Diversity Advisory Board Member Profiles

Patricia Ann Ackerman, PhD., '83
Patricia Ackerman
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

I am the Executive Director of Chalkdust Education Foundation (CEF), who is also a retired public school educator that served as a teacher, principal and K-12 curriculum administrator. CEF, a non-profit organization, was created to offer enrichment opportunities, training programs and related resources to students, parents, education professionals and faith leaders in urban communities.  A champion of education for underachievers, I designed several innovative programs to address their unique needs, including Taylor Academy, an alternative high school that served 9th and 10th graders in the Cleveland Heights-University Heights [Ohio] City School district for 15 years (1987-2003).  I was a co-author of the Legacy of Literacy (2001) reading program for grades K-6 published by Houghton Mifflin.  I am the founder and managing director of IndeedWeCode, a computer coding program for African American girls in northeastern Ohio established in 2015. I am a past president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators (NABSE).  I served a 9-year term on the Ohio University Board of Trustees (1995-2004), a 2-year term on the Board of Directors of Lake Erie College (2005-2007), and a 4-year term on the Ohio Board of Regents (2010-2014).  A life member of the Kent State Alumni Association, I served one term on its Board of Directors. I was honored to be the morning speaker for the Kent State commencement in spring of 1997. 

What does the Diversity Advisory Board mean to you?

The Diversity Advisory Board is a valuable enhancement to the diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives undertaken and implemented by the administration, faculty and professional staff of Kent State.  Comprised of KSU alumni from  various walks of life, the DAB provides an array of perspectives to inform the continuous dialogue on relevant matters.  In these unusual times when dominant voices may drown out divergent views, mechanisms must be in place to assure that all are represented and heard.  Tolerance and respect for differences are essential values the institution must maintain consistently. Because I have long shared a commitment to these values, and have experienced their significance and impact in a variety of educational settings, I am delighted to offer whatever benefits my insights may provide to the DAB.

Favorite place on the Kent campus:

As a doctoral student in education, I spent most of my time in White Hall.  I have very fond and vivid memories of my learning experiences in that building.

Best advice for students:

Be true to yourself.  Do not compromise your values for the sake of friendship or popularity.  Learn how to express yourself with clarity in verbal and written form. Aim for excellence always.  Know your options and alternatives at all times.  Stay woke!

Education/Certifications:

B.A. English, Ohio University (1966); M.Ed. Educational Administration, Cleveland State University (1974); Ph.D. Educational Administration, Kent State University (1983). 

Awards/Honors:
  • 1981 - George A Bowman Fellowship in Educ. Admin.- Kent State University
  • 1982 - Women in Communications - Cleveland Communicators Awards
  • 1989 - Equal Opportunity Day - Urban League of Greater Cleveland
  • 1990 - Distinguished Alumni Award - Cleveland State University
  • 1991 - Black Alumni & Black Faculty Assn. - Cleveland State University
  • 1993-  President's Social Responsibility Award - Kent State University
  • 1995 - National Alliance of Black School Educators - Hall of Fame
  • 1997 - YWCA Women of Achievement (Greater Cleveland)
  • 1997 - Special Achievement Award _ Kent State Alumni Association
  • 2002 - Patricia A. Ackerman lobby - Ohio U. Templeton-Blackburn Mem. Aud.
  • 2002 - Patricia A. Ackerman computer lab - Ohio U. Multicultural Center 
  • 2004 - College of Arts & Sciences - Distinguished Alumna - Ohio University
  • 2007 - Distinguished Service - Ohio University Alumni Association
  • 2014 - Trailblazer - Ebony Bobcat Network - Ohio University
  • 2019 -  President's Ambassador -  Kent State University
Stephen Ashley, '75
Stephen Ashley
Board Position:

Member

Roxia Boykin, '71
Roxia Boykin
Board Position:

Chair

Alfreda Brown, EdD.
Alfreda Brown photo
Board Position:

Executive Leadership, Kent State University

Experience:

In the fall of 2009, Alfreda Brown Ed.D., was appointed as the first vice president for the division of diversity, equity and inclusion for Kent State University.  The new division was created as an integral part of the excellence agenda at Kent.  Its mission is to promote diversity, equity and inclusion across all eight Kent State campuses.  Alfreda Brown joined Kent State after serving 21 years in various positions at Rochester Institute of Technology including Chair of the Commission for Promoting Pluralism, Assistant Dean and Interim Chief Diversity Officer.  She served as a senior staff member to the institution’s president to implement and coordinate efforts that led toward a multicultural and inclusive campus.

