Spring 2024 Unity in Diversity Speaker Bios

Meet some of the speakers for our Spring 2024 two-day Unity in Diversity event

Dr. Divya Anand is a passionate advocate, educator, and activist who is dedicated to promoting equity and justice. She holds a Ph.D. in Cultural Sociology and Literature from La Trobe University, Australia, and has worked in various Diversity and Inclusion roles throughout her career. In addition to teaching, she has served as a D and I associate at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Driven by a deep commitment to justice, she founded Gaia Connections, which offers customized equity and antiracism workshop series for youth and adults in various organizational spaces. Currently, she serves as the Project Director of the non-profit organization, The Mystic Project. As a senior faculty member at Cambridge College, she continues to contribute academically with her teaching and research, centered on whiteness in the US education system.

Dr. Brandi Baldock is an Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in Merrimack’s Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Her laboratory research focuses on investigating how the structure and composition of nanoparticles impact their reactivity towards biomolecules such as DNA and cellular biomarkers. Her chemical education research focuses on developing new ways to engage students and promote their success. For several years, she has taught a first year experience course focused on challenges and opportunities presented to women in STEM disciplines. Dr. Baldock is an active member of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and has delivered numerous presentations and published peer-reviewed journal articles related to nanoparticle design, synthesis and characterization, as well as how to engage students and promote active learning in chemistry lecture and laboratory courses.

A’mari Bing-Way is a graduate fellow from Maryland and is in the Community Engagement program. She graduated from The American University of Paris with a BA in Global Communications with minors in Gender Studies and Socio-cultural Anthropology. At Merrimack, she’s involved in DEI initiatives including presiding over the Graduate Students of Color Association and participating in Conversations with Warriors.

Cyndy Carlson has been a hard working student and hourly employee in Massachusetts, an engineering project manager on stormwater and combined sewage projects in the US, a water resources engineer, developing drinking water and wastewater projects in the middle & far east  and most recently a civil engineering professor, encouraging students to consider how they can improve the lives of people and protect the environment through fulfilling careers in engineering. She has 4 cats, 3 human children, and a professional engineer’s license.

Catherine Chandler is the Director of Graduate Academic Success in the Graduate Center at Merrimack and has volunteered extensively with LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations. She lives in Haverhill with her wife, Alexandra, and two children. 

Lori McCluskey Corcoran, Ed.D. is the Director of the Accessibility Services Office and Compliance Officer at Merrimack.  Her work is in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion with a special interest in disability. She has over 20 years of experience in the administration of federal and state ADA, EEO, and Title IX laws in Higher Education. Her work has been recognized locally, state-wide and nation-wide by leadership awards, speaker at conferences, and recipient of multiple grants. Lori is fluent in American Sign Language and certified as a Sign2Me instructor.

Haley Dufton ’23 During her time at Merrimack, Haley majored in Communication and Media with double minors in Women’s and Gender Studies. Haley has ADHD along with Anxiety. On campus, Haley worked in ASO as an Activate Peer Mentor as well as at the front desk. Haley is currently a Patient Services Representative for an Orthopedic Office in Peabody. Recently she applied to the Master’s of Library Studies and Information Sciences program from Simmons University to hopefully continue her education in the fall of 2024 and is awaiting a decision. 

Isabel Fernandes ’21, M’ 22, M’ 23 is bilateral cochlear implant user with profound hearing loss. During her time at Merrimack, Isabel was a student in the Education program who worked in ASO as a success coach and student taught in various schools working with students with disabilities and multilingual learners. Currently, Isabel is an 8th grade teacher working primarily with multilingual learners.

Charles Gendreau ’24 is a senior currently studying Communications with a minor in Public Relations. In his spare time, Charles tries to remain up to date with politics and social issues. He plans to pursue a career in public relations after graduation..

