The Dr. Jo Watts Williams School of Education Advisory Board provides professional expertise to the administration and faculty in the school. The board meets twice yearly, fall and spring. The chair of the board is Dr. Kebbler Williams.
Dr. Kebbler Williams, a 1998 Elon graduate, works at The Hunt Institute. She is responsible for engaging and supporting educators across states to coordinate and guide progress on the Institute’s strategic priorities. This includes collaborating with school leaders regarding the development and implementation of effective and efficient practices and strategies to drive equity in schools.
Previously, she was an education planning and development consultant for the Office of Charter Schools (OCS) within the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. In this role, she worked with charter schools to ensure legal compliance, board performance, financial integrity, and academic excellence. Throughout her tenure in OCS, Dr. Williams facilitated the opening of 82 new charter schools across NC. A lifelong educator, Dr. Williams began her career as a teacher and later served as an assistant principal, a principal and a central office administrator in North Carolina public school districts.
Dr. Williams earned her Elon degree in elementary education where she was a NC Teaching Fellow, an Isabella Cannon Leadership Fellow, and an Elon College Honors Fellow. She later was awarded a master’s degree in school administration from North Carolina State University where she was a NC Principal Fellow. Finally, she attained a doctoral degree in educational leadership at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was the recipient of the Patrick W. and Janet R. Carlton Award for Dissertation Research in Educational Leadership.
Dr. Williams has served as a member of the Elon University Board of Trustees since 2008, and was elected secretary in 2014. She is the first African American female elected to the Board of Trustees and is featured among other distinguished African American alumni on the Elon Wall of Fame. Dr. Williams also serves as chair of the Board of Trustees Campus Life Committee, a member of the executive committee, and a member of the alumni affairs committee. She previously served as a member of Elon’s National Alumni Executive Board. In 2010, Dr. Williams was honored as Elon’s Distinguished Alumna of the Year and in 2015, she was presented with the Gail Fonville Parker Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2018, Dr. Williams was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Mrs. Barbara Bass ’61 earned her BA degree in mathematics from Elon in 1961 and later earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. She is retired from forty years as a math teacher and Dean of Students at St. Catherine’s School, a private girls’ school in Richmond, VA. Her husband, Walter, who is also an alumnus, spent thirty-four years as a biochemist with American Tobacco. The Basses have supported Elon since 1964. In addition to the Walter H. Bass and Barbara D. Bass Scholarship, which they established to help Elon students with financial need and high academic achievement, the Basses have been loyal supporters of Phoenix athletics and are members of the Phoenix Club, The Elon Society President’s Circle, and the Order of the Oak. Barbara was a loyal member of Elon’s Board of Trustees for almost thirty years, and was instrumental in bringing Phi Beta Kappa to our campus. She now serves as a Life Trustee.
Dr. Dolores D’Angelo P’02, an innovator and pioneer in interdisciplinary education, was formerly the Coordinator of the Communication Arts Program of Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD. This magnet program, focusing on humanities and media education, was one of the first programs of its kind in the United States. Students from her program have won dozens of awards in journalism, media production and creative writing. The best schools of communication in the country are populated by her graduates.
Currently serving as an adjunct professor in the School of Education at American University, Dr. D’Angelo is also a frequent lecturer and presenter at local, regional and national education meetings, and a well-respected writer in this field and former associate editor of the Maryland English Journal. She has been acknowledged with invited memberships to Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Tau Delta, and Phi Delta Kappa. Her commitment to higher education is further exemplified by her years of service as a trustee of Simmons University (MA) and a former member of the Board of Visitors of Elon University, NC. She and her husband, Larry, are members of the Order of the Oak, sponsor two scholarships at Elon: The D’Angelo Family Scholarship in Honor of Bill Leonard in the School of Communication, and a travel scholarship for students who study abroad in Italy.
Dr. John Denning ’93 has worked in a variety of roles supporting teacher development and the intersections of policy, career and college readiness and economic development. John currently serves as the Principal of New Educational Ventures, an education and public policy group committed to positive changes in schools and the teaching profession. In addition to roles as a Senior Advisor to the John M. Belk Endowment and the Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership, John partners with organizations such as the Education Commission of the States and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. John previously served as a Senior Program Officer for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In that role he led the Foundation’s investments in policy development, advocacy and communications in North Carolina, Colorado, Kentucky and across the 16-state compact region supported by the Southern Regional
Education Board. Committed to driving impact in transitions from high school to college and overall improved outcomes for both students and the teaching profession, John also served as North Carolina’s State Director for K-12 and Postsecondary Alignment and the NC Ready for Success initiative. In that capacity and through a joint appointment across the University of North Carolina, the NC Community College System and the NC Department of Public Instruction, John directed communication and policy alignment efforts across all sectors of K-12 and postsecondary education.
After attending Elon as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow, John served with distinction as an American
history and government teacher. Since earning an MA in Public Policy from Exeter University in England and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from UNC-Chapel Hill, John has worked in other organizations such as the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, All Kinds of Minds, the NC New Schools Project and the NC Teaching Fellows Commission.
Dr. Andrew Houlihan ’01 graduated from Elon in 2001 with a degree in elementary education and is currently in his fourth year as Superintendent for the Union County Public Schools, NC (UCPS). Prior to joining UCPS, he served in numerous roles within the Houston Independent School District including Chief Academic Officer, Chief School Officer and Elementary Principal. In addition to his work in HISD, Dr. Houlihan served in various leadership roles in the Austin Independent School District as well as the Director of the Education Leadership Institute at the International Center for Leadership in Education. Dr. Houlihan began his career as a second grade teacher at AB Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina. Dr. Houlihan is a NC Teaching Fellows graduate of Elon University. He earned his Masters degree in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University and his Doctorate in Education at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Judith Howard has served as a Professor of Education, Director of the Master of Education program, Department Chair, and Interim Dean of the School of Education during her eighteen-year tenure at Elon. Judith previously spent fourteen years teaching in public school classrooms in North Carolina before joining the university in 1993 to establish a special education program in the School of Education.
