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Distance Education Team


Dr. Kelly Boyer Ontl is the Dean of Environmental Conservation and Research. Dr. Boyer Ontl has been working in the field of primatology and wildlife conservation for 20 years. Her diverse background includes working as a primate keeper at the Houston Zoo, caring for orphaned chimpanzees at a West African sanctuary, researching wild chimpanzees in Senegal, and serving in faculty roles at Michigan Technological University and Ball State University. Her time in West Africa fueled her to pursue her graduate degrees and to establish the Falémé Chimpanzee Conservation project, an outreach program that promoted chimpanzee conservation through education, stakeholder collaboration, and ecological research. Her area of expertise focuses on the ecology and behavior of chimpanzees in southeastern Senegal using indirect and non-invasive methods. Her research has explored how chimpanzees adapt to the hot savanna environment by using caves as microrefugia to escape the heat, as well as studying the impacts of human activities, specifically small-scale gold mining, on chimpanzees and their behavior. Her research has been featured in the New York Times Science section and on She received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and M.A. in Anthropology from Iowa State University, and a B.A. in Animal Behavior from Franklin and Marshall College.

Dr. Uzell Williams is the Dean of General Education and Environmental Studies. 

Dr. Uzell Williams is a CPA practicing in the state of Florida. She is the owner of a CPA firm where the focus is on growing small and medium businesses through accounting, consulting, personal and corporate taxation, financial analysis, budgeting, business valuation and auditing. She has over 20 years’ experience in accounting and finance in both corporate America and private companies.

Dr. Williams holds an MBA in Finance, MS in Accounting, CPA License and a Doctorate in Business Administration with an Accounting concentration. She has been teaching accounting and finance for more than 10 years in higher education and the private sector. She has developed and revised programs, courses, and curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has adaptive learning and competency-based program and course development and faculty management experience. She also has experience in program accreditation and is a strong advocate for students and faculty alike.

Dr. Jeff Marlett is the Associate Dean of General Education. 

Dr. Jeffrey Marlett enjoys working with both faculty and students to pursue transformative education. He comes to Unity College with over twenty-five years of administrative and faculty experience. At The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, he taught courses in American Studies, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. From 2017 to 2019 he served as the interim Dean of Art and Humanities at Saint Rose, overseeing seventy faculty in seven departments. He has also developed and taught online graduate courses for St. Joseph’s College of Maine. 
Author of Saving the Heartland (2002), a study of Catholic responses to the Dust Bowl and other agricultural crises, Dr. Marlett has published book chapters and journal articles in American Catholic studies ranging from ethics to sports and movies. Currently he is working on a biography of Leo Durocher, the baseball manager who coined the phrase “nice guys finish last.”
An avid hiker and paddler, he looks forward to enjoying all of Maine’s outdoor activities, especially pestering the state’s fish with his poor fly-fishing casts. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College, a Master’s from Vanderbilt University, and his PhD from Saint Louis University.

Dr. Rita Peachey is the Distance Education Associate Dean of Environmental Conservation and Research. 

Dr. Peachey is a Marine Scientist and non-profit executive that continues to love to learn about the ocean. Through a broad variety of research, teaching, and running high-impact science programs overseas, Dr. Peachey has promoted the understanding and conservation of the marine environment. Raised in Pennsylvania, she studied at Juniata College, then moved to the University of South Florida, where she obtained a BS and MS. After working as a marine ecologist in Hawaii, she accepted a fellowship from the University of South Alabama and completed her PhD in Marine Science. She embraces the future by supporting Unity College student access to Distance Education!

Highlights of her career include serving as Director of CIEE Research Station Bonaire, Caribbean Netherlands. Other executive experience includes serving as the Executive Director of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean, Assistant Department Head at Pensacola State College, and Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Technology Bonaire.  She has conducted research on coral reefs, toxicology of hydrocarbon pollution and sunlight on marine organisms, fish feeding ecology, mass transfer of nutrients to coral reefs and seagrasses, the invasive lionfish, the effect of mangrove nursery location on rainbow parrotfish distribution, the behavior of tube-dwelling copepods on seagrasses and sixty-six undergraduate independent research projects on coral reef ecology.

Office Manager

Michelle Ross

Distance Education Office Manager Michelle Ross comes to Unity after 21 years of combined service in the Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Michelle has worked in Administration, Human Resources and Recruiting. While serving in the military, Michelle earned a BA in Environmental Studies from Ashford University through distance education.

