Learn more about the key program leaders.

Steven E. Tozer


Director Steve Tozer co-founded the Center in 2011 with colleagues from the UIC College of Education's EdD program, and continues as its Director. He has been founding Coordinator of the Ed.D. program since 2003.

Sam Whalen

Director of Research

Samuel P. Whalen, Director of Research for the Center, joined UIC's College of Education in 2003. He is an award-winning co-author of Talented Teenagers: The Roots of Success and Failure.

Katonja Webb

Associate Director

Katonja Webb, Associate Director of the Center for Urban Education Leadership, possesses two decades of experience in the education and nonprofit sectors. Katonja oversees Center operations and is responsible for developing and implementing systems to support the success of the EdD program in Urban Education Leadership, including recruitment, student engagement and support, enrollment management, and communication to a variety of stakeholders.

Martha Hebert

Senior Research Specialist

Martha Hebert joined UIC's College of Education in 2006, and continues to collaborate with the school's EdD program while she serves as Senior Researcher for the Center. Before joining the College, Dr. Hebert had a distinguished career in professional development with Chicago Public Schools.

Lisa Walker

Senior Research Specialist

Lisa Walker is a Senior Research Specialist in the UIC Center for Urban Education Leadership. She has more than 15 years experience as an applied mixed-methods researcher. She is interested in how to prepare school leaders for the highest-need schools in the system and the cross-sector leadership this requires.

Kathleen Parkinson

Research Specialist

Kathleen Parkinson is a Research Specialist in the Center for Urban Education Leadership at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Kathleen’s primary responsibilities include database design and management, survey design and collection, and data analysis.

Cynthia K. Barron

Program Coordinator, Clinical Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies, and Leadership Coach

Dr. Cynthia K. Barron is Program Coordinator, Assistant Clinical Professor, and Leadership Coach with UIC's Urban Education Leadership Program.

Beverly LaCoste

Leadership Coach

Beverly LaCoste is an award-winning former CPS principal and a leadership coach with UIC's EdD program.

Paul Zavitkovsky

Leadership Coach and Assessment Specialist

Paul Zavitkovsky is an accomplished former CPS principal and leadership coach with the EdD program at UIC's College of Education. His work focuses on finding better ways to use test-score and other data to inform teaching and leadership practices.

Shelby Cosner

Associate Professor of Educational Policy Studies

Shelby Cosner is an Associate Professor of Educational Organization and Leadership in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. She conducts research into how schools build organizational capacity to improve student learning. Her research is informed by her past leadership roles as school principal and district administrator.

James R. Gavelek

Curriculum and Instruction Faculty Affiliate

James Gavelek's scholarly interests focus on the role of language and other embodied semiotic processes in understanding the development of mind.

Marie Tejero Hughes

Special Education Faculty Affiliate

Dr. Tejero Hughes primarily teaches graduate courses in literacy designed for general and special education teachers working in urban communities. Her areas of expertise include comprehension instruction for students struggling with reading, reading instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students, and Latino family engagement in education.

Marisha Humphries

Educational Psychology Faculty Affiliate

Marisha L. Humphries is an associate professor of Educational Psychology whose research interests focus on African-American children's normative development and positive behavioral promotion programs.

Decoteau J. Irby

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

Decoteau Irby is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Policy Studies where he teaches and advises in the College's Urban Education Leadership program area. He researches equity-focused school leadership as a lever to improve Black children's academic and socio-emotional experiences and outcomes.

Daniel Maggin

Special Education Faculty Affiliate

Dr. Maggin's research focuses on developing the capacity of school personnel to meet the academic and behavioral needs of students with emotional and behavioral disorders through the use of comprehensive and evidence-based assessments and interventions.

Catherine Main

Educational Psychology Faculty Affiliate

Catherine Main is a senior lecturer and program coordinator in the College of Education and a visiting scholar on the Early Investments Initiative with the Institute of Government and Public Affairs (IGPA) at the University of Illinois.

