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Our Team

The Center for Urban Education Leadership houses a team of researchers, developers, policy advocates, graduate assistants, and student interns. The CUEL team is an assortment of faculty affiliates from departments throughout UIC’s College of Education (COE).  Developers design and/or provide learning experiences for CUEL continuous improvement, organizational development, or leader development projects.

Center Staff

Dr. Shelby Cosner

Dr. Shelby Cosner

Professor and Center Director

Dr. Shelby Cosner leads all aspects of CUEL. She is a qualitative researcher who is recognized as an expert on leadership for school improvement, the development of organizational capacities that support improvement, preparation and development of educational leaders, and the use of continuous improvement to transform leadership preparation.

Dr. Martha Hebert

Dr. Martha Hebert

Researcher

Dr. Hebert is a qualitative researcher and serves as the lead CUEL documentarian, and coordinator for all CUEL development projects.  In this role she has contributed to a wide assortment of past CUEL research and development projects. She currently contributes to CUEL’s mentor support of two university principal preparation programs as part of a $47M 4-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation to transform university-based principal preparation and provides oversight for all site visits to CUEL by other institutions.

Dr. Lisa Walker

Dr. Lisa Walker

Visiting Senior Research Specialist

Dr. Walker has a PhD from Northwestern University in Learning Sciences and over 15 years’ experience applying qualitative and quantitative methods within research-practice partnerships to improve schools. She currently focuses on using networked improvement communities and improvement science methods to support developing school leaders and principal supervisors for neighborhood and high-need schools. Dr. Walker has recently presented her work on continuous improvement at two national convenings of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Dr. Sam Whalen

Dr. Sam Whalen

CUEL Research Director

Dr. Whalen oversees all CUEL research and has been a part of a broad assortment of past CUEL research and development projects. He is a quantitative and qualitative methodologist with expertise in program evaluation as well as with the design of robust data infrastructures for use with evaluation and continuous improvement (the latter of which contributed to CUEL work recognized by the Spotlight Award from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching). Areas of content expertise include school leadership preparation/development, professional learning, and school-community partnerships.

Affiliated Faculty for Research, Development, Policy Advocacy

Dr. Craig De Voto

Dr. Craig De Voto

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Faculty Affiliate for Research and Development (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. De Voto is a qualitative researcher with content expertise related to innovative principal preparation and design. He currently contributes to CUEL’s $4.7M 5-year project funded by the National Science Foundation to develop organizational capacities for K-8 mathematics leadership and learning. He has also been a contributor to a number of past CUEL research and development projects.

Dr. Decoteau Irby

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Faculty Affiliate for Research and Development (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Irby is a qualitative researcher with content expertise related to equity-focused school leadership.  He currently contributes to CUEL’s mentor support of two university principal preparation programs as part of a $47M 4-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation to transform university-based principal preparation and provides oversight for all site visits to CUEL by other institutions.

Irby teaches in the PhD and EdD programs in the Department of Educational Policy Studies in the areas of educational leadership, organizational change, and school improvement. His research explores how equity-focused school leadership can a lever to improve Black children and youth’s academic achievement and socio-emotional well-being. Dr. Irby earned his PhD from Temple University in Urban Education.

Dr. David Mayrowetz

Associate Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Faculty Affiliate for Research and Development (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Mayrowetz is a qualitative researcher with content expertise related equity-focused instructional leadership, distributed forms of school leadership, and instructional reforms.  He currently contributes to CUEL’s mentor support of two university principal preparation programs as part of a $47M 4-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation to transform university-based principal preparation and provides oversight for all site visits to CUEL by other institutions. He has also been a contributor to a number of past CUEL research and development projects.

Mayrowetz has received recognition for his teaching in UICs PhD and EdD programs in the Department of Educational Policy Studies.  He teaches in the areas of educational policy, organizational theory, leadership theory, educational law, instructional reform, instructional leadership, and case study research. Dr. Mayrowetz earned his EdD from Rutgers University in Educational Administration.

Dr. Jason Salisbury

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Faculty Affiliate for Research and Development (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Salisbury is a mixed methods researcher with content expertise related to equity-focused instructional leadership and distributed forms of school leadership that engage teacher leaders and youth in equity-oriented school improvement. He currently contributes to CUEL’s mentor support of two university principal preparation programs as part of a $47M 4-year project funded by The Wallace Foundation to transform university-based principal preparation and provides oversight for all site visits to CUEL by other institutions.

Salisbury teaches in the EdD and PhD programs in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. He teachers in the areas of equity-focused instructional leadership, organizational change/theory, and educational leadership. His research focuses on anti-racist school leadership practices that support school or team wide usage of culturally relevant and sustaining pedagogies in high schools, how principals and other formal leaders can nurture the transformative leadership capacity of marginalized youth to enact equitable school improvement practices, and why existing equity-minded improvement efforts often fail. Dr. Salisbury is a former CPS high school teacher. Dr. Salisbury earned his PhD from UW-Madison in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.

Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Talbott

Professor and Department Chair, School of Education, William and Mary University, Virginia; CUEL Faculty Affiliate for Research and Development (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Talbott is a mixed-methods researcher with content expertise related to evidence-based assessment and intervention for children and youth with emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities. Her current research is focused on the uptake of evidence by school leaders and school and community intervention teams to serve youth with mental health problems and disabilities.

Talbott serves as public policy chair for the Council of Exceptional Children’s Division for Research and regularly advocates for children and youth with disabilities on Capitol Hill. Recently, Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL, 7th) and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) included Talbott’s recommendations for school trauma-informed services in their bipartisan, bicameral bill, the RISE from Trauma Act.

Affiliated Faculty for Development and Policy Advocacy

Dr. Lionel Allen

Assistant Clinical Faculty and EdD Leadership Coach, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Affiliate and Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Allen is a key contributor for a range of CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects. His content expertise centers on leadership coaching, leadership preparation, equity-oriented leadership, and the experiences of and supports for African American principals in urban contexts.

Dr. Cynthia Barron

Assistant Clinical Faculty, Department of Educational Policy Studies and EdD Program Coordinator; CUEL Affiliate and Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Barron is a key contributor for a range of CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects and she has contributed to a broad range of past CUEL development projects. She teaches and coaches in the EdD program in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. In this work she has supported EdD candidates through internships and during their novice years as principals, assistant principals, and principal supervisors as well as through EdD doctoral completion. In addition to the EDPS 559 residency course, she teaches the EDPS 553 course, Leading Urban School Systems, part of the UIC superintendent endorsement strand.

Dr. Alfred Tatum

Dean of UIC’s College of Education and Director of UIC’s Reading Clinic; CUEL Developer and Policy Advocate

Dr. Tatum is a literacy expert with a focus on literacy development of African American males. He is contributor to several CUEL leader development projects and he also contributes to policy advocacy. Tatum earned his Ph.D (language, literacy,  and culture) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Developers and Policy Advocates

Beverly (Bev) LaCoste

EdD Leadership Coach; CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Ms. LaCoste is a contributor to several CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects and she has contributed to several past CUEL development projects. She coaches and teaches in the EdD program in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. In this work, she ushers UIC aspiring principals through residency including CPS principal eligibility, novice leadership, and the capstone phase of the EdD program. She is a co-instructor in the EDPS 559 Internship in Educational Leadership course. She has nearly forty years’ experience as a teacher, principal, and district level administrator in Chicago Public Schools.

Dr. Steven Tozer

Professor Emeritus, Department of Educational Policy Studies; CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development) and Policy Advocate

Dr. Tozer is a key contributor for a range of CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects and he also broadly engages in policy advocacy in Illinois and throughout the U.S. Prior to his retirement in 2018, Tozer contributed to a broad range of past CUEL research and development projects. During that time, he was Professor and University Scholar in Educational Policy Studies, founding Director of the CUEL, and founding Coordinator of the UIC EdD Program in Urban Education Leadership.

Dr. Katherine (Kay) Volk

EdD Leadership Coach; CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Volk is a contributor to several CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects and she has contributed to several past CUEL development projects. She coaches and teaches in the EdD program in the Department of Educational Policy Studies. In this role, she works with all aspects of the coaching supports offered by the Urban Education Leadership Program.

Paul Zavitkovsky

Retired EdD Leadership Coach; CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development) and Policy Advocate

Mr. Zavitkovsky is a contributor to several CUEL continuous improvement and leader development projects and he has contributed to several past CUEL research and development projects.  Zavitkovsky is an expert with the design of data systems and infrastructures for continuous improvement.

Additional Developers 

Dr. Patty Brekke

CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Brekke is a high school principal in Chicago. She earned her EdD degree (urban education leadership) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Patrick McGill

CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. McGill is a central office leader and former high school principal. He earned his EdD degree (urban education leadership) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Nate Pietrini

CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Pietrini is the Executive Director of High Jump and is a former award-winning principal of CPS elementary school.  He earned his EdD degree (urban education leadership) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Joe Schoffner

CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Schoffner is also an elementary principal in CPS. He earned his EdD degree (urban education leadership) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Allison Tingwall

CUEL Developer (Continuous Improvement and Leader Development)

Dr. Tingwall is also a high school principal in CPS. She earned her EdD degree (urban education leadership) from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Graduate Assistants

Vincent Iturralde

Graduate Assistant

Vince Iturralde is a contributor on several CUEL development projects. He has worked with CUEL since 2018.

Meagan Richard

Graduate Assistant

Meagan Richard is a contributor on several CUEL research and development projects. She has extensive experience in survey design and administration, advanced statistical analysis, and in-depth interviewing.  

Undergraduate Student Intern

Morgan McKernin

Morgan McKernin

Social Media and Marketing Intern

Morgan McKernin is the Social Media and Marketing Intern within the Center for Urban Education Leadership. Morgan’s role in the CUEL team involves researching and gathering information for the center and contributing to the design of web and print-related CUEL materials.