Full-time Faculty

Dr. Brent Bibles is Distance Education Professor of Wildlife Biology. He received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science from the University of Arizona and BS in Fisheries and Wildlife from Utah State. Brent has been involved in wildlife management since the 1980’s and is a well-respected expert in the field. Besides working in academia, he has worked for state wildlife and federal land management agencies. He is primarily an ornithologist but works with all taxa. He has worked with several threatened or endangered species, most recently the Mexican Spotted Owls and black-footed ferrets.

Dr. Bibles is an excellent teacher and works at delivering courses using question-driven instruction. His contribution to the Sustainable Natural Resource Management track of the MS in Professional Science is to add his management experience, quantitative abilities, and student-focused teaching style to the curriculum.

Kristyn Vitale

Dr. Kristyn Vitale is Assistant Professor in Animal Health and Behavior. She received a Ph.D. in Animal Science with a focus in Experimental Psychology from Oregon State University and a Master’s in Environmental Science from Miami University. She holds a B.S. in Zoology and a B.A. in Social Geography from Kent State University. Her areas of specialization are animal behavior, animal cognition, and human-animal interaction. Her research focuses specifically on domestic cat behavior and the cat-human relationship. During her graduate career she was as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and a Visiting Research Fellow at Kyoto University in Japan, where she conducted cross-cultural research into cat-human social interaction. Her research on cat behavior and human-animal interaction has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals. Her innovative research has generated significant international attention from media outlets including Science, National Geographic, The New York Times, and The Times of London. She has taught a variety of in-person and online courses on animal behavior and welfare, including courses focused on enrichment, learning, behavior modification, and cat training. She is also an active public speaker and is frequently invited to present at professional associations and to the general public. It is Dr. Vitale’s vision to provide high-quality distance education experiences that foster critical thinking and empower students to become leaders in the field of animal health and behavior.

Research and Development

David Bass-Clark

Distance Education Director of AR/VR Research and Development, David Bass-Clark, is an educational technologist and extended reality (XR)​ strategist, evangelist, and innovator. His work focuses on XR experiences, immersive learning design, and innovative distance learning. Working at the intersection between emerging technology and education, David has designed and built learning experiences for a wide range of audiences from Portland, Maine to Shanghai, China. David received his M.S.Ed from the University of Southern Maine and his B.A. in Business Administration and Music from Muhlenberg College. 

Doug Studdiford

Distance Education Director of Partnership Development, Doug Studdiford, is a global education and business innovator and entrepreneur. At Unity College, Doug is responsible for building and nurturing corporate partner relationships that connect our global community in scalable and sustainable ways.

He comes to Unity with over 20 years International partnership experience creating long term relationships that share common missions. Doug has lived and worked in Italy, Japan and Hong Kong.



Dana Bosse, our Dean of Distance Education Concierge Services, brings to Unity thirteen years of higher education admissions experience. Dana received her undergraduate degree in English at Bates College with a concentration in Creative Writing. She began her career in higher education with Andover College and quickly realized her passion for working with non-traditional students. She eventually went on to lead the admissions and advising department for Kaplan University, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Leadership. Dana has always held an appreciation for all that Maine has to offer, and is excited to introduce students to innovative and environmentally focused degrees. In her spare time she enjoys downhill skiing and exploring the coast!

Jessica Sawyer Unity College

Distance Education Concierge, Jessica Sawyer comes to Unity College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Maine at Farmington. After working in retail for 10+ years, she is looking forward to helping students from all walks of life, pursue and achieve their environmental sustainability goals.

Distance Education Concierge, Jayne Marie Foley joins the Unity team with a Master’s in Policy, Planning, and Management with a concentration in Sustainable Development from the University of Southern Maine and a B.S. in Economics and Environmental Science from the University of Maine. Jayne has a passion for higher learning and hopes to help others who share that passion especially when it comes to the environment. After working in hospitality for eight years, she is excited to use those people skills to help grow Unity College.

Distance Education Concierge, Erin Gale joins the Unity team after spending the past seven years working in collegiate athletics.  She holds her Master’s Degree in Education from William Woods University along with her BS in Health Administration from Ohio University.  She is excited to help nontraditional students across the country find their career passion and achieve their professional goals.

Instructional Designers

Chris Malmberg

Chris Malmberg is Director of Distance Education Instructional Design with a background in the humanities. He received his M.F.A. and M.A. in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, where he taught Composition and Creative Writing for several years. He is interested in the application of narrative in learning design, the evolving interface between humans and technology, and the ways in which education must evolve to serve peoples’ needs in a world that is constantly changing.

