Psychology Faculty

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Purdue Global Leadership

Sara Sander
Sara Sander, PhD
Academic Dean and Vice President

Sara Sander began her career with Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 1997. She has served in a variety of positions including professor of communications and languages and program coordinator for the School of Arts and Sciences, now known as the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Her experience includes over 15 years of teaching adult learners, with a focus in the last 10 years in online education and administration.

Education: PhD, Capella University; MA and BA, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville

Research Interests: Emotional intelligence, faculty performance and behaviors, communication in the online classroom

Sara Sander Link
Sara Sander, PhD
Academic Dean and Vice President
Miranda Brand
Miranda Brand, EdD
Associate Dean

Miranda Brand has served as associate dean in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences since 2011. She joined Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 2006 as an adjunct instructor in the School of Graduate Education and subsequently led the Department of Educational Studies as academic chair from 2008 to 2011. Prior to joining Purdue Global, she served 20 years in public education in various roles including teacher, curriculum coordinator, staff development presenter, and school administrator.

Education: EdD, Nova Southeastern University

Miranda Brand Link
Miranda Brand, EdD
Associate Dean
Tessa Holst
Tessa Holst, MS
Assistant Dean

Tessa Holst currently serves as the assistant dean of students within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences where she oversees and generates initiatives to develop student engagement and improve student retention. She is also responsible for problem identification and resolution for second-level student complaints and conflicts. Prior to her current role, Holst served as the graduation director and event planner within the Provost Office. She was responsible for bi-annual graduation event ceremonies, celebrations, and faculty retreats. She has worked in higher education for over 25 years and recently completed her second term as school board member for her local school district, having served for 4 years as president. 

Education: MS, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global)

Honors and Achievements: 2017 Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Non-Academic Support Team Award (Kaplan University), 2005 Hero Award (Kaplan University), 2003 Extra Mile Award (Kaplan Higher Education)

Tessa Holst Link
Tessa Holst, MS
Assistant Dean
Bridget Rivera
Bridget Rivera, PsyD
Department Chair

Bridget Rivera is a department chair and teaches various undergraduate courses in psychology and is the course lead for a number of courses. She also currently enjoys serving as the Psychology Club's faculty advisor. Before joining Purdue Global as a full-time faculty member, she worked in the field of clinical psychology for 15 years. Her experience included community mental health, inpatient work, and college counseling. Rivera holds the Master Addcition Credential (MAC).

Education: PsyD, California School of Professional Psychology

Publications: Several published works

Honors and Achievements: 2010 Martin Mayman Award (Society for Personality Assessment), several conference presentations

Research Interests: Psychological assessment, diversity training

Bridget Rivera Link
Bridget Rivera, PsyD
Department Chair
Kimberly Jurowski
Kimberly Jurowski, MS
Assistant Department Chair

Kimberly Jurowski is the assistant department chair for the graduate and undergraduate psychology programs. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and previously worked in the field of behavior analysis for over 16 years with varied roles including autism therapist, program supervisor, clinical director, and behavioral consultant. Jurowski has experience working in a variety of settings including homes, schools, clinics, and inpatient residential settings. Her experience within higher education comes from her time as a doctoral academic advisor for another online university as well as over 7 years of teaching undergraduate ABA and psychology courses at Purdue University Global (formerly Kaplan University).

Education: MS, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; BS, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

Publications: The Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Applied Behavior Analysis, training manuals and videos for the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders and The Autism Project of Illinois

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Honors and Achievements: Outstanding Course Leader Honoree (Kaplan University), Award for Excellence in Rehabilitation (Southern Illinois University)           

Memberships: Association for Behavior Analysis International, Mid-American Association for Behavior Analysis

Research Interests: Applied behavior analysis in higher education, verbal behavior therapy, behavior analysis of anxiety and depression, preference assessment and motivation

Kimberly Jurowski Link
Kimberly Jurowski, MS
Assistant Department Chair
Kristy Crowley
Kristy Crowley, MBA
Assistant Department Chair

Kristy Crowley began her academic career in 2008 and has taught undergraduate psychology courses at Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University), DeVry University, Ivy Tech Community College, and Argosy University. She also serves as a co-chair on the board of a not-for-profit, community-focused mental health services provider. Prior to academia, Crowley worked in a variety of professional practice areas such as community mental health, inpatient psychiatric care, and university counseling.