David Mayrowetz

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

David Mayrowetz studies the ways in which organizational and institutional factors influence the creation and implementation of educational reforms. He is past Chair of Educational Policy Studies and was a founding member of the faculty of the Ed.D. program in Urban Education Leadership.

Christopher Miller

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

Christopher Miller's research focuses on the diversity of school districts in the USA through an ecoevolutionary approach to organizations. Dr. Miller is a teacher educator who coordinates the EDPS M.Ed. Program in Instructional Leadership.

Jennifer Olson

Curriculum and Instruction Faculty Affiliate

Celina Sima

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

In addition to her role as an administrator, Dr. Sima conducts research on higher education planning and policy. Particular areas of interest include the examination of general education in the undergraduate curriculum, evaluation of strategies for the improvement of undergraduate student transfer and faculty retention strategies. Dr. Sima has taught research designs for policy, public sector strategic planning, organization and administration of higher education, history of higher education and student development theory.

Ben Superfine

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

Ben Superfine is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Superfine received his JD and PhD in Education Foundations and Policy from the University of Michigan. Dr. Superfine became Chair of Educational Policy Studies in 2014.

Elizabeth Talbott

Special Education Faculty Affiliate

Elizabeth Talbott is Associate Professor of Special Education and legislative advocate for the Council for Exceptional Children-Division for Research. Talbott’s research addresses the mental health and academic needs of youth with disabilities, particularly urban youth. To meet the needs of these youth, Talbott and her colleagues study the characteristics and work of effective Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams.

Alfred W. Tatum

Dean of the College and Curriculum and Instruction Faculty Affiliate

Alfred W. Tatum is the Dean of the College of Education and director of the UIC Reading Clinic. Dr. Tatum's research focuses on the literacy development of African American males, particularly the roles of texts and writing to advance their literacy development. Dr. Tatum co-designed and has taught the Ed.D. course on Leadership for Literacy in Urban Schools. His research into adolescent male literacy has significance for leadership practice.

Victoria Trinder

Curriculum and Instruction Faculty Affiliate

Victoria Trinder is a clinical assistant professor and coordinator of the BA Urban Education: Elementary Education program, where she works with undergraduate teacher candidates to critically exam the role of schooling in urban contexts, both locally and nationally.

Jason Salisbury

Educational Policy Studies Faculty Affiliate

Jason Salisbury, PhD, is an Assistant Professior in the Department of Educational Policy Studies working in the College of Education's Urban Education Leadership program where he teaches classes related to instructional leadership and organizational theory. His research focuses on understanding how school leaders are able to support teachers in engaging in culturally relevant or sustaining pedagogies and how school leaders are able to create spaces for marginalized youth to engage in transformative leadership in their schools.

Kay Volk

Leadership Coach

Kay Volk has served as a teacher facilitator, assistant principal, principal, Area Instructional Officer, and CPS Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning in a 25+ year career with Chicago Public Schools. As principal of Pershing Magnet School, Kay received the Illinois Spotlight School Award each year of her tenure. Under her leadership, Pershing Magnet was selected for replication by then CEO Arne Duncan, becoming Pershing East and West campuses. Later, as CPS Area Instructional Officer (now called Network Chiefs), Kay supervised 23 schools, 87% of which averaged gains in reading, 100% in math, and 79% in science, as measured by ISAT. In addition, she co-chaired a state commission on early childhood education. After retiring from CPS, Kay went on to serve as the Director of Teaching and Learning at Cristo Rey Network where she developed and piloted the first principal leadership cohort for six principals.

Dr. Lionel Allen Jr.

Clinical Faculty / Leadership Coach

Dr. Lionel Allen, Jr. has almost twenty years of experience in education as a teacher, assistant principal, turnaround principal, and chief academic officer. He began his career as a history teacher at Oak Park and River Forest High School. From there he served as an assistant principal and later was appointed by Arne Duncan to serve as CPS’ first turnaround principal. Prior to his university appointment, Lionel served as Chief Academic Officer of Urban Prep Academies, a network of three all male, all African American charter high schools in Chicago. His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, CNN, PBS, and Edutopia as part of their “Schools That Work” series.