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
Betsy Tomei
Betsy Tomei, MBA
Assistant Dean

Betsy Tomei oversees the scheduling team responsible for the College of Social Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, and Concord Law School and manages the Universal Scheduling process for campus and online programs. She has also served as adjunct instructor, assistant chair of the Department of Professional Studies, and scheduling manager. Tomei has been in the field of education both as an educator and administrator since 1995. She started her career with Johnson & Wales University as a financial planning counselor and financial aid officer. Tomei later joined the Chicago Public School Department, where she served as a teacher and technology coordinator, and returned to higher education when she joined Purdue Global.

Education: MBA, Johnson & Wales University; MA, Saint Xavier University

Betsy Tomei Link
Betsy Tomei, MBA
Assistant Dean
Dena AuCoin
Dena AuCoin, EdD
Department Chair

Dena AuCoin began at the University as an adjunct faculty member, moving to the assistant academic chair and the academic chair. She previously taught various undergraduate courses in early childhood with an emphasis in special education. Currently, she oversees numerous innovations in curriculum, oversees three departments, and participates in ongoing review of data to implement changes at course, department, and university levels. Before joining Purdue Global, AuCoin was an educator in early childhood, elementary, and special education for 15 years. She started her academic career at Grand Canyon University in 2009.

Education: EdD, Northcentral University

Publications: Chapter for a Montessori administration textbook

Research Interests: Early transition language and self-determination for students with disabilities, Montessori collaboration in special education, autism social skills, response to intervention in early childhood, support for students with disabilities in the Montessori classroom, how to make student collaboration more effective in the online environment

Dena AuCoin Link
Dena AuCoin, EdD
Department Chair
Julee Poole
Julee Poole, PhD
Department Chair

Julee Poole has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology and serves as the academic chair of the graduate psychology program. Poole was a professor of psychology for 15 years before going into administration. She started her academic career at Austin Peay State University, and began teaching at Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) in 2007 in the Undergraduate Psychology Department before moving to the Graduate Psychology Department. She became the academic assistant chair before becoming the academic chair of the graduate psychology program in 2013.

Education: PhD, Capella University

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

Honors and Achievements: Presentations at national and international conferences

Research Interests: Family violence, self-esteem, defense mechanisms, service-learning projects, best practices and use of technology in the online classroom

Julee Poole Link
Julee Poole, PhD
Department Chair
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

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
Tricia Chandler
Tricia Chandler, PhD
FT Adjunct

Tricia Chandler has taught core courses, general courses, and chemical dependency tracts and read comprehensive exams since 2012. She is the lead of the addictions track, and is involved with revising those courses. She has presented an APA student webinar, as well as a presentation on resiliency in healing from PTSD for veterans in Psi Club.

Education: PhD, Saybrook University; MA, Naropa University; BFA, Northern Arizona University

Publications: A Journey Back to the Sacred Heart: Reclaiming Self After Childhood Trauma (ebook), Annals of Psychotherapy & Integrative Health, Encyclopedia of the History of Psychological Theories, An Integrated Body-Mind-Spirit Experience… or the Zen of Mountain Climbing, Spirituality, and Alternative Healing

Certifications: Master Addiction Counselor (NAADAC), Quantum Energetics Practitioner, HOMDi Homeopathy Diploma, AuraSoma Practitioner, Universal Life Minister, Reiki Master

Honors and Achievements: Young Scientist Award (ISSSEEM), Fine Art Award (NAU)

Memberships: American Psychotherapy Association, International Society for the Study of Subtle Energy & Energy Medicine, NAADAC

Research Interests: Integrative medicine; holistic and integrative practices for clinical work in trauma and co-occurring disorders

Tricia Chandler Link
Tricia Chandler, PhD
FT Adjunct
Nelly Dixon
Nelly Dixon, EdD
University Faculty

Nelly Dixon is a full-time faculty member in the Graduate Psychology Department of Purdue Global. She teaches numerous courses in graduate applied behavior analysis, contributes the development of the program's curriculum and competency assessments, and serves as course lead and mentor for fellow ABA faculty. Dixon began her career as a special education teacher, in which she built a successful program in applied behavior analysis at her school district before becoming an autism consultant and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Education: EdD, Walden University

Publications: Behavior Analysis Quarterly, Behavioral Science in the 21st Century

Honors and Achievements: Conference presentations, including Association for Behavior Analysis International; Faculty of the Year Award (School of Social and Behavioral Sciences)

