open search close window
close window
close window

Distance Education Team

Vice Presidents

Dr. Jennifer Cartier is the Executive Vice President of Distance Education (EVPDE). Prior to joining the faculty at Unity, Dr. Cartier was the Director of Teacher Education and a Science Education faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh where she was recognized with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Carnegie Science Foundation Excellence Award for University/Post-Secondary Education. Dr. Cartier has published research exploring the relationships between science teachers’ professional identities, instructional materials, school contexts, and the enacted curriculum. Her work has been published in a variety of professional journals, including School Science and MathematicsScience and Children, and Science and Education. Dr. Cartier co-authored the chapter Developing Understanding Through Model-Based Inquiry in the seminal NRC publication How Students Learn (2005) and Five Practices for Orchestrating Productive Task-Based Discussions in Science (2013). Throughout her career, she has been awarded more than $7M in grants to support science education research and curriculum development. Since joining the faculty at Unity in 2014, Dr. Cartier has enjoyed teaching a variety of courses related to pedagogy, learning, the socio-politics of education, and sustainability. Dr. Cartier is thankful that her career has brought her back to her native state of Maine after more than two decades of work in academia in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and enjoys spending time with her extended family and searching for sea glass on beach walks whenever she can.

Dr. Cartier received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction and M.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her B.A. in Chemistry with a concentration in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Williams College.

Denise Young

Denise Young, our Executive Vice President of Distance Education (EVPDE), is a Maine native with a Master’s in Education with a dual focus in Instructional Technology and Educational Leadership and B.S. in Business Administration, Management Concentration from the University of Maine. She is mastery level certified by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) in prior learning assessment.

Denise has been instrumental in transforming the landscape of online enrollment management with a specific focus on student persistence at the national level. Her leadership has resulted in the recruitment and retention of Unity’s largest student population. With over 20 years of experience in education at all levels, she specializes in finding pragmatic data driven solutions to complex problems and coaching teams to their maximum potential in a results oriented culture.

Operations Manager

Distance Education Operations Manager Michelle Ross

Distance Education Operations 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.

Graduate Deans

Dr. Kelly Boyer Ontl Dean of Graduate Studies

Dr. Kelly Boyer Ontl is the Dean of Graduate Studies. 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. Kimberly Post smiles at the camera in front of a forest background.

Kimberly Post is the Associate Dean of Environmental Graduate Studies. Prior to joining Unity, she supported faculty and students with community-based learning and research projects and served as an assistant professor and department chair. Her peer-reviewed work has been published in various academic journals, including Sustainability: The Journal of Record and Sustainability and Climate Change. She also authored the seminal curriculum guide A Settled Mind and several book chapters, including the upcoming (2024) Sustainable Universities and Colleges.

Kimberly earned a BFA from the Atlanta College of Art and an MEd from Lesley University, where she is currently a PhD candidate. Her research interests include sustainability education, trans-systemic knowledge systems, human-nature relational values assessment, and ecopedagogy.

Baccalaureate Deans

Dr. Jeff Marlett Associate Dean of Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences.

Dr. Jeff Marlett is the Associate Dean of Environmental Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Marlett came to Unity with over twenty-five years of administrative and faculty experience in online and in-person instruction. He enjoys working with both faculty and students to pursue transformative education.

Author of Saving the Heartland (2002), a study of Catholic responses to the Dust Bowl and other agricultural crises, he is completing a biography of Leo Durocher, the baseball manager who coined the phrase “nice guys finish last.”

An avid hiker and paddler, he enjoys all of Maine’s outdoor activities. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Wabash College, a Master’s from Vanderbilt University, and his PhD from Saint Louis University.

Dr. Michaeleen Gerken Golay Associate Dean of Integrated Environmental Studies

Dr. Michaeleen Gerken Golay is the Associate Dean of Integrated Environmental Studies. Dr. Golay is passionate about student success and collaborative learning, working to support students and fellow educators. She joined Unity after teaching in higher education for more than a decade. She earned baccalaureate degrees in English and Environmental Science at the University of Iowa and received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Forest Biology at Iowa State University. Her research in forest biology spans several levels of ecology including molecular, organismal, community, and ecosystem scales with a focus on forest understory plants. Dr. Golay has worked with students and peers as well as private and public land managers on studies that ranged across field, lab, greenhouse, and digital data sets to understand and restore plant function in nutrient cycling and other ecosystem services in response to human disturbance from agriculture, urbanization, and climate change.

