Faculty & Staff

Union Institute & University and Rotary Club to host reception for Mandela Washington Fellows

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Pictured left to right: Rotary World Affairs Committee member Baffour Otchere, Fellow Nahla Maalla, Fellow sponsor Megan Fischer of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank, Fellow Leticia Asangono, Fellow Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Fellow sponsor Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm, and Rotary World Affairs Committee member Rand Oliver.

Union Institute & University and Rotary Club of Cincinnati will host a reception for Mandela Washington Fellows on Wednesday, August 21 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the university’s headquarters at 440 East McMillan Street in Walnut Hills.

“Union is delighted to join the Rotary Club of Cincinnati in hosting the Mandela Washington Fellows,” said Dr. Rand Oliver, UI&U professor and Director of Alumni Affairs and member of the Rotary Club World Affairs Committee. “Union’s commitment to social justice mirrors Rotary International’s mission to advance goodwill around the world.”

The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders was established in 2014. The flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), it empowers young people through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking. In 2019, the Fellowship has provided 700 outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa with the opportunity to hone their skills at a U.S. college or university with support for professional development after they return home.

The Fellows, who range in age from 25 to 35, are all accomplished in promoting innovation and positive impact in their organizations, institutions, communities, and countries. In 2018, Fellows represented a diverse group of leaders from 48 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Meet the four Fellows working in Cincinnati below.


Mandela Washington Fellowship Biographies

Amedy Pereira, Sao Tome and Principe. Working with La Terza Coffee.

Amedy Taty Pereira is the manager of Ephraim, a family business that–in addition to producing coffee and cocoa– is also a restaurant and a guest house in the heart of São Tomé. Amedy inherited the company from his father, the only coffee and cocoa producer on the island at the time, at the age of 18 after a health scare. Given the opportunity to manage the growth of Ephraim, Amedy has been at the firm ever since. The opportunity to lead the company fostered a previously untapped entrepreneurial desire. Amedy is also a volunteer and leader in the Association Asas Célélé, which aims to support underprivileged children and orphans in the community of Roça Monte Café. He is a communicative, resilient, organized, and passionate leader that continually looks to develop his skills to add value to Ephraim.

Leticia Asangono, Equatorial Guinea. Working with Sweet Cheeks Diaper Bank.

Leticia Alene Nsue Asangono has eight years of experience in the oil and gas industry and works as a contract analyst for Marathon Oil. She is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration at Atlantic International University and is a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur. Outside of her studies, Leticia runs ONG Pañales Y Comida Infantil (ONG PACOIN), a non-governmental organization that provides free food and diapers to children in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. As the founder of ONG PACOIN and a single mother, Leticia intimately knows the challenges parents face when raising a child. Leticia also volunteers with organizations, and currently works with the La Ronda Project by donating food and clothing to families affected by fires in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Leticia plans to open new ONG PACOIN branches throughout Equatorial Guinea to support more children and families in need.

Nahla Maalla, Sudan. Working with the City of Cincinnati Office of Environment and Sustainability

Nahla Maalla is a certified energy management professional and the founding engineer of the energy conservation project in DAL Dairy factory. She is an alumnus of the 2018 Arab Program for Sustainable Energy Youth program which took place in Egypt 2018 and was a member of the first prize winner team in the United Nations Development Programme 2015 Social Good Summit. She is also blogger, through which she shares her insights about the energy issues, opportunities and its associated socio-economic impacts on the sustainable development in Sudan.

Otil Amoroso Lufuma, Angola. Working with Carriage House Farm.

Otíl Venancio Amoroso Lufuma is a young farmer from Soyo, Angola with seven years of experience in agriculture. Otíl primarily works in banana and maize production and is the founder of an agribusiness start-up and manager of his own farm. Otíl has completed several trainings on modern farming technologies and volunteers in his community as a leading agriculturalist helping women and young children from low-income families to pursue careers in agriculture. Growing up in a low-income family himself, Otíl learned to farm from his grandparents. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Otíl’s long-term goal is to work on self-sustainable agricultural growth projects to fight malnutrition, hunger, and extreme poverty.