Dr. Laura Hsu is an Associate Professor and Program Director of the Human Development & Human Services (HDHS) Program at Merrimack College. She teaches Intro to Human Development and Diversity, Social Justice & Ethics to HDHS and Education majors. She has had an active role in various D&I programming at Merrimack, including as a member of the Faculty Senate DEI Committee, a moderator for Unity in Diversity Days, a panelist for FYE’s Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Roundtable, and a participant in campus and community forums on COVID-19 and Asian American racism. She is also involved in a number of community education projects, including as a co-founder and co-facilitator of a summer civic engagement program with middle school students at the Lawrence YMCA and as an instructor in the jail education program in Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

Beth Killian LCSW (she/her) Co-Founder, Lead Facilitator – Beth Killian is a distinguished clinical social worker and facilitator, using her expertise to promote healing through creative expression. Beginning at Providence College with LGBTQ+ Safe Space workshops, her trajectory led to trauma- informed curriculums. During her Master’s at Smith College, she integrated music into care for the elderly. Hailing from a musical family, Beth understands music’s healing properties, which has led her to various venues, including Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. As Lead Educator at an arts nonprofit, she championed mental wellness on campuses and has collaborated with organizations at the intersection of creative expression, mental health, and social justice. Based in Providence, she balances roles as a clinician, musician, and consultant, emphasizing the transformative power of music for wellness.

 Andrew Kirschner, NYCPS-P (he/him) Co-Founder, CEO — Lead Facilitator Andrew Kirschner is a Certified Peer Support Specialist dedicated to the confluence of art and social impact. His passion for the arts and ability to connect people has transformed many lives. Notably, Andrew served as the Managing Director of an international arts-based mental health nonprofit championing stigma reduction around mental illness using film, theater, music, and poetry. He has collaborated with mental health advocates in over 150 schools across the United States and Canada, to equip students with transformational tools for change. A seasoned performer for over a decade, Andrew’s musicianship lies in a cappella and musical theater, founding a top-tier New York City performance group. His work often benefits nursing homes and hospitals, harnessing music’s power to heal lives.

Alex Krupski ‘24 is a Senior studying Business Administration with a concentration in Management. He is the current President of DREAM and first joined the organization when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder to find comfort and community in those who are similar. Alex is a part of OnStagers as well and is currently interning at Tsoutsouras and Company in Ipswich, MA.

Kadie LaFlamme received a BA with a focus in Legal Studies and Political Science from UMass Lowell and a MLIS from Simmons College. She began working at the McQuade Library back in 2015, and loved every minute of it. She serve as McQuade’s Access Services Librarian, as well as the liaison to the Winston School of Education and Social Policy. She enjoys true crime, hiking, YA fantasy novels, punk rock and dismantling oppressive systems. 

Samantha Lassey ’24 is a senior at Merrimack from Kennebunk, Maine majoring in political science with minors in pre-law and Spanish. After graduation, she plans to build work experience in the field and focusing on law school applications, which she plans to attend in the Fall of 2025.

Jaydahrius Levy ’24 is a senior at Merrimack studying Business with a concentration in Marketing. Jaydahrius works as an office assistant in The Food Recovery Network. He assists in helping the less fortunate in getting warm meals and reducing food waste. After Jaydahrius graduates he will be seeking employment opportunities in Marketing and assisting in the growth of a company.

Bryan Mascio is an adjunct lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a guest faculty for Power of Place Learning Community. He has a background as a K-12 teacher working with students and families who have been disserved by the traditional system, and as a teacher educator preparing equity-oriented teachers. He works as an education consultant supporting teachers and schools (PK-12 and higher education) who wish to increase their incorporation of equitable and inclusive practices, such as
Universal Design for Learning (UDL), trauma-informed practices, culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP), and alignment with neurodiversity. A list of his publications – both scholarly and public-facing – as well as additional information can be found at linkedin.com/in/bryan-mascio-education.

Dr. Debra Michals is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Gender, Diversity, and Social Justice Department. As a 20th century feminist historian, her research focuses on the relationship between women’s entrepreneurship and workplace discrimination and includes the experiences of other marginalized groups, as well as the connections between social movement activists and engagement with capitalism. Dr. Michals recently completed her book manuscript for Rutgers University Press, She’s the Boss: The Rise of Women’s Entrepreneurship Since World War II (forthcoming, late 2024). She has been an invited lecturer for Women’s History Month on the gender pay gap, and her expertise also extends to issues of Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Inclusion historically and contemporarily. She teaches courses on women’s and LGBTQ+ history, social movements, and gender and business, and most recently worked with a student in a directed study who wanted to create a syllabus highlighting path-breaking women in STEM who remain invisible to history and the challenges they faced. Dr. Michals and Dr. Baldock plan to create a new team-taught course on women and other under-represented groups in STEM, and they look forward to input from this workshop. 

