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Higher Education Contributing Member Leadership Network

The goal of the HED Institutional Leadership Board is to advance the effective use of innovative technologies to support teaching and learning, including the adoption of “efficient IT” practices that make the sharing of data from various sources easier and more actionable, thus supporting the efforts to scale educational attainment. 

DescriptionThe Higher Education Contributing Member Network is made up of the institutional decision-maker contact for each contributing member organization with a new “academic leader” contact being added in 2023. This group provides input into higher education programs, networks with peers, stays abreast of 1EdTech initiatives and connects the organizational work with their institution and staff. Network members serve as advocates of 1EdTech and open standards.

Gary Ritter
Executive Director of Digital Transformation & Business Relationship Management
Gary Ritter, Ed. D., has been with Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC since 2004 where he currently serves as the Executive Director of Client Services. His areas of responsibility include leadership and strategic planning for technology use, technical support, classroom and lab support, technology asset management, academic technology services and staff development. Prior to assuming this role in 2019, he served as the Executive Director of Learning Technology Services. His first role in the information technology area came in 2010 when he was selected as the inaugural Faculty Liaison to Information Technology Services, a role designed to facilitate communication and understanding between faculty and technical staff. Gary has helped lead several major projects such as the selection and implementation of D2L Brightspace as the learning management system, Cisco Webex as the video conferencing and collaboration platform and Panopto as the video capture and repository system for the college. He continues to teach American history every semester. Professional interests include leadership, strategic planning, pedagogy, customer support, learning technologies, innovation, civic learning and neuroscience informed decision making. He holds the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies and History from UNCG; Master of Arts in Public History and Historic Preservation from UNCG; Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from UNCC. He enjoys time with his wife and their two boys, travel, reading, disc golf, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the New York Yankees.
Sonya Watkins
Chief Information Officer
As the Chief Information Officer at the University of Central Oklahoma and a member of the President’s Cabinet, Sonya provides leadership for the continued development of innovative technology solutions in support of the university mission. The division of information technology delivers enterprise-level information services that connect students, faculty and staff to learning resources and productivity tools which are available anytime from anywhere. Employing her skills as a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Sonya has been instrumental in facilitating major information technology initiatives that support the strategic direction of University of Central Oklahoma including the Student Transformative Learning Record.
Jack Suess
VP of IT
Mr. John "Jack" Suess is Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). As Vice President, he provides university leadership for information technology at UMBC and serves on the executive leadership team of the university. He is responsible for providing information technology services in support of teaching and scholarship, research computing, and administrative support. Reporting directly to the President, he is responsible for strategic planning and implementation, coordination, budget, personnel, and policy related to information technology at UMBC.

Since 2000, Mr. Suess has been very active nationally in the areas of cybersecurity, identity management, analytics, and cloud computing and has served in a number of national information technology leadership activities with EDUCAUSE, Internet2, and InCommon. His recent activities include participating in the Internet2 Board of Directors (2010-2013), InCommon (2009-Present), Internet2 Council and Program Advisory Committees (2008-Present), ECAR Strategies Working Group (2013-Present), Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC) (2000-Present, Chair 2003-2006), REN-ISAC Executive Advisory Group (2006-2013), Center for Higher Education CIO Studies (CHECS) (2013-Present), and the National Strategy for Trusted Identity in Cyberspace (NSTIC) (2012-Present).
Sherri Braxton Castanzo
Senior Director for Digital Innovation
Dr. Sherri Braxton Castanzo is the inaugural Senior Director for Digital Innovation at Bowdoin College. By way of partnerships across the college, she leads efforts to identify, prioritize and pursue opportunities for digital innovation impacting both curricular and co-curricular learning spaces. Her work also extends to developing partnerships and collaborative initiatives with peers at other institutions as well as establishing new consortia relationships to prepare and position Bowdoin for the academic transformation on the horizon in the K-16 education landscape.

Dr. Castanzo also currently serves as a consultant for the University System of Maryland under the direction of the Kirwan Center for Academic Innovation. In that role, she supports strategic programs in the areas of digital credentials and online learning. She is also a member of the Governing Body for the Arizona State University Trusted Learner Network. Her work with 1EdTech includes serving as co-chair of the 1EdTech Digital Credentials Innovation Leadership Network (ILN), as an inaugural member of the Trusted Microcredential Coalition, as a member of the Digital Learning Ecosystem ILN, and as a participant in the Digital Credentials Working Group. Previously, she served as task force co-lead for the IMS Global Consortium Open Badge Extensions for Education (OBEE) initiative to identify new extensions for the Open Badges 2.0 Specification and past co-chair of the 1EdTech Open Badges 3.0 working group. She has also authored book chapters on both digital credential program design and implementation and the comprehensive learner record.

Dr. Castanzo earned a Doctor of Science in Computer Science from The George Washington University with a double minor in Management Science and Educational Leadership. She holds a Master of Science in Computer Science with a Mathematics minor from North Carolina State University and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with Computer Science minor from Wake Forest University. Dr. Braxton is also a graduate of both the MOR Associates Information Technology Leadership Program and the EDUCAUSE Learning Technology Leaders Institute where she also served as a faculty member and co-director.
Keith Brown
Senior Director, Academic Technology
Thomas Cavanagh, Ph.D.
Vice Provost for Digital Learning
Thomas Cavanagh, Ph.D. is Vice Provost for Digital Learning at the University of Central Florida. In this role, he oversees the distance learning strategy, policies, and practices of one of the nation’s largest universities. In his career, Tom has administered e-learning development for both academic (public and private) and industrial (Fortune 500, government/military) audiences. He has been recognized with numerous awards from organizations such as the Online Learning Consortium, the United States Distance Learning Association, the IMS Global Learning Consortium, and the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technology. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and often consults with other institutions regarding academic innovation. He is active in the higher education community and serves on a number of national advisory boards. Tom’s research interests include e-learning, technical communication, and the societal influence of technology on education, training, culture, and commerce and he has published extensively in both peer-reviewed and popular outlets. He is also an award-winning author of several mystery novels.
Sean Demonner
Executive Director, ITS Teaching & Learning, University of Michigan
Sean DeMonner has worked in the technology field for over 20 years in settings ranging from universities to commercial startups to established publicly-traded corporations. His professional experience includes functional management, organizational development, strategic planning, product development, and project and portfolio management. His broad technical background spans general IT applicationsand infrastructure, web and multimedia design and development, and delivery of related services.

Mr. DeMonner is currently responsible for enterprise academic technology and directs the Teaching & Learning organization for the University of Michigan’s Information Technology Services division. He holds a BA in English Literature from UC Santa Barbara and an MA in Educational Technology from the University of Michigan. He lives in Ann Arbor with his wife and two children.
Rob Ditto
Technical Director
Rob Ditto is a Technical Director for the IDEA Courseware Team at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After nine years managing content delivery technology for several interactive media firms, Rob went “back to school” in 1997, helping Wharton launch its award-winning WebCafe service supporting faculty teaching and student collaboration in the School’s group-learning-oriented curriculum. Rob was recognized as a Computerworld Honors Laureate in 2004 for the WebCafe project and by Wharton in 2006 as a recipient of the School’s 125th Anniversary Employee Recognition Award. Beginning in 2011, Rob helped bring the Canvas LMS to Wharton first, and then to Penn as a whole, leading to a University of Pennsylvania Models of Excellence honorable mention award in 2013. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.
Chris Howes
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
Dr. Chris Howes serves as the Vice President and Chief Information Officer of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. Dr. Howes joined KCTCS in 2021 and provides leadership, service, and strategic technology direction for the system. An experienced technology leader, his career includes working with technology startups, healthcare organizations, and serving in technology leadership roles at the University of Kentucky. Most recently, he served as Chief Information Officer at Morehead State University.

Dr. Howes holds three degrees – a Bachelor’s degree in computer information systems, a Master’s degree in business administration, and a Doctor of Education degree in educational technology leadership, all from Morehead State University. He also serves on technology and higher education industry advisory boards.

A native of eastern Kentucky, Dr. Howes is passionate about supporting the mission of KCTCS and serving the people of the Commonwealth. He lives in Lexington with his wife Rebecca, daughter Emilia, and son Jude.
Stephen Harmon
Interim Executive Director, Center for 21st Century Universities
Dr. Stephen Harmon serves as Associate Dean of Research at Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE), Interim Executive Director of the Center for 21st Century Universities (C21U), and as a professor at the Georgia Tech College of Design. He heads a team of educational technology development and research professionals dedicated to improving the education experience for all learners across a lifetime of education. He leads the invention, prototyping, and validation efforts associated with educational innovation at Georgia Tech and fosters collaboration and creativity in education research with researchers and faculty members around the globe. His previous position was professor and chair of the Learning Technologies Division in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. Dr. Harmon’s research centers on educational uses of emerging technologies and has, for the last few years, focused on transforming higher education to better meet the needs of modern learners of all ages and society as a whole. Dr. Harmon has over 200 professional publications and presentations and has given dozens of invited keynote addresses internationally and was the 2011 recipient of Georgia State University’s Innovative Instruction Award. He was the spring 2016 commencement speaker at Georgia Southern University. He is a fellow of the Emerging Leaders Program at Georgia Tech and a member of the ACC Academic Leaders Network.
Avi Hyman, Ed.D.
Director of Academic, Research & Collaborative (ARC) Technologies
Avi Hyman is the University of Toronto's Director of Academic & Collaborative Technologies. He is an anthropologist with a doctoral degree from OISE, who has, for the past couple of decades, been fortunate to have positions which have allowed him to think both strategically about technology in higher education, and actualize ideas on an operational day-to-day level. 

He is cross-appointed to the university’s Centre for Teaching Support & Innovation (the faculty development centre), and the university’s Information Technology Services division (Office of the CIO). He also acts as an “ambassador” of sorts between central IT and the University’s Library System. Avi is an unabashed advocate of a standards-based approach to higher education technologies, and the philosophy of open access / open source learning. His landing page is
Lee Johnston
Associate Vice Chancellor, CBE Technology, IT Information Systems
Lee Johnston, Associate Vice Chancellor of Competency Technology at Brandman University, is a community-minded ed-tech leader with a crisp vision focused on the development of the next generation learning platform that enables educational innovation. His teams create products that advance the art of online learning with big-data analytics and advanced technologies that allow institutions to deliver new flexible educational programs efficiently.  Lee has five years of full-time college-level teaching experience along with 15-years of hands-on and executive-level technology leadership roles at private, public four-year, and two-year institutions. Lee holds a Master of Science in Computer Information Technology degree from Regis University and was awarded the Bronze Star and Presidential Unit Citation for his service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Moges Kelklie
Director of Product Experience, Strategic Education
Vince Kellen, Ph.D.
Chief Information Officer
Dr. Vince Kellen currently serves as the chief information officer for the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), as well as a member of the Chancellor's Cabinet, and vice chancellor and chief financial officer's senior management team. UCSD is recognized as a top 15 university world-wide and 7th best public university in the world, with over $1 billion in annual research funding, 34,000 students, 16 Nobel laureates who have taught on its campus and 161 faculty with national Academy memberships.

Dr. Kellen brings a rare combination of academic, business and IT strategy experience to his role, with a focus on transformational leadership within IT, applying leading edge approaches to current business challenges.  His twenty-five years of executive-level information technology experience offers a proven track record of successfully integrating innovative applications of information technology into all aspects of teaching, learning, and student success.  These innovations have resulted in markedly improved efficiencies and enhanced learning environments, as well as fruitful, collaborative relationships with researchers, faculty, staff, and students across all levels of higher education and the world. 

