Introducing the 2019 Cohort of Higher Education Innovation Fellows


Our 2019 cohort of the Higher Education Innovation Fellowship kicked off last month, and we’re as excited about this batch of fellows as we’ve ever been.

They’ll be joining us for six months of curriculum, including a five-day onsite visit to Switchboard HQ in Portland, Oregon in April coinciding with our conference ListenUp EDU. We’ll cover program and service design, using empathy in your work, change management, building trust, and other topics through September.

This year’s group includes nine curious and collaborative people from across the country from institutions of all shapes and sizes. Here they are:


Kyle Brown
Assistant Director of Engagement and Events
Seattle Pacific University

Kyle is an Oregonian who moved to Seattle to attend SPU. He worked as an event intern for the admissions office 4 years, then joined staff as the Annual Giving Program Coordinator for two years after he graduated. He became SPU’s Assistant Director of Engagement and Events in the alumni office last April.


Amber Graham
Strategic Initiatives Program Director
University of Rochester

Amber has been working in higher education since 2000, when she started in residence life. Her career services experience has included advising for creative and social good careers, event and employer management, technology and web development, and leadership of groups and consortia. Beyond career services, she works or has worked on partnerships with other departments including alumni relations, academic advising, innovation zones, student activities, international student engagement, education abroad, college administration, information technology, and data management and assessment.

Amber loves creating fun, memorable experiences for people, and removing barriers or friction points that take away from those experiences. Outside of that creative persona, she is a mom/referee of two boys, ages 3 and 7, dog mom to her dachshund Kyra, and partner in crime to her husband Seth.


Reginald Leonard II
Associate Director for Career Connections and Community Engagement
University of Virginia

Reggie has worked in higher ed for 10 years, where he initially started as a graduate intern leading a mentoring program in his university's diversity office and eventually transitioned into career services. In career services, he’s spent time as a career counselor working with student populations ranging from undecided and non-traditional students to student athletes and creative arts students. Eventually, he transitioned into a role with dual responsibilities in career counseling and employer relations. His most recent role is primarily in employer relations.

Reggie lives and work in Charlottesville, and gets to fulfill his passions for travel and connecting people through his work in the Data Science Institute and the Engineering School, where he builds relationships to facilitate career connections. He’s into jazz, natural wine, and anything generative and creative.


Dr. Kim Middleton
Director, Center for Academic Innovation and Creativity
Mount Saint Mary’s University

Dr. Middleton spent ten years as a faculty member in English before moving into administrative positions (Department Chair, Program Director, Dean). In her current role, she works primarily with faculty development and innovative learning, which includes leading teams that are experimenting with pedagogy and curricula and writing grants to support these projects.

Born and raised in the American West, Dr. Middleton’s educational journey has taken her eastward (South Bend, Indiana; Albany, New York) and home again. She is a second-generation teacher, and fortunate to be a product of public school, experimental college, and very traditional graduate education.


Dr. LaToya Owens
Director, Learning & Evaluation
United Negro College Fund

Dr. Owens is a leader in strategic and data-informed design and decision-making, and in organizational development and solutions-based work in education and nonprofit spaces. She is an experienced thought leader on topics ranging from inclusive research practices, to K-16 career pathways and culturally informed evaluation and assessment. She has developed a number of experiences to impact curriculum development, ensure equitable educational policies, and develop culturally competent evaluation frameworks and tools for diverse communities.

Dr. Owens is the Director of Learning and Evaluation for the UNCF Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute, her work largely focuses on strengthening institutional career placement and student persistent outcomes at HBCUs. She also works as an instructor of research, measurement, and statistics in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. Dr. Owens earned her B.S. in Public Relations from Florida A&M University; an M.A. in Educational Leadership, Politics, and Advocacy from New York University; and Ph.D. in Educational Policy from Georgia State University.


Linda Pantale
Associate Director, Alumni Career Programs
University of Chicago

Linda has worked at the University in Chicago for three years in Alumni Relations and Development. Her experience has been largely on the alumni relations side in career programming, student-alumni mentorship, volunteer management, alumni board, and awards recognition.

Linda is currently pursuing her MBA at Chicago Booth. Her experience allows her the structure and opportunity to ask bold questions and seek answers in diverse fields of experience. She works in education because she finds value in institutions that seek to cultivate curiosity.


Jordan Tegtmeyer
Director of Finance, IT Infrastructure & Assessment
Princeton University

Jordan has worked in higher education for more than 15 years across three institutions. He’s spent the last almost 4 years in career services at Princeton. His background is in finance, IT, and administration.

Jordan is originally from Chicago. He is currently a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania working on research related to gender equity in college sports.


Melissa Yazzie
Outreach Counselor
Eastern New Mexico University

Melissa is the outreach counselor with the Department of Counseling and Career Services at Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU). The primary scope of her work at ENMU is career counseling and programming. She earned a Master of Social Work degree from Washington University (WashU) in Saint Louis in 2018. At WashU, Melissa was a Graduate Fellow with the main campus’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion. As a fellow, Melissa coordinated programs, facilitated workshops, and supported students from traditionally marginalized communities.

Born in Arizona and raised in Colorado, Melissa is the middle of three girls. She is biracial and born to a mother with Scottish/Irish ancestry and a father whose first language isn’t English, but his native language, Navajo. Today, Melissa is most interested in finding sustainable solutions for everyday problems, and her attention is set on enhancing personal and career development for a unique population in the students at her current job at Eastern New Mexico University.


Allison Young
Director of Annual Giving
Renbrook School

Allison has worked in development for over 12 years and in education for almost 5 years. She has a passion for advancing educational institutions to help them grow and keep up with the global trends. She worked in higher education for a short time, but has mainly been focused on independent schools.


Learn more about the Higher Education Innovation Fellowship here.