Graduate Student Focus


Past GSCs


Learn all about the Graduate Student Council here

Current GSC Representatives here

Past GSC Representatives

2019-2021 Representative: Mariama Nagbe

2018-2020 Representative: Margaret Thornton, Taeyeon Kim, Lam Pham, Courtney Maudlin, Patricia Virella

2017-2019 Representatives: Bryan A. VanGronigen, Andrene Jones Castro, Shannon Holder, Matt Stier
2016-2018 Representatives: Kevin Clay, Nakia Gray-Nicolas, Chandler Patton Miranda, Meredith Wronowski
2015-2017 Representative: David Aguayo, Elizabeth Gil, Rachel White
2014-2016 Representative: Wesley Henry, Hilary Lustick, Isaiah McGee, Jada Phelps-Moultrie
2013-2015 Representative: Amy Reynolds, Daniela Torre, Kristina Brezicha
2012-2014 Representative: James Vines, Jasmine Ulmer, Rod Whiteman, Yinying (Helen) Wang
2011-2013 Representative: Erin Anderson, Bradley W. Davis, Richard Gonzales, Sedat Gumus, Madeline Mavrogordato, Amanda Werts

Mariama Nagbe

2019-20 GSC Representative

Mariama Nagbe is a proud Detroit native, Barbara L. Jackson Scholar, and current PhD student studying higher education leadership at The University of Texas at Austin. Anchoring her identity as a critical organizational scholar, her research interests seek to examine the socialization structures, policies, culture, and practices of doctoral programs from an organizational theory perspective. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, and two Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Higher Education from The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. As a faculty aspirant, Mariama plans to pursue a tenure-track position at a leading research institution, and ultimately become an academic administrator. At this level, she hopes to use her scholarship to transform how institutional practices and policies of graduate programs center social/organizational justice and equity in their structures and approaches, while mentoring young scholars with the intent to increase underrepresented groups in academia.



Margaret Thornton

2018-20 GSC Representative


Margaret Thornton is a PhD student in education administration and supervision at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia and serves as a graduate researcher assistant to the University Council for Educational Administration Headquarters Office. Margaret’s research interests include equity-focused school leadership development, school leadership for detracking, and critical race theory. Prior to beginning her studies, she worked in detracking programs in Central Virginia in both teaching and leadership capacities. An alumna of AmeriCorps, Margaret volunteers with several non-profits, including the wraparound educational service program City of Promise. She earned her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Secondary English Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia.

Taeyeon Kim

2018-20 GSC Representative

Taeyeon Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in K-12 Educational Administration at the College of Education at Michigan State University. Her research interests include leadership development and learning, the intersection of accountability policies and leadership practices, and the links between education and social change. Prior to entering her doctoral program, she taught in elementary schools and earned her M.A. in Educational Administration at Seoul National University in South Korea. While enrolled in her M.A. program, she conducted several research projects regarding school reform. She also assisted planning and executing national in-service training programs for school leaders and teachers. As a graduate student, she appreciates that the UCEA provides tremendous mentorship for her through the Barbara L. Jackson Scholar program and Graduate Student Council programming.

Lam Pham

2018-20 GSC Representative

Lam Pham is a Ph.D. student in K-12 Leadership and Policy Studies with a specialization in quantitative methods. His research primarily uses econometric and quasi-experimental methods to investigate how school leaders in persistently low-performing schools can make effective personnel policy decisions. He is particularly interested in the capacity-building policies and practices that facilitate continuous school improvement, especially the recruitment, retention, and development of teachers and school leaders. Lam primarily works with Dr. Gary Henry at Vanderbilt University and Dr. Ron Zimmer at the University of Kentucky.

Prior to his doctoral studies, Lam worked as a Fulbright Scholar in Vietnam, taught math in a turnaround high school in Oklahoma City, and served as a math instructional coach with Teach for America. He received a B.A. in chemistry from Harvard University.


Courtney Maudlin

2018-20 GSC Representative

Courtney Mauldin is a third-year Ph.D. student and research assistant in the K-12 Educational Administration program at Michigan State University. Her research focuses on youth with multiple stigmatized identities and the ways in which their narratives inform school leadership perspectives. In addition to her doctoral studies, Courtney serves as Junior Representative of Division A for the AERA Graduate Student Council where she oversees GSC initiatives while also serving as a member of the UCEA Graduate Student Council. Courtney holds a B.A. in Communication Studies and an M.Ed. in Instructional Practice. As a former educator, she is an avid volunteer providing literacy instruction to early readers and continues to mentor first-year teachers in developing social justice oriented lessons and fostering equitable learning environments.