Joely Ortiz ’26 is a sophomore at Merrimack College. She is a resident of Lawrence and comes from Dominican origins. Joely is majoring in Environmental Science and wants to pursue a career in  Environmental Economy. Along with her interest in environmental protection, she also loves studying different cultures and communities. .

Nathan Persampieri ’24 is a Senior studying Social Justice, with a minor in Communication and Media. He is very passionate about advocating for people with disabilities. He is very involved in Student Government and DREAM. When he graduates this summer, he hopes to work at a non–profit, advocacy organization, or in government.

Mackenzie Reynolds ’24 is a Senior at Merrimack studying Communication and Media with a Minor in Political Science. Mackenzie has Central Auditory Processing Disorder along with Anxiety. On campus, Mackenzie works in the Accessibility Services Office, serves as an Activate Peer Mentor, and is one of the First-Year Experience Mentor Coordinators. After College Mackenzie is seeking employment opportunities in the Communication and or the Public Relations field. 

Cody Schram is a current Civic and Community Engagement Graduate Fellow earning his Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Merrimack College. Through his fellowship work, he is honing his strengths as an educator, advisor, and mentor, with a program rooted in connecting undergraduate students to service learning opportunities, building confident and competent leaders, and helping to establish personal and professional self-efficacy. After earning his undergraduate degree from Emerson College, and spending the next 10+ years in the fields of creative media arts and soccer coaching, he hopes to apply his unique lived experiences and invaluable time spent participating in social justice collectives to help aid in creating an inclusive, warm, and welcoming environment both in and out of the classroom.

Eleanor Shonkoff’s research examines the links between parent factors (e.g. feeding practices, stress), child dietary intake and child obesity risk, particularly within underserved populations facing food insecurity. Her background training in psychology, health behavior research and nutrition leads her to take a mixed methods approach to child nutrition work. She has identified links between maternal stress, weight-related parenting behavior, child diet, child physical activity, and child obesity risk. Other research has expanded tools for dietary assessment including co-development and validation of a method using digital images in the quick serve restaurant environment and a method using Artificial Intelligence. She is the Co-PI of a CDC REACH cooperative agreement with the City of Lawrence, evaluating a whole-of-community approach addressing diet, physical activity and continuity of care in breastfeeding support. She’s developing a low-cost, sustainable obesity treatment program delivered through community organizations for families facing food insecurity and a location-aware artificially intelligent virtual assistant to provide diet-related advice and nutrition assistance. 

Sarah Simmons currently serves as the Assistant Director of Accessibility Services and Activate Program Coordinator at Merrimack College. She graduated from Merrimack’s Master’s of Higher Education Program in 2021 and prior to that completed her undergraduate degree in Communications, Sociology, and Gender Studies. Sarah has worked with neurodivergent students both in residential and college settings for several years.

Christopher Stuetzle is an Associate Professor and chair of the Computer and Data Sciences Department. This is his twelfth year at Merrimack. He teaches courses in artificial intelligence, web development, software engineering, and computer graphics. His current research areas of interest are food justice and technology’s role in it, federated machine learning in healthcare, and traffic congestion alleviation through natural language and genetic algorithmic techniques. His hobbies include gaming, photography, and writing.

Andrea Wamboldt is the Director of First Year Experience at Merrimack College.

Maria Teresa (MT) Davila teaches, mentors, preaches, and writes in the areas of public theology, migrant and racial justice, the use of force, and social justice from the lens of the preferential option for the poor. MT is a Roman Catholic laywoman, known globally for her work in Catholic theological ethics. Together with Agnes Brazal she is co-editor of Living With(out) Borders: Theological Ethics and People on the Move (Orbis Books, 2016), a collection of international scholars reflecting ethically on the experience of migrations and the movements of people. She is a regular contributor to Theology en la Plaza, the first Latin column at a national Catholic newspaper. Her work has also appeared on Syndicate, and Political Theology Today.