Dr. Golay has also served in several leadership roles within and outside of academic settings. She has served in local government, as a member of community organizations, and with non-profit organizations to help further goals of natural resource conservation. As avid outdoors folk, she and her husband and their dogs are enjoying learning about and experiencing the beauty of Maine and New England.

Dr. Meghan Martin is the Associate Dean of Natural Resource Conservation and Management. She has been working in the field of behavioral ecology and wildlife conservation for 15 years. Her background includes working as a primate keeper at Oregon Health and Science University’s Oregon Primate Center, and as a postdoctoral researcher with the San Diego Wildlife Alliance (San Diego Zoo), studying conservation breeding in giant pandas. Dr. Martin has also studied mate choice in conservation breeding programs with the American Zoo Association, and served as faculty for Animal Behavior at Washington State University. Her time in China led to her doctoral degree and the founding of PDXWildlife, a non-profit that works with conservation breeding programs worldwide to optimize breeding success in managed care settings. Her area of expertise focuses on the ecology and behavior of giant pandas, African-painted dogs, and American river otters. Her research has explored how species adapt to managed care environments and how species’ natural ecology (e.g. social and mating systems) can inform strategies to improve reproductive success in those settings. Dr. Martin’s research has been featured in Nature, Reuters, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, ILFScience, and National Geographic. She received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Biology from Portland State University and a B.A. in Biology from Reed College.

Program Directors

Headshot photo of Lydia Horne

Dr. Lydia Horne is the Associate Director of Sustainable Ecotourism and Recreation Programs. Originally from Maine, Lydia spent much of her childhood exploring the woods near her family home and hiking trails across the state. With this early exposure to the outdoors, she decided to major in conservation biology at St. Lawrence University. After several seasons of fieldwork that involved gathering snowshoe hare pellets, observing wasp foraging behavior, getting stung by fire ants, and tromping through wetlands to collect insects, she returned to graduate school. Lydia has her M.S. in forest resources and Ph.D. in ecology and environmental sciences from the University of Maine. Her primary research question asked how tourism is being impacted by climate change along the coast of Maine. She was a postdoctoral researcher in STEM education at the University of Northern Colorado where she studied how students learn complex content and skills (e.g., Food-Energy-Water Nexus, systems thinking) and helped develop a concept inventory to assess learning. Lydia joins Unity with experience teaching courses on tourism and outdoor recreation, environmental studies, and human dimensions of climate change. She values an active, inclusive approach to teaching where learners of all identities can succeed. In her spare time, Lydia likes to read, go hiking, sew (poorly), travel, and hang out with her cat.

Dr. Sebastian Kretschmer is Director of Sustainable Food Systems & Food Science Programs. Dr. Kretschmer has dedicated his career toward driving change through sustainable food system program development within academia, for NGOs, and for international corporations. As a founding member of the UN Sustainable Food Systems Program in 2014, Dr. Kretschmer engaged with a global network of universities as well as other partners within civic society serving as strategic liaison and fundraiser in various projects dedicated to sustainable nutrition, food science, and regenerative farming systems. Prior to joining the faculty at Unity, Dr. Kretschmer worked as a scientific coordinator at Kassel University in Germany where he directed international projects with a focus on how food systems can deliver on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. Kretschmer has been awarded more than $3M in grants to support research on drivers of change in food systems and his work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Frontiers and Sustainability. In his free time Sebastian loves to explore Maine lakes and beaches, take extended swims and outdoor saunas.

Full-time Faculty

Dr. Brent Bibles Distance Education Professor of Wildlife Biology

Dr. Brent Bibles is a Graduate 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.

Dr. Bruce Brazell Baccalaureate Associate Professor of Practice of Mathematics

Dr. Bruce Brazell is a Baccalaureate Associate Professor of Practice of Mathematics. 