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Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Anu Mitra named recipient of Union’s Gopman Faculty Research Award and a Fulbright Scholarship

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A first-of-its-kind research project will take Dr. Anu Mitra to Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana.

Dr. Mitra, professor in Union’s Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies program, will study the South Asian/Indian people who arrived in this Caribbean in the 1840s.

“The Herbert L. and Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman Research Fund will allow me to examine the art that emerged from the Indian migration to the Caribbean in the first wave of immigration,” said Mitra.

She seeks to stitch together their oral and visual traditions. In doing so, she will explore questions of visibility and invisibility, of distance and proximity, of power and powerlessness, of remembering and dis-remembering, as they are elucidated in the visual and cultural effects of the South Asian/Indian diaspora in this region.

Dr. Mitra’s project for the Fulbright Scholarship will extend this study and address questions such as:

  • Who is an American?
  • Can immigrants have the same influence and role in American society as their white counterparts?
  • How can immigrants reclaim self-hood?
  • Can this reclamation have redemptive values?
  • If so, what are they and how can they be accessed for the greater good of the American democratic process and a just society?


Dr. Mitra’s Research Advances the UI&U Mission

Both projects proposed by Dr. Mitra advance UI&U’s mission. They do so by using interdisciplinary methodology to explore issues of social justice and injustice in the world, which has been the compass guiding her work.

“I want to explore the feelings of inequality and disenfranchisement that are part of the Indian psyche and the injustices that are latent in the system that promotes this mindset. I also want to problem-solve, through the visual artifacts that remain, and determine how self-representation and self-identifying narratives can be changed through the pictorial story,” said Mitra.

Dr. Nelson Soto, provost and vice president for academic affairs shared his thoughts. “Dr. Mitra’s work is an excellent example of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities. Her goal is to shed light and develop new insights through multiple lenses. Her work informs her teaching and provides new perspectives to our students as they fulfill their educational journeys and pursue pathways where they can make a difference.”

Alumna Dr. Beth Alswanger Gopman and her late husband, Herbert, established The Gopman Fund to encourage and fund faculty research. The Fulbright Global Scholar Program promotes international goodwill through the exchange of researchers and students in the fields of education, culture, and science.


About Dr. Anu Mitra

Dr. Mitra has served Union Institute & University since the 1990s, as an administrator, faculty member, and dissertation chair. She believes strongly in interdisciplinarity – believing that our world is too complex and dynamic to understand through the lens of a single discipline. Her research and workshops linking art and social justice and art and leadership development have been offered at many forums, including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the University of Cincinnati Medical School, and to doctoral candidates at Union Institute & University. She continues to be drawn to the idea that all problems are capable of being solved, but only if we are able to view multiple solutions through the lenses of different perspectives.

Dr. Mitra serves on the boards of the Cincinnati Ballet and Cincinnati Art Museum. Her areas of expertise are visual culture, arts-based practices, art, and leadership development. She has presented on several aspects of her work, most recently at the Art of Management and Organizations, American Management Association, International Leadership Association, among others. Dr. Mitra has traveled to more than 50 countries and lived on three continents. Her passions include frequenting museums, movies, and reading fiction. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Dr. Shanda L. Gore

Dr. Shanda L. Gore Appointed Vice President for Institutional Innovation and Economic Development at Union Institute & University

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Dr. Shanda L. Gore

President Karen Schuster Webb, Ph.D., has announced the appointment of Shanda L. Gore, Ed.D., as the first Vice President of Institutional Innovation and Economic Development at Union Institute & University. Dr. Gore will work with the leadership team to develop long-term revenue strategies for enrollment growth, new market access, and targeted funding sources.

“Union Institute & University is recognized as a student-centered academic leader. I believe in Union’s mission to serve students across the nation. Union’s commitment to social justice addresses the concerns for today. The opportunity to lead the university in institutional innovation and economic development is exciting and I look forward to working with Union’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community partners,” said Dr. Gore.