Daniel Chin

Distance Education Instructional Designer Danny Chin brings experience in language teaching and diversity, equity, and inclusion to his role at Unity. He holds a BA in French and Biochemistry from Bowdoin College and an MA in Intercultural Relations from Lesley University. His approach to education emphasizes skill-building, communicative strategies, and real world applications of language learning, which he implements in his instructional design of courses. He believes distance education has the potential to create more equitable learning experiences and new forms of connection.

Distance Education Instructional Designer Hannah Sirois has a background in place-based education, experiential learning, and curriculum development. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Maine in Education with a minor in English. She attended the University of Idaho’s McCall Outdoor Science School, earning a master’s degree in Natural Resources with Environmental Education and Science Communication certificates. Hannah is passionate about designing immersive and experiential instruction, preparing students with the skills to make a difference in their careers, environment, and communities.

Distance Education Instructional Designer Susanne Robins has been an educator for the majority of her career. Sue’s background includes classroom based and online teaching as well as curriculum development, subject matter expertise, and instructional design. Before moving to Portland, Sue lead a soft skills training consulting business and served on the Board of Education for Culver City Unified School District in Culver City, CA. Sue has taught middle school science, trained biotech sales staff, and coached new teachers for Mt. St. Mary’s University and the University of Southern Maine. Sue has also taught online for many years for the University of California, Irvine Continuing Education Department, provided content as a SME for two MOOCs, and created content for a major online university as a Subject Matter Expert. Volunteer work for Sue has included board membership for the League of Women Voters Portland Area and EmpowHer Institute in Los Angeles, CA; Executive Committee membership for the Culver City Chamber of Commerce, and Girl Scout Troop Leadership. Sue holds a B.S. in Zoology, a M.S. in Education, and a certificate in E-Learning Instructional Design. 

Sue is Mom to her son Will, who lives in Maine and her daughter Molly, who lives in Los Angeles. Sue lives with her husband Terry on Munjoy Hill in Portland. When she is not designing instruction, she enjoys hiking, running, kayaking, gardening, and traveling.


Denise Young Unity College

Denise Young, our Distance Education Dean of Retention and Completion, is a Maine native that comes to Unity College with over twenty years of experience in various levels of education. She received her B.S. in Business Administration, Management Concentration, from the University of Maine; and also her Master’s in Education with a dual focus in Instructional Technology and Leadership. Her experience in higher education includes various aspects of academic affairs; including academic programs, partnerships, policy, and advising. In addition, she is mastery level certified by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) in prior learning assessment.

Danielle Ebbrecht, our Distance Education Associate Dean of Advising. Danielle Ebbrecht has 30 years of higher education experience in academic affairs, direct student advising and support as well as teaching at both private and two year colleges. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Human Resource Management from Gettysburg College (PA), and her Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in College Student Affairs from Azusa Pacific University (CA). She is passionate about student success and is committed to helping and guiding all students to reach their goals and become the strongest and best versions of themselves. Danielle is a mom to two grown children and in her free time enjoys walking (mostly at the beach!), restorative yoga and traveling to new places. She is very active in her church and is also a member of a small women’s acapella group called “Women of Note” where she has had the opportunity to sing for two presidents as well as at the White House.

Wendy Berube

Distance Education Advisor Wendy Berube joins the Unity College Distance Education team with over 15 years of experience in higher education and career training. Her work has focused on student services, advising, admissions, career development, and campus management. She also worked for 7 years in the non-profit world, fundraising and marketing, and holds a BA in History from the University of Southern Maine. As an Academic Advisor, Wendy is dedicated to ensuring that all students are successful. 

Christina LeBlanc

Distance Education Advisor Christina LeBlanc joins the Distance Education team after completing her M.Ed in Student Development in Higher Education at the University of Maine. She also holds a B.S in Secondary Education with a double major in English. Her experiences and interests through her graduate studies includes assessment of student success and retention, institutional research, and financial advising. As an Academic Advisor for undergraduate students, Christina is committed to increasing student success within the Distance Education programs.


Distance Education Advisor, Trish Popovitch joins the Unity Distance team with a background in higher education and sustainable agriculture journalism. Her background includes running an outreach college campus in Wyoming, teaching the HiSet program to adult learners, advising technical students in the Portland area, and most recently running a remote learning program for a private school in Auburn, ME. She holds a degree in the social sciences from the University of Wyoming and studied history at both Penn State and the American University in Cairo. Trish’s diverse advising and research experience in both the college and K-12 setting affords her the necessary insight to navigate her new role at Unity College. With a penchant for exploring, Trish enjoys foraging for medicinal plants and edible mushrooms in the beautiful Maine countryside.

