Meet The Consulting Team

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Ashley Isreal Ph.D
Research Partner

Dr. Ashley L. Isreal is the Interim Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Winthrop University. Reporting directly to the Vice President, Dr. Isreal serves as one of the key members of the Division for Student Affairs. Dr. Isreal collaborates with individuals across campus to actively drive the Vice President's initiatives and the Division's strategic plan forward. Her primary job function consists of providing administrative, programmatic, and project management support in dealing with a wide range of divisional and institutional issues and special projects. This includes generating the entire Division’s dashboards and quarterly reports for the Board of Trustees meetings and developing Qualtrics surveys tasked from the Office of the President at Winthrop University. As an initiator, self-starter individual, Dr. Isreal developed an educational consulting business to assist higher education constituents. One of her focuses centers on the experiences of Black students pursuing graduate school. The Action Research Collective (ARC) collaborative team has assisted her in becoming more critically sophisticated and intellectually engaged regarding qualitative research. She conducts focus groups and interviews to obtain the data using photo-elicitation. Her overall goal is to find ways to strengthen the educational pipeline for students of color to get into graduate school. Through collaborative teams, she produces knowledge needed to advance support and success for underrepresented students

Cherese Fine Ph.D
Research Partner

Dr. Cherese F. Fine is a scholar and educator whose career is dedicated to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion. She has developed and coordinated several programs centered on college access and readiness, retention, and success among students of color. Furthermore, she conducts program assessments, evaluations, and research projects. Dr. Fine is an Assistant Professor in Educational Leadership at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where her scholarship focuses on the experiences of Black college students and the organizational and socio-cultural aspects of intercollegiate athletics. She is dedicated to social justice education and committed to developing leaders and change agents.

Jesse Ford Ph.D
Research Partner

My research foci center the voices and experiences students and faculty of color on college campuses. More specifically, my program of scholarship is focused on race, oppressive environments, and historical influences on the educational landscape for people of color. As a scholar, teacher, and researcher, I am interested lived experiences of others and employ qualitative methods to create a collective understanding of the experiences of people of color in higher education. I use a multitude of research collection techniques, including individual in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observations to understand the experience of these populations. I currently serve as an Assistant Professor of Higher Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My research uses culturally responsive frameworks to explore the historical and social-cultural influences of race and gender, with an emphasis on Black men in the academy. More specifically, I employ qualitative methodologies to tackle inequity in education, particularly within the socialization experiences of underrepresented students, faculty and their pathways to the professoriate. I use a multitude of research collection techniques, including individual in-depth interviews, focus groups, and observations to understand the experience of these populations.

Dion T. Harry
Research Partner

Dion is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University, pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in the Higher Education Opportunity, Equity, and Justice concentration of their Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development program. His research interests and focus areas include Blackness in education, the experiences of marginalized communities in STEM education, and the experiences of queer and trans students of color. Prior to enrolling at North Carolina State University, Dion earned his Bachelor’s of Science in Health Science (Health Promotion and Education) and Master’s of Education in Counselor Education (Student Affairs) at Clemson University. Dion also has work experiences in admissions, college access, first-year experience and college transitions, academic advising, and student leadership and service

Byron M. Lowens Ph.D
Research Partner

Byron Lowens is a research scientist in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. His research uses a mixed-methods approach while utilizing a combination of computer science, design, and psychology to evaluate the cooperative relationship between humans and computational technologies. More specifically, his research focuses on health informatics, wearable health technologies, usable security and privacy, and marginalized populations. Through these focus streams, Dr. Lowens' research explores what factors influence and discourage the adoption of consumer wearables among marginalized populations. Dr. Lowens' research also looks to understand objective privacy risks and concerns posed by collecting health information from consumer wearables among African American and Latinx populations.

Austin McDonald
Research Partner

Austin McDonald is a doctoral candidate and soon to be graduate of Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Born and raised in Huntsville, AL, Austin is a proud HBCU graduate of Stillman College (Tuscaloosa, AL) where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English (Secondary Education) in 2013. His experiences as an educator include serving as a middle school reading teacher; he has also served as an administrator at Mercer University (Macon, GA) and Bethune-Cookman University (Daytona Beach, FL). Austin’s research focus is on HBCUs, specifically in the areas of student leadership, organizational development, and healthy student support systems for HBCU students and professionals. Through his research and experiences, Austin has been hired for consulting opportunities with Bethune-Cookman University, South Carolina State University, Alabama State University, Jackson State University, Florida A&M University, and Edward-Waters College. In the near future, Austin aspires to attain a faculty or administrative position at a notable research institution. As for long-term, Austin plans to continue a career in education eventually serving in chief administrative roles on college campuses.

Keneisha Harrington
Research Partner

Keneisha L. Harrington is an advanced qualitative researcher and Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Educational and Organizational Leadership Development at Clemson University. Through her research and activism, she seeks to dismantle systems of oppression and manifestations of racism within the education system by bridging the gap between research and practice in educational leadership. Specifically, she studies the lived experiences of Black students, parents, families, and communities, in relation to the public education system. Throughout her work, Harrington prioritizes using community-engaged research methods to center the voices of Black people; to investigate best practices for anti-racist leadership and asset-based approaches to leadership; and to examine school, university, and community relationships/partnerships within the education system. She has used a wide range of methods in her work including community-based participatory research, photovoice, photo-elicitation, and collaborative autoethnography. As a critical scholar, she seeks to answer questions that examine the purpose of schools in our present society and understand the roles that they play in Black families and Black communities.