College Unbound Central Office, Providence, Rhode Island
Dennis Littky, Co-Director (biography)
Adam is the founding Director of Curriculum of College Unbound, the Co-Director of The Center for the Transformation of Higher Education, and has co-designed College Unbound’s partnership with the Ashé Cultural Arts Center (www.ashecac.org) in New Orleans to open Ashé College Unbound. Adam received his PhD in 2013 from USC’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity for his dissertation, “Passing Notes in Class.” He is also a member of the Next Generation Engagement collective of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (www.nerche.org), and a board member of Imagining America and the national director of IA’s Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program (www.imaginingamerica.org).
Adam’s 2014 Commencement Address to CU can be found here.
Tracy Money, Director of Communications and Program Development
Tracy started skipping class in kindergarten in order to pursue her own ideas. That practice continued through high school. Determined to change the system and connect students to their own passion for learning, she became an educator and has taught at all levels K-16. She founded a high school in Washington State that offers a highly personalized program of self-directed project-based learning. Tracy has a BA in Education, a Masters in Curriculum, principal certification, and a doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University. She is at College Unbound to help develop, sustain and scale a program that will positively disrupt higher education. Tracy is a leader who understands what it takes to make substantive and sustainable systems-level change. A lifelong learner, Tracy stays on top of current education research as well as her own on-the-ground action research, continually testing ideas and theories to improve learning opportunities for students K – 16.
Jill Van Leesten, Recruitment Director
Jill Van Leesten is the Recruitment Director for College Unbound. Before moving back home to Providence, RI she was an Alumni Counselor for Achievement First in New Haven, CT and prior to that she lived in Atlanta, GA for twenty years. While in Atlanta she was the Program Director for Breakthrough Atlanta at the Lovett School. Before joining Breakthrough Atlanta, Jill was the Field Supervisor for Communities In Schools of Atlanta and the Program of Operations for the Performance Learning Centers with Communities In Schools of Georgia.
Jill is very active in her community and is a mentor to several high school students. She is a blog talk radio host for The International Black Summit radio network, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a member of the NAACP.
Jill graduated from Virginia State University with a B.S. degree in Public Administration and studied abroad for a year at Regent’s College of London. She earned her MSW from Clark Atlanta University, and is currently pursuing her doctorate in Instructional Leadership at Argosy University.
James Monteiro, Recruitment Associate & Academic Advisor
James grew up in the Mount Hope neighborhood of Providence under the mentorship of community leader Billy Taylor. To empower community youth and honor his early mentor, James dreamed of creating The Billy Taylor House. The community program facility he envisioned would offer youth paid on-the job experience in Business Management, Barbering, and Landscaping. From organizing a peace march to lobbying state and city officials, James made his dream a reality. With transfer credits approved and prior learning experience honored, James completed his Bachelor’s Degree with College Unbound in three semesters. His degree program grew out of his need to gain skills and knowledge in Grant Writing, Community Development, Housing, Youth Studies, Economics, and Non-Profit Management. In addition to his work as founder and Director of the Billy Taylor House, James has signed on as a Recruitment Associate and Academic Advisor at College Unbound, helping others to achieve their dreams.
Leann Heath, Recruitment Coordinator & Academic Advisor
Leann holds a BGS in Non-Profit Arts Administration and a certificate in Community Development from Roger Williams University. Her specific interests are sustainable financial models for artistic non-profits, the intersection of the arts and community development, and storytelling in its various forms. She took an alternate route through her college education, ending up in the College Unbound program. Her passion for education was reignited, and she decided to join the College Unbound team after graduation to help other adult learners earn their degrees. While not in the office, she can be found playing with performance, budgets, her camera, her two exceptionally awesome kiddos, or trying to get the cat hair off of her clothes.
Tara is the executive assistant to Dennis Littky as well as the special assistant to College Unbound. Tara received her BA in Communications from Emerson College in Boston, MA. Upon graduation she moved to Los Angeles and began working in production for MTV, FOX and The Discovery Channel. After four years on the west coast she relocated to New York City where she continued working on television shows for the Discovery Channel and Food Network. In the summer of 2007 she left New York and returned home to Providence where she found herself working for Big Picture Learning. When she isn’t busy decoding Dennis’s handwriting, she enjoys converting people into Justin Timberlake fans and running book groups for anyone who will listen to her.
Tyler Benjamin, Online Instructional Designer
Tyler is an an AmeriCorps VISTA at College Unbound. He is serving his year of full-time volunteer work at CU as the Online Instructional Designer, where he is exploring best practices for learning management systems. After meandering through a number of meaningful (and unrelated) courses, Tyler graduated from the University of Florida, earning a degree in journalism with a photo concentration and a minor in art history. From guiding outdoor trips to co-founding an organization that brought international college students into middle school classrooms, Tyler realized that his multidimensional extracurricular life centered on one thing: education. He spent the next year after graduation drawing up plans for his dream school, working and living in different countries, and eventually finding a way to get direct experience with the models, values, and ethics that College Unbound subscribes to. If you want to connect with Tyler, try talking with him about comedy, the fourth dimension, or the trials and tribulations of being in transit. Unfettered curiosity or suggesting an adventure is a good place to start, too.
Jenna Galka, Coordinator of Online Systems
Jenna is an AmeriCorps VISTA at College Unbound, working as the Coordinator of Online Systems — meaning that she spends her day Tweeting, researching Higher Ed articles, and mostly ambling along on her Quest to Fix Broken Code wherever she finds it (this quest is never-ending). A Philosophy major in her undergraduate days at Bard College, which she decided upon after three switches in major, she’s still trying to find where her academic path will lead her. Though a true Hufflepuff, she’s constantly seeking knowledge wherever she can find it. In her spare time outside of CU, she likes to ride her bike, make video games, edit her fledgling podcast with a roving band of delightful nerds, and spout the worst puns you’ve ever heard.
Kaiya Letherer, AmeriCorps VISTA
Kaiya Letherer is an AmeriCorps VISTA with College Unbound working on building programs for the future and expansion of College Unbound. She began college at Berklee College of Music and dropped out of the program to move to LA and work in the music industry. After a few years, Kaiya decided her talents and passion really lie in the world of education and she moved back home to Providence to finish school, where she is now a student at College Unbound graduating this year! Last year, Kaiya was an AmeriCorps member at the Institute for the Study & Practice of Nonviolence where she taught nonviolence in an elementary school. Kaiya enjoys playing 90’s chick music on her guitar and going to see live music in her spare time.
College Unbound at Southern New Hampshire University
Michael Reaves, Academic Coordinator