Dr. Gore has held several roles in higher education including associate vice president, chief diversity officer, and an executive director for 15 years at the former Medical College of Ohio Foundation and the University of Toledo (UT). A seasoned fundraiser, she has raised funds through events, donor relations, and grants totaling more than $2 million in the last six years. She has also taught at undergraduate and graduate levels and served on dissertation committees. As an administrator, she created and directed the regional UT Minority Business Development Center and was recently awarded additional funding to enhance its virtual capabilities worldwide.

“We are honored to have Dr. Gore join Union as the university defines its future,” said President Webb. “Her vast experience and knowledge will be an asset as we increase strategic partnerships, enhance our work within our communities across the nation, and provide diverse educational opportunities to engage, enlighten, and empower adult students with the education they need to transform lives and communities.”

In the private sector, Dr. Gore has been a trainer, marketing coordinator and specialist for regional and national firms. She is the president and founder of Mays and Associates, LTD, a strategic planning and consulting company serving clients across the United States. She has served as the president of the Ohio Diversity Officers Collaborative, State of Ohio Coordinator of the American Association of Access, Equity, and Diversity, and currently serves as State co-chair and executive board member for the American Council of Education (ACE) Women’s Ohio Network.

She has published and presented at competitive conferences, including the Higher Learning Commission, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Diversity Council Leadership Conference, and the Annual National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. Recognized as an African American Legacy Emerging Leader of Excellence, she is the recipient of the Toledo Urban Federal Credit Union Community Appreciation Award. She recently completed workshops for Big 10, MAC, and Mid Atlantic NFL officials on team building strategies.

Dr. Gore is a graduate of Bowling Green State University from which she earned three degrees: a Bachelor of Communications degree, a Master’s of Communication with a study emphasis on minority communities in the Greater Toledo Ohio area, and a Doctor of Education in Leadership Studies. Her research area was involvement behaviors and minority medical student retention.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program that expands your knowledge and expertise. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click to learn more.

Softball and Higher Education Equal a Home Run for Julie Crandall

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When you talk to Julie Crandall, executive director of UI&U’s Sacramento Academic Center, you quickly learn she has two passions – softball and higher education.

The retired professional softball player, who attended University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) on a full scholarship, is a two-time All-American.

“I was a tomboy and grew up playing baseball with the boys,” said Julie. “I switched to softball because opportunities for girls were more prevalent.”

Her prowess on the field landed her in the UNLV Hall of Fame as a team member and as a catcher. Her team was third in the nation. She was also the 1998 UNLV Sportswoman of the Year.

As a professional, she travelled the country and played exhibition games with the U.S. Olympic team.

“My mind focuses when I am on the field,” said Julie who now plays slow softball. “I am at my happiest playing.”

Crandall completed her master’s in communications at Auburn University in Alabama, where she was a graduate assistant. A chapter on her thesis on millennial celebration time and frequency was published Expressions of Ethnography—the chapter is titled “The Millennium Waltz”.

Her other passion is higher education.

“My parents were high school teachers. I always knew I was headed to college,” she says.

Julie believes in higher education and in Union. “Education is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Union students are special in that they are working adults, juggling a career, family, and school,” said Julie who teaches two classes for Union.

She recently became System Director for Regional Recruiting along with her duties as Executive Director of the Sacramento Academic Center. Her work fit into Union’s goal to develop unique adaptations to the various locations served, while maintaining seamless integration with the Enrollment and Marketing teams who are collectively focused on growing enrollment across all programs in all locations.

Julie looks forward to her new position.

“Union is a special place with infinite opportunities to transform lives and communities.”

Interesting facts about Julie:

Selected for the All-Star Team when playing professionally.

She has lived in nine states.

She can juggle!

She teaches two classes at Union: From Stone Tablets to Twitter and Human Communication and Misunderstanding.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.


Meet UI&U World-Changer Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed.

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Sonya’s love for Guatemala started 16 years ago when she adopted her son.

“It was love at first sight. I knew he was my son when I set eyes on him,” says Sonya M. Fultz, M.Ed., Senior Director for Enrollment and Academic Partnerships at UI&U.

Since then she has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.