Nichelle Orel Unity Advisor

Distance Education Advisor, Nichelle Orel joins the Unity Distance Education team with several years of experience in higher education and college counseling. Originally from New Jersey, she received her BA in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Rutgers University and her MS in Applied Psychology from Sacred Heart University. She has a background in college admissions and advising, as well as college counseling in secondary education. She has spent the last four years working with international students providing wholistic advising services at a community college in Massachusetts. Before this, she worked at a non-profit organization providing college counseling and advising to students within underrepresented and underserved communities. Her ambition and passion for not only education but also nature and exploration brought her to Maine, where she would vacation often. She enjoys spending as much time as possible outside either snowboarding, hiking, running, or rock climbing.

Distance Education Advisor, Sarah DeLuca joins the Unity College Distance Education team with over 16 years of experience in education at various levels.  She returned to Maine in the last handful of years after completing her BA in Mathematics and Secondary Education and her MA in Secondary Education, with an EdS degree in Educational Leadership in Massachusetts.  She has a background of working with both traditional and nontraditional students with unique backgrounds.  She is dedicated to providing continual support and resources for undergraduate students to increase their success. 

Distance Education Advisor, Jessica Hannebury joins Unity with over 10 years of experience in higher education.  She has her Master’s Degree in Higher Education as well as an array of experience in the field, having worked in departments such as advising, student leadership, career and transfer services, TRIO and residential life.  Jessica is passionate about supporting and advocating for her students to help them achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. 

Distance Education Advisor, Daneel Dafni joins Unity College with a plethora of experience as a Spanish educator, business owner, and childcare specialist. Prior to founding a Spanish School for children in Portland, Maine, Daneel was an elementary and middle school Spanish teacher in the Kennebunk school system, and a high school Spanish teacher and Department Head at Saint Dominic Academy. Daneel holds her M.S.Ed. in Education and her B.S. in International Business and Spanish. As a lifelong learner and educator, she is excited to guide students throughout their college career and to be the advisor that she never had, herself.  Her goal is to help the campus build a community of confident and ambitious students to build a sustainable future for all.  When Daneel is not working with her students, she can be found adventuring in nature with her favorite sidekick, Sola.

Distance Education Advisor, Samantha LeBlanc joins Unity College with experience in various levels of education, specifically focused on serving underrepresented communities during her time as an educator. She is committed to empowering students to achieve their academic and professional goals with equity at the center of her advising approach. Samantha holds her M.Ed. in Visual Art Education from Lesley University, BFA in Photography, and has continued her education specializing in teaching English as a second language. Outside of working with students, Samantha can be found exploring Maine (and beyond) with her camera.

Distance Education Advisor, John “Tyler” Snowe joins the Unity College Distance Education team with over 15 years of experience in secondary education working in admissions, coaching and student development.  Tyler has a B.S. in Leadership and Organizational Studies from University of Southern Maine.  Throughout his career Tyler has enjoyed helping many students find their avenues of success in achieving their academic, athletic, and personal goals and is excited to bring that passion to Unity.  In his free time Tyler can be found sharing his passions of skiing and other outdoor adventures with his wife and two young kids.

Distance Education Advisor, Sue Estabrook joins the Unity College Distance Education team with over 20 years of experience in higher education.  She spent nearly 14 years working at the University of New England (UNE) where she was the Head Women’s Lacrosse Coach and served as an Academic Support Coordinator for student athletes. Sue was an active member of the university’s Student Success Committee, where she collaborated with faculty and staff to guide students on a path to academic achievement.  Prior to UNE she worked at the University of Southern Maine, where in addition to coaching, she was the Learning Center Manager and taught a learning strategies course for conditionally admitted students.  Sue also spent time in various roles at SUNY Old Westbury, Binghamton University, SUNY Maritime, and Wesley College.  Sue’s true passion is encouraging students to be the best they can be and aiding them in their academic success.  She grew up in Bethpage, New York and earned her BA in English at Marist College. 

Distance Education Advisor, Meghan Westphal joins the Unity Distance Education team with several years of experience in higher education and college advising. Originally from New Hampshire, she came up to Maine to receive her B.S in Health Science and holds her M.S.Ed. in Education at St. Joseph’s College of Maine. She has a background in college admissions and specifically online programs and advising.  Meghan is passionate about supporting and advocating for her students to help them achieve their academic, professional, and personal goals. In her free time, Meghan enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and walking her two Coonhound dogs. 

