New Hire Bios

MILAGROS BENITEZ

  • Evaluation Associate, Center for Research and Evaluation on Education and Human Services (CREEHS)
  • B.S. Inter American University of Puerto Rico
  • M.Ed. Wayne State University

MS. BENITEZ serves as an Evaluation Associate on various projects at CREEHS. She is an experienced bilingual program evaluator and project manager who has worked with a wide spectrum of clients in government, school districts, and the nonprofit sector. She has conducted evaluations of initiatives serving diverse populations in the areas of youth development, education, violence prevention, after-school programming, adult learning, health promotion, girl-centered education, family strengthening, and teen pregnancy prevention. Ms. Benitez has also worked extensively with nonprofit organizations in evaluation capacity development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology.

KEVIN CARROLL

Assistant Professor, Exercise Science and Physical Education 

  • Ph.D. East Tennessee State University
  • M.A. East Tennessee State University
  • B.S. Appalachian State University

DR. CARROLL successfully defended his dissertation in fall 2017 and officially graduated in May 2018 from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) with a PhD in Sport Physiology and Performance.  He has taught several courses as the instructor of record and as a teacher assistant in sports conditioning, exercise physiology and other related courses, and has developed and taught two online courses. He has also been a strength and conditioning coach since 2013. His research examines skeletal muscle physiology and resistance training.  He received a grant to use mass spectrometry to study large-scale alterations in skeletal muscle protein content following 10-weeks of resistance training.

SONAL CHAHAUN

Program Advisor, Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency (NMUTR)

  • M.A. University of Central Florida
  • B.S. Montclair State University

MS. CHAHAUN is an Advisor in the Center of Pedagogy working for the Newark Montclair Urban Teacher Residency (NMUTR), a grant-funded program through which MSU partners with the Newark Public Schools. Ms. Chahaun earned her B.S. in the MSU School of Business and then earned an M.A. in Higher Education and Student Personnel Services from the University of Central Florida in 2016. At UCF, she realized that her passion is to serve financially and academically disadvantaged college students and to support student leadership efforts and subsequently returned to MSU as an advisor.  Ms. Chahaun is Associate Director for the College & University Food Bank Alliance, a national organization that seeks to alleviate and address food and housing insecurities among college students. 

WIE-LIN CHEN
Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE Institute)

  • Ph.D. University of Iowa
  • M.A. National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
  • B.A. National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan

DR. Chen received his Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies at the University of Iowa in 2017. He joins MSU from the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), where he served as a research specialist. Before working at MHEC, he was a graduate research associate at the American Council on Education. Dr. Chen’s expertise examines college experience and student development, especially regarding racial/ethnical diversity, and teacher training programs and teacher performance from a global perspective. He has published articles in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, including Education and Urban Society, International Journal of Intelligent Technologies and Applied Statistics, and Journal of Social Science Studies.

MARIA CIOÈ-PEÑA

Assistant Professor, Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education

  • Ph.D. The Graduate Center – City University of New York
  • M.S.Ed. Long Island University
  • B.A. State University of New York

DR. CIOÈ-PEÑA completed her PhD in May 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center.  She has expertise in both inclusive education/disability studies in education and bilingual education and has taught as a bilingual special education teacher. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Her research focuses on bilingual children who are identified as disabled and their parents. She is involved in several research projects, including the CUNY-New York State Initiative for Emergent Bilinguals Project, and was selected to represent the CUNY Graduate Center on a research team that traveled to Germany to study Turkish students in schools in Berlin.

CHRISTOPHER CONZEN
Assistant Dean for Student Services and Administrative Affairs, Dean’s Office

  • Ed.D. Nova Southeastern University
  • M.A. The University of Maryland College Park
  • B.A. The Catholic University of America

DR. CONZEN received his Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration from Nova Southeastern University in 2015.  He joins Montclair State University from LIM College, where he served as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs.  Dr. Conzen, who has extensive experience in student services, supervises the directors of Academic Advising, Career Services, and Technology. He also oversees the College’s other student services and personnel functions. He is an active member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), serving as the representative for the state of NJ.