Dr. Bruce Brazell’s childhood memories of the Apollo moon landings influenced his career path, leading him into the sciences. He earned a BS and MS in physics and an Ed.D. in Higher Education, with a focus on math and science education. After a brief stint working in an observatory, Dr. Brazell followed the educational path, initially working as a high school physics teacher and then progressing into the role of a college physics and astronomy professor. Subsequently, he served in various university administrative roles for many years.

Dr. Brazell’s publication experience includes writing physics preparation books for Kaplan, creating teaching certification materials for ABCTE, developing study guides and test items for state science standards exams, writing book reviews, and contributing to the Astronomy Education Review. Outside the classroom, he enjoys activities such as stargazing with his telescopes, engaging in amateur archaeology, and fishing.

Zachary Falcon, Esq. is a Professor of Conservation Law and Policy. He holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and an M.F.A. in Fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Prior to his appointment as Vice President for Hybrid Learning, he served Unity as the faculty moderator and as Chair for the Conservation Law Enforcement program.

Zach came to Unity from University of Iowa College of Law, where he was the Associate Director of the Writing Resource Center.  During his legal career, he served in the State of Alaska Department of Law as an Assistant Attorney General, where he represented the state in civil litigation, administrative hearings, and permit appeals.  He has also worked as a public defender in Juneau, Alaska, and as associate oversight counsel for the Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. 

Dr. Tanya Lubansky Baccalaureate Assistant Professor of Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture

Dr. Tanya Lubansky is the Baccalaureate Assistant Professor of Marine Biology and Sustainable Aquaculture. Tanya holds a B.S. in Environmental Sciences at Wheaton College and has professional experiences working with universities, national parks, and environmental nonprofits. Tanya completed her PhD in Ecology and Evolution in 2015 in the Federated Department of Biology of New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, with research quantifying individual movement behavior and social networks of humpback whales within the Gulf of Maine. Tanya is currently a Research Associate with Allied Whale, a nonprofit organization within College of the Atlantic of Bar Harbor, ME. She has worked with Allied Whale for over a decade completing marine mammal research and coordinating intern programming. Tanya also has extensive experience in managing the logistics and operation of a remote offshore research station. Through her experiences, Tanya developed a clear passion for education. She has focused much of her professional career on bringing her enthusiasm and skillset to diverse learning platforms, from working with tourists on whale watch vessels to mentoring high school student research and now to the new frontier of online learning. Beyond research and education, the ocean is also a major part of Tanya’s personal life— she is a competitive offshore rower and has spent years living aboard her sailboat along coastal Maine.

Headshot picture of Megan O'Connell

Dr. Megan O’Connell is the Baccalaureate Assistant Professor of Environmental Communications and Information. Dr. O’Connell is an ecologist, conservationist, and science communicator based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin where her research focused on plant-pollinator interactions in the face of climate and land-use change. After leading the Texas Plant Conservation Program at the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, she acted as the Director of Education at the Quivira Coalition, where she focused on improving communications between conservationists and agricultural producers in the Southwest. With a background in photojournalism and storytelling, Dr. O’Connell has extensive experience in the field of environmental communication from working with educators, to environmental filmmaking and media production, graphic and web design, social media and marketing, as well as interdisciplinary communications research. Currently, Dr. O’Connell’s research pertains to environmental communications efficacy, community-integrated research and conservation models, and improving conservation outcomes through best communications practices.

Dr. Kristyn Vitale Assistant Professor in Animal Health and Behavior.

Dr. Kristyn Vitale is the 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.


Assistant Director of Recruitment, Brianna Garza

Assistant Director of Recruitment, Brianna Garza joins the Unity Distance Education Team with over 7 years working for Purdue University Global as a Student Success Manager and with 6 ½ years in Public School Education in Lewiston and Auburn Maine schools. She graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2012 with her Bachelor’s in Social and Behavioral Sciences minoring in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Counseling. She went on to attain her Master’s in Education from Southern New Hampshire University with a certificate in leadership and attained an additional certificate through the Lewiston Auburn Chamber of Commerce in Leadership with a focus on Nonprofit. She is passionate about student experience, success, and getting students to graduation. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband traveling and spending quality time with her family.