Distance Education Advisor, Melissa DeRan joins the Distance Education Team with over 20 years of experience in higher education; primarily in collegiate athletics. She has spent the last seven years as the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach and Faculty Lecturer in Physical Education at Bates College. Melissa has also served as a Title IX coordinator, Student-Athlete Advisory Committee director, Diversity Equity and Inclusion chair, Assistant Track and Field Coach, and a strength and conditioning coordinator. Melissa has had stops at Union College, UMASS Boston, and St. Lawrence University. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Murray State University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Lawrence University. Melissa has been fortunate to work with numerous national champions and all-Americans; however, her greatest joy is helping her students find their unique path to personal success outside of the playing field. When she is not working with her students, Melissa can be found spending time with her wife, three young children, reading, exercising, and trying to find a quiet moment to take a nap. 

Distance Education Advisor, Allyson Gill has worked with students ranging from elementary grade level to adult learners. In her role at Unity, she will help students have a meaningful experience by ensuring they always feel supported as they pursue their academic and professional goals. Allyson is from Madison, New Jersey and is new to Maine, an area she visited often during her many years living in Boston. She graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a Bachelor of Arts and Political Science and earned a Master of Arts in School Counseling from Montclair State University. Outside of advising students, Allyson loves exploring Maine, interior design, and searching for vintage art.

Enterprise dedicated to Distance Education

Distance Education Assistant Director of Marketing, Kelly Schneck joins the Unity College Distance Education team with 10 years of experience in creative and marketing. She is a passionate and driven creative who has worked as a designer, art director & marketer. She earned her BFA in Graphic & Interactive Design at Temple University, Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia. She enjoys big picture thinking and leading a team of creatives on their process to create stunning and impactful work that exceeds the goals of the project. When she isn’t designing, she’s out in the woods hiking with her dog.

Distance Education Talent Acquisition Specialist & Training Coordinator, Matt Caston comes to Unity College with a strong background in recruiting and relationship management. Before to joining the team at Unity College, Matt spent three years at the Council for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) working in Dept. of State compliance with J1 international high school exchange students and prospective host families in for the High School USA exchange program. Prior to his shift to higher education, Matt organized and recruited volunteers for a number of campaigns and organizations across the state ranging the from American Cancer Society, Mainers United for Marriage, and one of Maine’s 2014 gubernatorial candidates. Matt loves nothing more than helping connect passionate people to the things they love doing most. When not scheduling interviews or working with faculty, he loves cooking for his fiancée and friends, aggressively snuggling one of his two cats, or playing pen & paper RPG’s with old friends.

Anne Nelson Director of Distance Education Financial Aid, received her undergraduate degree in Social Sciences at SUNY Buffalo. She began her career in higher education five years ago. Prior to joining Unity, she was employed in the banking industry, primarily in mortgage lending. She has experience in providing counseling to students and parents regarding all aspects of financial aid and tuition planning. Anne has been a frequent speaker to large groups of prospective students and colleagues. She has worked closely with different teams within higher education to recruit and retain students, including admissions and athletics. She has also managed teams responsible for providing initial financial aid consultations for students. Anne is excited to bring her enthusiasm and knowledge of financial aid to students who are pursuing their academic and professional goals. In her free time, she enjoys travel, running and spending time with her family.

Distance Education Assistant Registrar, Allison Kisel joined the Unity team in January of 2021 as a second-generation Registrar ready to dive deeper into the world of higher education administration. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, Allison returned to her beloved home state to pursue her passion for higher education. While at Southwestern, Allison was a student worker for the Office of the Registrar where she was responsible for processing transcript and enrollment verification requests, managing academic records, and training new student workers. She is passionate about innovation, diversity, and sustainability in higher education and is excited to see how higher ed shapes the future and how the future shapes higher ed. In her free time, Allison enjoys spending quality time with friends and collecting indoor plants.

Student Financial Services Specialist, Robert LaStella comes to Unity with five years of experience in higher education. He has previous experience working in both admissions and financial aid at Kaplan and Keiser University. Robert graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies, with a concentration in Ancient Languages. Outside of higher education, Robert has spent time abroad in Japan teaching English, and developed a passion for helping non-traditional students chase their academic goals!

Last Updated on June 10, 2022