Patricia Virella

2018-20 GSC Representative

Patricia M. Virella is a New York City native who has worked in urban schools for over a decade in the elementary setting. Patricia is a former elementary charter school principal and teacher. Patricia is currently a Ph.D. student and research assistant at the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. Recently, she has served as Managing Editor of Educational Administration Quarterly. Additionally, she serves as faculty at Sarah Lawrence College’s Art of Teaching Program, and adjunct faculty at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School for Education.  Her research interest includes urban education, educational leadership, Puerto Rico Education reforms and policy, and pre-service teacher education.


Andrene Jones Castro

2017-19 GSC Representative

Andrene Jones Castro is a PhD student in Educational Policy and Planning with a concentration in African & African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.   Her research interests include the cultural politics of race and gender in teacher labor markets and teacher education programs, education policy and history, and the intersections of schools and communities.  Prior to pursuing a doctoral degree, Andrene served as an educator in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and instructor at Miami Dade College.  A recipient of the University of Texas Archer Fellowship, Andrene also served as a policy intern at The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.  As a graduate scholar in the Barbara L. Jackson and David L. Clark programs, Andrene is proud to be a member of the Graduate Student Council.

Shannon Holder

2017-19 GSC Representative

Shannon Holder is a doctoral student in the Learning, Leadership, and Education Policy Ph.D. program in the Educational Leadership Department at the University of Connecticut. She serves as a graduate student to Dr. Jennie Weiner.  Her research focuses on desegregation court cases, urban education, formerly-tracked K-12 schools, and professional development for K-12 educators.  She is originally from Hartford, Connecticut.   Prior to starting her doctoral work at UCONN, Shannon taught 10th grade government for 8 years at an inter-district magnet school in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Shannon and a colleague have begun producing a new podcast, Edu Culture, for K-12 educators and researchers. They are releasing new, free podcasts every other week focusing on various topics in education that connect to social justice, research-based strategies, and real life experiences.  Shannon received a B.A. in History and a M.T. in Secondary Education from Hampton University. 

Matt Stier

2017-19 GSC Representative

Matt Stier is a doctoral student and a graduate research assistant at the University of Iowa in the Educational Policy and Leadership Studies Department. His research interests include teacher leadership, professional development, and organizational change. Prior to his graduate work at the University of Iowa, Matt was a high school science educator for over ten years. Matt earned his B.A. in biology from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and his M.A in science education from the University of Northern Iowa.


Bryan VanGronigen

2015-17 GSC Representative

Bryan A. VanGronigen is a PhD student in education administration and supervision at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and serves as a graduate research assistant to both Professor Daniel L. Duke and the University Council for Educational Administration Headquarters Office. His research focuses on organizational resilience and change in PK-12 school settings, the role and influence of third-party vendors in PK-12 education, and educational leaders’ judgment and decision making processes. Prior to enrolling in a doctoral program, he was a teacher and school administrator in public and independent schools in Missouri and South Carolina. He also volunteers his time with several non-profits, including serving as the Assistant Dean of the Legislative School for The American Legion Boys State of Missouri, an eight-day youth-in-government summer program. Bryan earned his B.S.Ed. in secondary social studies from the University of Missouri and his M.Ed. in higher education administration and institutional advancement from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University.


Kevin Clay

2016-18 GSC Representative

Kevin Clay is a 5th year doctoral candidate in Education at Rutgers University. For the past six years, he’s taught and advised in several pre-college access programs that serve mostly low-income, Black and Latinx residents in cities throughout the state of New Jersey. In this context, Kevin currently facilitates youth participatory action research (YPAR) with a group of high school students, where they research local, national, and global problems, and develop plans to make interventions in the students’ community. Kevin’s experiences in this settings form the basis of his dissertation research on how young people negotiate political orientations on matters of race, class, and inequality. In addition to these areas, Kevin teaches two courses at Rutgers University in the Graduate School of Education– Individual and Cultural Diversity and Introduction to Education. He has also co-taught Urban Education. Fall 2016, he began teaching African American studies at Middlesex County College. Aside from his research and teaching, Kevin was recently elected to the American Educational Research Association Division G Executive Committee to serve on the mentoring subcommittee. He also joined Rowan University College of Education’s Project IMPACT (Increasing Male Practitioners of Color) as a mentor to newly enrolled pre-service teachers, committed to teaching in communities of color upon their graduation.