MARILYN R. DAVIS

Director, Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal (MSUNER)

  • M.A. University of New Mexico
  • B.A. University of New Mexico

MS. DAVIS is the new Director of the Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal (MSUNER) in the Center of Pedagogy.  A Holmes Scholar, she is a doctoral student in Language Literacy & Sociocultural Studies with a minor in Educational Psychology at the University of New Mexico.  Her research focuses on adolescent academic identity development in out-of-class spaces.  She led the statewide evaluation of the Department of Labor, Skill-Up Network: Pathway Acceleration in Technology and Healthcare (SUN PATH) at the University of New Mexico Center for Educational Policy Research.  Ms. Davis has also held positions at Zayed University, United Arab Emirates, and in the Albuquerque Public Schools/University of New Mexico Teacher Education Professional Development Partnerships. She was previously Director of the New Jersey Consortium for Urban Education (NJCUE) at Montclair State University.

SARAH DROSSMAN

Toddler Teacher, Ben Samuels Children’s Center

  • M.S. Montclair State University
  • B.A. Montclair State University    

MS. DROSSMAN graduated from Montclair State University with a B.A. in Psychology.  During that time, she worked in the toddler room as a student assistant at the Ben Samuels Children’s Center on campus.  After she graduated in 2004, she stayed on to become the teaching assistant in the toddler room, went back to school for her Teaching Certification in P-3 teacher certification, and then taught in the preschool classroom for 13 years.  Ms. Drossman also holds an M.S. degree in Nutrition and Food Science with a concentration in Nutrition education, having discovered her love of nutrition through her teaching.

CARLA PARRY ENGSTROM

Program Administrator, Counseling and Educational Leadership

  • Ed.M. Rutgers University, Educational Administration and Supervision
  • Ed.M. Rutgers University, Early Childhood and Elementary Education
  • B.A. Susquehanna University

MS. ENGSTROM is the Program Administrator for the Educational Leadership Program in the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership.  Prior to joining the department Carla spent eleven years working in various roles in the Center of Pedagogy, most recently as Program Advisor for the Combined B.A./M.A.T. with Dual Certification program.  Carla has taught numerous courses in CEHS and has earned master's degrees in Educational Administration & Supervision and Early Childhood & Elementary Education from Rutgers University.  Before coming to Montclair State University, Ms. Engstrom served in school-based roles as Enrichment Director, Vice Principal, Instructional Support Specialist, and teacher.

MIRKA FEINSTEIN

Assistant Director of Operations, Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE Institute)

  • M.S.W. Columbia University
  • B.A. Barnard School

MS. FEINSTEIN joins MSU with over 15 years of organizational and operations experience in various roles.  In her current role, as Assistant Director of Operations for the RYTE Institute, she provides managerial leadership for this active research institute. She oversees all operational aspects of the institute, including project management, business operations, strategic planning, and personnel actions. 

ANDRIANA HERRERA

Program Coordinator, Family Science and Human Development

  • M.A. Montclair State University
  • B.S. Montclair State University

MS. HERRERA holds a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Montclair State University, with a concentration in community health. In her current role, Ms. Herrera oversees two federally funded prevention-intervention grants—one through the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Grant Program and the other through the Minority Aids Initiative (MAI) Grant Program. Prior to her work with P-CASA and Project COPE, Ms. Herrera was employed as a Senior Program Coordinator at NJ SNAP-ED. In this role, Ms. Herrera engaged with community organizers, outreach advocacy and prevention services, as well as federally qualified heath centers (FQHC) and non-profit organizations to bring programs and services to under-served, low-income community members in, New Jersey.

YOLANTA KORNAK-BOZZA

Research Assistant, Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE Institute)

  • Ph.D. The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • M.A. Kean University
  • B.A. Rutgers College

DR. KORNAK-BOZZA, who earned her PhD in Educational Psychology at the Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY), serves as a Research Associate for the RYTE Institute. Her dissertation research examined the extent to which self-efficacy beliefs vary for men and women in science and why gender gaps in self-efficacy continue to exist. Prior to joining MSU, she worked as a Research Analyst at the Office of Institutional Research at CUNY, where she developed expertise in survey research and in analyzing and reporting institutional data. Dr. Kornak-Bozza has a wide range of research interests in the field of psychology including finding optimal methods to improve self-efficacy beliefs for girls and women in STEM fields.

