Anne M. Kress, PhD

Northern Virginia Community College

Anne M. Kress is the President of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which serves over 70,000 students across six campuses.

She is a passionate advocate for NOVA’s mission of providing equitable and affordable access to exceptional higher education and workforce programs, transforming the lives of students and advancing opportunity in the region. Kress serves on the boards of the American Council on Education, Generation Hope, Capital Area Food Bank, Northern Virginia Chamber, Northern Virginia Technology Council, and the Consortium of the Universities of the Washington Metro Area, among others.

Kress has testified before Congress on community colleges and workforce development and served as a negotiator on federal higher education regulations. She has been named to the Virginia Business 500 and Washington Business Journal Power 100; and been honored by organizations including the Virginia Community College System, Phi Theta Kappa, and her alma mater, the University of Florida.

Prior to moving into academic administration, Kress was a professor of English at Santa Fe College (Fla.). She has also taught graduate courses in higher education administration and serves on the community college leadership program advisory board for the University of Maryland Global Campus.

BACHELOR’S: B.A. in English and BSBW with honors in Finance, University of Florida

MASTER’S: M.A. in English, University of Florida

DOCTORATE: Ph.D., Higher Education Administration, University of Florida

Paula Dibley

Forsyth Technical Community College

Paula Dibley is the Chief Officer of Student Success & Strategic Innovation at Forsyth Technical Community College in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dibley started her career in Washington, D.C., working in media relations and communications with nonprofit clients, such as the Save Darfur Coalition and Pew Charitable Trusts. After relocating to North Carolina, she began working in higher education, first at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and now at Forsyth Technical Community College.

Today, Dibley serves as both the chief student success officer and chief of staff to the college’s president. She has been married to her partner, Troy, for nearly 15 years and they have two children, Brielle (9) and Cole (6). Dibley is passionate about her community, an advocate for social justice, and a believer that education can be the great equalizer. In her spare time, she loves to read, drink copious amounts of tea and water, exercise, and spend time relaxing with family and friends.

HOMETOWN: Pottstown, Pennsylvania

BACHELOR’S: Bachelor’s in Political Science and Public Communication, American University, Washington, D.C.

MASTER’S: Master of Public Administration, the University of North Carolina

DOCTORATE: Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation, New York University (In progress)

FAVORITE QUOTE: “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” — Stephen Grellet

LaSha Norris

Associate Operations Specialist

LaSha is a goal-oriented talent & operations professional who will bring decision-making and sound judgment to the Lab in order to positively impact the organization’s hiring, team culture and internal operations. LaSha is excited to be joining the Lab as the Associate Operations Specialist, where she’ll be working with our People, Operations & Culture team. 

Prior to joining the Lab, LaSha spent the last 11 years working in Operations, with the last 9 specifically focusing on talent, project management and internal/external communications. In her previous position, LaSha provided technical & operational direction in Talent & Organizational Effectiveness project challenges, and worked closely with management teams to build employee-centric cultures promoting positive morale & optimizing productivity. LaSha is excited to join the Lab to help create and maintain streamlined systems and processes for talent & culture to continue to ensure the Lab is a great place to work.

HOMETOWN: Washington, D.C.

EDUCATION: Full Sail University

BACHELOR’S: B.S. Sports Marketing & Media

MASTER’S: M.A. New Media Journalism (in Progress)

FAVORITE QUOTE: “The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow” – Stephen Richards

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… spending my free time traveling the world with my husband Tristin and 3 children, Shante’, Darius & Skylar and posting it all on TikTok!

Kelly Palmer

Board Member

Kelly Palmer is a thought leader and advisor on the future of work and education and is the Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Kelly focuses on business strategy and new product innovation, skills-based hiring and development, and pathways from education to jobs of the future. She is the co-author of the award-winning business book The Expertise Economy, which focuses on the urgent need to upskill the workforce.

Kelly has spent her entire career in Silicon Valley and was previously Chief Learning Officer at both LinkedIn and Degreed. She was Vice President of Learning at Yahoo! and held executive positions in learning, M&A, and product development at Sun Microsystems. Kelly speaks regularly at companies and conferences around the world and has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Barron’s, Financial Times, Fast Company, and Forbes, among others. Kelly has a bachelor’s degree in English/Communications and a master’s degree in learning science, education technology, and adult learning theory. She lives in Denver, Colo.

Lauren Conte

College Data Coach

As a College Data Coach and member of the Lab’s Digital Transformation team, Lauren Conte supports the work of the Community College Growth Engine and the Data Collaborative for a Skills-Based Economy. She partners with colleges to help strengthen their capacity to collect data crucial to understanding the impact of innovative micro-pathway programs on new majority learners.

Lauren comes to the Lab with extensive experience in the higher education sector and expertise in mixed-methods data collection, institutional data management, and data analysis. Her work is motivated by a fiery passion to improve access to higher education by removing barriers for traditionally underrepresented individuals. Before joining the Lab, Lauren worked in NORC at the University of Chicago’s Higher Education Analytics Center, where she specialized in web survey development and researched campus climate topics such as mental health and wellness, sexual assault prevention, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

HOMETOWN: Methuen, Massachusetts

EDUCATION: Wesleyan University 

BACHELOR’S: B.A. in Psychology with minors in Data Analysis and Education

MASTER’S: M.A. in Psychology

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… playing in recreational sports leagues, trying out new recipes, and brewery hopping with my dog, Springer.

Caroline DeLeon

Education Designer

Caroline DeLeon serves as an Education Designer with the Community College Growth Engine team and brings over 10 years of higher education and student development experience in addition to policy work and advocacy for new majority learners.

As a first-generation college graduate, Latina, and daughter of immigrant parents, Caroline brings passion to her work by giving back to her community and uplifting the next generation of leaders. She thrives when working with learners who need assistance navigating their personal, academic, and career pathways to more opportunities.

