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EPOL Department - Student Spotlight
Diversity & Equity

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  • Chiquita R N Toure, Ed.D Student

    Chiquita Toure is a doctoral student in Educational Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Diversity and Equity . As an educator- librarian her research interests include ethnic diversity in literature for grades PK12  soft censorship among school librarians, history of African American public education, oral history and Black Girlhood narratives. She has served in the Columbus City School disrict for over 27 years.

    Advisor: Dr Sharon Lee

    Expected graduation date: 2026

    Educational Background:

    Ed.D. student, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Concentration: Diversity and Equity

    M.Ed., School Library and Information Technologies, Mansfield University ,Mansfield, Pennslyvania

    M.Ed., Educational Policy Studies, Policy Analysis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

    B.S., Elementary Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

     

  • Kelly Fishman, MEd

    Kelly Fishman is a doctoral student in the Education Policy, Organization, & Leadership program with a focus on Diversity & Equity in Education who is being mentored by advisor Dr. Curtis Mason. Her research focuses on sense of belonging in high school, black, male, special education students. She is currently the Anti-Defamation League's Education Director for Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, & Western Pennsylvania where she utilizes her more than a decade of experience as a pulic high school teacher to help schools implement anti-bias and anti-bullying programming for students of all ages. She plans to graduate in 2023. LinkedIn

  • Aaron Schlessman (he/him)

    Aaron is a doctoral candidate in EPOL with a concentration in Diversity and Equity. He has nearly 20 years of experience in training and education, first as a training supervisor with the U.S. Navy then as a high school teacher, administrator, and instructional leader. Academically, he has completed all coursework and exams and has moved into the disseration phase. His primary interest is in establishing clear guideposts that can help to operationalize anti-racism for classroom teachers so they have a path to follow to ensure that their approach with all students is as racially equitable as possible. 

    Graduate Advisor: Dr. Denice Ward Hood 

    Expected Graduation Year: 2023

    Academic Background: 

    B.A. Justice Studies - Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago, Illinois

    M.Ed. Educational Policy, Organization, & Leadership - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois

    Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/aschlessman

  • Erich Stolz Spencer, EdD, MBA (he/him)

    Hello, I am Erich Stolz Spencer and I am a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Human Resources Development and Diversity & Equity in Education. My intended research focuses on exploring the barriers to equitable development and performance management in our current workplace. Specifically, how does our current definition of effective talent development and performance rating systems exclude individuals that are traditionally underserved? As part of this, I would like to examine the traditional methods of talent development, and if these methods are rooted in bias not already identified. Professionally I currently lead Global Diversity & Inclusion for a large healthcare technology organization and I have previously taught Human Resources in the Health Services Management program at the University of Minnesota. 

    Graduate Advisor: Dr. Jessica (Jie) Li

    Expected Graduation Year: 2025

    Academic Background:

    EdD (in progress) Education Policy, Organization & Leadership – Human Resources Development / Diversity & Equity in Education – University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - est. 2025

    MBA - Marketing - University of Toledo - 2009

    BBA - Human Resouces - University of Toledo - 2008

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/erich-stolz-spencer/ 

  • Kelsey W. Knutson, Ed.D Student (she/her)

    Program of Study, Research Interests & Professional Profile:

    Kelsey Knutson is a doctoral student of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, concentrating in Global Education and Diversity and Equity at the University of Illinois. Kelsey's continued research and studies center on inequities in access to digital learning, teacher-student relationships and the intersections of race, sexuality, and gender, grading bias in multicultural and multiracial classrooms, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and sustainable international education policy. Kelsey has recently entered the world of education consulting and is in a 6-month doctoral internship for the education sector of the U.N., specifically the Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems and Teacher Development departments, at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris. Kelsey is a full-time social studies teacher, D.E.I. facilitator and coordinator, and newly appointed travel and foreign exchange director in Phoenix.

