Our Team


Image of Everett Smith

Everrett Smith currently serves as the inaugural Director of LEEO. He is as an Assistant Professor in the School of Education. He also leads the Educational Leadership & Policy Studies program which includes five areas of study. Previously, Dr. Smith was Director of Assessment for the Division of Student Affairs at the University of Arkansas, and has multiple years of experience in higher education administration including student affairs and enrollment management. He also taught and substitute taught in the Memphis City School system. He was a Southern Regional Education Board Doctoral Award recipient, and completed his doctoral studies in public policy at the University of Arkansas. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, his research examines the factors that influence governance decisions and organizational behavior at public colleges and universities. This work includes exploring trustee, faculty, and student involvement in the shared governance process as well as policy, financial, and political decision-making at institutional and state levels.


Image of Amy Farley

Amy Farley is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies within the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati. She relies on quantitative and qualitative methods, program evaluation, and policy analysis to explore the impact of policy on students, educators, and educational equity and opportunity. She is most interested in research on equity in P-20 education systems and the impact of policies on access and opportunity. Before joining the university, Amy was a Strategic Data Fellow through Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research, where she worked closely with state and local agencies to conduct research and provide technical assistance regarding the implementation of policies related to standards, educator evaluation, and student assessment, and served as the primary researcher or PI on over $20M in grants. She has published work in several major education journals, including Harvard Educational Review, Education Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and Education Policy Analysis Archives.

Image of Jerome Graham

Jerome Graham is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. He earned his Ph.D. from the Life-long Administration and Policy Department at the University of Georgia. His research focuses broadly on the interaction of race and class in educational policy and practice. Dr. Graham uses mixed-methods designs to evaluate the effects of education reforms that target minority and disadvantaged students and the mechanisms that drive such reforms. His current research background emphasizes how schools can provide constructive school climates for students, which facilitate the process by which they develop cognitive and socio-emotional skills to improve their short and long-term outcomes. His theoretical orientation is psychosociological, in that Jerome's research agenda focuses not only on persons' individual development (academic, emotional, and otherwise) but also on the social structures that influence their development.

Image of Steve Kroeger

Steve Kroeger’s experience as an associate professor at University of Cincinnati includes international professional development among teachers working in the Palestinian West Bank. Recent work has focused on developing cultural competence in preservice teachers to unleash the learning potential of ethnically diverse students. Dr. Kroeger has been an integral partner in the development of the Middle Childhood Dual License develop at the University. He facilitates a Statewide Community of Practice with the Deans Compact for Exceptional Children. He taught in St. Lucia, West Indies, in Peru among the Quechua Indians of the Andean Highlands, and in a high school in Detroit, Michigan. Current extracurricular art endeavors embrace portraiture and cartooning.

Image of Sean McCauley

Sean McCauley is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and serves as the Faculty Coordinator for Principal Licensure. He teaches core classes on principal leadership and serves as the internship supervisor for those students completing their clinical experiences. Prior to his appointment in the School of Education, Dr. McCauley served as a public school teacher and administrator.

Image of Antar Tichavakunda

Antar A. Tichavakunda is an assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of Cincinnati. He received his Ph.D. in Urban Education Policy from the University of Southern California. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Tichavakunda is a product of DC Public School and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies from Brown University. Prior to his doctoral studies, Tichavakunda worked as an 11th grade English teacher in DC Public Schools. Using qualitative inquiry, Tichavakunda has engaged in research on college readiness, Black students’ experiences at predominantly White institutions, and more broadly the sociology of race and higher education.

Graduate Fellows

Image of Andrew Benson

Andrew Benson is a doctoral student in education policy at CECH. He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a Masters in Journalism from the Ohio State University. Benson has more than 20 years of experience in education policy at the state and local levels in Ohio, working for non-profit organizations and education philanthropies. He was previously a journalist for 15 years.

Image of Alicia Boards

Alicia Boards is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati in the Educational Studies program with a concentration in Educational and Community Based Action Research. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in both Higher Education and Counselor Education. Before returning to school, Alicia spent eight years working at Ohio University as Assistant Director for Multicultural Programs for both the main campus (3 years) and in the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (5 years). For her dissertation, Alicia is exploring how high school students come to develop their post-secondary identities through a nuanced look into various contexts such as school, community, and home environments. Alicia hopes to graduate in Spring 2021 and obtain a full time faculty position. In the meantime, she is also involved in several research projects that qualitatively explore student experiences in various contexts such as law school, mentoring groups, and youth engaged research in school settings. Her research interests include using youth participatory action research to develop more effective pipeline programs for underrepresented youth, and exploring how the intersection of race and gender informs college activism practices. Alicia has also served on several university and community committees throughout her professional and academic careers. Alicia is looking forward to her continued growth in her research experiences and teaching practices in hopes of one day becoming a scholar activist and faculty member that embraces the importance of working with communities to build authentic community partnerships to better address educational disparities.

Image of Rebecca Elliott

Rebecca Elliott is a third-year doctoral student in the Educational Studies-Educational Policy and Higher Education program as well as a full-time employee of the University overseeing content peer tutoring in the Learning Commons. Rebecca has worked in the field of higher education for nearly a decade, focusing on issues of student success, equity, and high-impact practices. Rebecca’s research interest include policymaking, student success initiatives, and educational equity. Rebecca is the co-director of the University’s Peer Education Network and a steering committee member for the Cincinnati Public Schools 12th Grade Cohort. She has also overseen the development of several University initiatives, such as a series of grant-sponsored workshops to help supervisors of student employees create inclusive workplaces. She has an MsEd from University of Dayton in Higher Education Administration.

Image of Arunkumar Muthusamy

Arunkumar Muthusamy is a graduate student currently enrolled at the University of Cincinnati (UC) for a MA in Educational studies (with a Higher Education Administration focus) and a Masters in Biological Sciences. His research interests are centered around equity in education, higher education administration and internationalization of education. He is also a student leader with experience being President of the UC Quiz Club (UCQC), Creative Director of TEDxUCincinnati and President of the Graduate Student Government (GSG). Prior to joining the University of Cincinnati, he obtained a Bachelors in Chemistry and a Masters in Biology from IISER-Thiruvananthapuram.

Research Affiliates

Image of Nancy Zimpher

Nancy L. Zimpher is Chancellor Emeritus of The State University of New York (SUNY).

From 2009 to 2017, Dr. Zimpher served as the twelfth chancellor of The State University of New York, the nation’s largest comprehensive system of public higher education. Prior to SUNY, she served as president of the University of Cincinnati, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and executive dean of the Professional Colleges and dean of the College of Education at The Ohio State University.

Throughout a career, Dr. Zimpher has formed a paradigm-shifting vision that rises to meet the expansive responsibilities of public higher education in the 21st century. “To educate more people and to educate them better” is the mantra at the center of her collective-impact theory of action, which she exercises in several key areas, including building on university strengths to drive regional and local economic development; creating seamless cradle-to-career education pipelines in every community; and systemically transforming teacher education into a rigorous practice that reliably creates great teachers for every classroom and student.

Dr. Zimpher is co-founder and immediate past chair of StriveTogether, a national network of innovative partnerships that holistically address challenges across the education pipeline. As SUNY chancellor, she served as chair of the National Association of System Heads from 2014–2017, the Board of Governors of the New York Academy of Sciences from 2011–2016, and CEOs for Cities from 2012–2013, and led the national Coalition of Urban Serving Universities from 2005–2011.

Dr. Zimpher holds a BA in English Education and Speech, an MA in English Literature, and a PhD in Teacher Education and Higher Education Administration, all from The Ohio State University.