Alfreda’s experience ranges from grassroots mentoring of individuals and underrepresented groups to teaching classes abroad, and leading university and community wide diversity initiatives. She is a strong advocate for strategic planning and results-oriented assessments to facilitate fact-based decision-making and the continuous improvement of diversity initiatives. Alfreda currently serves on the Steering Committee for Black Women’s Leadership Forum (Rochester New York), The Board of Directors for the State of Ohio League of Women Voters (Columbus, OH), The Board of Trustees for Our Lady of the Elms, (Akron, OH) and a board member of the Kent League of Women Voters in Kent, Ohio.

Alfreda has responsibility for the executive leadership and management of Kent State University’s diversity and inclusion matters, leading strategic diversity planning for the university and ensuring successful implementation of related policies, programs, and projects.  Alfreda Brown holds a bachelor’s degree from Roberts Wesleyan College, a master’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and a doctorate degree from Nova Southeastern University.

Education:

Bachelor's Degree, Roberts Wesleyan College, , Master's Degree, Rochester Institute of Technology, , Doctoral Degree,Nova Southeastern University.

Affiliations:
  • Rochester Women’s Network
  • National Association for Diversity Officers in Higher Education
  • Black Women’s Leadership Forum Steering Committee
  • American Association for Affirmative Action
Sharlene Chesnes, '93
Sharlene Chesnes
Board Position:

Member

Michael Kavulic, PhD., '17
Michael Kavulic photo
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

Dr. Kavulic has worked in higher education for over 10 years. Prior to joining Kent State, Dr. Kavulic earned his B.A. in English at the College of Wooster (2005), where he remained until 2007, working in the residence life department. He continued full time work in residence life while also pursuing his M.S. in Higher Education (2010) at Syracuse University. He then served as a member of the residential facilities team at Northern Illinois University before returning to Ohio to work at Kent State in 2012. Dr. Kavulic has served in a variety of roles at Kent State including Director of Communications for the Division of Information Services, Director of Board Operations and Technology for the Office of the President, and currently serves as the Director of Research Strategic Initiatives for the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs. He obtained his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration in 2017 from Kent State and has served as an instructor in Kent State’s Higher Education Administration program.

What does the Diversity Advisory Board mean to you?

The Diversity Advisory Board represents one of the undeniably Kent State ways that passionate and engaged members of the KSU family work together towards a brighter and more vibrant future and university.  Representing a range of committed individuals who deeply care for this university and its students, I see our work as integrally rooted in the proud and diverse fabric of the institution.  The DAB is a voice for positive change and continued progress towards more equitable and just experiences for all at KSU and especially for students.

Favorite place on the Kent campus:

Just about anywhere.  I love finding new spaces that I had previously not explored.  But if I am being honest, most who know me would likely argue that the Student Wellness and Recreation Center should be at the top of the list as you can usually find me there each day at lunch.

Best advice for students:

This journey is yours to own, but you are not alone in it.

Education/Certifications:

B.A. English, College of Wooster (2005); MS, Higher Education, Syracuse University (2010); PhD, Higher Education Administration, Kent State University (2017). 

Awards/Honors:
Dana Lawless-Andric,PhD., '01, '19
Dana Lawless-Andric photo
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

Prior to my role as Associate Vice President I oversaw our three federal TRIO Upward Bound programs as well as a STEM learning community. I have also been active at the state, regional and national level in policy analysis, access and graduation advocacy for first-generation, low-income students. I am currently a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE).

I graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and philosophy from Mount Union College and went on to complete my Master's degree in Higher Education Administration at Kent State. I am currently a candidate for a doctoral degree in Cultural Foundations of Education at Kent State. My research focuses on research on access and educational opportunity in higher education to public, four-year institutions of higher education.

Favorite place on the Kent campus:

I love all of Kent State's green spaces and trees! It is beautiful throughout the entire year but especially during Spring and Fall.

Best advice for students:

Cast a wide net! There is so much Kent State offers and the world beyond Kent State. Explore, connect with people and experiences different than your own, and build as many relationships as possible through kindness, dignity and a shared sense of humanity.

Education/Certifications: 

B.A., Psychology and Philosophy, Mount Union College, M.Ed., Higher Education Administration, Kent State University, Ph.D., Cultural Foundation, Kent State University.

Awards/Honors:
  • 2012 Kent State University Institute for Excellence for Administrators Graduate
  • 2010 Kent State University President’s Excellence Award Recipient
  • 2010 30 For the Future, Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce Award
  • 2010 Kent State University Mothers, Mentors and Muses Award Recipient
Rev. Rhonda Lawrence, '84, '96, '07
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

I worked as an Educator PreK -12 Teacher/Teacher Librarian taught Freshman Seminar, Senior Seminar, Speech & Journalism. School Newspaper and Yearbook Advisor Cleveland Metropolitan School District. I hold fond memories of successfully completing a large grant proposal as part of a teaching team that created a computer lab in our school. I enjoyed facilitating workshops on Journalism Day sponsored by the League of Women Voters and watching with pride as students placed in competition. It was with great joy I taught students to discover events in their school and neighborhood and capture stories and events for their school newspaper and yearbook. 