President of ALDEA

She also serves as president of ALDEA: Advancing Local Development through Empowerment and Action in Guatemala. ALDEA addresses the principal needs of rural, indigenous Guatemalans to strengthen communities and enhance the health and well-being of families. They work in predominantly Mayan communities in the Department of Chimaltenango in Guatemala.

Sonya was initially drawn to this organization’s vision for community empowerment and long-term sustainability. “I’m proud of how our work has evolved in recent years as we’ve learned together through experience and responded to the changing needs of our Mayan partners.

Right now, our commitment to locally led development and continued growth is taking us in exciting new directions. In response to community feedback during last year’s strategic planning process, our partners at ABPD have successfully engaged men in a new pilot program designed to complement our women’s empowerment work. They’re focusing more on addressing domestic violence. And, we have recently installed our first solar-powered potable water system!”

ALDEA is working with Information Matrix, a television program hosted by film star Laurence Fishburne, on a short-form documentary about ALDEA. It will air on public television stations nationwide along with a commercial.

“This is an amazing opportunity for us to raise awareness about issues in Guatemala and our approach to grassroots development.”

Sonya is a world changer and a representative of Union’s mission to transform lives and communities.


About Sonya M. Fultz

Sonya is the Senior Director for Academic Partnerships at Union Institute & University. She formerly served as chair of the Southwestern Council for Higher Education (SOCHE) Articulation and Transfer Committee. She also taught and served as Chair of Undergraduate Studies at Antioch University Midwest in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She has trained the Ministry of Education in Costa Rica and Trinidad and Tobago in Comprehensive School Conflict Management and is focused on classroom management and conflict studies. Her interest in Guatemala originated with her Guatemalan-born son. She has led Guatemala adoptive families on Return to Guatemala trips for the last 13 years, aiding them in connecting with their children’s birth country.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Marine Veteran Continues Quest to Help Children

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Mitch and Mindy Rivas are making an impact on the world of the medically fragile community through the Maryssa Mission Foundation (MMF). They created the foundation shortly after Maryssa was called to heaven in November 2015 at age two.


The Challenge

“We saw firsthand the challenges of a family with a medically fragile child. We often found ourselves living in a hospital room four hours from home. As doctors tried to understand and cure Maryssa’s uncommon diagnosis, we stayed by her beside constantly. Our stays at the hospital were met with financial struggles, periods of hopelessness, and a looming feeling of inadequacy as parents, because we were being split from our other three growing children who longed for their parents and sister.”


Partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

The foundation partnered with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center (CCHMC), where Maryssa had been a patient, to create the Home Away From Home Initiative. To date, the foundation has raised $37,500, enough to provide temporary safe lodging to families for more than 280 nights.


New Initiative

New this year is Maryssa Family Lounge. The lounge will be part of the expanded critical care building on the corner of the old and new hospital segments. This unique location symbolizes the transition of Maryssa’s life and journey in the hospital to the amazing mission of her foundation.  Families will have access to this 40-person capacity room, a safe refuge to digest information regarding their child’s care plan. And, it’s within running distance of their child’s room, in case a situation requires immediate attention. A $100,000 donation will make this family lounge a reality. The Rivas Family hopes to cut the ribbon on the lounge around her 7-year angel-versary in November of 2022. She would have been 9 years old. Her twin sister Malinah will do the honor of cutting the ribbon.


Union’s Role

Rivas, a Marine Corps veteran and UI&U alumnus, used his capstone project to create the blueprints for the foundation to honor Maryssa’s memory.

“UI&U played a vital role in the progress of MMF. My capstone project revolved around the strategic planning for our foundation. As we celebrate our fourth year of incorporation we are grateful to share our accomplishments with the university. I am forever grateful of UI&U’s part in this wonderful journey,” said Rivas.


What’s Next?

