The School of Education Advisory Board is a nominated group of alumni and friends of the School who serve as leading ambassadors, charged with:
Members meet once during each academic semester and convene in committees during the year to consult with the dean and other University leaders to develop long-lasting relationships among the school’s donors and alumni.
For more information contact:
(tap a name to display their bio after the full list)
Deborah A. Knoblock ’88, G’90 (Board Chair)
Deb Knoblock is a passionate educator with an ardent love for teaching children to read. She has nurtured students and their parents at several levels of school leadership. At her core, she is an elementary school teacher, selected Teacher of the Year by her colleagues while working for the School District of Osceola County, Florida. She also has served as a classroom teacher and in academic administration for two prominent independent Christian schools in metro Atlanta, as the Head of Lower School and the Head of School.
Deb graduated magna cum laude in 1988, earning a B.S. in Elementary Education. She then graduated in 1990 with an M.S. in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation. Prior to attending Syracuse, she attended Stetson University from 1984 to 1986. She has been a member of the School of Education Advisory Board since October 2018 and serves as Board Chair. Her father, John E. Breyer of Alpharetta, GA, became a Life Trustee of Syracuse University in 2013 after having served on the board since 2001.
Emily R. Ades ’89, P’21, P’23
Forest Hills, NY
Emily Ades has devoted all her professional endeavors to the field of education and nonprofit management. Currently, she works as the inaugural Director of The Kinnect Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the fashion brand, Kith. She has more than 25 years of experience working as an educator, child and family advocate, public policy professional and nonprofit changemaker.
Starting her career as a tenured elementary school teacher in South Jamaica, Queens, since then she has served as an elected official for The NYC Community Education Council, Director of a non-profit after school program, and as the Co-founder and Curriculum Developer for an early childhood literacy program. She was an Associate Director of Portfolio Planning for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s school reform initiative managing K-12 schools in Community School Districts across Queens and Staten Island. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy she was appointed to the Mayor’s Task Force as a community liaison with The School Construction Authority to rebuild schools and relocate displaced students.
Emily became the Executive Director of Education at The Rising Stars Youth Foundation building a program to provide educational access and equity to student athletes from historically under-resourced communities. In 2020, Emily founded IMPACT 100 NYC, where she envisions fostering a culture of communal giving, volunteering and learning by cultivating a community of women who want their philanthropic donations to do more and mean more. In 2021, her work was featured on NBC’s Today Show.
Emily holds a B.A. in Intercultural Communications from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education from New York University.
Gregory L. Allen ’72
Greg Allen is a retired insurance executive who spent 33 years with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. His professional experience includes serving on several boards, including the Arizona Mental Health Association, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Northern Illinois University Business School’s Marketing Board, and the Liberty Mutual Advisory Board.
A 1973 graduate of Syracuse University, Greg earned a B.S. from Newhouse, where he majored in TV/radio. He also completed graduate study programs at Duquesne University and Northwestern University’s Kellogg Business School.
Greg is a member of the Syracuse 8, African American members of the 1969-1970 Syracuse University football squad who boycotted the team to protest inequities within the athletic program. Leveling the Playing Field was published in 2015 and tells their story.
Donna E. Alvermann G’80, G’80
Dr. Donna Alvermann, Ph.D. spent her career in literacy and reading education and was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame in 1999. She is the recipient of numerous accolades and awards for her research, including as a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Donna was the Omer Clyde and Elizabeth Parr Aderhold Professor in Education and UGA Distinguished Reading Professor, Emeritus, at the University of Georgia. Previously, Donna was a professor in the Language and Literacy Education Department at Mary Frances Early College of Education at the University of Georgia from August 1982 through November She was also an assistant professor at the University of Northern Iowa and a teacher for 12 years.
Donna’s research focuses on young people’s digital literacies in popular media venues, adolescent literacies, comprehension of texts in intersecting disciplines, and classroom discussion. She has also developed historical-autobiographical methods for uncovering silences in teaching, researching, and scholarly writing for justice in education. In 1980, Donna earned an M.LS. in information and library science from the iSchool and a Ph.D. in reading education from the School of Education. In 1968, she earned an M.A. in education and history and in 1965, she earned a B.S. in education and history both from the University of Texas at Austin.
