Keynote Speaker 2022

Dr. Karrie DixonDr. Karrie G. Dixon, CEO Chancellor Elizabeth City State University

Dr. Karrie G. Dixon was named 12th Chief Executive Officer and 7th Chancellor of Elizabeth City State University on December 14, 2018. Prior to her appointment as interim chancellor on April 9, 2018, Dr. Dixon served as co-lead on the ECSU New Directions Phase 2 Operational Team since early 2017. 

Dr. Dixon has served as a senior administrator at the University of North Carolina System since 2008. In 2014, she was promoted to Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. Dixon was responsible for overseeing the Division of Academic and Student Affairs for the System’s 17 institutions. During her tenure, she was responsible for providing University-wide guidance for policy that shapes the work and practice within academic and student affairs divisions. For nearly 10 years, she has provided the UNC System office with her expertise in academic policy, while leading various student success initiatives and managing processes to increase student access, enrollment, retention and graduation rates. She has fostered innovative collaborations among the UNC System, the NC Community College System, the state's independent colleges and universities, and the NC Department of Public Instruction and has been instrumental in leading multiple projects and policy changes that have greatly impacted students in the University of North Carolina System and statewide. 

Dixon also served as the Chief Student Affairs Officer for the UNC System, working closely with Vice Chancellors for Student Affairs and other University leaders on efforts regarding community college transfers, enrollment and minimum admission requirements, campus safety, and military student success. Statewide programs, under her direction, included the College Foundation of North Carolina (CFNC) Pathways and the federally funded NC State Approving Agency. Over the years, her research and scholarly presentations focused on summer bridge programs, transfer articulation and strategies for student success. 

Prior to joining the UNC System, Dixon served a total of 10 years combined at two other UNC campuses. Most recently, she was an assistant vice provost at North Carolina State University and remains an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the College of Education’s Department of Leadership, Policy, Adult and Higher Education. In this role, she enjoys leading discussions with graduate students interested in careers in higher education leadership and serving on dissertation committees. 

Dixon was elected to serve on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Board of Trustees in 2021. In 2021, Dixon was appointed to the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) for a three-year appointment and also appointed to the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) Council of Presidents. In 2020, Dixon was named to the newly formed national Women in Aviation Advisory (WIAAB) board by U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary, Elaine L. Chao. In 2019, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper awarded Dr. Dixon The Old North State Award, one of the highest honors granted by the State of North Carolina, which is awarded to “individuals who have shown dedication and service beyond expectation and excellence to the Great State of North Carolina.” She also was named by the HBCU Campaign Fund, as one of “The Ten Most Dominant HBCU Leaders of 2020.” Before arriving at ECSU, Dr. Dixon was named a 2016-17 American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow. Her host campus for the academic year was Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. 

Dixon received the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Education and the Black Alumni Legacy Award in 2014 at NCSU. Dr. Dixon is a member of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities’ (AASCU) Millennium Leadership Initiative, class of 2013. She also received the Triangle Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” leadership award in 2014. And, she was recognized as a recipient of the 2015 Alumni Distinguished Service Award from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dixon serves as a presidential sponsor for the North Carolina American Council on Education (NCACE) Women’s Network. 

Dr. Dixon holds a bachelor’s degree from NC State University, a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a doctorate from NC State. She and her husband Devi have two daughters.

Dr. Shawn Ricks, Department Chair, Leadership & Educational Studies

Dr Shawn RicksDr. Shawn Arango Ricks serves as department chair of Leadership and Educational Studies at Appalachian State University. Formerly she was the Assistant Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Salem Academy and College and an assoicate professor of Counseling at Old Dominion University.

Dr. Ricks has an unique background in leadership/social justice and mental health (she is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) that allows her to work with groups and organizations using a holistic approach. Her research interests focuses on the wellbeing of African American women, both inside and outside of academia. She is the author of Psychological Tight Spaces: One Black Feminist Scholar’s Journey into Academia and Write Your Own Story: A Handbook.