Our largest fundraiser, the MMF Spring Banquet and Auction Fundraiser, just raised more than $53,000 to benefit the medically fragile community and continues to grow. But our mission remains the same: to honor Maryssa and “Be the Blessing We Prayed to Receive®.” For more information, please visit


About Mitch Rivas

Mitch is a world changer who is living the UI&U mission to change lives and communities. He holds a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) from Union. He is a United States Marine Corps veteran.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

A Perspective on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Noted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. biographer, historian, and UI&U doctoral faculty member Stewart Burns recently gave an interview on Dr. King’s civil rights activism. The Sojourner’s Truth, Toledo, Ohio’s African American newspaper, ran it as a two-part series. Burns reflects on lesser known aspects of Dr. King’s inner struggles and the angst and depression he suffered as he traveled the often solitary road as a civil rights leader. You can read part 1 of the interview here, and part 2 here


Dr. Burns Describes Dr. King

Burns served as editor of the King Papers at Stanford University, and developed a documentary history of the Montgomery bus boycott (made into an HBO feature). Thus, he has unique perspectives on Dr. King’s life. He points out that, as a servant leader, Dr. King acutely felt the suffering of others. He withstood the daily onslaught of criticism for his stands on the Vietnam War and economic inequality.

Burns describes Dr. King’s last years: “For the last four and a half years of his life he was a wounded warrior. It does seem that from a psychological or emotional perspective, it is very often the case that activists or people who are leaders for social change find themselves not only on the edge of society in the sense that they’re really pushing for significant change in the society, but also that their minds and consciousness and spirits are somewhat on the edge of what’s considered normal.”

And yet, Burns says, “King himself was a real role model. He wanted a united movement of people of color and poor whites, which was the idea for the poor people’s campaign, but above all he wanted black people to be united.”


About Dr. Burns

Dr. Burns chairs UI&U’s Ethical & Creative Leadership concentration in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program and shares leadership of its Martin Luther King Jr. Studies specialization. He is a highly regarded historian of the civil rights movement, author or editor of eight books, former editor of the King Papers at Stanford University, where he also taught U.S. History before joining Union. He has been a nonviolent activist for most of his life, and for over a quarter century engaged in interracial healing in higher education. Learn more about Dr. Burns and his commitment to connect Dr. King’s legacy to current issues at this link.

Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

law enforcement career

CJM Degree Impacts Law Enforcement Career

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law enforcement career

Union is saluting our Bachelor of Science Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students, staff, and alumni through the month of May in recognition of National Police Week, celebrated nationally from May 12–18, 2019.

This week we spotlight Sergeant Brian Kinney, Homicide Investigator, a CJM alumnus. Sergeant Kinney discusses the impact his CJM degree has on his life and law enforcement career.


Q & A with Sergeant Brian Kinney

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit the community?

A: The CJM degree benefits the community by providing a better-rounded officer who has been exposed to contemporary techniques within a justice organization, interpretation and analysis skills, and better communication tools. I also believe the degree makes for a more empathetic officer.

Q: How does a CJM degree benefit a Law Enforcement Officer?

A: I believe the degree provides an officer with better decision-making skills. In addition, the degree allows the officer to be eligible for promotion.

Q: What has your degree meant to you personally and professionally?

A: My degree has given me a sense of accomplishment. I am the first male in my family to graduate from college. I am also a role model for my children. They watched me work full time and still complete my degree.

Q: What quality do you admire most about your alma mater?

A: Union allowed me flexibility and the ability to schedule classes around my work schedule. The program advisers understood that I worked full time and my classes had to be built around my work schedule.

Q: If you could give advice to a Union student, what would it be?

A: Stick with it. Don’t quit. Your degree will open up professional opportunities that didn’t exist before.

Q: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment?

A: My greatest accomplishment is my family. My wife and two children have supported me every step of the way professionally and personally.

Q: What is your passion away from work?

A: My passion away from work is to spend as much time with my family as possible.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.


Florida's 2019 principal of the year

Professor Named Florida’s 2019 Principal of the Year

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The Union community is sending their congratulations to UI&U faculty member Michelle Kefford who was named Florida’s 2019 Principal of the Year.

The award reflects her commitment to students and her belief in lifelong learning.

“Working with all ages in the pursuit of knowledge is my passion,” said Kefford. “I tell all my students it is never too late to learn. I know the sacrifices my Union students are making to return to school after a long hiatus, and to juggle work and family responsibilities, but we are never too old to learn.”

Kefford has worked in Broward County schools for 19 years, all at the high school level. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Florida State University, a Master of Science in Science Education from Florida International University, and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Florida Atlantic University.