Graduate Enrollment

Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment Perceval Inkpen

Assistant Dean of Graduate Enrollment Perceval Inkpen (he/him) comes to Unity with a ten-year track record of helping a diverse array of students reach their personal and academic objectives. He received a B.A. from Bard College with a joint major in History and German, and an M.S. in Higher Education Administration from Southern New Hampshire University with a focus on non-traditional student success. As a former distance education graduate student who worked and studied simultaneously, Perceval is personally committed to ensuring the success of all students in achieving their goals. Perceval studied for a year at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and has first-hand as well as professional experience working with international and domestic students. In his free time, he enjoys hiking and seeing Maine’s nature and wildlife (particularly its wide array of birds), making block prints, and playing the cello. As someone who loves the outdoors, Perceval is happy to be working with graduate students who want to be responsible citizens, environmental stewards, and visionary leaders.

Graduate Advisor Wendy Berube 

Graduate Advisor Wendy Berube joins the Unity 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. 

Hayley Holzhacker smiles at the camera with a brown horse.

Graduate Advisor Hayley Holzhacker joins the Unity Distance Education team with a drive and passion for helping others succeed. In December 2022, Hayley achieved her Master’s in Non-Governmental Organization Management from Johns Hopkins University. Hayley’s work focuses on inspiring student success and positively impacting the community. She previously worked in residence and student life in New Jersey. Hayley graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Psychology from Saint Elizabeth University in Morristown, New Jersey. As a Graduate Advisor, Hayley is passionate about ensuring all students are supported and inspired to achieve their goals. When not working with students, Hayley is typically at the barn with her horses, walking her dog, or adventuring outside. She enjoys staying active within the community and supports volunteerism, encouraging students to engage and share their talents.

Baccalaureate Enrollment

Assistant Dean of Advising, Jessica Hannebury

Assistant Dean of Advising, 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. 

Assistant Dean of Student Success, Aislinn Forbes

Assistant Dean of Student Success, Aislinn Forbes is a TRIO and AmeriCorps alumna, which informed her interest in Distance Education as a tool to improve access to higher education. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor’s of General History from the University of Maine at Farmington. These degrees support 6+ years of experience working with students across all levels of education as a tutor, teaching assistant, academic advisor, and career coach. Throughout her experience, Aislinn has developed the ability to provide excellent one-on-one support while navigating systemic change and pushing for continued improvement for student experience at every level of the college experience.

Assistant Dean of Student Success, Nichelle Gorman

Assistant Dean of Student Success, Nichelle Gorman 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.

Baccalaureate Advisors

Baccalaureate Advisor, Samantha LeBlanc

Baccalaureate Advisor, Samantha LeBlanc joins Unity 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.

Baccalaureate Advisor, John “Tyler” Snowe

Baccalaureate Advisor, John “Tyler” Snowe joins the Unity 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.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Meghan Westphal

Baccalaureate 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. 

Baccalaureate Advisor Allyson Gill

Baccalaureate 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.

Baccalaureate Advisor Alexis Rog has over 20 years of experience in various levels of education. She received her B.S. in Education from the University of Maine; her M.Ed in School Counseling from the University of Phoenix; and earned her Certification as a Master Level Life Coach. Alexis’ work in life coaching and advising within the K-12 school setting affords her the necessary insight to navigate her work here with students at Unity. Alexis is passionate about supporting and advocating for her students, helping them achieve their academic, professional and personal goals. As an Academic Advisor for Distance Education undergraduate students, Alexis is committed to maximizing student success. A Maine native, Alexis enjoys spending as much time as possible outside, hiking and biking, and indoors, riding (dancing on) a stationary bike to the beat of music.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Emerson Zoltko

Baccalaureate Advisor, Emerson Zoltko joins the Unity Distance Education team with 5 years of experience working in higher education, specifically collegiate athletics. He received his B.S in Athletic Training in 2017 from the University of New England, where he later served as an Assistant Athletic Trainer for the Women’s Rugby and Women’s Ice Hockey teams. It was during this time Emerson learned of his passion for creating a positive student experience for his athletes. He is eager to advocate for and support his students to help them achieve all of their academic, professional, and personal goals. Originally from Southern New Hampshire, Emerson and his family now call Wells, Maine home. Outside of advising, Emerson enjoys fishing and exploring Pop Culture with his son.