    Advisor: Dr. Hyun-Sook Kang

    Expected Graduation: 2025

    Academic Background:

    • Ed.D., (In-progress) Global Studies; Diversity & Equity, in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
    • M.Ed., Education, Arizona State University, 2016
    • B.A., Global Studies: Human Rights & Justice; Spanish, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, 2013

    LinkedIn: /kelseyknutson or Kelsey W. Knutson's LinkedIn

  • Corinne Smith (she/her)

    Corinne Smith is a doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization & Leadership with a concentration in Diversity and Equity in Education. Her research interests focus on the intersectional identities of rural and small-town students and the college access barriers many of them face. Corinne currently serves as an Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Yale University. Previously, she worked in undergraduation admissions as well as athletic advising at Northwestern University. Recently, Corinne co-authored a book called the College Essay Journal, which helps students brainstorm and write their college applications. 

    Advisor: Sharon Lee

    Expected Graduation: 2024

    Academic Background:

    Ed.D. (in progress) Education Policy, Organization & Leadership | University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

    M.S. Higher Education Administration and Policy | Northwestern University

    B.A. Political Science and Sociology | Northwestern University

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/corinnesmith13/

    Website: https://www.collegeessayjournal.com/

  • Shamez Mukhi

    I am pursuing Ed.D in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Diversity & Equity. My Ed.D research will focus on the role of the civil society in providing underprivileged children (in poverty) equitable access to primary education in Pakistan. I am based in Karachi and work for a private university as Director Student Life.

    Advisor: Jon Hale

    Expected Graduation: 2024

    Academic Background:

    MA. Global Diplomacy - SOAS, University of London, England

    MSc. in Computer Science - University of Kent, England

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shamez-mukhi-b5226212/ 

  • Tasia Fields

    Tasia is an online doctoral student in Education Policy, Organization and Leadership with a concentration in Diversity and Equity. Her research interest includes Best Practices of Equity Directors in a K-12 setting. 

    Currently, Tasia is the Director of Equity and Inclusion for Waukegan Public Schools and an adjunct professor for the College of Lake County.  Education has always been her passion, she founded a website called Great Minds TEACH Alike where she writes and offers consulting services. 

    Graduate Advisor: Dr. Denice Hood 

    Expected Graduation Year: 2023

    Academic Background: 

    Ed.D., Student, Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Ed.S., Educational Leadership, National Louis University M.Ed., Curriculum & Instruction, Concordia University Chicago B.A., Elementary Education, Western Michigan University 

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tasiafields

    Website: www.greatmindsteachalike.com

  • Taylor Masamitsu (he/they), Ed.M.

    Taylor is a PhD student in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. He studies the dislocating rhetoric that affects queer Asian American students. 

     

    PhD, Social Sciences and Education Policy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    EdM, Diversity and Equity in Education, Unviersity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    MA, Vocal Music Education, Columbia University, Teachers College

    BFA, Vocal Performance, California Institute of the Arts

     

    Advisor: Dr. Yoon Pak

    Expected Year of Graduation: 2025

    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taylor-masamitsu-edm-799b6586/

    Website: taylormasamitsu.com 

    Current CV

  • Nicole M. DelMastro-Jeffery (she/her/hers)

    Nicole DelMastro-Jeffery is a doctoral student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, with a concentration in higher education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests center on undergraduate student experiences to and through math pathways amid the COVID pandemic.

    DelMastro-Jeffery's professional experience includes a decade of education equity work in higher education administration, student services, and program coordination in both the two- and four-year college sectors. Before joining OCCRL, she served as a community college research assistant, TRIO advisor, UIUC academic advisor, faculty member, and higher education administrator for students pursuing graduate degrees in the field of public health.

    Advisor: Dr. Eboni Zamani-Gallaher

    Anticipated Graduation: 2022

    Academic Background:

    M.Ed., Higher Education Organization and Leadership at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    B.S.W., American Social Policy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    A.A., Liberal Arts: Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences at Long Beach Community College