I've committed to 5 units of work/study in Clinical Pastoral Education as Chaplain at the 3rd largest VA Louis Stokes VA Medical Center serving our nations veterans. Today, I serve as an Associate Minister serving in full-time ministry preaching, teaching and providing pastoral care. I facilitate workshops on Grief & Loss and living Wholly. 

What does the Diversity Advisory Board mean to you?

As womanist in my thinking and engagements I believe in the wholeness of relational encounters between and among persons. This translates to respectful, openness in engagements with others. The Diversity Advisory Board is a medium to see the deportment of diverse people on behalf of equity and inclusion of All. A challenging and good work for the betterment of community representative of diversity.

Favorite place on any of the Kent State campuses.

The grounds of the Kent Student Center.  An appointed place of rendezvous for various activities public and personal.

Best advice for students:

Enjoy your time as a collegiate. Take advantage of opportunities that will permit growth of experience and challenge and motivate you for the good of self and others.

Education/Certifications:
  • B.A. Telecommunications,Kent State University, 1984 
  • MAT, Kent State University, 1996 
  • MLIS, Kent State University, 2007
  • MAR, Ashland Seminary, 2014
Awards/Achievements:
  • Association of Professional Chaplains 
  • National Council on Problem Gambling
  • National Black Chaplains Association
  • Cleveland Baptist Association, Ministers Council
  • Chaplain, Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
     

 

 

Ruth Price Rollins, '73, '75
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

I have quite a diverse work history beginning with the Xerox Corporation as a Customer Service Representative.  After completing my Masters Degree Program, I worked at Cleveland State University as an Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions where I coordinated Adult Recruitment and managed and supervised Foreign Student Admissions.  I began my 35 year career in  Pharmaceutical Sales with  Alcon Laboratories , Reed and Carnrick Pharmaceuticals and Abbott Laboratories.  I became an Immunology Specialist with AbbVie when it was formed from Abbott Laboratories.  I am now happily retired as of December 31, 2016.

What does the Diversity Advisory Board mean to you?

It is an opportunity to give back  and serve in an area where there is still much work to be done.  We live in such a diverse society, however all the needs of the Diverse are not met to the fullest degree.  I am pleased to work toward that goal through the Diversity Advisory Board. It will allow the opportunity to utilize professional and life skills that can contribute to the advancement of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.  This is indeed an honor.

Favorite place on any of the Kent State campuses:

My favorite place was the old Student Union because it had the best hamburgers!

Best advice for students:

Do not take for granted the opportunity that has been provided for you to advance your education.  Socialize, make new friends and network, but most importantly,  study and show yourself approved. Many sacrifices have been made to get you here.  Make the best of it and take it very seriously.

Education/Certifications:

B.A. Psychology, Kent State University (1973); M.Ed. Educational Administration, Kent State University (1975).

Awards/Honors:

Most of my awards came from my sales career, such as Presidents Award, All Star, Rising Star, to name just a few.  Currently, I serve as 1st Vice President and Programs Chair of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Greater Cleveland Alumnae Chapter. 

Gary Stiffler, '81
Alfreda Brown awards Gary Stiffler DAB Achievement Award
Board Position:

Emeritus Chair

Sonya Williams, '89
Sonya Williams photo
Board Position:

Member

Experience:

Prior to coming to KSU, I worked in both the corporate and non-profit sectors in top-tier management positions, serving lastly as Director of the Foster Grandparent Program for Summit County at Akron Summit Community Action.

Favorite place on the Kent campus:

Our campus is absolutely gorgeous and so maintained beautifully. My favorite place is outside, walking this beautiful campus when the weather is conducive.

Best advice for students:

My advice to students, no matter the category, is to make certain that they are confident in their own abilities. College or work life is not for the faint of heart! Confidence in your abilities will propel you even when there is fear. Confidence will eliminate nay-sayers!

Education: 

MA, Curricular and Instructional Studies and English, University of Akron, BA, Rhetorical Speaking and Communication, Kent State University

Awards/Honors:
  • Graduate and Class President of Inaugural Leadership Akron Diversity on Boards
  • Leadership Portage County
  • Outstanding Leader- Ohio Association of Community Action Council
  • Chapter Adviser - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc