View more about the members of the Community-Engaged Teaching and Learning Fellows Program for the Academic Years 2019 – 2021 below.
Assistant Professor, Higher Education
Department of Education Leadership
Office Location: University Hall 2191
A native New Yorker, Dr. Blanca E. Vega is the daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants. Dr. Vega is currently an Assistant Professor of Higher Education at Montclair State University. She earned a doctorate (Ed.D) from the Higher and Postsecondary Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. During and prior to that time, she worked in various administrative positions within higher education spanning over 16 years. Some of these areas include financial aid counseling and coordinating and directing New York State opportunity programs such as the Liberty Partnerships Program (LPP) and the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). Dr. Vega earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts degree in Higher Education at New York University.
Dr. Vega’s scholarship broadly focuses on equity, access, and success in higher education among underserved populations. Her primary area of research situates racism as one of multiple barriers that affects higher education experiences and success – not just for students, but also for administrators and faculty. She is currently studying racial incidents in higher education and organizational responses to these incidents. Her secondary area of research explores leadership and policymaking and their impact on support for undocumented student in higher education, particularly in increasingly anti-immigrant political environment. Finally, Dr. Vega continues to explore Latinx intellectualism in higher education curriculum, instruction, and the professoriate.
Department of English
Office Location: Dickson 115
Kathy Curto teaches at The Writing Institute and Montclair State University. She is the author of Not for Nothing-Glimpses into a Jersey Girlhood, published by Bordighera Press. Her work has been featured on NPR, in the essay collection, Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now, and in The New York Times, Barrelhouse, La Voce di New York, Drift, Talking Writing, The Inquisitive Eater, Voices in Italian Americana, Ovunque Siamo and Lumina. She has been the recipient of the Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship, the Montclair State University Engaged Teaching Fellowship and also serves on the faculty of the Joe Papaleo Writers’ Workshop in Cetara, Italy. Kathy and her family live in the Hudson Valley.
Director, Paralegal Studies Program
Department of Justice Studies
Office Location: Dickson 330
Nicole A. Fackina is the Director of the award-winning American Bar Association (ABA) Approved Paralegal Studies Program at Montclair State University (MSU). Nicole is a proud MSU alumna, she obtained her BA in Justice Studies with a concentration in Justice Systems with minors in Pre-Law and Sociology in 2002, her MA in Legal Studies with a concentration in Dispute Resolution in 2005 and completed the Paralegal Studies Certificate in 2006. She has been an adjunct professor for 15 years, teaching a variety of Justice Studies and Paralegal Studies courses. Nicole currently serves as an academic advisor to over 200 Paralegal Studies students in the program. She has received the Professing Excellence Award from MSU for Outstanding Dedication to Student Education, the Dean’s Recognition Award for Outstanding Service and the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Certificate of Merit for New Outstanding Academic Advisor. MSU’s ABA Approved Paralegal Studies Program, under her direction was named, “The Best of the Best in New Jersey” by ParalegalEDU in 2018, and the program was recently ranked #3 in “the 25 Best Bachelor’s in Paralegal Degree Programs” for 2020 by Bachelor’s Degree Center. Nicole is excited to bring service learning and community engagement to the Paralegal Studies Program to ensure new and innovative ways to deliver and enhance the applied learning experience for all students.
Department of Teaching and Learning
Rosa Espinal-Perez graduated from Seton Hall University with an undergraduate degree in Psychology & Education and a graduate degree in School Counseling from Montclair State University. She started her teaching career as an Elementary teacher in Newark Public Schools. She worked for the NJ Department of Education, Department of Early Literacy as a Reading Coach from 2003-2009.
Rosa Espinal-Perez is currently a 7th grade English Teacher for Linden Public Schools and a Middle School Reading Coach since 2009. In addition has been an adjunct professor at Montclair State University Department of Teaching & Learning since 2008.
Department of Theatre and Dance
Kaitlin Stilwell (Adjunct Faculty, BA Theatre Studies, Department of Theatre & Dance) is a dramaturg specializing in new play development and audience and community engagement. She has previously worked at McCarter Theatre, the Southern Writers’ Project and the mainstage at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Luna Stage. Along with Cheryl Katz, she is currently a Co-Director of The New Jersey Play Lab. At MSU, Kaitlin teaches Theatre in Society, Drama in Text, and Student New Play Festival, and assists on Theatre for Community Impact, taught by CETL fellow Jessica Brater. Kaitlin is a co-curator of the Acts of Resistance Reading Series, a program of theatrical events and discussions designed to spark conversation and action around important issues including racism, sexism, nativism, and fascism in our country and on our campus, produced by the BA Theatre Studies program.
Department of Teaching and Learning
María Cioè-Peña earned her PhD in the Urban Education from The Graduate Center – City University of New York, where she was also an Advance Research Collaborative fellow and a Presidential MAGNET Fellow. In 2019, María was named the first-place winner for Outstanding Dissertation by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE). She is a former elementary school teacher whose passion for children and social justice in education pushes her to fight for equity and full inclusion for children of diverse backgrounds and abilities. With a B.A. in English and a M.S.Ed. in teaching urban students with disabilities, María’s research focuses on bilingual children with dis/abilities, their families and their ability to access multilingual learning spaces within public schools. Her interests are deeply rooted in language practices and dis/ability awareness within schools and families. María is currently an Assistant Professor and a Community-Engaged Teaching Fellow at Montclair State University.
Adjunct Faculty, Cali School of Music
Reba Wissner (John J. Cali School of Music) received her MFA and PhD in musicology from Brandeis University and her BA in Music and Italian from Hunter College of the City University of New York. She is the author of articles on seventeenth-century Venetian opera, Italian immigrant theater in New York City, music in 1950s and 1960s television, and music history pedagogy and has presented her research on these topics at conferences throughout the United States and Europe. She is the author of A Dimension of Sound: Music in The Twilight Zone (Pendragon Press, 2013) and We Will Control All That You Hear: The Outer Limits and the Aural Imagination (Pendragon Press, 2016) and is currently working on both her third book, Music and the Atomic Bomb in American Television, 1950-1969 (under contract with Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, forthcoming in 2020) and a collaborative book and database project called Cues and Contracts: Music and the American Television Industry that examines music cues and their reuses, as well as administrative documents related to American television music production. She is also co-editing a volume on the music and sound design in Twin Peaks. Dr. Wissner is the recipient of numerous awards and grants including a Sight and Sound Subvention from the Society for American Music, a James and Sylvia Thayer Short-Term Research Fellowship from UCLA, a Wallis Annenberg Research Grant from the University of Southern California, and a 2018 recipient of a research and teaching service award from the Montclair State University Adjunct Union Local 6025. During the 2017-2018 academic year, she was an Engaged Teaching Fellow at Montclair and this year she is serving as a program mentor. Aside from Montclair, Dr. Wissner also teaches at New York University, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, and Ramapo College of New Jersey.