Nakia Gray-Nicolas

2016-18 GSC Representative

Nakia Gray-Nicolas is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at the Steinhardt School of Education, Culture and Human Development at New York University. Her research focuses on interrogating the purpose and effectiveness of, and access to pre-college transition programs. She hopes to pursue an academic career and also continue to do research on programs and interventions in high school and college contexts that promote academic persistence and success for low-income and working class students of color. Prior to entering her doctoral program, she worked at a non-profit organization as the youth services director and as a middle school English teacher. While enrolled in her program she worked as a college transition program director, and now works as a college lecturer. Nakia holds a B.A. in English from Cornell University and two M.S.Ed’s (English Education and Inclusive Special Education) from the Syracuse University Graduate School of Education. Nakia is also an avid volunteer and continues to mentor high school and college students.


Chandler Patton Miranda

2016-18 GSC Representative

Chandler Patton Miranda Educational Leadership at the Steinhardt School of Education, Culture and Human Development at New York University. Her research focuses on policies and practices related to the education of immigrant students. She is particularly interested in the design of schools and programs that are created specifically to serve the academic and social needs of newly arrived immigrant teenagers. Before starting her Ph.D., Chandler taught high school science to English learners along the U.S border with Mexico and in Barranquilla and Bogota, Colombia. She has also done ethnographic field work in Mexico with an indigenous community and participatory research in Colombia with displaced teenagers. Chandler holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Latin@ Studies from Smith College and a M.A in Education from TCU.

Meredith Wronowski

2016-18 GSC Representative

Meredith Wronowski is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Administration, Curriculum, and Supervision at the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education at The University of Oklahoma. Her primary research interest is recruiting and retaining effective educators in urban, high-needs schools, and she has participated in research collaborations with the University of Central Oklahoma and The K20 Center at The University of Oklahoma. She also holds a Master’s of Education degree in Cross-cultural Teaching from National University in San Diego, California and a Bachelor’s of Science in Microbiology from the University of Oklahoma. She has previously taught high school science, and holds a National Board of Professional Teaching Standards certification in Adolescent and Young Adult Science. She has also previously worked as an instructional coach in Oklahoma City Public Schools, and she is currently an active practitioner working as the Director of Teacher Leadership for Lighthouse Charter School in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


David Aguayo

2015-17 GSC Representative

David Aguayo is a doctoral student at the University of Missouri in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis Department and a graduate research assistant to faculty working on social justice leadership in marginalized schools and communities across the U.S. David’s research interest encompass community-school-university collaboration, local educational policy-making and leadership, along with the impact of community development in local educational efforts.  His methodological interest range from critical qualitative approaches, including mixed methods to encompass the holistic/complex needs encountered in education today. Concurrent with his doctoral work, David is co-leading a grassroots movement aimed to create educational collaboration across families, schools, communities, and universities for the betterment of underrepresented children in Columbia, Missouri. Prior to entering his doctoral program, David received his master’s in counseling psychology, directed a K-5 literacy program, and  taught in a Montessori preschool, all aimed to serve under-served students. Follow him on twitter @David_SinLimite.

Elizabeth Gil

2015-17 GSC Representative

Elizabeth Gil is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Administrative and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University, having earned her PhD in K-12 Educational Administration at Michigan State University, where she was named a King-Chávez-Parks Future Faculty Fellow. Her research interests include family educational involvement, culturally responsive educational leadership practices, and post-high school educational access and success. Elizabeth also serves as a faculty member with the Summer Workshop of the Institute for Recruitment of Teachers. Prior to becoming a professor, she taught in New York City public schools for over 10 years, also serving as a grant coordinator and data specialist working with children, parents, and teachers. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor’s degree in history from New York University, a Certificate in bilingual education, and Master’s degrees in Curriculum and Teaching from Michigan State University, and Educational Administration from the College of Saint Rose.



Rachel White

2015-17 GSC Representative

Rachel S. White is a postdoctoral scholar-research associate at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education. Her research focuses on issues of power, politics, and accountability in education policy making and implementation processes. Rachel also studies the ways in which institutional structures of state and local education governing boards impact who’s voices are heard in education policy making and implementation processes. Her research has been published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, Teachers College Record, Journal of School Leadership and Educational Policy Analysis Archives.