Christina LeBlanc

Baccalaureate 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.

Dan Sullivan, Baccalaureate Advisor

Baccalaureate Advisor, Dan Sullivan joins the Unity Distance Education team with over 5 years of experience working in various levels of elementary and secondary education. He received his B.S in Mathematics, with a second major in Economics, from the University of Massachusetts. Originally from the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Dan is excited to call upon his variety of experience working with virtual learners to help students to get the most out of their experience at Unity. As an Academic Advisor for the Distance Education program, Dan is excited to work together with students to ignite (or re-ignite) their passion for learning. When Dan is not working you can find him on the golf course, the tennis courts, or exploring the beautiful trails and mountains of Southern Maine.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Val Parziale

Baccalaureate Advisor, Val Parziale joins Unity with experience working with First Year Students as well as multiple years of experience in Residence Life. She earned her master’s degree in Higher Education Leadership from Oakland University in Rochester, MI and her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in Elementary Education from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, MI. Being able to connect with students and learn about their passions is what excites her about advising students. In her free time, you can find Val dancing, hiking, and enjoying the beauty of Maine.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Minori Stefon

Baccalaureate Advisor, Minori Stefon joins the Unity Distance Education advising team with several years’ experience as an advisor, tutor, and teacher to learners of all ages in the U.S. and her native Japan. She earned a BA in psychology from UMass-Boston, pursued coursework in mental health counseling and psychological evaluation before earning an MS in human development and family studies with a concentration in adolescent development from the University of New Hampshire, where she is finishing a doctorate in education with a “Child, Youth, and Communities” concentration. In her native Japan, she worked in a cram school, teaching and advising students who were preparing to take school or college entrance exams. In the U.S., she has most recently taught courses in psychology, education, and human development at Clark University, Merrimack College, and Emmanuel College, and served as an educational/instructional support specialist in a program for at-risk adolescents at Tewksbury Hospital and Tewksbury Public Schools with the Collaborative for Educational Services. Minori is excited to join Unity and both meet and support students in their progress toward success. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her toy poodle, Ichie.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Emily Donovan

Baccalaureate Advisor, Emily Donovan joins the Unity Distance Education team with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Music Performance from East Carolina University. Throughout her time at East Carolina, Emily served as a tutor, student teacher, and graduate teaching assistant. In her final year of graduate school, Emily completed an internship in Academic Advising which allowed her to realize her passion for helping students succeed in their academic careers. In her free time, Emily enjoys hiking, playing guitar, and spending time with her family.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Jess Lockhart joins Unity with 3 years of experience managing and navigating Customer Relationship Management databases. She received a B.S. in Public Health from Kent State University and is pursuing an M.S. in Information Technology at Southern New Hampshire University. Her overall goal is to work within the intersection of technology and public health, which is what draws her to Distance Education at Unity Environmental University. She is excited to help students follow their passion in the environmental sector. When she isn’t working you can find her disc golfing, biking, playing board games, or taking a yoga class.

Sage Whitecloud smiles at the camera in a blue, white, and pink pullover.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Sage WhiteCloud, joins Unity Distance Education team with experience in various levels of education. They have a B.S. in Environmental, Social Justice and Place-Based Education from the University of Vermont. Sage is excited to join the Unity team and support students on their academic journey. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, art and playing board games.

Ceilya Cooley smiles at the camera.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Ceilya Cooley, joins the Unity team with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology from the University of Maine at Farmington. During her time at UMF, she held an advising role assisting first-year students. With over three years of experience in financial services and supporting individuals with diverse backgrounds and demographics, Ceilya brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to the Distance Education program. In her free time, she enjoys exploring national parks and quality time with her two feline companions.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Briana Burtsell joins the Unity Distance Education team with 18 years of educational experience. Her passion for working with students started as a career and technical instructor. As an award-winning educator for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, she was named a Blue Ribbon Teacher for her work creating DEI resources and curriculum for one of the largest urban school systems in the country. Developing supportive, equitable learning environments for all students is a high priority for her. Outside of advising, Briana has experience as a distance educator, educational consultant, and exhibits her artwork in galleries. She holds a BFA from Montserrat College of Art and an MA in Art Education from Boston University. Originally from Maine, Briana is excited to get reacquainted with her home state through her love of hiking and landscape photography.