Marcia M. Baldanza ’86
Marcia [Moshier] has led a distinguished career in public education. A life-long educator and transformational leader, she is a recognized turnaround expert and has committed her career to changing outcomes in Title I schools for more than 20 years.
Marcia works to improve equity and access for under-resourced communities, and she has received recognition for moving failing schools to achieving schools through transforming culture, creating protocols for collaborative faculty learning, and funding schools more fairly.
Having served as a teacher, principal, and assistant superintendent in large and small districts around the country, in June 2021 Marcia joined Marymount University as an assistant professor within the School of Education’s Educational Leadership and Organizational Innovation program.
Marcia graduated from Syracuse University in 1986 with a B.S . in Special Education. In 1993, she graduated from the University of North Texas with an M.S. in Educational Policy, and she earned a doctorate in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 1999. Her husband, Ben Baldanza ’84, has more than 25 years in the airline industry and served as President and CEO of Spirit Airlines from 2006 to 2016. Together they sponsor the School of Education’s Baldanza Fellows Program to recruit and retain teachers of color to urban school districts.
Nkenge A. Bergan ’95
Nkenge Bergan has served as a public schools educator for more than 28 years focused on equity, culturally responsive education, and opportunities for all students. Nkenge was named Associate Vice President of Kalamazoo Valley Community College in September 2021. She was previously Director of Student Services at Kalamazoo Public School, where she served 13,000 students and their families.
Under Nkenge’s leadership, her team was awarded a $1M grant from a local foundation to establish a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Professional Development Center. She has led in urban and suburban school districts serving as teacher, principal, and district administrator.
Nkenge graduated from Syracuse University in 1995 with a B.S. in Inclusive Elementary Education. She also earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from Western Michigan University and a certificate in Special Education Leadership from Grand Valley State University.
Arthur S. Bloom ’71, G’72
Art Bloom is area administrator for American Council for International Studies, an educational travel company that offers an opportunity for exceptional educational journeys in numerous countries around the globe. He retired from teaching biology after 38 years at Scarsdale High School.
Art is a 1971 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a B.S. in zoology from the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1972, he earned an M.S. in Science Education from the School of Education. Art’s additional education includes a Master of Education from Columbia University in 1979 and a Master of Science in Educational Administration from Pace University in 1986.
Juli G. Boeheim G’97, P’22, P’22
Juli Boeheim is a community activist who serves on a number of charitable organizations, including ARC of Onondaga and Upstate Foundation Board at Upstate Medical University. She and her husband—former Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim ’66, G’73—established the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation to support the needs of children as well as help to eliminate cancer through research and advocacy.
Born in Miami and raised in Kentucky, Juli graduated from the University of Kentucky, where she majored in marketing and merchandising, apparel, and textiles. In 1997, she earned an M.S .in Education Information and young children with special needs from the School of Education.
Frank R. Comfort ’67
Eagles Mere, PA
Frank Comfort retired as head swim coach for the University of North Carolina in 2007 after a career as one of the most respected college swimming coaches in the country. As the winningest college dual-meet coaches in collegiate swimming history, his teams have won 565 career dual meets, including 303 while coaching men’s teams and 262 while coaching women’s teams. Before joining UNC in 1978, he spent nine years at Johns Hopkins University.
Frank is a 1967 graduate of Syracuse University, where he earned a dual B.S. in history and education. In retirement since 2007, he is an assistant boy’s basketball coach at Sullivan County High School. Frank and his brother Robert Comfort ’74 give an annual scholarship in honor of their mother Frances Meck ’40 Comfort in the School of Education.
Christopher H. DeVoe ’79, P’17
Chris DeVoe serves as Chief Investment Officer and President of Constellation Asset Management Inc., an independent investment management firm located in Fayetteville, NY. A Chartered Financial Analyst, Chris has four decades of experience in investment analysis and management, portfolio management, and financial consulting. He currently supervises $45 million in client investments.