Wesley Henry

2014-16 GSC Representative 

Wesley Henry is a doctoral candidate studying education policy at the University of Washington in the College of Education. His research interests include better understanding how education leaders in rural areas access and leverage resources to provide their students with a high-quality education and investigating the policy interplay between multiple levels of the education system. Wesley works for the University of Washington as the Assistant Director for the Master’s in Education Policy program. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Wesley taught high school in Philadelphia He earned a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a M. S. Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

Hilary Lustick

2014-16 GSC Representative

Dr. Hilary Lustick is an Assistant Professor of Educational and Community Leadership in the Educational Leadership masters and doctoral programs at Texas State University, San Marcos.  She was a UCEA GSC member from 2014-2016, while completing her PhD at NYU and studying restorative practices in New York City schools.  Hilary loved her GSC experience, and strongly recommends it to anyone pursuing a degree in educational leadership!  She still studies issues relevant to culturally responsive schooling, school climate, and the politics of education. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she spends her free time performing poetry and trying to stop the War on Truth.

Isaiah-McGeelarge Isaiah McGee

2014-16 GSC Representative

Isaiah McGee is Ph.D. student at Iowa State University in the Educational Leadership, Organization, and Policy Studies Department. His research interests are focused on the impact and praxis of cultural proficiency and responsiveness training in schools. Isaiah previously worked as the Equity Coordinator and Human Resource Specialist for diversity at Des Moines Public Schools and for the Iowa Department of Education as a policy and equity consultant. Isaiah also spent six years as a special education, economics, history and government teacher and assistant football coach.  Isaiah holds a B.A. in History and Political Science from Cornell College and a Masters in Teaching from Drake University.

Jada Phelps-Moultrie

2014-16 GSC Representative

Jada Phelps Moultrie is a doctoral candidate in the Urban Education Studies program at Indiana University, Indianapolis. She is one of the first recipients of the Executive Dean’s Doctoral Fellowship Award at Indiana University. Before entering the doctoral program, she worked for over ten years in education for a number of schools across the country from Houston ISD to Milwaukee Public Schools. Within her tenure, Jada held a range of leadership positions such as Instructional Coach, Dean of Instruction, and Principal. Her research agenda focuses on the effects of the African Holocaust (also known as the Maafa) on the school experiences of Black students, their parents, families, and communities. She plans on conducting a critical ethnography for her dissertation researching Black parents and families in the Washington state community.

Amy Reynolds

2013-15 GSC Representative

Amy Reynolds is a doctoral student at the University of Virginia in the Educational Administration and Supervision Department and a graduate research assistant for the UCEA Headquarters Office. Her research interests include selection processes for school-level leaders and the context and impact of state policies for school leader preparation and licensure. Her methodological interests include both quantitative (e.g. HLM) and qualitative (e.g. policy archaeology) techniques. Prior to her work at the University of Virginia, Amy was a high school biology and chemistry teacher in Chicago Public Schools and Charlottesville City Schools, wrote curriculum and served as the Division Advisory Moderator for a Chicago charter school, and served as a science teaching Fellow Adviser for the Chicago Teaching Fellows.


Daniela Torre

2013-15 GSC Representative

Daniela Torre is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Education Policy at Vanderbilt University. Her research interests include school improvement, English learners and immigrant students, and teacher quality. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies she was an elementary school teacher for five years in both Washington, D.C. and Brooklyn  New York. She earned her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.A. from American University in Washington, D.C. 

Kristina Brezicha

 2013-15 GSC Representative

Kristina Brezicha is a doctoral candidate at The Pennsylvania State University in Educational Theory and Policy and Comparative International Education program. Her research focuses on student voice, school reforms and improvement including leadership development and teacher quality. Prior to beginning her doctoral program, she taught elementary special education students in New York City. She holds two Master degrees, one in Politics and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and the second in Urban Education from Mercy College. 


James Vines

 2012-14 GSC Representative

James is a third year doctoral student in the Educational Leadership, Higher Education, program at Clemson University.  He is also pursuing a Policy Studies Certificate from the Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs. He is currently a Graduate Research Assistant for the Charles H. Houston Center for the Study of the Black Experience in Education.  James has worked as a Mental Health Counselor prior to pursuing his Ph.D.  His current research focuses on cyberbullying policies at the state and federal level. 