Baccalaureate advisor, Gary M, smiles at the camera.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Gary McKissick joins the Unity Distance Education team with more than 25 years of experience as an educator and a lifelong belief in the power of education to foster a fairer, more compassionate, and more just world. He has a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of California, Davis and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of MIchigan. Gary loves helping students move from the possible, to the probable, to the actual as they pursue their dreams. Outside of work, he loves reading, baking, following (and sometimes coaching) women’s basketball, and spending as much time as he can in the company of dogs.

Hannah smiles at camera in front of a tree and brick wall in a black shirt.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Hannah Packer joins Unity with over 10 years of operational experience specializing in human resources and learning technology operations, user experience and product design. Originally from Michigan, she graduated from Grand Valley State University with a B.A. in Public Relations & Advertising before moving to New England. Her time spent developing others and helping them succeed is what sparked her interest in advising and starting a new chapter in higher-ed. In her free time, Hannah enjoys traveling, working on arts projects and spending time outdoors hiking, paddleboarding or skiing.

Ahmed Mohammed smiles at the camera in a black leather jacket in front of a pine tree.

Ahmed Mohammed joins Unity Environmental University with over four years of experience in higher education. His previous role as Logistics Manager and Apprenticeship Navigator has enriched his ability to support multiple levels of operations with varying requirements simultaneously. Ahmed’s strengths include simplifying complexity and handling one-on-one scenarios, providing unique and effective solutions for students’ specific needs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in human communications and political science from Arizona State University (ASU). With international experience in advanced cultural exchange, Ahmed has visited over 21 countries and is proficient in speaking, reading, and writing in three languages. Driven by a passion to enhance academic and life success, he shares his knowledge and academic experience with students through the effective enlightened advice method.

Advisor, Alex Beaze, gazes at the camera in front of a forest background.

Baccalaureate Advisor, Alex Beaze joins the Unity Distance Education team with a degree in Political Science and Sustainability from Miami University. With previous experience as a Teaching Assistant and a background working in environmental science, Alex is excited to leverage their passion for sustainability in guiding students toward academic and professional success. Inspired by a love for nature, Alex looks forward to utilizing their experiences to support and empower students on their educational journey. Outside of advising, you can find Alex exploring the beauty of Maine’s landscapes and embracing outdoor adventures with their wife.

Learning Experience Design

Chris Malmberg is Director of Learning Experience Design

Chris Malmberg is Director of Learning Experience 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.

Assistant Director of Learning Experience Design Danny Chin

Assistant Director of Learning Experience Design 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.

Instructional Designer Hannah Sirois

Learning Experience 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.

Instructional Designer David Stahl

Learning Experience Designer David Stahl has served as a public-school teacher, student-teacher mentor, and adjunct professor over the last 20 years while living in the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania. He holds a BA in History and an MEd from the University of Pittsburgh, along with e-learning and instructional design coursework at the University of California, Irvine.  With his recent relocation to Maine, he has decided to take his dedication to education in a new direction, becoming an Instructional Designer at Unity.  He is interested in bringing experiential learning and distance education together, as well as designing high-quality, dynamic courses that engage students.  In his free time, he enjoys running, hiking, kayaking, and photography. 

Instructional Designer Kerrie Tisdale

Learning Experience Designer Kerrie Tisdale comes to Unity with a BA in International Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MS in Literacy Education from USM. She spent many years working with English language learners in the US and Canada. Her background includes teaching and developing curriculum in the K-12 system in Maine, Wisconsin, and Ohio. As well, Kerrie was an instructor and curriculum designer in higher education in Wisconsin and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 

After living in various locations, Kerrie and her husband decided to return to Maine to be closer to family and to enjoy the many activities Maine has to offer. In her spare time, she likes to downhill ski, hike, bike, fish, and travel, to name a few. 