She was named director of the Elon’s M.Ed. program in 1998 and helped to establish the current three-summer cohort system for elementary and special education programs, as well as a track for gifted education. From 2008-2009, Judith served as Interim Dean of the School of Education and led Elon’s response to a state-mandated revision of all undergraduate teacher education programs.
Judith has received numerous honors during her distinguished career, including the School of Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award in2004 and the Excellence in Service Award in 2010 for providing extraordinary leadership and promoting collegiality within the school. She was honored with the Elon Medallion in 2013.
Mrs. Nan Perkins P’88 retired from Elon in 2008. During her thirty-two year career at Elon, she served in a range of roles including member of the senior staff, advisor to two presidents, and as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Vice President for University Advancement. She presided over the $47M Elon Vision campaign and laid the groundwork for the $100M Ever Elon campaign, the largest comprehensive fundraising effort in Elon’s history.
Nan and her late husband, Edward (d. 2014), have been generous supporters of Elon, including endowing the Edward T. and Nan P. Perkins Scholarship. Nan and Ed are the parents of an Elon alumna, Laura Perkins Catoe ’88. Nan was awarded the Elon Medallion in 2011 for her service to Elon.
Mr. Evan Solender P’12 P’14 has been a middle school math teacher for the past seventeen years, currently teaching 8th and 9th grade at The Hawbridge School, a small charter school in Saxapahaw NC. His path to the teaching profession had many twists and turns. Mr. Solender started his education at Clark University, but left during his sophomore year to pursue an opportunity with Domino’s Pizza. He owned and operated franchise locations in Massachusetts and later in New Jersey. After meeting his wife, Heather, he sold the franchises and moved to Maine to open Jenny Craig franchises, which he recently sold.
Feeling discontent with the world of business, Mr. Solender went back to school full time to attain his degree in teaching. After teaching for two years, he returned to school again to earn his Master’s degree from Lesley University. Mr. Solender moved to Pittsboro, NC in 2010. He is very proud of his two daughters who graduated from Elon. Alexandra, class of ’12, teaches AP Physics at Apex Friendship High School in Holly Springs, NC and Jessica, class of ’14, who teaches 7th grade math at Daniels Middle School in Raleigh, NC.
Dr. Richard Thompson ’64 is currently retired, but often offers counsel and consults with several organizations. His distinguished career has positively impacted children and teachers. He served as Vice President for University-School Programs at the University of North Carolina, State Superintendent of Education in Mississippi, and Deputy State Superintendent of Public Schools for North Carolina. He has been recognized for his work with many accolades, including the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, and he was named to the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and received a Distinguished Alumni Award at both Elon University and Chowan University.
Dr. Todd Wirt ’98 graduated from Elon in 1998 with a BS in middle grades education. He went on to earn a Master of School Administration degree from UNC Greensboro (2003) and an Educational Doctorate from Wingate University (2011). Todd has taught middle school mathematics and science has held both Assistant Principal and Principal roles at the middle and high school levels. Todd is currently the Vice President for Professional Development at Certica Solutions. He previously served as the the Superintendent of Orange County School District, the Assistant Superintendent for Academics for the Wake County Public School System and as the Executive Director of Secondary Education, CTE, and ESL for the Mooresville Graded School District. Todd was recognized as North Carolina’s 2010 High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Dr. David Wyrick ’94 graduated from Elon in 1994 with a BS degree in exercise science and went on to earn both his MPH in public health education and PhD in educational research methodology from UNC-Greensboro. David is currently an Associate Professor of Public Health Education at UNC-Greensboro and President of Prevention Strategies. Prevention Strategies is an official affiliate of UNCG devoted to program development and evaluation that improves the health and wellness of young people. David also serves as the Chair for the Early Career Preventionist Network, as a member of the Board of Directors for the Society for Prevention Research, a member of various review groups for NIH, a reviewer for the journal Prevention Science, and as an expert consultant for various groups including the NCAA, Be Active, NC, and the National Center for Drug Free Sport.
Mr. David B. Young is Chief Executive Officer of Participate Learning, based in Chapel Hill, NC. He has dedicated his entire career to the company’s mission to unite our world through global learning. Mr. Young has led the organization’s growth from a family project to small, but thriving business. Today, Participate Learning is proud to be the leading provider of K-12 education programs and one of the largest international exchange teacher programs recognized by the U.S. Department of State.
For more than 30 years, Participate Learning has partnered with schools and districts to create global, cultural, and language connections to empower students and educators to positively impact the world. Our vision is to develop global citizenship among today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. Our work fosters cultural understanding to create a peaceful future for everyone.
Mr. Young has been a featured speaker and panelist at various national, international, and regional education conferences and symposia, has been quoted in several publications and research reports, and has authored numerous publications on the topic of global education. He is a member of the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Board of Directors and the Elon University School of Education Advisory Board. He is also the former vice chair of the executive board for the Partnership for 21st Century Learning and the former vice president of the Board at SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals. Under Mr. Young’s leadership, Participate Learning has won the B Corporation “Best for the World” award from 2013-2019 and is among the Real Leaders Top 100 Impact Companies for 2019 and 2020.
A native of Alamance County, North Carolina, Mr. Young received his Bachelor of Arts from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and has lived and traveled abroad extensively, including periods in Costa Rica, Spain, and London.