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New Staff Joins Several APLU Offices

Over the past three months, APLU has added several new staff members in a variety of its offices. Learn about the new staff, the positions they’re serving in and the skills and experience they bring.

Lynn Brabender, Program Manager, Personalized Learning Consortium
Lynn Brabender serves as Program Manager for the Personalized Learning Consortium. Lynn will support Meaghan Duff and the members of the PLC in executing various personalized learning initiatives including both adaptive courseware and Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (IPASS) projects.

Prior to joining APLU, Lynn led the higher education engagement strategy for Parcc Inc. as a Senior Program Associate with the State Engagement and Outreach team. In this role, she managed a multi-state team of postsecondary system, college and university leaders, to facilitate the engagement of postsecondary state representatives in the development and implementation of the PARCC assessments as a tool for measuring college readiness and exempting students from remedial courses. Lynn’s research and professional interests are in identifying and implementing best practices to increase college access, student success and degree completion particularly among underserved student populations.

Lynn previously worked on developmental education program evaluation for the Charles A. Dana Center. She holds a Master’s of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Laurie G. Hillstock, Ph.D., Senior Program Manager, Personalized Learning Consortium
Laurie G. Hillstock, Ph.D. serves as a Senior Program Manager for the Personalized Learning Consortium. Laurie will support the Accelerating Adoption of Adaptive Courseware grant project sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is responsible for organizing the selection of participating universities, coordinating among these schools and other PLC member institutions, working with commercial adaptive learning technology and content providers, and reporting results. She also serves as the sub-grantees’ primary point of contact for all matters related to this project.

Laurie has a broad background in higher education, serving as both a faculty member and administrator. Most of her experiences have been in the distance-learning arena, with an emphasis on strategic planning, technology research and integration, faculty and curriculum development, marketing and student success. Prior to joining APLU, Laurie served as Director of Distance Education at the University of South Carolina – Upstate and Associate Vice President of Curriculum and Instruction at Southern Wesleyan University. Additionally, she has been actively involved with the Online Learning Consortium, serving as a content developer, workshop facilitator and mentor as well as a member of the OLC Effective Practice Awards Selection Committee.

Laurie holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership (Higher Education) and Master’s in Human Resource Development from Clemson University. She also holds a B.A. in English (minor: Computer Science) from Converse College.

Jeff Kratz, Assistant Director, International Issues, Congressional & Governmental Affairs
Jeff Kratz joined the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) in October of 2015. At APLU, Jeff advocates for higher education issues working with both APLU’s Office of Congressional and Governmental Affairs and the Office on International Programs.

Prior to joining APLU, Jeff worked as Assistant Director in the Office of Government Relations at the American Library Association (ALA). At ALA, Jeff lobbied the U.S. Congress on appropriations issues pertaining to library funding, K-12 education and literacy issues, workforce investment, and telecommunication issues.

Jeff has extensive knowledge of the federal legislative process. Before working at ALA, he worked for the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. In addition to Jeff’s work in the Senate, he also has experience with state governments. Jeff worked at Stateside Associates monitoring state legislation on a wide range of issues, and he also worked as a Legislative Aide for a State Senator in the Nebraska Legislature.

Jeff earned his B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s in Legislative Affairs from The George Washington University, Graduate School of Political Management.

Shannon Looney, Project Manager, Office of Urban Initiatives
Shannon Looney serves as a Project Manager in the Office of Urban Initiatives. Her primary responsibility is to oversee the Transformational Change Collaborative (TCC) project, a joint effort between APLU and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She is responsible for the management of a core and collaborative network of urban universities undergoing large-scale, transformational institutional change to accelerate the production of credentials of value, especially for low-income, first-generation students. She works closely with project teams to document and share the institutional change process across teaching and learning, advising, and academic pathways with the aim of informing and scaling these practices at other institutions nationally.

Looney previously served as the Assistant Director for Outreach and Research Development with American University’s School of International Service, in which she led the external outreach and marketing of faculty research and drafted proposals for external funding on behalf of the school. Prior to AU, she worked with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) where she led some of the Institute’s major grant-funded initiatives, such as financial literacy and retention efforts at Minority Serving Institutions and the Walmart Minority Student Success Initiative—a project that provided institutional-capacity building grants to facilitate the development and implementation of faculty-led programs to help first-generation students achieve academic success.

Carina Marquez-Oberhoffner, Assistant Director, Congressional & Governmental Affairs
Carina Marquez-Oberhoffner joined APLU in November 2015 as Assistant Director for Congressional and Governmental Affairs. In this role, Carina works on science and research and intellectual property issues.

Prior to joining APLU, Carina served as Senior Legislative Assistant for Congressman Tim Walz. During her six years with Congressman Walz, Carina led policy efforts on transportation, education, and veterans affairs. Before working on Capitol Hill, Carina worked for Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle as Assistant to the First Lady.

Carina is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Joann Stevens, Communications Manager for the USU/APLU Office of Urban Initiatives
Joann Stevens is Communications Manager for the USU/APLU Office of Urban Initiatives directing identity branding and communications outreach for student success initiatives that focusing on campus transformations and innovations in student access, degree completion, cost efficiencies and personalized learning.

A seasoned communications professional with expertise in journalism, public relations, publishing, and multimedia content development, she has worked with local and global nonprofits such as Special Olympics International, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Executive Leadership Council and most recently the Smithsonian Institution’s global arts initiative, Jazz Appreciation Month. She earned a BA in Sociology from Utica College of Syracuse University and a MA in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Travis York, Ph.D., Director of Student Success, Research, & Policy
Travis T. York, Ph.D., joined APLU in 2016 as Director of Student Success, Research, & Policy. He works closely with member institutions to Institutional Leaders together around issues of federal policy and student success. Dr. York provides leadership and strategic analysis for Project Degree Completion, a collaboration between APLU & AASCU in which nearly 500 public colleges and universities have pledged to collectively award 3.8 million more degrees by 2025. Dr. York serves as the staff liaison for APLU’s Council on Student Affairs and contributes to projects, initiatives, and policy analysis related to college student access and success. His research centers on issues of college student access, success, and educational equity; especially as it relates to educational policy.

Before joining APLU, Dr. York was an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Valdosta State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration and graduate certificate in Institutional Research from The Pennsylvania State University. During his tenure at Penn State, Dr. York served as the Graduate Research Assistant for the PSAA’s Legislative Education & Advocacy and previously worked full-time at multiple institutions in Student Affairs. Dr. York earned his B.A. and M.A. in Higher Education from Geneva College.

Dr. York’s work has focused on examining pathways into and through postsecondary environments for low-income and first-generation students. Winner of the International Association for Research on Service-Learning and Community Engagement’s Dissertation of the Year Award (2013), Dr. York has authored multiple peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. Most recently, his research was included the 2015 edition of Advances in Service-Learning Research Series. Dr. York is active within several professional associations, including AERA, ASHE, & NASPA. He serves on the editorial review board for the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, the College Student Affairs Journal, and Higher Education in Review (Editor, 2012-2013).

  • Council on Governmental Affairs

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