Jasmine Ulmer

 2012-14 GSC Representative

Jasmine B. Ulmer currently is an assistant professor in the College of Education at Wayne State University, where she teaches and directs the doctoral track in qualitative methods. Her overall program of research develops place-based methodologies and pedagogies, particularly as they relate to social justice and educational research. Within that, her research interests include methodologies for critical policy analysis and critical discourse analysis. Her works have appeared in journals such as Qualitative Inquiry, Cultural Studies <=> Critical Methodologies, Education Policy Analysis Archives, and Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, among others. She is a former National Board Certified Teacher, instructional coach, and U.S. Department of Education Teaching Ambassador Fellow. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Ph.D. in educational leadership and a concentration in educational research methodologies.


Rod Whiteman

 2012-14 GSC Representative

Rod Whiteman is a third year doctoral student in Education Policy Studies at Indiana University. Prior to his graduate work, Rod taught middle and high school choral music. At IU, he has served as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Evaluation & Education Policy and has taught social foundations of education in the teacher education program. Rod¹s research examines how public policy affects schools as organizations, and the identity development of school leaders within organizational contexts.

Yinying (Helen) Wang

2012-14 GSC Representative

Yinying Wang is an assistant professor of educational leadership in the Department of Educational Policy Studies in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. Her research focuses on social network analysis and text data mining in the field of educational leadership and policy, as well as school technology leadership. In addition to teaching educational leadership courses, she also teaches Social Network Analysis. Her background includes medical doctor, classroom teacher, and school administrator. She earned her Ed.D. in urban educational leadership at the University of Cincinnati.

Erin Anderson

 2011-13 GSC Representative

Erin Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy in the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. She received her Ph.D. in Administration and Supervision from the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Dr. Anderson worked for five years as a research assistant and research associate for the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). During this time, she served on the committee for the Professional Standards of National Leaders. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has contracted her to support the development of the 2015 PSEL and 2016 National Educational Leadership Preparation (NELP) standards. Dr. Anderson had been published in the Journal of Research on Leadership Education and the upcoming Handbook of Educational Supervision (2019). She is also the co-author of A policymaker’s guide: Research-based policy for principal preparation program approval and licensure (2015).  Her research interests include planning for and leading school improvement, effective leadership practices in schools and districts, and policy and practices for high-quality principal preparation.  


Bradley W. Davis

2011-13 GSC Representative 

Bradley W. Davis is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at The University of Texas at Arlington. He is a mixed-methods researcher whose teaching and research interests include social justice leadership, public school administration, leadership policy, educator labor markets, and education law. Prior to joining The University of Texas at Arlington, Dr. Davis was a public school educator in the Greater Houston area. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.


Richard Gonzales

2011-13 GSC Representative

Richard is an assistant professor of educational leadership at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education. He is a former teacher, principal and district-level administrator. His research interests include leadership, school improvement, urban education and schools as organizations. He currently serves as Coordinator of the Preparing Leaders for Urban Schools collaborative project with the Hartford Public Schools.

Sedat Gumus

2011-13 GSC Representative

Sedat Gumus is an associate professor of Educational Administration at Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey. He earned his MA and PhD in Educational Administration at Michigan State University. He worked as Vice Director and Director of International Relations at the Council of Higher Education, Turkey’s national higher education planning and coordination body between 2013-2015. He also conducted research as visiting scholar at University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education during 2015-2016 academic year. Dr. Gumus’s research interests include comparative and international education, educational policy, and higher education. He uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in his research.


Madeline Mavrogordato

2011-13 GSC Representative

Madeline Mavrogordato is an assistant professor of K-12 educational administration in the College of Education at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy Studies at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. Dr. Mavrogordato’s research centers on issues surrounding school reform and improvement for disadvantaged student populations. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate how the social context of education, implementation of educational policies, and school leadership shape educational outcomes for underserved students, particularly immigrants and English language learners.


Amanda Werts

2011-13 GSC Representative

Amanda is a recent graduate of Clemson’s Educational Leadership PhD program where she also received a graduate certificate in Policy Studies. Currently, she works at Appalachian State University as research faculty in the Dean’s office working on College assessment efforts. Amanda’s research interests center around accountability in P12 and Higher Education context with specific interest in the idea of P20 policy and practices and the relationship between accountability demands and those that must make sense of them.