Cohort 2016

Loi Booher

A second generation Cuban-American, Loi Booher has deep passion for experiencing, studying, and serving cultures around the globe. She has a B.A. with majors in mathematics and Spanish and a M.A. in Math Education, both from UCA. After five years as a statistical analyst, Loi left the corporate world and took a chance on a career in education. Pleased with the career change, she is currently a Lecturer II in the Mathematics Department at UCA and enjoys working alongside educators in Latin America during the summers. Loi feels that the PhD in Leadership Studies program will equip her to become a leader in education by serving Latin American countries as well as bringing cultures from around the world into classrooms in Arkansas.

Michelle Buchanan

Michelle B. Buchanan has been teaching for 18 years. She taught 14 years junior high science and engineering, and she received many national awards for her teaching, curriculum, and lessons: TED-Ed Distinguished Educator, PBS Innovative Teacher Award, Edward C. Roy National Teacher of the Year, and U.S. Department of Education’s Star Teaching Award to name a few.

Michelle is a National Board Certified Teacher in early adolescence sciences and a K-12 gifted and talented certified teacher. She currently is the Science Education Program Coordinator for the University of Central Arkansas’s STEMTeach Program. She also teaches courses on project-based instruction, classroom diversity and differentiation, and educational psychology and pedagogy for STEMTeach and advanced teaching strategies for the Middle Level Program.

Michelle’s research interest is gifted science education at the elementary and middle school levels. The LEAD Program will provide unique learning opportunities to analyze her research interests through multiple pathways. The proficiencies and knowledge she will obtain from the LEAD Program will help her meet the ultimate goal of continuing to seek challenging roles within dynamic educational settings.

Lisa Cooley

Lisa Cooley lives in Cleveland, Mississippi, where she is a Marketing Instructor at Delta State University and a grant writer for the Delta Arts Alliance. She was the Main Street Coordinator and Director of Public Relations for the City of Natchitoches, Louisiana, until May of 2013. Prior to her stint in Natchitoches, Cooley was the Director of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorship for the Department of Athletics at the University of Central Arkansas. Lisa holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Alabama and a Bachelor of Communication with a concentration in Public Relations from the University of Central Arkansas. She graduated from Conway High School. Cooley is a member of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society and Delta Mu Delta Business Honor Society.

Lisa’s work in community development led her to the LEAD program. Her hope is that through the program she will learn more about how research can influence community development.

Amber Harbin

Amber Harbin LEAD Bio-2Amber Harbin is a Project Lead the Way computer science and engineering teacher for a public school in Little Rock, Arkansas. Her professional background is in STEM education and teacher professional development based in science and engineering curricula. In addition to teaching STEM fields, she has had the opportunity to teach English as a foreign language in the countries of Macedonia and China.

Amber has a passion for international travel and loves learning about different cultures and people groups. She is a former Peace Corps volunteer serving in Macedonia. She strives to positively impact the world. Whether through education, service, or research, she believes the LEAD program will prepare her for future roles in career and life.

Emily Harris

20160731_165303Emily L. Harris is a Public Health Educator and a Trauma Recovery Specialist. She holds a BS in Community Health Education from the University of Central Arkansas and a MPH from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. She currently serves Arkansas as Safety Officer for AR-1 DMAT, a team of emergency response professionals who provide services under the National Disaster Medical System in the event of a disaster that overwhelms local healthcare service delivery. Emily collaborates in curriculum development and community-based training as a member of the ALERT Project, a nonprofit organization designed to create locally-empowered response teams to sustain healthy communities. She maintains clinician skills as a National Board Certified and state-licensed massage therapist, assisting individuals in the quest for overall health and providing trauma recovery support for those in the healing process. Emily supports local environmental justice advocacy and serves as a volunteer member of the EPA Region VI Environmental Justice planning team.

Emily is delighted to be enrolled in the LEAD program and to be surrounded by individuals dedicated to improving our world through research and education.

Bruce James 

Bruce Bio PicBruce James is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He has served as an Assistant Professor of Business and Economics at Philander Smith College since 2006. He serves as the Interim Chair of the Division and Director of the Philander Smith Management Institute, a degree completion program that offers a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in Organization Management. The program allows working adults and non-traditional students with special circumstances to complete their degree and accomplish many of their personal and professional goals. Bruce has also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Arkansas Baptist College and has taught at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of New Orleans.

Prior to academia, he worked as a consultant with the UALR Small Business Development Center and as a private consultant for nonprofit organizations and provided consultation for many churches across the nation. He studied at the University of Houston, completed his graduate studies at UALR and post-graduate studies in Financial Economics at the University of New Orleans as an SREB Doctoral Scholar in Financial Economics.

Bruce is passionate about the need for addressing the economics issue in the state of Arkansas through entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial leadership. Realizing the need for an entrepreneurial leadership approach to managing Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) led Bruce to the LEAD program.

Victoria Mantooth

Victoria L Mantooth 4Victoria Mantooth, lyric soprano, is a native of Sherwood, Arkansas, and recently completed her Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from The Boston Conservatory. Victoria graduated cum laude from Ouachita Baptist University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance. Victoria has an interest in language and culture and has spent two summers in Italy traveling and studying abroad. The Musica Nelle Marche program allowed her to further her technical, dramatic, and linguistic abilities during the summers of 2012 and 2014. Victoria studied with renowned voice faculty Edward Crafts, and Heather Ross-Crafts, and vocal coaches such as Massimo Sabbatini, and DePaul University faculty, Linda Hirt.

Victoria has received recognition for her artistry through scholarship awards to The Boston Conservatory, and Ouachita Baptist University, 1st Place in the Southern Regional National Association of Teachers of Singing Competitions, along with several other awards from this competition. She has performed alongside international performers during her study abroad as well as Grand Prize Winners of the IBLA Foundation International Music Competition and Festival.