Earlier in his career, Chris served as Chief Investment Officer at CL&B Capital Management, Executive Vice President of Capital Strategy Group, Portfolio Manager/Investment Manager of the Syracuse University Endowment Fund, and Portfolio Manager/Analyst at Manning & Napier Advisors in Rochester.
Chris graduated in 1979 with a B.S. in Finance from the Whitman School and earned an M.B.A. in Finance and Applied Economics from the University of Rochester in 1980.
Brent C. Elder G’14, G’16
Brent Elder is an Associate Professor of Inclusive Education at Rowan University in New Jersey. His research and advocacy focus on community-based participatory research on disability rights. Specifically, he collaborates with stakeholders in the disability and Deaf communities to co-develop innovative practices that promote disability rights in schools and communities around the world.
Brent has worked on Deaf rights in Northern Ireland and on inclusive education initiatives through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), UNICEF, and Inclusive Development Partners in Ghana and Rwanda. His USAID work in Malawi ensures their country-wide early grade inclusive reading program infuses locally relevant inclusive education strategies, universal design for learning, and decolonizing methodologies. He has also worked on issues related to Deaf education in Cambodia, Malawi, and Nepal.
Brent earned bachelor’s degrees in Art History and Psychology, as well as his M.Ed. in Special Education, from UC-Santa Barbara. He received certificates of advanced study in Disability Studies and Leadership in International and Non-Governmental Organizations in 2014 and graduated from Syracuse University in 2016 with a Ph.D. in Special Education. Completing his doctoral research through a Fulbright Scholarship in Western Kenya, Brent worked on the development of sustainable inclusive education practices through community-based participatory research approaches.
Autumn F. Figueroa ’04, G’06
Autumn Figueroa has been an educational consultant supporting schools across New York City and the five boroughs since 2019. She is also a founding board member of Impact 100 NYC, a philanthropic group of women collectively giving to smaller organizations, across New York, who work to have an impact on the larger community.
Autumn was previously the Founding Principal of North Star Academy’s Lincoln Park Elementary School in Newark, NJ. Prior to joining the Uncommon Network, she was a Turnaround Principal, for schools in Chicago, Il. During her time as Turnaround Principal, she received recognition from Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and the Chicago Superintendent of Schools for significantly raising achievement within one academic year.
Autumn started her educational career as a fourth-grade teacher, teaching in Florida, New Jersey, and Washington, DC. She earned her B.S. in Education and International Relations from Syracuse University and piloted the SU Abroad Program in Chile in 2004, returning to SU to complete a master’s in education in 2005. She also holds a second master’s degree in School Administration and Leadership.
Sharon H. Jacquet ’72, P’03
Sharon Jacquet is a Vice Chairman in J.P. Morgan Private Bank, where she leads a specialized team that works with corporate executives, family offices, and ultra-high net worth individuals as well as foundations and endowments.
From 1992, until late 1999, when she joined the Private Bank, Sharon was an investment banker in the Equity Capital Markets Group of J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. Prior to that, she was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley & Co., incorporated in various positions for more than 16 years.
Sharon is on the Board of Directors of City Harvest, a New York City food rescue not-for-profit; a member of the Planned Giving Advisory Council of New York Presbyterian Hospital; and a member of the Board of Directors of the American Hospital of Paris Foundation. She is a Life Trustee of Syracuse University and is on the Audit and Investment and Endowment Committees.
In 2014, Sharon was named by the Financial Times as one of the Top 100 Women Financial Advisors. In 2009, she was recognized by Barron’s as one of Americ’s Top Private Bankers, and in 2007, she was named one of the Top 20 Women Financial Advisers by Global Investor. Additionally, in 2006, she was named one of the top Wealth Advisors in the Americas by Citywealth and a Top 100 Women Financial Advisor by Barron’s, and in 2005, Worth magazine named her a top 100 Wealth Advisor.
