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EdInsights’ staff/fellows who contribute to the CSU Student Success Network.
Finance and Operations Coordinator
Dylan is the Finance and Operations Coordinator for the CSU Student Success Network. Prior to joining EdInsights, Dylan worked in human resources for Major League Baseball and in student finance advising for DeVry University. Dylan earned his BA in Performing Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals in higher education.
Director of Statewide Initiatives
Terra is the Director of Statewide Initiatives, including the Network, for EdInsights. She is passionate about helping individuals and organizations build capacity to help students find success across systems. Prior to joining EdInsights, Terra ran LegiSchool, a civic education collaboration between Sacramento State and the State Legislature that connects students and state leaders to talk about public policy. Her interest in education began a decade ago just outside Seattle, Washington, as an AmeriCorps volunteer in the Bremerton School District.
Terra holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Sacramento State and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Seattle University.
Dr. Bianca Mothé is Professor of Biological Sciences at CSU San Marcos. She serves as Director of the Middle Leadership Academy in the CSU Student Success Network. Bianca focuses on supporting students through the undergraduate experience, especially those from underserved backgrounds. She is passionate about creating highly engaging experiences for students through research and by training peers and colleagues to prioritize student success.
Larissa M. Mercado Lopez
Larissa M. Mercado-López, PhD, is an associate professor of Women’s Studies at California State University, Fresno, where she teaches courses on women of color feminisms and engages in proactive mentorship. Within the Student Success Network, Larissa serves as Conference Director for the CSU Student Success Conference. Her academic scholarship is in the fields of Chicana feminism and Literature, and her campus service focuses on researching and improving the student parent population and the Latina PhD pipeline. Larissa is committed to public scholarship and serves as a Senior Editor for the National Center for Institutional Diversity Public Scholarship Initiative at the University of Michigan.
Research Director/Executive Director for EdInsights
Andrea Venezia is Professor in the Public Policy and Administration Department and Executive Director of the Education Insights Center (EdInsights) at California State University, Sacramento. Her work focuses on improving student readiness for, and success in, some form of postsecondary education, particularly for students who are traditionally underserved. See her full bio at EdInsights. For the Network, she acts as the Research Director as well as an adviser on strategic issues such as the structure of Network events, the integration of learning across all Network activities, relationship development, communicating with key groups, being accountable for the work, resource allocation, and the effectiveness of the work.
The CSU Network compensates middle leaders for some of their time to lead key aspects of the work.
Robert Gabriner is the Director of the SF State University Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership for Community Colleges and Schools. He is also the chair of the Leadership Initiative of the Research and Planning Group which sponsors the annual Leading from the Middle Academy. Prior to coming to SF State, Dr. Gabriner was the Vice Chancellor for Institutional Advancement and Dean of Research, Planning and Grants, at City College of San Francisco. He has been with the California community colleges for 39 years as a history instructor and administrator. During the 1980s, he was the president of the Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers. Dr. Gabriner has been instrumental in establishing and implementing a number of statewide initiatives in California including AB 1725; the ARCC accountability system for California Community Colleges; and the current Basic Skills Initiative. Dr. Gabriner was also a member of the Student Success Task Force which was the originator of the proposals in the Student Success Act. Dr. Gabriner’ s most recent publications include a book-length study with Dr. Norton Grubb, Basic Skills in Community Colleges, and Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges.
Melinda Karp is the founder of Phase Two Advisory, which works with colleges, foundations, and non-profits to design and execute evidence-based reform strategies. A nationally-recognized expert on smoothing students’ transitions to college and supporting them once there, she specializes in helping practitioners understand research findings and translating it into action. Melinda consults with the Network on the design and implementation of Convenings.
Prior to founding Phase Two, Melinda was the assistant director at the Community College Research Center (CCRC), Teachers College, Columbia University. At CCRC, Melinda led a large portfolio of studies focused on community college and high school reform. She was also responsible for building CCRC’s internal functions, including managing professional development, strategic planning, and external relations.
Melinda holds a B.S. in human development and family studies from Cornell University; an M.A. in sociology and education from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a Ph.D. in sociology and education from Columbia University.
Thad Nodine, a novelist and writer specializing in education policy, is working with the Network to help document, share, and support innovative efforts to improve student readiness for and success in higher education. For 20 years, Thad has partnered with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to advance policies and practices that can help more students, particularly low-income students, attain higher levels of education. He has published extensively about K-12 efforts to improve readiness for college and careers, and college efforts to increase student completion and success. Thad has direct experience with federal, state, and local government—as a speech writer for former U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles, a journalist covering education issues in the Colorado General Assembly, and a trustee of Santa Cruz City Schools in California. He has been communications director of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education; vice president of the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education; and managing editor of online and print publications, including Measuring Up: The State-by-State Report Card for Higher Education. He has taught writing in community colleges and universities. His debut novel, Touch and Go, won the Dana Award for Fiction. Thad has a Ph.D. in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a B.A. in government from Oberlin College.