Victoria will focus on Fine Arts during her time in the LEAD program. She will also continue to study voice with University of Central Arkansas music faculty member, Christine Donahue.

Corey Oliver

Corey Oliver PictureCorey Oliver, a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, resides in Conway, Arkansas, where he serves as a middle level educator in the Conway Public School District. Corey holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in Education from University of Central Arkansas. He has achieved and renewed certification as a National Board Certified Teacher from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Corey’s professional memberships include the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), Arkansas Teachers for National Board Certification (ATNBC), and the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (ACTELA).

Passionate about international travel, Corey has participated in international training programs for educators in Russia, China, Japan, and South Africa. Corey is committed to teaching and learning. The PhD in Leadership Studies program, through its interdisciplinary approach, will hone leadership skills that he possesses and provide him additional knowledge and skills necessary to maximize his leadership potential.

Matthew Pearson

Matthew_Pearson_Professional_Headshot_2016_WebMatthew Pearson, originally from Alabama, moved to Little Rock in 2010 when he was awarded an Administrative Fellowship at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Since then he has worked on many projects to support the vision of the population’s health being enhanced and maintained through broad access to care that is value-based and error free.

Prior to moving to Arkansas, Matthew earned three degrees from the University of Alabama at Birmingham—a dual bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Industrial Distribution, and two master’s degrees in Business Administration and Public Health. Since that time he has earned two additional master’s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock—Systems Engineering and Information Quality. Matthew intends to invest his time in the Interdisciplinary PhD program to further integrate these backgrounds and improve elements related to public health.

Jeannie Rodriguez

jeannie beaux artsJeannie Rodriguez is a pilgrim, an encourager, an artist, and a writer. Her penchant for dwelling on landscape as a theme in her paintings and poetry reflect her abiding passion for building holistic and inclusive communities. She regularly participates in the practice of taking spiritual retreats and making pilgrimages such as her walk on the Camino de Santiago. She is fascinated with ancient elements of shamanism and the divine feminine, particularly as they intersect with contemporary ideas of leadership principles and believes that art can empower those who are vulnerable and live on the fringes.

Currently, Jeannie is researching philanthropist and arts visionary, Alice Walton, focusing on Walton’s influence on the development of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the rise of arts leadership in northwest Arkansas.

Jeannie has extensive experience in the nonprofit sector, serves on the advisory board of the Arkansas Arts Council, and is a Certified Volunteer Manager. As an Arkansas Latina, she founded and is president of Traveling Arts Fiesta, a nonprofit professional fiesta that builds bridges of tolerance in predominantly rural communities where resources are slim.

Mother to four sons, one of them transgender and deaf, Jeannie speaks out on behalf of those who are marginalized, and she facilities a Christian LGBT program at her church. She is currently teaching English composition at Arkansas Tech University and is an intern for both the Center for Leadership Development and the College of Fine Arts and Communication.

Jeannie says, “I am excited to be a part of the LEAD program and am impressed with the caliber of my fellow students, their passion, their vision, and the approachability of the professors. We are all working for the good of our community, yet we come from such different backgrounds. I am convinced this immersion will enable all of us to affect positive change in Arkansas, and that makes me exceedingly proud.”

Yolanda Ornelas Uribe 

UntitledYolanda Ornelas Uribe is from Jalisco, Mexico, she has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Guadalajara. Yolanda worked at the National Institute of Geography and Statistics as an assistant to the director. She has been working at the University of Guadalajara for twenty years as a professor and researcher, teaching math, statistics, and microeconomics. Her research interests are various social issues related to sustainable development.

Yolanda believes the PhD in Leadership Studies program will help improve her skills in facing challenges of the educational process as a teacher and help her be at the forefront of knowledge creation as a researcher. Yolanda moved to Arkansas in 2015 with her husband and three kids—David, Andrea, Yoali. They are enjoying the natural beauty of this state.

Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson Biography PhotoJosh Wilson serves as the Director of Operations for Independent Case Management (ICM), Inc. where he helps individuals with developmental disabilities remain in their home and community of choice. With several years of experience in nonprofit leadership, Josh’s current focus is on leading multiple business functions and developing new and progressive programs to facilitate organizational growth and better outcomes for the customers served by ICM. Josh is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and actively volunteers with the Arkansas Waiver Association where he is also a member of the board of directors.

Josh holds an Associate of Arts from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management, and Master of Business Administration from John Brown University. Josh is also a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities from the University of Delaware.

Josh trusts that the PhD in Leadership Studies program will better equip him to impact programs, policies, and systems at a local and global level to affect positive change for people who are disenfranchised and marginalized in Arkansas and throughout the nation. Josh is happily married to Jessica and is the father of two children, Jace and Jaelyn.

Charlie Wood

unnamedCharlie Wood graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in electrical engineering (BSEE). He was later named a national fellow at Ohio State University, where he received his MSEE. His master’s thesis was on solutions to the1970s energy crisis. That was followed by an almost four decade professional career at Entergy Corporation. Duties there included engineering, research, data analysis, economic forecasting, and more. His family includes his wife Mary (who teaches math at UCA), four successful children, plus four wonderful grandchildren ages 1-4.

Throughout his life, Charlie’s primary hobbies have been long distance bicycling, reading, and coaching championship AAU basketball teams. A total of 61 of his players became college and/or professional athletes. Charlie also led the Pulaski County Special School District (PCSSD) as school board president; and was board chairman of the very diverse Arkansas Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation, who built an impressive memorial in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park. He also leads his Little Rock Central High School alumni efforts, which he enjoys greatly!

The LEAD program will allow Charlie to combine his professional research skills with his school board leadership experience to work in areas that evaluate and develop K-12 education policy.