Sharon holds a Bachelor of Science degree (Magna Cum Laude) from the School of Education , where she majored in elementary education. She also studied at I’Université de Poitiers, France. Sharon is a Syracuse University Life Trustee and a member of the Board of Visitors and the National Campaign Council. She named the Sharon Haines Jacquet Education Commons, an event and meeting space in Huntington Hall. She has two daughters and enjoys golf, travel, and curling.
Alice G. Kendrick ’70, G’79, G’93
Alice Kendrick retired as Superintendent of the Jamesville-Dewitt Central Schools in 2019 after 50 years in education. She spent 23 years as superintendent and previously served as a high school science teacher, regional science coordinator and school improvement specialist.
Alice is a 1970 graduate of Syracuse University, where she earned a B.A. in science education from both A&S and Education. She then earned an M.S. in zoology from SUNY ESF before earning her doctorate in teaching and curriculum from the University in 1993.
DeBorah A. Little ’14, G’16
Little holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Management and Technology and a master’s degree in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation from Syracuse University. With more than 35 years of entrepreneurial success, Little is a versatile professional with a rich background, inspiring audiences nationwide to build robust belief systems of confidence, courage, and commitment toward their lifelong dreams.
Little’s diverse career includes corporate management with United Airlines, consulting and training in government and education, and serving as the former agent and manager for her late husband, Pro Football Hall of Famer Dr. Floyd Little ’67, H’16.
A three-time co-author who is passionate about service, in addition to her leadership for the School of Education Advisory Board, Little is Chairwoman of the NFL Alumni Women’s Affairs of Las Vegas, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Advisory Board, and head of Remnant Ministries Celebration of Life Ministry.
Leading initiatives supporting youth, parents, widows, and educational equity, she remains committed to changing lives. As a strong advocate in her hometown Syracuse, NY, Little made history as the first African American woman elected to the Syracuse Common Council, showcasing her trailblazing spirit.
Leveraging her extensive knowledge and skills in networking, speaking, teaching, and coaching, Little actively promotes personal and professional growth. A nationally respected educator, she teaches and coaches audiences through classes imparting foundational language and lessons on changing your thoughts, strengthening your mindset, and building your new belief system.
Little believes the profound impact of positively changing one life, one day at a time, has great potential to ripple outward and positively change the world.
Raquel-Ann “Roxi” McNabb ’98, G’99, P’25
Queen Creek, AZ
Raquel-Ann “Roxi” [Nurse] McNabb is co-founder of the Caris Sports Foundation, which supports young athletes in Arizona. She is a public figure, philanthropist, basketball coach, and higher education leader. Roxi is married to her college sweetheart, Donovan McNabb ’98, one of the most successful quarterbacks in the NFL during the first decade of the 21st Century. The McNabbs founded the Donovan McNabb Fund to support their charitable giving priorities.
A Syracuse University Trustee, Roxi is a 1998 graduate of Syracuse University, where she earned a B.S. in Physical Education from the School of Education. She also earned an M.P.A. from the Maxwell School. She is a native of Canada and was a two-time MVP for the Orange and 1997 Athlete of the Year.
Desiree A. Moore ’00, G’05
Desiree Moore was appointed as an Instructional Specialist in the Phoenix (NY) Central School District in 2018. Her work has centered around providing professional development opportunities for educators and supporting them in meeting the needs of their students.
Since 2020, Desiree has led the district’s efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as the establishment of a partnership with the El-Hindi Center for Dialogue and Action to begin a dialogue program for 5th-8th grade students and adult allies. Previously she spent 18 years as an elementary teacher in primarily integrated co-teaching classrooms.
Desiree graduated from Syracuse University in 2000 with a B.S .in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education, and in 2005, she earned a master’s degree in Cultural Foundations of Education. She also earned a Certificate of Advanced Study in Educational Leadership from Le Moyne College in 2022.
Susan M. Oberwager P’25
Bryn Mawr, PA
Susan Oberwager is a clinical psychologist who has held numerous board positions, including former Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Gladwyne Montessori School and Morris Arboretum.
In 2018, Susan became a trustee of the Shipley School, the first independent school in the nation to offer an entire curriculum based around the concept of Positive Education. All three divisions and all support staff are trained to support the students, both academically and personally. Positive Education is based on the theory of Positive Psychology.