Instructional Designer Michael Trombley

Learning Experience Designer Michael Trombley has a background in online learning design for higher ed and K-12. He holds an undergraduate degree in English and Secondary Education from St. Joseph’s College, as well as an M.Ed. in Instructional Design from Western Governor’s University. He enjoys the challenge to make online education relevant to the lives of all learners, tapping into their intrinsic motivation and personal curiosity about the world around them. In his free time, Mike loves playing video games with his family, listening to jazz, and birding. 

Learning Technology Support Specialist Greg Siekman

Learning Technology Support Specialist Greg Siekman earned his A.S. in Information Technology from Southern New Hampshire University. He brings a background in technology support and education technologies from his previous work in public school classrooms and technology departments in the Western Mountains of Maine.

In his free time, Greg enjoys playing music, nature photography and coaching baseball.

Learning Technology Support Specialist (LTSS) Jennifer Bateman recently earned her B.S. in Communication, Media & Design / Innovation & Entrepreneurship from Clarkson University. She has a background in communications, graphic design, learning technology and business development through various internships and previous positions.

In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction novels and playing with her cat, Scout!

Donovan Montoya is XR Simulation Developer

Donovan Montoya is XR Simulation Developer and graduated from Boise State University with a Bachelor of Science in Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile Technology. His academic pursuits led him to a career dedicated to crafting immersive XR simulations. Donovan’s work centers around enhancing the learning experience through tangible, interactive, and accessible technologies. In his free time he enjoys gaming photography and playing the saxophone. Donovan is committed to pushing the boundaries of educational technology through his work in XR.

Hallie Larsson smiles in front of a forest background.

Hallie Larsson is an educator, software developer, and interactive designer who has done a little bit of everything from teaching in the classroom to making video games for a living.

Allie smiles in front of a forest background in a tan shirt.

Learning Experience Designer Allie Miller comes to Unity with a BA in Classical Languages from Davidson College and an MEd from Lesley University. She spent many years working in wilderness instruction and program management in California and Maine before transitioning to classroom teaching. During her time in K-12 education, she coached, mentored new teachers, ran professional learning groups, and developed curriculum. She is excited to develop high-quality, relevant, experiential courses for all Unity students.

Enterprise dedicated to Distance Education

Career Specialist, Candice Parsley

Career Specialist, Candice Parsley, Joins Unity with her Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature from Columbia College, where she also started her career in Admissions. After eight years in Higher Education, she moved to Gilbert High School to help students with career planning. While there, she earned her Global Career Development Facilitator certification. She moved to Maine from South Carolina and is excited to combine her experience to help DE students with Career Services.

Assistant Registrar, Joy Light

Assistant Registrar, Joy Light worked for 3 years in Software Quality Assurance before moving to Maine from Ohio. An alumna of the University of Cincinnati, she is committed to assisting DE students and staff.

In her free time, she enjoys Star Wars (particularly Andor and The Mandalorian), hiking, reading, and playing board games remotely with her family.

Headshot photo of Yenny Pratt

Student Records Specialist, Yenny Pratt is a transplant from Medan, Indonesia. She has a background in accounting and has worked as tax consultant for multinational corporations in the past. She is passionate about nature and helping people. She is also the Charter Secretary of the Lions Club in her hometown of Medan.

Financial Aid Specialist, Sheena Albert

Financial Aid Specialist, Sheena Albert joins the Unity Distance Education team with a 5 years of experience working in early childhood education and 10 years in banking. She is going to school part time at SNHU to earn her BA degree in general psychology.  When Sheena is not working, she likes to go on hikes and snowshoeing, putting together jigsaw puzzles, reading, doing 3D Diamond painting, and spending time with her family and friends.

Marketing Specialist and Content Developer, Patrick Mashburn

Marketing Specialist and Content Developer, Patrick Mashburn, is a former radio talent hailing from Tennessee who recently moved to Maine to take on a new role. With a degree from the University of Tennessee, Patrick is eager to use his expertise to expand the brand and tell the story of his new employer.

In his free time, Patrick is a fan of SEC football, BBQ, and Marvel movies. He is poised to bring a unique perspective and energy to his new position. He is excited to continue his career journey in Maine and is looking forward to helping share the Unity story.