Dr. Precious Guramatunhu-Mudiwa
WIELS Executive Director
Dr. Precious Guramatunhu-Mudiwa is a Professor in the Department of Leadership and Educational Studies at Appalachian State University and the Director of the Women in Educational Leadership Symposium (WIELS). Her mission is to advance women’s leadership potential with the hope of reducing the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. Dr. Guramatunhu-Mudiwa states:
"Born and raised in Zimbabwe, a developing country, and now living and working in a developed one, I still see underrepresentation of women in leadership positions as a common problem that continues to be pervasive. As an educator, I believe learning empowers people; and, therefore, creating learning platforms and opportunities is important to advance women’s leadership potential. Such forums not only prepare women to assume and exercise leadership, but increase the pool that potentially addresses the underrepresentation. I passionately believe that communities and society benefit when women have access to resources that enable them to participate meaningfully in the corridors of power. Nations that do not invest in women’s education diminish economic growth and prosperity. I do not have all the answers; however, I believe in a community of women who can learn and grow together through sharing knowledge, skills, career experiences and stories."
Dr. Susan Colby
WIELS Associate Executive Director
Susan Colby currently serves as the Director of Faculty Professional Development in the Center for Academic Excellence at Appalachian State University and is professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction where she served 12 years as chair and assistant chair. She is a member of the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow Class of 2021-2022 and served on the Executive Board for the Consortium for Research on Educational Assessment and Teaching Effectiveness (CREATE). Prior to academia, she served in the public schools of Florida and Colorado as a principal, teacher, clinical professor, and Title I director. Dr. Colby earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University; her MA in Administration, Curriculum and Supervision from the University of Colorado, Denver; and her BS in Elementary Education with Distinction from the University of Minnesota. In 2002, she was the recipient of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration Morphet Dissertation Award. She has authored articles in the fields of teacher education and P-12 education focusing on professional development, curriculum, assessment, and leadership.
Dr. Brooksie B. Sturdivant
Dr. Brooksie B. Sturdivant is a native of Walnut Cove, NC who currently serves as the Equity Specialist for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of Guilford County Schools. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle Grades Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2000. She also has a Master’s in School Administration (2006) and a Specialist of Education certificate (2009), and a Doctor of Education Degree from Appalachian State University. In addition, she has a Nonprofit Management Certificate (2010) from UNC Greensboro. Dr. Sturdivant's research interests include qualitative design, narrative inquiry, and autoethnography. She is passionate about subjectivity, identity, resilience, and agency among maltreated youth. She currently resides in Raleigh, NC with her wonderful husband, Norlonn A. Sturdivant.
Dr. Jewel Cherry
Jewel started her career in higher education as an admissions counselor and part time faculty member in business administration. Over her twenty year tenure in community college and higher education she progressed from her faculty position into various leadership positions – including, department coordinator, Title III grant director, and dean of enrollment management. She currently serves as Vice President of the Student Services Division and Interim Vice President for Instruction and Chief Academic Officer at Forsyth Technical Community College, Winston Salem, NC.
Jewel earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and MBA Degree, both from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. While working at Forsyth Tech she earned an Education Specialist degree in Higher Education Administration and a Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.
In addition to her professional career, Jewel is an active member of her church and community serving on numerous boards and committees. Jewel has three adult children and currently resides with her husband in Clemmons, NC.
Dr. Margaret Sithole
Margaret Sithole is an Assistant Professor of Business Management at SUNY Empire State College in New York State. Her educational experience includes more than 30 years serving in a variety of leadership positions at university level including positions as assistant academic registrar, director of international programs and interim director of an undergraduate management program for working adults at SUNY Empire State College. In addition she has about ten years teaching experience in higher education at the undergraduate level. Her experience also includes public school teaching and administration at the secondary school level in Zimbabwe. Dr. Sithole’s primary research focus is on the theory and practice of leadership in organizations. Her current research focuses on leadership and culture and more specifically on the relationship between national culture and leadership. She believes that leadership is as much an organizational phenomenon as it is a cultural phenomenon and therefore that a leader or follower’s actions and responses are ultimately a reflection of the forms of behavior legitimized and deemed appropriate for the society in which the leader or follower lives. Dr. Sithole has a growing interest in research studies that investigate cross cultural leadership behaviors and practices.
Dr. Debra Gladstone
Debra Gladstone is the Principal of Mineral Springs Elementary School in Winston-Salem, NC. Prior to becoming a principal, she served as an assistant principal at Prince Ibraham Elementary School in Winston-Salem, NC. Gladstone is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a Master’s in the Art of Teaching from Salem College and a Master’s in School Administration from Appalachian State University. She completed an Educational Specialist Degree from Appalachian State University and is currently completing her doctoral studies in Educational Leadership at Appalachian.
Nan Nichols Van Hoy
Nan Nichols Van Hoy recently retired from public education, having held the position of teacher and administrator for over 32 years. A native of Wilkes County, NC, she attended Wilkes Community College before completing her education at Appalachian State University, earning a B.S., an M.A. and certification in Administration and Supervision. She taught at public schools in Davie and Catawba Counties, and served as instructor for programs at Wilkes Community College, Appalachian State University and Lenoir Rhyne University. She was a public school administrator for over fifteen years, serving at middle and high schools. During her tenure in public education, she received several local, regional and state recognitions and traveled to various sites in the US conducting professional development for educators at all levels.
Dr. Trish Johnson
Trish R. Johnson currently serves as Associate Superintendent-Human Resource Services for Caldwell County Schools. She has worked as a teacher, speech and language pathologist, assistant principal and principal in several North Carolina School Districts. Trish holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Elizabeth City State University, Master of Arts Degree in Speech Pathology from South Carolina State University, Educational Specialist Degree from Appalachian State University and Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Appalachian State University.
