Student Success Summit Speakers 2023


Keynote Speakers

“Addressing Postsecondary Education Student Needs Through Collaboration”

Laura W. Perna is one of the nation’s foremost researchers on college access and affordability. Her scholarship focuses on how to ensure that all people, regardless of demographic characteristics and place of residence, have the opportunity to participate in and benefit from high-quality higher education.

“Barriers for Underrepresented Students: College Access Beyond Affordability”

Phyllis A. H. Breland is president of the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education and former president of New York State Higher Education Opportunity Program Professional Organization. She works closely with junior high schools, high schools, churches, community groups and organizations throughout New York that support access to academic and personal enrichment.

Meet Summit Speakers on Sept. 13 (in order of appearance)

Chrystal A. George Mwangi is an associate professor of higher education at George Mason University. As a transnational Black scholar, a central focus of her research examines access to educational opportunity for American and immigrant youth of color.


Carolina E. González currently serves as the assistant dean in the College of Education and Human Services at Montclair State University and is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Educational Leadership’s Higher Education Program.


Wil Del Pilar serves as the vice president of higher education at the Education Trust. He works to advance Ed Trust’s higher education advocacy agenda by developing and implementing strategies to leverage research, policy and practice to improve accountability, affordability and student success for low-income students and students of color.

Nicolle Parsons-Pollard was appointed by Georgia State University president as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs effective Feb. 1, 2023. She served as interim provost in 2022 and prior to her appointment in this leadership role, she was appointed in 2020 as Georgia State’s Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs.

Jermaine Privott has served as executive director of the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program at Russell Sage College for 15 years. Privott specializes in student success, service-learning and initiatives that drive retention and persistence through graduation.


Kirsten Turner serves as the University of Kentucky’s Vice President for Student Success and chief student affairs officer. A leader with a long tenure at the University of Kentucky, she has served in multiple associate provost roles and as an architect of the institution’s strategies to improve retention and graduation rates.

Latoya Watson is a scholar-practitioner who conducts research in systemic change and education equity. She has over 19 years of experience in higher education and education policy. She has served as a coordinator of multicultural recruitment, an academic advisor and most recently, assistant dean where she focused on equitable student outcomes.

Jasmine Briggs-Rogers is a career coach, resume writer, and director of career services with over 10 years of experience in workforce development and employment services. She is CEO of Creatively Inspired Career Coaching where she supports clients with career planning and management and the senior director of career services at Berkeley College in NYC.

Bridget McCurtisBridget McCurtis, founder and chief education officer for Beyond Measure Coaching and Consulting, LLC, provides inclusive organizational strategy and leadership coaching to mission-driven leaders. She has over 25 years of career coaching, leadership training, diversity and inclusion strategy, instruction and advising in education and nonprofit settings.

Meet Summit Speakers on Sept. (in order of appearance)

Jamila S. Lyn is an advocate for student success in historically Black college and universities and a senior fellow at Acadeum. As the director of specialized programming at Benedict College, she provides leadership on policy development, project management initiatives and external strategic partnerships, such as Project Success, Council of Independent Colleges Online Course Sharing Consortium and Yes We Must Coalition.


Juliet Murawski is the director of the Higher Education Office in the Delaware Department of Education. Murawski has been with Higher Education Office Workgroup for seven years, recently transiting into the director role, and is focused on creating equitable access to postsecondary careers and education for every student in Delaware.

Sandra Kelly is the Director of Student Services at the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, Mississippi’s public university system. In this role, Kelly serves as an academic and student affairs liaison, working directly with higher education leaders in Mississippi and across the nation, state and federal policymakers and more.

Kenita Pitts is the state coordinator for the SREB Academic Common Market and Regional Contract Program at the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education. With over 23 years in education, Pitts works to improve the “Application 2 Graduation” experience for underserved and underrepresented secondary and postsecondary students and parents, alumni giving, mentorship at HBCUs and more.

Justin C. Ortagus is an Associate Professor of Higher Education Administration & Policy and Director of the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Florida. His research typically examines how online education, community colleges, and state policies impact the opportunities and outcomes of underserved students.

Erica Frankenberg is a professor of education and demography in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University. She is also an affiliate faculty member at Penn State Law, and research associate for the Population Research Institute.


Gbemende Johnson is an associate professor of political science at the University of Georgia. She previously taught at Hamilton College where she taught the American Government sequence for Hamilton’s Higher Education Opportunity Program to prepare students from underrepresented groups for a college-level curriculum.