Dr. Kellen formerly served as the senior vice provost of Analytics and Technologies for the University of Kentucky, one of the top public research institutions and academic medical centers in the US., where his areas of responsibility included institutional research and analytics, enterprise software, research computing, academic technology, IT infrastructure and cloud services, and supporting the university’s 17 colleges, 30,000 students, and 14,000 faculty and staff.  Prior to that role, he held the position of chief information officer for three years. 
Mary-Ellen Kreher
Director, Instructional Design & Technical Development
Mary-Ellen Kreher has more than 30 years experience in K-12 and Higher Education, including teaching and curriculum design, educational software and learning aps development, learning management and student information systems, and online education.  In her 30-year career working with learning institutions, education companies, and publishers, Mary-Ellen has led many innovative product initiatives aimed at increasing access to learning and student success. She joined the University of California’s Office of the President in 2012 to lead online course design and academic technology development. Through the Provost’s Innovative Learning Technology Initiative, Mary-Ellen now oversees a cross-campus effort to build online courses and develop the underlying systems and technologies that enable students across the UC system to enroll in and take these courses online.
Icon representing Patrick Laughran
Patrick Laughran
Associate Vice President for Technology and Chief Information Officer, Framingham State University
Patrick Laughran has over a decade of diverse experience within Higher Education, including senior administration positions at both private and public institutions, as well as two stints as founding Chief Technology Officer for companies within online media and e-learning industries.  He is also an instructor for an online MBA program, teaching courses on strategies for information resource management and enterprise growth through innovation.  Mr. Laughran holds an M.B.A. from Babson College and B.S.B.A. from Northeastern University.  He is currently Chief Information Officer at Framingham State University with responsibility for the oversight of all information technology and services, including educational technology and distance education support.

Icon representing Michelle Lew
Michelle Lew
Director, Teaching and Learning Technologies
Michelle Lew is the Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at UCLA's Center for the Advancement of Teaching. In addition to contributing to a variety of campus IT initiatives and governance committees, Michelle is responsible for campus-wide programs and services that use technology to enhance student learning. Her portfolio includes UCLA's Learning Management System and related ecosystem tools as well as media-related services including lecture capture, instructional media production, and video streaming.

Michelle received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and she earned her MBA from USC's Marshall School of Business.
Jeff Miller
Senior Associate Director
Jeff leads the Projects and Faculty Partnerships team at the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology at the University of British Columbia. He works with faculty, staff, and students across the university on teaching and learning innovation projects, and has over 20 years of design and project management experience, with graduate and undergraduate courses and programs. Jeff has a background in distance education, instructional design, and educational media and teaches in UBC’s Masters of Educational Technology program.
Kim Moore, J.D.
Executive Director
Kimberly Moore, JD, is the Executive Director of Workforce, Professional and Community Education at Wichita State University. She is an innovative and entrepreneurial leader, focused on establishing collaborative business and industry partnerships, which lead to the development of skill-based learning and training initiatives, support employers and job seekers, and stimulate the state and local economy. Kimberly has more than 35 years of experience in developing and leading workforce and professional development initiatives in government, higher education, business, and industry. She was tasked nine years ago with developing and launching the first digital badge program in the state of Kansas. Since then, Kimberly has led the development of 100+ online, for-credit badges. Kimberly is a founding member of the 1EdTech TrustEd Microcredential Coalition. She is invested in employer/higher education partnerships and skill-based collaborations.
Cathy O’Bryan
Kathe Pelletier
Director, Teaching and Learning Program
With more than 20 years of experience in higher education across areas such as academic advising, student success, curriculum design and competency-based education, Dr. Kathe Pelletier is currently the Director of the Teaching and Learning Program at EDUCAUSE. She brings an expertise for combining traditional higher education evidence-based practice with innovative delivery models. She has been recognized by the International Center for Supplemental Instruction for starting and scaling the first online Supplemental Instruction program, and she has also been recognized for a hybrid program and course framework that creates a structure for creativity for faculty yet ensures consistency and quality. During her career, Kathe has accomplished such things as building an online student success center from scratch, establishing a competency-based curriculum model that became an anchor for a self-paced CBE program, developing an assessment and outreach system that delivered personalized resource recommendations to incoming students, and guiding faculty communities of practice