Dr Jamie Parson, Chief Diversity Officer, Appalachian State University

Dr. Jamie ParsonJamie Parson is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance at App State. Prior to being named interim chief diversity officer, she taught undergraduate courses in business law and insurance. In addition, she led the Walker College of Business’ Inclusive Excellence Team (formerly Diversity Advisory Team), as well as the Risk Management and Insurance diversity initiatives in the Brantley Risk and Insurance Center. She also serves on numerous boards and committees, including the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team.

Before coming to App State, Parson served as a Title VII investigator for the Nebraska Equal Opportunity Commission and a special investigative unit liaison and fire claims representative at State Farm Insurance Co.

Parson holds a Bachelor of Science in sociology-anthropology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dr. Kendra Jason, Associate Professor

Dr. Kendra Jason (she/her/hers) is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Race and Social Justice Advocate at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has a particular interest in the experiences of Black women at work, including the academy, and how these experiences shape the health and well-being of Black women and the communities they live. Dr. Jason is also an interdisciplinary health disparities scholar who examines the multi-level factors that may influence the relationship between health and desired workforce participation for older Black workers. Her research on these issues are published in Social Currents, The Journal of Sociology and Social Work, The Gerontologist, Journal of Applied Gerontology, Healthcare Management Review, and Research in the Sociology of Work. Most recently, her work was featured on and PBS Next Avenue.

Dr. Candace S. Brown, Assistant Professor

Dr. Candace S Brown (she/her/hers) is an Assistant Professor of Gerontology in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. She holds affiliate appointments in the Gerontology Program and Department of Sociology at UNCC and is a collaborative researcher with the Motivated Cognition and Aging Brain Lab at Duke University. Her research passion is to examine motivation to exercise across the lifespan. She is currently working with Amissa, Inc., in the development of a smartphone app designed to assist caregivers in monitoring persons with dementia. Dr. Brown prefers conducting mixed methods research because she likes to talk with people but also respects that everyone is not as talkative as she is. Outside of academia, Dr. Brown enjoys spending time with her family and racing triathlons with Team USA.

Dr. Tehia Starker Glass, Cato College Director of Diversity & Inclusion

Dr. Tehia Starker Glass (pronounced Tee-uh; pronouns: she/her/hers) is the Cato College of Education Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Inclusive Excellence Fellow of Faculty Development in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and an Associate Professor of Elementary Education and Educational Psychology in the Department of Reading and Elementary Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a Student Experience Research Network fellow alum; therefore she uses her research and expertise to inform education policy. Her research and publications include preparing preservice and in-service teachers’ culturally responsive teaching self-efficacy. Dr. Glass is a TED speaker, and co-author of Teaching for Justice and Belonging- A Journey for Educators and Parents. She co-founded and is the co-director of the Anti-Racism Graduate Certificate Program at UNC Charlotte.

Dr. Janaka Bowman Lewis, Associate Professor

Janaka Bowman Lewis, Ph.D. (she/her/hers) is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for the Study of the New South at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  She is the author of Freedom Narratives of African American Women (McFarland 2017), forthcoming book Light and Legacies:  Black Girlhood and Stories of Liberation (University of South Carolina Press), three children's books, and is founder of the Vanilla Bowman Foundation for Educational Impact and co-founder/facilitator of Justice & Care in Everyday Action (JCEA), LLC.

mara bishopMara Bishop, Founder Whole Spirit(

Mara Bishop is the founder of WholeSpirit and the non-profit Whole Nature Incorporated Mara Bishop. Mara helps clients and students develop meaningful spiritual practices, connect with nature, and avoidburnout inourintensely interconnected world. She presents at universities, researchorganizations, and wellness centers. Mara has a master’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, Teachers College. Her Enatured™ and Personal Evolution Counseling™ methods draw from psychology, mindfulness, shamanism, and nature-based practices. Her latest work is Shining Bright Without Burning Out.

Wendy Kuhn, Founder, Break Through Consulting LLC(

Wendy Kuhn is a Strategic Planning and Project Management Consultant with a focus on incorporating health and wellness into the fabric of an organization's culture.   Ms. Kuhn holds masters' degrees in Economics and Public Administration from NC State University and Columbia University.  She is the author of "Be Strategic: Create a Healthy Organization."   She has been a member of the WIELS Advisory Committee since it's inception.