Susan is a graduate of Tufts University, where she earned a B.S. in Psychology and Sociology, and she obtained her Ph.D. from Temple University.
Julie J. Padilla ’11, G’12
Valley Stream, NY
Julie Padilla is a passionate educator and a first-generation college graduate. She earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and Social Studies Education and then a master’s in Literacy Education from Syracuse University. She completed a second master’s in School Building and School District Leadership from Touro College, and in 2020 she completed her doctoral studies at Northeastern University in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Curriculum, Teaching, Learning, and Leadership.
Working as a Social Studies and Literacy teacher for at-risk youth ages 14-21 at the beginning of her career, Julie was awarded SmileDirectClub and the New York Yankees’ Community Hero Spotlight in 2019. She worked as an Assistant Principal of a Pre-K through 8th grade school in New York City before joining Carnegie Learning, an innovative edtech company, as Manager of Customer Experience.
Julie has served on the boards of two nonprofits: LitWorld, which works with children worldwide to teach and share the power of reading, writing, and storytelling, and Grace Outreach, which helps women enhance their academic skills, pursue higher education, and find employment.
Raphael T. Richard G’12
Raphael Richard drives recruitment strategies and engaging programs that connect emerging and university talent with career opportunities at Cisco. While earning a B.A. in Urban Studies and Public Policy at Dillard University, he experienced educational and career benefits created by student leadership. Inspired by his HBCU experience in New Orleans during 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, he launched his professional career in diversity student affairs at Syracuse University. He received an M.S. in Higher Education from the School of Education.
During his higher education journey at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and Columbia University, Raphael designed, branded, and expanded social justice, intercultural, and dialogue initiatives. Realizing a niche for student advisement and passion for diversity recruitment, he spent four years managing a national diversity internship program for college students. Raphael helped more than 700 students secure internships at more than 40 media, entertainment, and tech companies, such as ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, The New York Times, and Snap Inc.
To enhance equity in his coaching and recruiting style, Raphael completed a Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion through the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. He is committed to making an impact through service, as a mentor with iMentor Baltimore City, a School of Education Advisory Board member, a Senior Fellow in the Melton Foundation, and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.
Alice H. Rosen ’83, P’11
Alice Rosen graduated from Syracuse University in1983, having earned a B.S. degree in Elementary Education. She also earned an M..S in Reading Education from Long Island University. She holds three permanent NYS teaching licenses: elementary education, English education 7-12, and reading N-12.
Alice is the office manager at Bruce A. Rosen CPA PC, where she is responsible for bookkeeping, event planning, research, and health plan administration. Earlier in her career, she taught both 4th and 6th grade before raising her son. Alice has been involved in many volunteer positions in her community, including in the archives at the Vanderbilt Museum, at her temple, and in theatrical productions.
Tyrone R. Shaw ’10, G’12
Tyrone Shaw has been a teacher for more than 10 years at McKinley Technology High School in Washington, DC. He teaches World History, AP World History, and an elective focused on Social Justice/Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He has written a World History curriculum for the District of Columbia Public Schools, where he also served as District Course Chair for World History I, leading professional development for 9th grade teachers.
A 2010 Spector/Warren Fellow, Tyrone completed the Echoes and Reflections Educational Journey through Poland with Yad Vashem. He is also a trainer for Echoes and Reflections and a teacher leader for the OER World History Project.
Tyrone earned a B.S. in Secondary Education and Political Science, and a master’s in Cultural Foundations of Education from Syracuse University.
Elyse Spector Kalmans P’27
Elyse Spector Kalmans is Southwest Region Vice-Chair of the Anti-Defamation League; the Capital Campaign Chair of Congregation Emanu El, where she received the Congregant of the Year Award in 2020; Chair Elect of the Holocaust Museum Houston Board of Advisors; and the Founding Board Chair of Undies for Everyone.
Elyse is also a board member at Goldberg Montessori School; Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, where she received the Barbara Falik Young Leadership Award in 2010; the Junior Leagues of Houston; The Kinkaid School; and the National Charity League, Bayou Villages Chapter.
