Staff Directory

Principal Investigators

 
 

Leadership

 
 
 

Student Staff

 
 
 

Kathleen King Thorius, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

  • Ph.D., Curriculum and Instruction, Special Education (2009)
    Doctoral Fellow- Dual University Grant to Prepare Culturally Responsive Special Education Professors
    Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
  • M.Ed. & C.A.G.S., School Psychology (1999)
    University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
  • B.A., Psychology (1996)
    Le Moyne College, Syracuse, New York
head shot young white woman smiling
As Principal Investigator of the Great Lakes Equity Center, Dr. Thorius (TOR-yuss) developed the center’s design and received funding for its implementation, as well as directs the center’s strategic and research efforts, along with the Co-PIs. She serves as an Assistant Professor of Urban Special Education in Indiana University’s School of Education at IUPUI. Her expertise is in policy and practice related to eliminating racial and linguistic disproportionality in special education, including Response to Intervention frameworks, and educators’ equity-focused professional learning. Previously Dr. Thorius was a Co-Director at The Equity Alliance at Arizona State University, which was the Region IV Equity Assistance Center and served as the professional learning coordinator for two Department of Education national technical assistance and dissemination centers: The National Center for Culturally Responsive Educational Systems (NCCRESt) and the National Institute for Urban School Improvement (NIUSI). Dr. Thorius’s research examines the ways in which systemic factors, including educational policy and educator practices and beliefs, converge to shape educational access, participation, and outcomes for students who have been historically marginalized. Dr. Thorius has a strong record of facilitating partnerships with state departments of education and school districts to create inclusive, culturally responsive educational systems. She also has extensive experience developing professional development resources and providing equity-oriented professional development to states, districts, institutes of higher education, and professional organizations.
 

Brendan Maxcy, Ph.D. 
Co-Principal Investigator

  • Ph.D., Educational Administration (2004)
    University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • M.Ed., Science Education (1996)
    University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • B.S., Education (1990)
    University of Maine, Orono, Maine
Dr. Maxcy is a Co-Principal Investigator for the Great Lakes Equity Center. He is also an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University School of Education at Indianapolis, and Co-Director of the School of Education’s Urban Principalship Program. Dr. Maxcy assists the Principal Investigator in the overall management of the Great Lakes Equity Center program. His areas of expertise include politics of education, critical policy analysis, critical leadership studies, and organizational theory. He is actively involved in preparing school- and district-level administrators to lead equitable and culturally responsive organizations. Dr. Maxcy’s research uses qualitative methods and critical theories to explore educational policies and school leaders’ responses to those policies. In addition to work on U.S. schooling, he has studied leadership in schools contending with national educational reforms and intense regional unrest in the border provinces of southern Thailand. His work is published in Urban Education, Peabody Journal of Education, Educational Policy, Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, and Educational Administration Quarterly.
 

Thu Suong Thi Nguyen, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator

  • Ph.D., Educational Administration, Policy, and Planning
    The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • M.A.T., Secondary Education
    Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
  • B.S., Biology
    Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas
Dr. Nguyen is a Co-Principal Investigator for the Great Lakes Equity Center and an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the Indiana University School of Education at Indianapolis. She also assists in management of the Great Lakes Equity Center program. Dr. Nguyen has expertise in critical leadership studies, cultural studies and education, educational policy, and qualitative research. She has worked closely with immigrant and refugee serving programs in Texas and Indiana seeking to create culturally responsive and socially just school policies and practices. Her scholarly interests include spatial and cultural (re)production, vulnerable populations and practices of place-making in and around school settings, and the treatment of difference. Dr. Nguyen’s work is published in Educational Policy, Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, International Journal of Leadership in Education, and the International Journal of Urban Education Leadership.
 

Seena M. Skelton, Ph.D. 
Director

  • Ph.D., School Psychology (2001) 
    University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • M.Ed., School Psychology (1996)
    University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • B.S., Psychology (1994)
    Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan
Seena Skelton
Dr. Skelton is Project Director of the Great Lakes Equity Center. As Project Director, she works in collaboration with the Center’s Principal Investigators to plan, direct, and manage projects and services offered to state and local education agencies throughout the Center’s six-state region. Dr. Skelton has worked as an educational consultant for a regional special education resource center in southwest Ohio, a lead consultant for three state-wide school improvement initiatives funded by the Ohio Department of Education, and as an Co- director of Professional Learning and Technical Assistance at the Equity Alliance at Arizona State University and Assistant Director of Professional Learning and Technical Assistance at the Great Lakes Equity Center at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She has garnered more than 15 years of experience working in the areas of systems change, school improvement, and educational equity. Dr. Skelton has been an adjunct professor at Northern Kentucky University, the University of Cincinnati, and the College of Mount Saint Joseph. She has co-authored book chapters on implementing systemic change for improved student outcomes, and regularly presents at numerous local, state, and national conferences on various topics related to promoting the achievement of diverse students.
 

Tiffany Kyser, Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Technical Assistance

  • Ph.D., Urban Education Studies (2016)
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • M.A. English (2010)
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.S., Education, Secondary Education, English (2003) 
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana 
Tiffany Kyser
Ms. Kyser is the Assistant Director of Technical Assistance for the Great Lakes Equity Center. In this role, she works in support of and collaboration with the Center’s team to plan, direct, and manage supports and professional learning experiences offered to state and local education agencies throughout the Center’s six-state region. Ms. Kyser has over ten years of experience in outreach education, K-12 teaching and administration, higher education administration, and education policy. Her research and work is rooted in collaboration, design thinking, and change management. Prior to joining the Great Lakes Equity Center, Ms. Kyser served as the Governance & Leadership Analyst for the City of Indianapolis and as Chief of Staff for Tindley Accelerated Schools.
 

