Class Notes, Fall-Winter 2012



Dr. Claudette S. McLinn (MS ’83, EdD ’06) is currently the executive director for the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature. She served as the first African American chair of the Pura Belpré Medal Award Committee, as member of the Newberry Medal Award Committee, the Coretta Scott King Book Award Jury, and is on the 2013 Caldecott Medal Award Committee. She is a contributor to the book titled Multicultural Literature and Response: Affirming Diverse Voices, recently published by Libraries Unlimited. She retired from LAUSD in July 2011.


Dr. Leanne Neilson (’85, MA ’88, PsyD ’92) is the 2012 GSEP Psychology Division Distinguished Alumnus honoree. She is provost and vice president for academic affairs at California Lutheran University.


Dr. Sharon Sutton (MS ’88, EdD ’99) serves as UCLA Lab School’s technology coordinator and brings a hands-on philosophy to her duties by ensuring that students have access to one of the most important tools in 21st-century education.


Dr. Linda Purrington (EdD) and Dr. Robert Barner coled a keynote speaker follow-up session at the California Association of Professors of Educational Administration (CAPEA) 2012 spring conference in Sacramento, March 1-3. Purrington and Barner collaborated with five other CAPEA colleagues, facilitated table discussions related to keynote speaker Etienne Wenger’s presentation, and engaged CAPEA members in discussion related to how communities of practice might be introduced and supported in the preparation of educational leaders and in support of leadership practice and learning.


Dr. Satinder Dhiman (EdD) published a new book, Seven Habits of Highly Fulfilled People.


Dr. Debora h Farrington (MA ’96, PsyD ’00) was married on September 15, 2005. Her married name is Deborah Kelly.


Dr. Kurt Takamine (EdD) is the 2012 GSEP Education Division Distinguished Alumnus honoree. He is the chief academic officer, academic dean, and vice president of academic affairs at Azusa Pacific Online University.


Dr. Donna Gilliland (MS ’02, EdD ’10) has been promoted to director, certified evaluation support in LAUSD, effective August 1, 2012.

Dr. Laurie Tarter (MA) received her doctorate in clinical psychology in May 2012 and is currently working with children with autism.


Erika Ayala (MA) was recently promoted from math coach to assistant principal of Zela Davis Elementary School in the Hawthorne School District.

Dr. Christopher Freeman (EdD) recently adopted a second child from China. He and his family have committed themselves to providing families to orphaned or fatherless children. He has also partnered with the Ironman Foundation and Lifesong for Orphans in a 140.6-mile triathlon in support the fatherless and those who need defending, visiting, care, and adoption.


Jennifer Trubenbach (MA), the president of Operation Hope, was introduced as an Honorary Zimbabwean Rotary Member. She recently completed five days of neonatal and prosthetics clinics in Zimbabwe, Africa. Prosthetic hands were fitted on people without hands due to accident, birth defect, or violence.

Dr. Devin Vodicka (MS, EdD ’07) was selected as superintendent for Vista School District.


Lisa Bahar (MA) is currently facilitating dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skills training groups for the treatment of borderline personality disorder in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Dale Marsden (EdD) was recently selected as the new superintendent for the San Bernardino City School District, leaving his position as superintendent for the Victor Elementary District.

Dr. Denise “Nikki” Schaper (MA ’05, EdD ’09), associate dean of student services at MiraCosta College’s San Elijo Campus, was selected by Encuentros Leadership to receive the prestigious Sí Se Puede Award at the annual Encuentros Leadership Conference in October. The Sí Se Puede Award (“Yes, It Can Be Done”) was established in 2009 by Encuentros Leadership to honor the work of an individual who has gone beyond the call of duty to ensure the annual conference for boys of Latino descent is a success.


Dr. Steven Flynn (EdD) recently left his position as a middle school principal to begin a career as an administrator in Saudi Arabia.

Dorothy Kisling-Mendez (MA) has relocated to her home country of Belize, where she works with the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation, and Poverty Alienation in the development of a curriculum to enhance the counseling skills of counselors nationwide.


Sheila Shervey (MA) has joined the team at the Help Group. After attending GSEP’s Spring 2012 Career and Practicum Fair, the Help Group hired her as a new residential therapist. She will be working in a group home in Van Nuys, California.


Jessica Boro (MS) is the founding director of instruction for Valor Academy; the school recently received the highly coveted Distinguished School Designation.

Kongit Farrell (MA) recently appeared on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act to discuss her first book, She’s Worth the Chase: 10 Qualities Gamma Males Adore in the Women they Pursue and Marry.

Tammy Hong (MA) was recently hired as manager of outreach and recruitment for the Education Division of GSEP.

Dr. Curtis Odom (EdD) an alumnus of the EdD in Learning Technologies program has published a new book, Stuck in the Middle: A Generation X View of Talent Management. The book examines workplace culture when three generations are working side by side.


Jaya Bhumitra (MA) is campaigns director for Compassion Over Killing-Los Angeles and was recently recognized at the Los Angeles Business Journal Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards.


Dr. Charles Austin (EdD) published a new book, How to Find Work … And Keep Finding Work for the Rest of Your Life.

Daysi Mejia (MA) has joined Star View Community Services. After attending GSEP’s spring 2012 Career and Practicum Fair (also the year prior), she was hired at Star View Community Services for functional family therapy.

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