ELISA LAPIETRA

Research Interview Coordinator, Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE Institute)

  • Ph.D. Fordham University, Social Work
  • M.S. Northeastern University, Counseling Psychology
  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania, Psychology

DR. LAPIETRA serves as the Research Interview Coordinator for the national study of the Boy Scouts of America being conducted by the RYTE Institute.  Dr. LaPietra received her Ph.D. in Social Work from Fordham University in 2006, and is a Licensed Social Worker in NJ and a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor in PA.  Prior to coming to MSU, Dr. LaPietra worked at Rutgers University as a Supervisor for the NJ Hopeline, the state’s suicide prevention hotline.  She began her career in Philadelphia working with adults with mental health and addiction disorders, and later directed an outpatient substance abuse program in New York City as well as a family case management program.  Dr. LaPietra also assisted with the oversight and support of mental health and substance abuse programs in the Bucks County Behavioral Healthcare System. 

CARLOS MCCRAY

Professor, Counseling and Educational Leadership

  • Ph.D. Bowling Green State University
  • M.A. Alabama State University
  • B.A. Alabama State University

DR. McCRAY is a Professor of Educational Leadership within the Counseling and Educational Leadership Department.  He brings expertise in urban education leadership, organizational diversity, educational equity, and attrition rates among students in urban settings. He has published two co-authored books, four edited books, 26 peer-reviewed articles, and 21 book chapters on such issues as urban school leadership, multicultural education, visionary leadership, organizational diversity, and effective mentoring in urban schools. Dr. McCray has played numerous leadership roles in professional organizations, including serving on the editorial boards of four national journals, serving as the first Program Chair for the Leadership for Social Justice Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and serving as AERA Section Chair for Division A, Section 2 – School Organizations and Effect. He served on the Urban Curriculum Leadership Development Project for the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). 

KIMBERLY SANTOS

Director, Newark-Montclair Urban Teacher Residency (NMUTR)

  • Ed.D. Kean University
  • M.A. Seton Hall University
  • B.A. Spellman College

Dr. Santos received her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in 2015.  She joins MSU from the Newark Public School System in Newark, NJ where she was a vice principal for thirteen years.  Dr. Santos' expertise includes urban leadership, classroom management, instructional technique and observing and providing feedback to teachers.

PATRICIA TEVINGTON
Postdoctoral Research Associate, Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE Institute)

  • Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania
  • M.A. University of Pennsylvania
  • B.A. The College of New Jersey

DR. TEVINGTON serves as a postdoctoral research associate in the Institute for Research on Youth Thriving and Evaluation (RYTE). She received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from The College of New Jersey and her M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on young people and the transition to adulthood, as well as social class and inequality, family life, and sociology of religion.

JULIANNE THOMPSON

Program Administrator, Off-Site & Special Programs

  • B.Mus. Montclair State University

MS. THOMPSON joined the CEHS office of Off-Site & Special Programs as Program Administrator in May 2018. Previously, Ms. Thompson provided high-level managerial and administrative support as Program Administrator of Montclair State University’s Gifted & Talented Program. Prior to her employment at Montclair State University, Ms. Thompson was Program Manager for Community Engagement at The Juilliard School, where she managed New York City community programs, teaching fellowships, and productions.

YUNE TRAN

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dean’s Office

  • Ph.D. The University of Texas, Austin, TX
  • M.Ed. Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
  • B.S. The University of Texas, Austin, TX

DR. TRAN is the newly appointed Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Education and Human Services.  She received a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and a B.S. in Child Development and Family Relations from University of Texas at Austin, and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from the University of Texas at San Marcos.  Dr. Tran was a P-12 elementary bilingual teacher in California and Texas between 2001 and 2006.  Since 2011, she has been at George Fox University, in Sherwood, OR, where she was a tenured associate professor before coming to MSU.  As the Director of the Faculty of Color Mentoring Program at George Fox University, Dr. Tran conceptualized a program to recruit, support and retain faculty of color.  In the College of Education, she served as Director of Undergraduate Education, Chair of the Undergraduate Teacher Education Department, and Coordinator of the International Student Teaching Abroad program.  She also directed the Elementary Computer Science Coding program, which she created and for which she received a $768,000 NSF grant.  She has published articles in several peer-reviewed academic journals and has presented academic papers at numerous peer-reviewed conferences, including several at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association.