2018 Diamond Honorees

Listed Alphabetically by Last Name

Katie Branch (bio)
Jo Campbell (bio)
Marybeth Drechsler Sharp (bio)
Paul Eaton (bio)
Jesse Grant (bio)
Elizabeth Griego (bio)
Danielle Morgan Acosta (bio)
Kijua Sanders-McMurtry (bio)
Jerrold Stein (bio)
Gabrielle St. Léger (bio)
TJ Sullivan (bio)

Questions can be directed to ACPA Diamond Honoree Class of 2017 Co-Chairs Kathleen G. Kerr or Heidi Levine.

Thank you!

Meet the 2018 Diamond Honorees

Katie Branch Headshot PhotoKatherine Branch

Katherine (Katie) Branch has been a faculty member at The University of Rhode Island with the College Student Personnel graduate program in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies since 1997. She was that program’s director from 2007-2016. Previously, she worked in residence life and multicultural understanding at The Ohio State University, University of Maine, and Indiana University. She earned a PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Indiana, and master’s and undergraduate degrees from Ohio State. As an ACPA member, Dr. Branch served on the Commission for Professional Preparation directorate, was an Emerging Scholar, and provided leadership for the 2005 Next Generation Conference. She also is a member of NASPA, the Association for the Study of Higher Education, and the American Educational Research Association. Her research interests are college student development and learning, environmental theory and assessment, socio-cultural student diversity, and the utilization of participant-generated visual methods in qualitative inquiry. Currently, she is working on a co-produced book entitled Applying Student Development Theories Holistically. Her current graduate-level instructional responsibilities parallel her research and include supervision of experiential learning placements. She also advises departmental undergraduates and is on the advisory board for an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in leadership studies.

Jo Campbell Headshot PhotoJo Campbell

Jo Campbell, a student affairs professional for 38 years, has expertise in student affairs leadership, inclusive practices, and strategic planning.  She became the Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Executive Director of University Housing at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in July 2016, previously serving as the Director of Residence Life at the University of Toledo.  She spent the majority of her career at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), moving from Resident Director to Senior Associate Director of Campus Housing. She has served on dozens of committees and advisory boards to improve the campus climate related to academic success, crisis intervention and conduct, student enrollment, equity and inclusion, and drug and alcohol abuse prevention.  Notably, she served on ACPA’s Executive Council as chair of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness Committee and she chaired the committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues for the Association of College and University Housing Officers-International. 

 Jo earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in student personnel from the University of South Carolina and a certificate of business administration with a strategic planning focus from UIC.  In 2015, she earned a doctorate in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University.


Marybeth Drechsler Sharp Headshot PhotoMarybeth Drechsler Sharp

Dr. Marybeth Drechsler Sharp is Executive Director of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), a role she has held since 2012. Prior to joining CAS, she worked with leadership and service-learning in the University of Maryland’s College Park Scholars living-learning program and in residence life at the University of Missouri and the University of Central Missouri. Drechsler Sharp completed her doctorate in College Student Personnel at the University of Maryland (UMD), where she also has served as an instructor and internship supervisor. She holds a bachelor’s in American Studies and Writing from Millikin University and a master’s in College Student Personnel from the University of Central Missouri. Drechsler Sharp has been honored for her higher education service, including as recipient of the William L. “Bud” Thomas Jr. Award for Mentoring from UMD’s Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education; Mizzou ’39 Staff Mentor Award at the University of Missouri; Annuit Coeptis Emerging Professional Award from ACPA; and Outstanding New Professional Award from the Missouri College Personnel Association. The author of several book chapters and articles, Drechsler Sharp has researched, written, and presented on student learning outcomes, professional standards, assessment, student leadership, identity development, student engagement in living-learning environments, and experiences of living-learning program faculty members.

Paul Eaton Headshot PhotoPaul Eaton

Paul William Eaton is Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State University, where he teaches in the Higher Education Leadership Master’s and Doctoral programs, serves as co-chair for the College of Education Equity in Action committee, and also contributes to institutional efforts aimed at equity, inclusion, and internationalization. He has been an active member of ACPA since 2003. He currently serves as Editor for Developments, and has previously served on the Commission for Admissions, Orientation, and First Year Experience Directorate Board, and the ACPA Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology in Student Affairs. Professionally, he has worked at the University of North Texas as the Coordinator of New Student Programs (2005-2007) and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette as the Director of Orientation (2007-2013).