She is active in her church and serves on several community boards and is an active member of several civic organizations. I have an untiring passion in social justice issues. My strong belief in “and justice for ALL” requires me to be involved in causes that address social injustices, especially issues involving women as well as the disenfranchisement of any non-majority population.
Trish is married and the mother of two adult sons.
Wendy Kuhn is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, HeartMath™ Mentor, ITIL Expert, and a Principal at Break Through Consulting, LLC. Ms. Kuhn has more than twenty years experience as a strategic planning and implementation consultant and IT professional. She works with individuals to help them to achieve their goals and with organizations to help them to improve their results through integrating employee wellbeing into the fabric of their culture; recognizing that meetings, strategic planning, projects, and other organizational efforts are most effective when employees are engaged, energized, focused and empowered.
Dr. Leslie Dula McKesson
Leslie Dula McKesson is a retired academic dean with over 28 years of teaching and administrative experience in the North Carolina Community College System. Leslie has devoted her career to life-long learning, holding a bachelors’ degree in the Administration of Criminal Justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Masters of Arts, Education Specialist, and Doctor of Education degrees from Appalachian State University. She currently serves as an Equity Specialist and an adjunct faculty member with ASU’s Reich College of Education. Leslie is a Commissioner for the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, serves on numerous local non-profit boards, and is an active member of her church. She is married with four adult children and 14 grandchildren.
Dr. Fran Oates
Dr. Fran Bates Oates has been an educator for more than forty years. In the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School system she served in the roles of teacher, assistant principal and principal, Quality Training and Development Program Specialist and Director of Staff Development. After 31 years of service in the school system, Fran Oates retired in September 2004. In 2006, she joined Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) as a Clinical Faculty and currently serves as the Elementary Education Program Coordinator.
Born in Hampton, Virginia she later moved to Raleigh, NC where she attended and graduated fifth in her class from John W. Ligon High School and began her quest for life long learning. She came to WSSU to become a teacher graduating with the highest academic average in her major and in the top ten percent of her class. Fran Oates continued her education receiving a Master’s Degree, an Educational Specialist Degree, Curriculum Specialist Certification and her Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Appalachian State University. She earned the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from the Principals' Executive Program at UNC Chapel Hill and completed the Summer Leadership Institute at Harvard Divinity School.
Fran has been very active for forty years at Union Baptist Church of Winston-Salem. Currently she serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Union Community Development Corporation. Her other leadership roles have included President of the Forsyth Principals Association and President of the Winston-Salem Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.
Dr. Leslie Zenk
Leslie Zenk is Assistant Provost in the Office of Academic Affairs and Associate Graduate Faculty in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Leslie has been a professional in higher education for over 15 years, including as Assistant Director of Admissions at the University of Minnesota, Morris and Assistant to the Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
In her current role as Assistant Provost, Leslie directs all aspects of academic policy and collaborates with faculty on policy and curriculum development and implementation. Leslie’s academic research focuses on leadership and decision-making and how institutional culture frames decisions. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the North Carolina Association of Research in Education (NCARE). Leslie earned a B.A. in Communication from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration (Higher Education) from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Leslie Atcher Alexander, Ed.D.
Principal of R. J. Reynolds High School
Dr. Leslie Alexander serves as an administrative leader in the Winston Salem Forsyth County School District. During her tenure with WSFCS, Dr. Alexander has served as Principal of R. J. Reynolds High School and also of J. F. Kennedy High School. In addition, she has served as a Curriculum Coordinator, a Literacy Specialist, and Teacher. She has been instrumental in restructuring curriculum priorities, implementing innovative programs, building community relations, and ensuring academic excellence.
Dr. Alexander is respected for her firm, fair, and consistent approach to leadership. Under the visionary leadership of Dr. Alexander—“Excellent instruction in every class...every day for EVERY student!"— many have experienced proven results. Through her focus on excellent instruction she has moved two high schools from the category of failing to meet student growth goals to exceeding expected growth.
Leslie has mentored and coached professionals who have gone on to successfully lead inside and outside of the district. She has co-published “The Power of Three.” She has also presented at professional meetings on such topics as “Lord of the Rings: The Journey from Data Overload to Enlightenment,” “Comprehensive Needs Assessment (CNA): Simulation for a Whole School Process,” and "Seeing Like a District: Critical Cases in Measurement, Management, and Resistance.”
Dr. Alexander’s research interests involve feminist issues that affect women who serve as leaders in educational administration. Her professional memberships include Magnet Schools of America, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA). She has been recognized for her accomplishments: The Signature School Award-2015 and 2017, WSFCS District Principal of the Year-2017, Magnet School Principal of the Year-2016, and Winston -Salem Outstanding Women Leaders Award-2018.
Dr. Patti Levine Brown
Dr. Patti Levine Brown joined the faculty of Appalachian State University in 2016. In addition to her faculty position at ASU, where she teaches graduate courses in the University Leadership concentrations, she serves as director of the Kellogg Institute and the assistant director for professional development for the Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges, a collaborative and research hub housed at ASU, with the mission of increasing the appreciation for the understanding of regional colleges and their contributions to opportunity and community wellbeing. She previously served as the Interim Director of the National Center for Developmental Education, which was housed at ASU.
Dr. Levine is a past president of the National Organization for Student Success (formerly NADE) and a graduate of the Kellogg Institute through which she also became a certified developmental educator. Additionally, she has published numerous articles and supplementary texts related to the field of developmental education.
Dr. Levine Brown is a graduate of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas – Austin. She worked as a former reporter, English and reading instructor, and project administrator in Florida where she was the Past President of the Florida College Reading Council and former board member of the Florida Developmental Education Association.