Education: MBA, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global); MA, Adler University; BA, Purdue University

Certifications: Life Coach Certificate, The Institute for Life Coach Training; Graduate Certificate in Human Resources, Kaplan University

Research Interests: Positive psychology interventions, stress and coping, holistic approach to counseling

Kristy Crowley Link
Kristy Crowley, MBA
Assistant Department Chair

Purdue Global Full-Time Faculty and Full-Time Adjuncts

Tom Alexander
Tom Alexander, PhD
FT Adjunct

Tom Alexander instructs various graduate level courses in psychology. He first joined Purdue Global as a part-time adjunct faculty member. Previously, Dr. Alexander worked in multiple areas of professional practice including addictions, forensic mental health, inpatient psychiatric care, residential substance use treatment, and managed care.

Education: PhD Psychology, Capella University

Publications: Multiple publications in progress related to clinical training initiatives

Certifications: Licensed professional counselor in Texas, trained clinician in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing

Honors and Achievements: 2019 Outstanding PT FT Adjunct Member, Graduate Psychology Department, Purdue University Global

Memberships: NAADAC

Research Interests: The intersection of trauma and addiction

Tom Alexander Link
Tom Alexander, PhD
FT Adjunct
Gabrielle Blackman
Gabrielle Blackman, PhD
University Faculty

Gabrielle Blackman teaches full time in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and serves as the course lead for various graduate courses. She has been teaching in higher education since 2004, and much of her professional experience is drawn from consulting and research-based projects aligned with her expertise in industrial and organization (I/O) psychology. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, including the American Psychological Association and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Education: PhD, George Mason University; MA, George Mason University; BA, Christopher Newport University

Publications: Presentations at numerous national and international conferences; published work in peer-reviewed journals, edited volumes, and technical reports

Honors and Achievements: 2015 Outstanding Faculty Member award in the Graduate Psychology Program (Kaplan University); numerous "Up and Beyond" service awards

Memberships: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Research Interests: Ethical and positive leadership and organizational practices within the field of I/O psychology; prosocial and humanitarian practices, advocacy strategies, and conflict resolution within and outside of workplaces; pedagogical best practices and the use of technology in 21st century classrooms and online teaching environments

Gabrielle Blackman Link
Gabrielle Blackman, PhD
University Faculty
Ashley Cauley
Ashley Cauley, MS
University Faculty

Ashley Cauley is a full-time faculty member, teaching undergraduate psychology courses at Purdue Global. After seven years as an educator, Cauley has now transitioned to a focus of online adult learning. Cauley is a founding partner of Cohort4Care, a coaching and consulting company dedicated to caring for those who care for others.

Education: MSIOP, Eastern Kentucky University; BA, Southern Adventist University           

Memberships: Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

Research Interests: Psychological safety, compassion fatigue and burnout

Ashley Cauley Link
Ashley Cauley, MS
University Faculty
Salomé Brañas Gonzalez
Salomé Brañas Gonzalez, PhD
FT Adjunct

Salomé Brañas Gonzalez is a full-time adjunct faculty member in the undergraduate psychology program teaching Applied Behavior Analysis. She has been an educator since 2006, working with students with disabilities from preschool through 21 years old, and has taught psychology at the undergraduate level since 2016. She became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2012, and has since supervised several BCBA candidates; produced dozens of professional development sessions for teachers, administrators, and parents; and maintained a private practice.

Education: PhD, Grand Canyon University; MSEd, Mercy College

Publications: Exploring the Role of Community Cultural Wealth in How Minority First-Generation College Students Persevere in Graduate School

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Honors and Achievements: Educational Opportunity Fund Champion for Student Success, 2019; Presenter at numerous education conferences

Memberships: Association of Professional Behavior Analysts; The Association for Behavior Analysis International; New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis

Research Interests: First-generation college students

Salomé Brañas Gonzalez Link
Salomé Brañas Gonzalez, PhD
FT Adjunct
Joanne Choy
Joanne Choy, MS
FT Adjunct

Joanne Choy teaches several courses in the undergraduate psychology department focusing on applied behavior analysis. She joined Purdue University Global as a part-time adjunct faculty member and was later promoted to a full-time faculty member. Choy has worked in the field of applied behavior analysis since 2014, and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2018. She has experience in working with children and adults who have autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and other capacities in the home, community, and center-based settings.