Kefford has held various positions on district committees. She is credited with school improvement initiatives including a mentoring program called Kefford’s Kids, and the creation of Falcon Flyers, a pathway for middle school students to earn high school credits. Her efforts have resulted in the school earning an “A” for six of the last seven years.

Dr. Thomas Frederick, who chairs UI&U’s General Education program, sees the connection between Professor Kefford and Union’s mission to transform lives and communities.

“She is the principal of a large senior high school, a community leader, a college professor, and a wife and mother. Yet, she still takes time to make each of her students feel special and valued.”

Teaching at Union is a family affair for Kefford. Michelle follows in her mother’s footsteps. Reta Smith also taught at Union as an affiliate faculty member.

The 2019 Principal of the Year award carries a cash prize of $3,500 and was presented to Kefford by the Florida State Board of Education and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. She has been principal at the Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines since 2011.

Read more about Michelle and her award in the Miami Herald.


Be the world-changer you’ve always wanted to be. Enroll now in a Union Institute & University bachelor’s degree program. It all starts with You! And it all starts at Union Institute & University. Click here to learn more.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Allison Wilson Leggett Touches the Lives of Teachers

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dr. allison wilson leggett

Each month, we recognize faculty and staff for their enormous contribution to Union. Today’s spotlight is on Professor Allison Wilson Leggett, Ed. D., Lead Faculty for Union’s Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) program. Dr. Leggett is based at the Los Angeles Academic Center.

As a 13-year-old taking on a summer job as a child care provider at a local Baptist church, Dr. Leggett began to fall in love with teaching young children. She took on the role of teacher, not knowing an adult was really responsible for the toddlers. With no prior training, she read to toddlers and, through play, taught them math and science.

A few years later, NASA approached her high school searching for a student with high aptitude in math and science, and asked her to work for them. With a fondness and propensity for math and science, this new summer internship shaped her interest in space travel and led to a six-year tenure with NASA. Dr. Leggett worked in a NASA chemical and physical lab where she was the only woman of color and the only female. “I relate to the movie Hidden Figures, because there were a lot of stereotypes about me and I had to fight through that discrimination to be respected. The experience also solidified my fight for educational equality. The barriers of discrimination crumble when education and experience are prioritized over gender and race.”

After leaving NASA she taught at the high school level and that is when higher education came calling. “One of my students won the state science fair. That publicity led to a job offer to teach at the higher education level, and I haven’t looked back since.”

Learn more about Professor Leggett in the Q & A below.

What attracted you to become a part of Team Union?

I am able to touch the lives of teachers through Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD). I find that excellence in teaching has a domino effect. Being part of the CHAD degree program allows me to teach the teachers who are educating the youngest and most vulnerable in our society. I have had the opportunity to visit migrant farmers whose children attend child care centers April – October each year.

I have the goal of expanding higher education to the under-served in California in order for child care assistants to become teachers, whether through the Virtual Classroom to improve access or being the second university in California to offer a doctoral degree in Early Childhood Education. Further, I have the goal of restating the Early Childhood Credential for the state of California, and am currently making recommendations to the state to amend the Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) in Early Care and Education (formerly Early Childhood Education) to include elements for teaching through play. California State Superintendent of Public Education, Dr. Tony Thurman, has asked that I join his transition team in preparing K-12 students for jobs of tomorrow (computer science, STEAM, CTE).

If you could have any job in the whole world, what would it be?

I would be president of a university.

What surprises people about you?

I think many people that meet me are surprised by my positive outlook after encountering obstacles. I constantly and consistently work to improve my practice. People are surprised about my fearlessness.

What is your favorite book, and why?

Since childhood, my favorite book has been Alice in Wonderland. A professor once pointed out that the book is an allegory of mathematics and physics. I found fascination in the quantum physics element of Alice shrinking to the size of an atom. It’s no wonder that is my favorite book!

What advice would you give to a young person?

Never give up on your dream.


Don’t give up on your dream to teach young children. Learn how the CHAD program can transform your life and community by clicking here, or call us today at 800-861-6400.