Memberships: ABAI, NYSABA, Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, Behavior Analysis Certification Board (verified course sequence coordinator)

Research Interests: Behavioral approaches to increasing student engagement in online higher education, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

Nelly Dixon Link
Nelly Dixon, EdD
University Faculty
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
Elizabeth Donnellan
Elizabeth Donnellan, MEd
University Faculty

Elizabeth Donnellan teaches various undergraduate courses in the addiction studies program in the undergraduate psychology program. She serves as a curriculum expert in addictions and mentors both faculty and students in the addiction program. Prior to coming to Purdue Global, Donnellan worked in the fields of school counseling, mental health, crisis/rape counseling, trauma treatment, and addiction, where she also held licences in these areas. She also served as a federal grant reviewer for the Administration of Children and Families and Health and Human Services.

Education: MEd, Rhode Island College; BS, University of Maryland, College Park

Publications: Research articles, published textbooks

Honors and Achievements: Regular presentations at national conferences for behavioral health

Elizabeth Donnellan Link
Elizabeth Donnellan, MEd
University Faculty
Katherine Kellogg
Katherine Kellogg, MEd
FT Adjunct

Katherine Kellogg teaches several courses in the undergraduate psychology department focusing on applied behavior analysis. She joined Purdue Global as a part-time adjunct faculty member and later was promoted to full-time. Most recently, Kellogg was a clinical director of the ABA department at a therapeutic day center. She also serves as a BCBA supervisor for master’s students seeking certification.

Education: MS, Texas A&M University

Certifications: BCBA

Honors and Achievements: Up and Above Award (Purdue Global), 2019

Memberships: Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), North Carolina Applied Behavior Analysis (NCABA)

Research Interests: Functional behavior assessments, severe behavior, autism, motivating operations

Katherine Kellogg Link
Katherine Kellogg, MEd
FT Adjunct
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
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
Karen Stiles
Karen Stiles, MDiv
University Faculty

Karen Stiles teaches course in introductory psychology and child and adolescent psychology. She has been a member of the General Education Literacy (GEL) Group in Social Science and currently serves on the Ethics GEL group to discuss and review new course assignment content. She also served as the program director for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for 2 years. Stiles has continued her studies in clinical psychology and education at the Center for Humanistic Studies/Michigan School of Professional Psychology in Detroit. Additionally she completed a clinical internship at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and an internship at MLK, Jr. Elementary School in Detroit. Stiles has been published in Capstone, the University’s literary journal. She has also written book, program, and curriculum reviews for the Youth Specialties Journal.

Education: MDiv, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg; BA, Thiel College

Honors and Achievements: 2012 Educator of the Year (Kaplan University)

Karen Stiles Link
Karen Stiles, MDiv
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
Jason Waldow
Jason Waldow, MS
FT Adjunct

Jason Waldow teaches various undergraduate communication courses. He joined Purdue Global first as a part-time adjunct faculty member and later as a full-time adjunct instructor. Previously, Waldow served as a journalist, PR consultant, and recently as an organizational communication consultant for international organizations. He has lectured in organizational culture, leadership, and public speaking for students furthering their professional journey in various fields.

Education: MS, City University of Seattle; BA, The Evergreen State College

Memberships: National Communication Association, International Communication Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washington, ACLU

Research Interests: Cultural and organizational communication and cognitive executive function in higher education

Jason Waldow Link
Jason Waldow, MS
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
FT Adjunct

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
FT Adjunct
Lisa Wright
Lisa Wright, PhD
University Faculty

Lisa Wright has worked at Purdue Global (formerly Kaplan University) for 10 years, where she is a professor in early childhood and teaches a wide variety of undergraduate courses in early childhood, with a special emphasis on assessment and autism spectrum disorders. She has designed and revised curriculum in numerous early childhood courses. She began her academic career in the physical therapy department at the University of Missouri, where she was a full-time clinical assistant professor. Wright has experience working in early intervention, rehabilitation hospitals, public schools, and the home environment. She is a licensed physical therapist and volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for the state of Florida, and is certified to teach K-12 children with exceptionalities.

Education: PhD, University of Missouri; MA, University of Missouri; BS, University of Missouri; Post-Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis, Kaplan University (now Purdue University Global)

Publications: Research on interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders; reviews several professional organizations and journals

Honors and Achievements: Regular international conference presentations

Lisa Wright Link
Lisa Wright, PhD
University Faculty