Education: MS, The Sage Colleges; BA, University of California, Irvine

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Memberships: Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)

Research Interests: Applied behavior analysis, behavior assessments, autism, developmental disabilities, treatment in challenging and severe behaviors

Joanne Choy Link
Joanne Choy, MS
FT Adjunct
Connie Dolecki
Connie Dolecki, MS
FT Adjunct

Connie Dolecki has worked in the Psychology Department at the University for nine years. She teaches undergraduate courses, and works to help entry-level students succeed. She previously worked as a behavior specialist consultant for children diagnosed with mental health issues, and as a mobile therapist for children with mental health issues in home, community, and school environments. In addition, she has worked as a substance abuse counselor.

Dolecki is the author of psychological and educational materials, including a book published through Adams Media, and collaborations on textbooks through Pearson and McGraw Hill. Connie owns a horse farm and has begun to develop programs for at-risk populations (children, veterans, people with autism and learning disabilities, etc.).

Connie earned her MS in Psychology, and is currently working on her PhD in Psychology with emphasis on Teaching and Course Development. Her dissertation explores online student retention through phone contact by instructors.

Education:   MS Psychology, Walden University
PhD Psychology, Walden University in progress

Memberships:  American Psychological Association

Research Interests:
  Therapeutic horseback riding

Connie Dolecki Link
Connie Dolecki, MS
FT Adjunct
Lakieshia Jones
Lakieshia Jones, MS
University Faculty

Lakieshia Jones teaches various undergraduate psychology department courses focusing on addictions. She joined Purdue Global as a part-time adjunct faculty member and later was promoted to full-time. Most recently, Jones was a substance use prevention practitioner with a focus in opioid and prescription misuse for a state college system in Georgia. She also has provided substance use counseling to clients in inpatient and outpatient settings.

Education: MS, Nova Southeastern University

Certifications: CADCI-II; ICADC; DOT-SAP

Memberships: The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)

Research Interests: Addiction psychology, motivational interviewing, consciousness and society psychology

Lakieshia Jones Link
Lakieshia Jones, MS
University Faculty
Caroline Linfante
Caroline Linfante, PhD
University Faculty

Caroline Linfante teaches undergraduate courses in the applied behavior analysis program. She joined Purdue University Global first as an adjunct faculty member and later as a full-time faculty member. Dr. Linfante was a special education teacher for students with mild/moderate disabilities for 9 years before becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) in 2018. She has experience consulting with educators in a public school setting on academic and behavioral challenges in the classroom.

Education: PhD, Columbia University; MA, Teachers College

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D)

Memberships: Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis (NJABA)

Research Interests: Reducing interfering behaviors, effective reading interventions, developmental levels of verbal behavior

Caroline Linfante Link
Caroline Linfante, PhD
University Faculty
Tara Matthews
Tara Matthews, PhD
FT Adjunct

Tara Matthews teaches various graduate psychology courses and specializes in addiction psychology at Purdue Global. She joined the University in 2016 as an adjunct professor and transitioned to full-time teaching in 2020. Trained in telehealth platforms, brick-and-mortar teaching, and online teaching, Matthews believes that creativity and meeting people where they are is key to growth and learning. Previously, she has worked as an addiction counselor, offered health coaching to colleagues, and provided supervision to graduate students and those seeking professional licensure. She has lectured in addiction, group work, ethics, and self-care for both clinical populations and professional organizations.

Education: PhD, Capella University; MA, Central Michigan University; Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Publications: Working on a textbook for co-occurring disorders

Certifications: Licensed professional counselor (LPC); Master Addiction Counselor (MAC); Integrative Nutrition and Health Coach

Honors and Achievements: Up and Above Award, 2020 (Purdue Global); Up and Above Award, 2019 (Purdue Global); Wampler-Caudill Distinguished Faculty Award, 2011

Memberships: NAADAC; American Counseling Association; Virginia Counselors Association; International Association for Health Coaches

Research Interests: Creative teaching activities, nutrition for co-occurring disorders, self-care, making ethics fun to learn and practice

Tara Matthews Link
Tara Matthews, PhD
FT Adjunct
Kristina Noriega
Kristina Noriega, MSCP
FT Adjunct

Kristina Noriega is currently a full-time adjunct and teaches various undergraduate courses in psychology. She has worked for the federal government for over 20 years in various areas of education including liaison, policy, and education services. During her government work in adult education, Noriega supported bridging the gap between the military and civilian education sectors. She built credibility, establishing rapport and maintaining communication with all stakeholders at multiple levels, including those external to the organization.