Camille L. Warren, B.S.
Assistant Director of Continuos Improvement

  • M.P.A, Non-profit Management (in progress)
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.S., Zoology (2003)
    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
Camille Warren
Ms. Warren is the Assistant Director of Continuous Improvement for the Great Lakes Equity Center. She has over ten years of experience conducting both applied and social science research, including over seven years of experience conducting program evaluations. Initially, the focus of Ms. Warren’s research related to molecular and wildlife biology. In 2007, Ms. Warren shifted the focus of her research to formal and informal education with a particular emphasis on national STEM initiatives. Most recently, Ms. Warren has held research positions with the University of North Carolina and Horizon Research, Incorporated. Prior to joining the Great Lakes Equity Center, Ms. Warren served as the internal Program Evaluator and Research Coordinator for The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.
 

Maureen (Nickie) Coomer, M.Ed., Ph.D. Student
Graduate Assistant

  • Ph.D., Urban Education Studies (in progress) 
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • M.Ed., School Counseling, 2011
    University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • B.S., Special Education, 2005
    Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
Picture of Nickie Coomer, white female graduate student
Mrs. Coomer is a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Education Studies at Indiana University. She has been teaching Special Education for the last nine years, working in the juvenile justice system and public schools across the country and overseas. She has taught for Department of Defense Dependent Schools as a student teacher on Ramstein AirForce Base, for Harlem RBI in New York, New York, as an Intervention Specialist for students with Serious Emotional Disturbances in Ohio, and taught the inaugural year for a Pre-School Program for Children with Disabilities within a public school in Houston, Texas. She has presented twice at the All Ohio Counseling Conference, as well as the Behavioral Institute for Children and Adolescents on designing inclusive programs for students with a history of aggressive behaviors by systematically incorporating counseling theory into instruction. She was most recently able to bring her experience and graduate work to Indianapolis Public Schools as a Behavior Specialist, working with teachers, students, and families in 11 elementary schools. Her research interests include examining teacher perception through Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory, the way in which those perceptions affect how a teacher evaluates and disciplines student behavior, and the effect those disciplinary actions have on the trajectory of a student’s educational career.
 

Gayle Cosby, M.A., Ph.D. Student
Graduate Assistant

  • Ph.D., Urban Education Studies (in progress) 
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • M.A., Special Education, 2009
    Marian Universtiy, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.A., Sociology, 2003
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.A., Psychology, 2003
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
Picture of Gayle Cosby, female graduate student
Gayle Cosby joined the Great Lakes Equity Center in 2015 as a Graduate Assistant.  In this role, she works to support a variety of equity-centered outreach and direct service projects across the Great Lakes region.  Mrs. Cosby has eight years of experience in directing urban after school/summer programming and as an elementary Special Education teacher.  Mrs. Cosby’s areas of research interest include: emotional disabilities, systems of oppression, governance of public school systems, school choice within public school districts, and intersections of education, race, and class.  In addition to her role at the Great Lakes Equity Center, Gayle Cosby is also serving an elected term as a Commissioner for the Indianapolis Public Schools.
 

Robin Jackson, M.A., Ph.D. Student
Graduate Assistant

  • Ph.D., Urban Education Studies (in progress) 
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • M.A., Philanthropic Studies (2014)
    Certificate, Nonprofit Management (2014)
    Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.A. Sociology (2011)
    Minors: Africana Studies, Psychology (2011)
    Indiana University, School of Liberal Arts, Indianapolis, IN
Headshot of Robin Jackson, black female graduate student
Robin G. Jackson is a Ph.D. Candidate in Urban Education at the IU School of Education at IUPUI. She earned an MA in Philanthropic Studies through the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, with a certificate in Nonprofit Management from SPEA — also through IUPUI. Through her personal experiences, undergraduate degree in Sociology and minors in Africana Studies & Psychology, as well as the work she has done with AmeriCorps, Public Allies, the Journey Fellowship and other youth work opportunities, she has pursued and amassed great insight into urban communities. She has seen firsthand the implications and impact that systemic racism and disproportionality in education has had on its underrepresented population(s). Through her experiences both personal and professional, and with the knowledge and direction she will receive at the Great Lakes Equity Center, her ultimate goal is contribute her perspective to the Center’s wok, and to echo what has been done at the beginning of all revolutions: lift up the people who share her passions and concerns, and hopefully begin to help make the changes we have all been so desperately talking about.
 

Tammera Moore, M.Ed., Ph.D. Student
Graduate Assistant

  • Ph.D., Urban Education Studies (in progress)  
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • M.Ed., Counseling Education (2015)
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • B.S., General Studies (2013)
    Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana 
Headshot of Tammera Moore, black, female graduate student
Ms. Moore is a Ph.D. student in Urban Education Studies at Indiana University at Indianapolis. Before that she received a master’s degree in Counseling Education and Bachelors in General Studies from Indiana University at Indianapolis. Tammera is a licensed school counselor and has 20 years of experience working with children PreK-12th grade. Tammera has an interest in Special Education research, which includes racial disproportionality and the subjective labeling of African American students.