Having a love for nonprofits, Caroline’s career began by assisting the greater Boston area with financial-aid literacy education and completion, which led her to complete her master’s degree in Higher Education and Human Development at the George Washington University. She has since worked with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) and institutions including Georgetown Law, Northeastern University, and American University.

A native of Massachusetts, Caroline is a fan of all New England teams and can often be seen sipping on Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees and displaying sports memorabilia with reminders of her BOSTON STRONG roots.

Mary Ann M. DeMario, PhD

College Data Coach

As a College Data Coach, Mary Ann Matta DeMario, Ph.D., supports the work of the Data Collaborative for a Skills-Based Economy and the Community College Growth Engine. The role gives Mary Ann the opportunity to blend her interests in creative problem solving, collaborative team building, and building a community of practice with her knowledge of data systems, data governance, data policy, and data design. As a nationally recognized leader on how colleges can design data systems to identify student-parents (college students who are parents), Mary Ann’s role as a College Data Coach allows her to continue to support college data capacity while facilitating shared experiences aimed at supporting students. The crux of her work is helping to design of a system of higher education that is more flexible, affordable, and inclusive for new majority learners.

Prior to working at the Lab, Mary Ann spent 17 years as a specialist in the Institutional Research Office at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y. Monroe was the first college in the nation to deliberately collect data on students’ marital and parental status, and Mary Ann was the first researcher to analyze that data. The result was a seminal study that demonstrated that campus-based child care helps student-parents with young children persist in and graduate from college. Following that and other studies on Monroe student-parents, Mary Ann helped Monroe apply for and receive the Education Design Lab’s Single Moms Success grant in 2019. She was the original project lead and served as its principal investigator until she left Monroe for the Lab in March 2023.

Mary Ann considers herself fortunate to be able to do work that supports underrepresented college students. She has worked alongside distinguished organizations such as Ascend at the Aspen Institute, Generation Hope, the State University of New York (SUNY), the Urban Institute, College Promise, and ETS. She is most grateful, however, for working closely with the Lab on the Single Moms Success initiative. That experience allowed her to witness the transformational power of human-centered design.

Mary Ann has a bachelor’s in psychology from SUNY Potsdam, and a master’s and Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While in graduate school, she worked as the assistant to the editor for a regional women’s magazine. Her most treasured memory of that time is interviewing writer, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Following graduate school, Mary Ann worked in New York City for several years as the coordinator of research and development for a nonprofit organization. She then spent 17 years as an institutional researcher at Monroe Community College. Mary Ann currently lives in suburban Rochester, N.Y., with her husband and son.

Kaman Hung, D.HSc

College Data Coach

Dr. Hung brings a background in data analytics, education, and organizational process improvement to Education Design Lab as a Data Coach. He currently works on enhancing data governance policies and facilitating data-driven decision-making for partner higher education institutions through the Lab’s Digital Transformation team. Prior to joining the Lab, Kaman held various roles, including serving as a program mentor at Western Governors University, where he fostered an online learning community for nontraditional learners and collaborated on program improvements. 

He also worked as a senior talent operations insights specialist at Shopify, where he developed measurement plans and enhanced learning programs and service dashboards. He is excited to join the Lab because of his passion for data-driven decision-making and educational innovation. With a background spanning computer science, education, and expertise in improving human performance through learning programs, Kaman is eager to contribute to the Lab’s mission of advancing education through innovative solutions and data-driven insights.

HOMETOWN: Asbury, New Jersey

BACHELOR’S: BA Communication/Broadcasting, Kean University; BA Computer Science, University of the People

MASTER’S: MS Digital Marketing, Western Governors University; MS Exercise Science, PennWest California; M.Ed. Digital Learning, Lamar University; M.Ed. Experiential Learning, Plymouth State University; MBA, Quantic School of Business & Technology; Ed.S. Educational Leadership, Arkansas State University

DOCTORATE: D.HSc. Health Science, PennWest California

FAVORITE QUOTE: “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”. – John Wooden

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… exploring the world through books, traveling to new places, hiking in nature, and indulging in the joy of cooking gourmet vegan foods.

Ivan Lui

Education Designer

Ivan Lui brings a unique mix of experience in intentional design, academic research, project management, economic development, and social work to the Lab, where he works as an Education Designer for the Designers in Residence project.

A native Californian, Ivan moved to Minnesota years ago to work as an engineer. Since then, he’s switched gears several times, going to the Middle East and Africa for international relief and development work, directing a nonprofit using agricultural business to promote economic development in developing countries, earning a master’s degree in Social Work, and working for a regional inter-governmental organization focused on changing youth outcomes in the Twin Cities.

Outside of the Lab, Ivan loves to read, cook, run, and spend time with his family.

Rebecka Ramos, PhD

Education Designer

Rebecka co-designs solutions with partners, facilitates partner and group learning sessions, and supports partners through the change process as an Education Designer. She brings her passion for equity and commitment to change to her projects, like Opportunity @ Work and BRIDGES.

Prior to joining the Lab, Rebecka was an educator in the higher education system. She has worked on  digital courseware, designed learning experiences, structured and facilitated learner support services, and wrote open-source textbooks.  She strived to give her students agency, belonging, and a sense of growth in their gateway English courses. 

HOMETOWN: Winter Haven, Florida

BACHELOR’S: B.A. in English, Nyack College

MASTER’S: M.A. in Literature, University of Central Florida

DOCTORATE: Ph.D. in Education Policy and Change Leadership, Walden University

FAVORITE QUOTE:  “Everything is figure-out-able” – Unknown

WHEN I’M NOT AT WORK I’M… reading, watching movies, and laughing with my family. You may catch me at the beach with my camera or a good book.