS, René held positions at Delgado Community College in New Orleans: Instructor of Business, Assistant Dean of Business and Technology, and Executive Director of Planning and Research. He began his professional career working with Habitat for Humanity. He served in the U.S. Air Force in Emergency Management as an instructor and program manager. Cintrón grew up in Puerto Rico and holds a Ph.D. in Organization and Management. Through a variety of institutions and consulting efforts, he has been involved in curriculum development and teaching in military, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate level; in-person, online, and blended environments. He is a single parent of three amazing daughters who are now young adults.
DR. ARNEL COSEY (Kingsley House), a native New Orleanian, has 30 years of experience in higher education, most recently serving as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and the Executive Dean for the state’s largest community college. In that role she worked with her team to implement proven best practice strategies at the college including, but not limited to TRiO programs, dual enrollment, and on campus wrap around services.
As a champion of access and equity initiatives, Dr. Cosey has successfully leveraged corporate, philanthropic, and community partnerships to expand opportunity for students and families. Her proposal to the Education Design Lab led to the college’ s participation in the inaugural cohort of a 4-year study focused on increasing the attainment of certifications for single-mom learners. She also secured the partnership with The Fab Foundation at MIT and a one million dollar grant which resulted in the development of the college’s Fab Lab – a global network of STEM fabrication centers dedicated to inspiring innovation and invention within the student body and the community. Additional partnerships established to increase student success include the GE Foundation, Chevron, and Entergy.
In her current role as the Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives and Community Services for Kingsley House in New Orleans, she works closely with internal and external partners on strategies that provide a path for families to economic security. As an experienced administrator, she practices innovation as a leadership strategy and brings that concept to her work in the development of relevant programming that meets desired outcomes.
DR. KIM RUGON (Southern University at New Orleans) has over 38 years of experience in education and nonprofit arenas. She began as an accounting instructor at Louisiana Technical College--Sidney N. Collier Technical College, where she taught for 17 years. In 2003, Kim was promoted to the position of Assistant Dean where she oversaw the day-to-day operations of the campus. After Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Rugon was appointed to Vice-Chancellor of Louisiana Technical College-Region 1, where she was responsible for four campuses in the region. She oversaw all fiscal management, academic and workforce development program planning, high school dual- credit enrollment programs for at-risk and traditional high school students, faculty and staff development, resource development and planning, and community outreach and marketing.
In 2006, the technical college merged with Delgado Community College. Dr. Rugon played an intricate role in the consolidation of the two institutions. She worked very closely with the Council on Occupational Education and Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools, reassuring that curriculum and credentials aligned. In conjunction with the merger, she also oversaw the career and technical training programs. She served on several statewide committees providing expertise in career and technical education and workforce development.
After transitioning from that post, Dr. Rugon served as the Vice President of Workforce Development/Institutional Advancement for Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Louisiana. Her primary role was to create workforce development training programs and job readiness programs for individuals with barriers—disabilities, at-risk youth, and the ex-offender populations.
Dr. Rugon presently serves as the Vice-Chancellor of Institutional Advancement at Southern University at New Orleans managing fund development activities, Public Relations, and Communications, and Career Services and Placement. She received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from St. Mary's Dominican College in New Orleans and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of New Orleans. She is a graduate of the Executive Ph.D. program at Jackson State University, where she holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Urban Higher Education.
SUSANA SCHOWEN (Louisiana Economic Development) joined LED FastStart, a division of Louisiana Economic Development, in June of 2011. As the Director of Workforce Initiatives, she is tasked with implementing high-level strategies focused on systemic workforce reform. Based on analyses of workforce supply and demand, she is collaborating with educational stakeholders to align offerings to the needs of Louisiana employers. Prior to joining LED, Susie managed a private technical college in Baton Rouge after creating a nationwide basic skills program focused on underperforming high schools. Before that, she held a number of positions with Kaplan, Inc. managing test preparation courses, financial services training, and online college programs. She received degrees in chemistry from Wellesley College and Columbia University.
LISA SMITH WILLIAMS, PH.D. (Louisiana Board of Regents) currently serves as the Associate Commissioner for Workforce Education and Training at the Louisiana Board of Regents. She has a very diverse professional background, including having worked as a legislative assistant to a state senator; a seventh grade English teacher and drop-out prevention counselor; a community college instructor; a development team member for the organization of a worldwide evangelistic ministry; a tri-state regional coordinator in the Arkansas-Louisiana-Mississippi Delta; and as an executive on loan to the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
As a graduate assistant at the Baton Rouge Community College, Dr. Williams was instrumental in coordinating the curriculum development process for the new college that ultimately led to the establishment and consummation of articulation and transfer agreements between BRCC and other state colleges and universities. After joining the Board of Regent’s staff, Dr. Williams convened the team and spearheaded the work which led to Louisiana’s Career Readiness Certificate. She was later appointed to ACT’s National Board of Advisors for Workforce Development, which provided guidance to ACT as it developed and launched the National Career Readiness Certificate.
A Louisiana native, Dr. Williams earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Southern University and A & M College and a Ph.D. in educational leadership and research, with an emphasis in higher education administration, from Louisiana State University and A & M College.