Most recently at Jewish Family Service as Career Services Director, Elyse assisted unemployed clients with job search preparation and worked with businesses to fill open positions. Prior to joining the JFS staff, she owned a public relations and marketing firm. Elyse has also held various leadership roles at Enron, The Coca-Cola Company, and The Pillsbury Company.
Elyse earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and a master’s degree in Marketing and Finance from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Elyse is the daughter of Andrew Spector ’66 and Helen Warren Spector ’72, who are actively involved with Syracuse University—Helen also serves on the School of Education Advisory Board and Andrew serves on the Hillel Board of Governors.
Helen W. Spector G’72
Helen Spector is owner of Helen Warren Spector Antiques, a retail business that specializes in 18th and early 19th-century American painted furniture and folk art. She is also actively involved in the Houston community. Helen was formerly a sales manager at International Trade Company, which was established by her parents in 1950 and was the second largest meat processing firm in the United States.
Helen graduated from Syracuse University in 1972. She earned a master’s in counseling and guidance from the School of Education; she also holds a degree from American University. Helen is a former president of the Syracuse University Houston Alumni Club. Her husband, Andrew Spector ’66, serves on the Hillel Board of Governors and is a former Alumni Board Officer and an Alumni Club President. Together, Helen and Andy have supported Syracuse University in a variety of ways. Their larger gifts established the Spector Holocaust Education Fund and Spector/Warren Fellowship, as well as the Spector Learning Laboratory in Bird Library and gifts to Hillel. Helen’s mother, Naomi Warren (1920-2016), was awarded the 2013 Tolley Medal for Distinguished Leadership in Lifelong Learning.
Felicia L. Walker ’87, P’17
New York, NY
Felicia Walker is founder and lead instructor at ByeFelicia LLC, a fitness studio that offers Cardio HIIT classes virtually. She also teaches Barre Fitness classes at Elements Barre Fit Studios in Manhattan and East Hampton, NY. She previously taught fitness classes at New York Health & Racquet Club.
Felicia is a 1987 graduate of Syracuse University, where she earned a B.S. in Retailing. She is the granddaughter of legendary Syracuse University football coach Ben Schwartzwalder (1949-1973) and his wife Ruth “Reggie” Schwartzwalder (deceased 2012).
Diana Wege ’76
New York, NY
Diana Wege is a New York-based conceptual artist who works in oil, acrylic, printmaking, and pencil. Her work has been shown at galleries and museums across the country and Japan and her collection of paintings was published in Land America Leaves Wild.
In 1997, Diana founded CrUSAde (later becoming Conflict Resolution Education Fund) to bring conflict resolution education to public schools in Connecticut, and she had a role in the passage of legislation that resulted in anti-bullying laws being implemented in 2002. Diana is also Founder and Board Chair of We Oppose Violence Everywhere Now (WOVEN), a nonprofit organization committed to curtailing violence across the globe. She is also vice-chairman of The Wege Foundation.
Diana graduated from Syracuse University in 1976, earning a B.F.A .in art from VPA. Diana and the Wege Foundation have partnered with the School of Education through the Collaborative Demonstration Project Fund to support conflict resolution through the Syracuse University Violence Prevention Project and the Safe and Peaceful Schools Initiative.
Lauri M. Zell ’77, P’14
Lauri Zell has worked as a consultant to not-for-profit organizations to implement programs in the fields of education and mental health, especially in the areas of direct client services and board development. A proponent of Holocaust Education, Lauri has been instrumental in the School of Education’s Atrocity Studies and the Practices of Social Justice Minor. Together, she and her husband—Jeffrey Zell ’77, president/CEO/founder of JM Zell Partners Ltd.—support the School of Education’s annual Atrocity Studies Lecture.
Early in her career, Zell was Director of Government Affairs with the Mining and Reclamation Council of America. She graduated in 1977 with a B.S. degree in Special Education from the School of Education. She also graduated from American University in 1984 with an M.B.A. degree.