Education: MS, Chaminade University

Publications: Army Transition Manual

Certifications: NISOD Excellence Award, Department of the Army Civilian Award, Pacific Command Outstanding Contributor award, the House of Representatives outstanding for contributions to the education community

Memberships: American Counseling Association

Research Interests: Self-leadership

Kristina Noriega Link
Kristina Noriega, MSCP
FT Adjunct
Lisa Phillips
Lisa Phillips, PhD
University Faculty

Lisa Phillips has been a professor at Purdue Global in the graduate Applied Behavior Analysis department since 2016 and serves as the Ethics Course Leader and Subject Matter Expert (SME) for Ethics and Performance Management. Phillips is a licensed behavior analyst at the doctoral level, and a clinical and inter-jurisdictional licensed psychologist who is also an EMDRIA-certified provider of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Prior to her academic career, her experience was in clinical services and leadership. Phillips was the Chief Program/Operations Officer of a large community mental health center where she developed clinical teams and services, and instituted an American Psychological Association (APA) approved doctoral internship program, and post-doctoral training for Psychology Residents. She is a telehealth practitioner, an Organizational Behavior Management, Strategic Planning, and Leadership consultant, and Board President of the Mental Health Association of Mercer County.

Education: PhD, Clinical Psychology, Duquesne University; BCBA-D, University of Massachusetts; MBA,  Purdue University Global.

Publications: Authored a chapter in a handbook on diversity entitled, Privilege Through the Looking-Glass.

Certifications: Licensed clinical/inter-jurisdictional psychologist and behavior analyst; National Register of Health Service Psychologists, Telepsychology Competencies Credential, and Emdria-approved EMDR certification.     

Honors and Achievements:  Voted ‘Best Professor’, with nominations for the Best Course Leader and the Encouragement and Inspiration Award.  

Memberships: American Psychological Association, Pennsylvania Psychological Association, Association for Behavior Analysis International, and Society for Human Resource Management

Research Interests: First-generation students, online learning excellence, ethical leadership development, and the use of EMDR related to individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families.

Lisa Phillips Link
Lisa Phillips, PhD
University Faculty
Julee Poole
Julee Poole, PhD
University Faculty

Julee Poole teaches in the Graduate Psychology program and she provides service to the university by recruiting community organizations. Through the Purdue University Global partnership program, these community organizations offer employment opportunities to students and alumni. Additionally, these organizations provide field experience opportunities for students. Finally, employees and their immediate family members of the community organizations qualify for tuition discounts at Purdue Global.

Education: PhD Psychology, Family Psychology concentration, Capella University; MS Mental Health Counseling, Austin Peay State University; BS Psychology/Sociology, Austin Peay State University; BS Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology concentration, Purdue University Global

Certifications: Board-certified life coach; International Association of Trauma Professionals (IATP) Compassion Fatigue Professional

Publications: The Cryin’ House: A Story for Children Who Witness Family Violence; When Hitting Hits Home; articles in Family Guidance Journal and PsycCritiques

Presented at many national and international conferences, and has published in various journals, including the Family Guidance Journal and PsycCritiques

Honors and Achievements: Psi Chi Honor Society; Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society; Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society; Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society; Golden Key International Honor Society; The Society for Collegiate Leadership & Achievement Alpha Betta Kappa; Alpha Phi Sigma; Austin Peay State University Outstanding Student Leader; Lily Welcome Back Lifetime Achievement Nomination; Kaplan Way Award; Purdue University Global "Organization Builder" Award

Memberships: American Psychological Association Society for the Teaching of Psychology International Christian Coaching Association

Research Interests: Family violence, compassion fatigue for law enforcement officers, self-esteem and defense mechanisms, service-learning projects in the online classroom, best practices in online higher education programs, and the use of technology online classroom

Julee Poole Link
Julee Poole, PhD
University Faculty
Karen Savarese
Karen Savarese, MA
FT Adjunct

Karen Savarese is a full-time adjunct professor in the Department of Psychology. She teaches several psychology courses and also upper-level child development classes. She has been teaching college psychology for twenty years. Prior to her work in higher education, Savarese supervised a foster care program for children with special needs. She has extensive experience working with children with special needs and their families. She has also worked with adults with disabilities to help them find greater independence and become more integrated in their communities.

