Speakers

Nicole Zervas Adsitt

Nicole Zervas Adsitt, Ph.D. serves as the interim director for the Centers for Student Engagement and Academic Advisement at Cayuga Community College. From 2010 to 2015, she served as the coordinator of developmental studies at Cayuga. Nicole has work experience in academic support services, the Higher Education Opportunity Program, and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program where she served as a formal and informal academic advisor to many first-generation college students. Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology from Nazareth College and a master's degree and doctorate in higher education administration from Syracuse University.

Jacquie Beaubien

Jacquie Beaubien has spent the last eight years working with educators and researchers on translating learning mindset research into practice in order to improve student motivation and achievement. She recently stepped down as senior program manager for the Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS) at Stanford University in order to focus her attention on working with educators and education organizations to develop immersive learning mindset organizational cultures. Her work has, from the beginning, focused on building collaborative relationships with education partners and deepening researchers' understanding of education stakeholders’ needs and practical constraints. Alongside her consulting work, Jacquie is also currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership at UCLA.

Debra Borden

Debra Borden is a professor of psychology at Corning Community College. Following a 20-year career working for the United States Department of Defense, she began teaching for Wayland Baptist University in Alaska in 1988 and joined Corning Community College in 1993. Debra teaches courses in psychology, behavior modification, child psychology and organizational behavior. An advocate for student success and retention, Debra implemented the nationally recognized First Year Experience (FYEX) program at CCC in 2002 and continues to serve as program director. She is currently the project manager for the On-Course Center providing students with access to mentors, life-coaches and other resources; and also leads a project to incorporate non-cognitive skills (particularly self-awareness, self-responsibility and self-regulation) into the curriculum of STEM courses. She also oversees a state-wide program that provides college scholarships to underprepared students living in an agricultural environment.

Amy Burtner

Amy Burtner, Ph.D. is an associate professor in Monroe Community College’s English and Philosophy Department.  She teaches college composition, advanced writing and a variety of literature courses in the classroom and online. Amy is the recipient of the League for Innovation in the Community College’s 2014 John and Suanne Roueche Excellence in Teaching Award. Her research interests include the poetry of Emily Dickinson and the scholarship of teaching and learning. As the faculty chair of MCC’s Teaching and Creativity Center, she has presented her research at various conferences. Amy is currently piloting the PERTS Growth Mindset module in her classes.

Thomas Chew

Thomas Chew is the director of the Academic Success Center at The College at Brockport. The center offers integrated support services for the entire college community through collaboration, partnerships and open programming. Through academic counseling, transition programs, advising, leadership and student success initiatives, Thomas helps both students and insitutions focus their goals, understand their priorities and overcome obstacles. His work is focuses on student transitions and development. Thomas earned his master’s degree in higher education administration degree from Suffolk University and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy-pre legal from Saint Bonaventure University.

Brenna Farrell

Brenna Farrell is the English language arts curriculum supervisor for the West Irondequoit Central School District. After graduating from Wilson Magnet High School in Rochester, Brenna earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology and then pursued a master’s degree in English literature and language at the University of Toledo, Ohio. After earning her degree, Brenna joined the New York City Teaching Fellows in Brooklyn, N.Y. where she taught at a high-needs high school while also pursuing additional master’s degrees in education at Brooklyn College. Brenna served as the Rochester City School District’s director of English language arts and more recently as the program’s executive director. In July 2017, Brenna joined the West Irondequoit Central School District where she continues to devote her career to improving literacy instruction and providing equal access to programming and opportunities for young children and teenagers.

Milladge Griffin

Milladge E. Griffin III has worked for the State University of New York for over 15 years in different administrative capacities. He served as a senior admissions recruiter/coordinator of minority recruitment, career planning and development associate, and as the executive director of the Program to Interest students in Science Math and Technology (PRIS2M). He currently serves as an advisor in MCC’s Financial Aid Office. Within these various positions, Milladge has worked on educational initiatives to recruit and retain students of color throughout New York state. Most recently, he has helped launch MCC's Men of Excellence, a leadership program that provides personalized coaching and community service opportunities to male students of color. Milladge ascertained his bachelor’s degree in speech communications from SUNY Geneseo and he holds a master’s degree in public administration from The College at Brockport.

Kevin Li

Kevin Li is the dean of arts and sciences for Triton College. He has served as a college administrator for 20 years and is nationally recognized for instructional leadership. His interests include developmental education, psychometrics, non-cognitive skills, accreditation, assessment, and evaluation. Kevin was one of the first in the nation to pilot holistic placement for student by combining a placement test with a non-cognitive skill assessment tool. He also serves as a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission. Kevin is a doctoral student in higher education leadership at National Louis University and holds a master's degree in economics. 

Gena Merliss

Gena Merliss is the coordinator of Monroe Community College’s Teaching and Creativity Center where she works with faculty at all career stages to develop critical reflection in order to improve instruction and student learning. Prior to this, Gena taught developmental math and integrated reading and writing at MCC as an assistant professor. There she experimented with many different strategies to help students develop non-cognitive skills and self-awareness. She earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania, and used this degree experience while teaching middle and high school science in schools that worked to cultivate holistic learners. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biological anthropology from Swarthmore College.

Marc Pietrzykowski

Marc Pietrzykowski, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in rhetoric and composition and his master’s degree in poetry from Georgia State University. He is coordinator of English at Niagara County Community College, where his work focuses on composition theory, game studies, and writing in the disciplines. He has been part of a group studying multiple measure placement for incoming students at NCCC since 2014, in coordination with Columbia University and the Center for the Analysis of Post-Secondary Readiness.

Aubrey Zamaira

Aubrey Zamiara, Ph.D. is the director of Counseling and Disability Services at Monroe Community College. Aubrey oversees the prevention, outreach, education, and intervention work as it pertains to students’ mental health/wellness needs and disability compliance for all facets of MCC’s Counseling Center, Disability Services, Special Testing, and Interpreting Services. She has served as a college administrator for 10 years. Prior to working in higher education, she was a school psychologist, where she conducted assessments, including cognitive and non-cognitive measures and supported students through each developmental stage to succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally. Aubrey earned her doctorate in psychology and her master’s degree in school psychology. She is a nationally certified school psychologist and a New York state licensed psychologist.