Education: MS, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology; BS, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests: Children with special needs and their families

Karen Savarese Link
Karen Savarese, MA
FT Adjunct
Olivia Steenbergh
Olivia Steenbergh, MEd
University Faculty

Olivia Steenbergh began working with Purdue Global in 2020. Steenbergh began teaching Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) courses as a part time adjunct instructor. She now serves as full time faculty teaching and leading undergraduate psychology and ABA courses. Steenbergh has worked in the field of pediatric ABA since 2015, became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2018, and enjoys bringing her experience to the classroom.

Education:  MEd, Wayne State University; BS, Rochester University          

Certifications:  Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Research Interests:  Autism Spectrum Disorder, Trauma-Informed Care, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Olivia Steenbergh Link
Olivia Steenbergh, MEd
University Faculty
Dee Strbiak
Dee Strbiak, PsyD
FT Adjunct

Dee Strbiak teaches various undergraduate courses in psychology and also designed two courses. She has worked in private psychiatric hospitals and with the military, active in the chemical dependency field, trauma field, and workplace violence area for over 27 years. In addition to teaching in an online environment, Strbiak does training, consulting, and has private therapy clients. She is the director of a DUI treatment agency in which clients are court-ordered to attend treatment due to a drinking and driving offense. Strbiak is also a Cool Tools reviewer.

Education: PsyD, California Southern University; MA, University of Northern Colorado; BA, Metropolitan State College of Denver

Memberships: Virtual Difference Makers

Dee Strbiak Link
Dee Strbiak, PsyD
FT Adjunct
Marjorie Vandemark
Marjorie Vandemark, MA
FT Adjunct

Marjorie Vandemark teaches a variety of courses in undergraduate psychology. She works with a team within the Psychology Department on initiatives to increase the success of first-time students, improve retention rates, and encourage degree completion. Currently, she is doing post-graduate work in co-occurring disorders and addiction at Purdue Global to advance her skills in clinical treatment. Prior to coming to Purdue Global, she taught psychology and sociology at several local colleges both in person and online. Vandemark has an extensive clinical background that includes outpatient and inpatient treatment, crisis intervention, and community-based behavioral health with populations ranging from early childhood to elderly adults. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Behavior Specialist in Pennsylvania.

Education: MA, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Honors and Achievements: 2017 Outstanding Professor in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; 2017 TIP Conference presentation on academic self-efficacy

Marjorie Vandemark Link
Marjorie Vandemark, MA
FT Adjunct
Karen Watson
Karen Watson, MS
FT Adjunct

Karen Watson is a full-time adjunct faculty member at Purdue Global while also teaching at Washtenaw Community College in Michigan. She has worked as a family development specialist, crisis counselor, home-based therapist, and individual and family therapist. Her experience and specializations include advocacy in the school system and juvenile/adult court programs, anger management, and substance abuse therapy.

Education: MS, California University of Pennsylvania; Graduate Certificate in Addictions, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global)

Honors and Achievements: 2016 and 2017 Outstanding Course Leader Award; presentation at 1st Annual Virtual Health and Wellness Fair (Kaplan University)

Karen Watson Link
Karen Watson, MS
FT Adjunct
Shannon Weiss
Shannon Weiss, MS
FT Adjunct

Shannon Weiss teaches courses in the applied behavior analysis program. Prior to her teaching career, she worked for over 8 years as a behavior analyst with children as young as 3 years old and adults over 80. Her work as a behavior analyst was done in a variety of settings including schools, private homes, group homes, residential facilities, and work settings. Previously, Weiss taught undergraduate courses in psychology for 6 years at several universities and a local community college. She is currently pursuing her PhD in general psychology.

Education: MS, BS, Southern Illinois University

Publications: Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst®

Honors and Achievements: 2018 Outstanding Course Lead Award (Purdue Global)

Research Interests: Applied behavior analysis for severe and dangerous behavior problems, preference assessments, feeding/eating problems, online education

Shannon Weiss Link
Shannon Weiss, MS
FT Adjunct
Susan Wilson
Susan Wilson, PhD
University Faculty

Susan Wilson has taught various courses in the applied behavior analysis and general psychology master's degree program since 2011.

Education: PhD, Walden University; MS, Rhode Island College

Publications: Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities

Certifications: Board Certified Behavior Analyst; RI license in Behavior Analysis

Honors and Achievements: 2018 John DiMarco Leadership Award, West Bay Residential Services

Memberships: Association for Behavior Analysis International; RI Association for Behavior Analysis; CPNRI Best Practices Committee

Research Interests: Applied behavior analysis and psychiatric disorders

Susan Wilson Link
Susan Wilson, PhD
University Faculty