Paul’s research interests include inquiries into digital technologies in education; complexity, postqualitative and posthumanist inquiry; and curriculum theorizing-philosophy in the realms of postsecondary education and student affairs. He received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in May 2015, his master’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park in 2005, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2002. In his spare time, Paul is an avid reader, participating in several book and short story clubs in the Houston area; a runner; and a doggy daddy to Domino and Conway.  

Jesse Grant Headshot PhotoJesse Grant

At seven years old, Jesse Grant declared his goal to become a student affairs professional.  Now, forty years later, Dr. Grant shines as he fully lives out his passion for service, education, and access in student affairs and higher education.  As the Dean of Students at Bemidji State University, Jesse focuses on those things that keep him going. “I do all I can to make sure college students make progress toward the degree and toward their life goals.”  With professional experiences at several universities spanning institutional types, his work has contributed to areas including crisis management, multicultural affairs, student conduct, greek life, housing, academic success, student engagement, enrollment management, new student programs, peer mentoring, and dining services – to name a few!  As a fervent educator, Dr. Grant regularly engages the Association, presenting at regional and national conventions and serving on commissions.  Jesse is a mentor and role model for both students and professional colleagues.  Congratulations to Dr. Jesse Grant for this esteemed honor!

Elizabeth Griego Headshot PhotoElizabeth Griego

Elizabeth Griego retired in July 2013 from the University of the Pacific after working in higher education for 41 years. Throughout her career, she partnered with faculty to build community, foster learning, develop student leadership, design high impact practices, and mentor students and staff.  Her work in student affairs was augmented by serving as vice president of the western regional accreditation association, president of CAIR, and as a Baldrige Examiner. She now actively consults on topics such as accreditation preparation, student affairs review, and executive coaching. Elizabeth worked extensively with ACPA early in her career. Later as president of NASPA, she partnered with the executive boards of ACPA and NASPA to conceptualize a consolidated umbrella student affairs association. While the campaign was ultimately unsuccessful, one outcome was the development of lifelong friendships in both associations.

Elizabeth’s bachelor’s degree is from the University of Nebraska; master’s from the Ohio State University; and PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, where she was given the Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award. She is mother to Dr. Ann and Reverend Paul Griego, grandmother to Willa, and lives with husband Bob in the California Wine Country. She serves several community boards, including as Regent for Claremont Lincoln University and moderator of her UCC church.

Acosta HeadshotDanielle Morgan Acosta

Danielle Morgan Acosta is a passionate and collaborative student affairs practitioner and leadership educator focused on facilitating change, social justice, and student and staff development. For over a decade, Danielle has been known by peers and students as a fierce advocate, crisis manager, and mentor with an ability to see and grow potential and encourage herself and others to live and work with positive restlessness.  Danielle earned her undergraduate degree at Clark University, holds masters’ degrees from Clark University and Salem State University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Florida State University, where she works as Director of Student Affairs, advising Student Government and overseeing the identity based agencies and Allies & Safe Zones program. She has written and presented on governance and funding structures, leadership and change, cross-cultural advising, social capital and Twitter, first year experience programs, and university inclusion efforts.  Her professional involvement expands to ACPA-College Student Educators, International, where she engages in work regarding credentialing, professional mentoring, and equity and inclusion. Danielle has served in formal roles including the Standing Committee for Graduate Students and New Professionals Chair, ACPA Foundation Trustee Associate, Phyllis Mable New Professionals Institute faculty member, Convention Chair, and member of the Governing Board.

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry Headshot PhotoKijua Sanders-McMurtry

Kijua Sanders-McMurtry is the Associate Vice President and Dean for Community Diversity at Agnes Scott College. During her eleven year tenure at Agnes Scott, she has served as the Interim Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, the Associate Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator. She is a past President of the Georgia College Personnel Association and currently serves as the Professional Development Chair. She has also served with the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) as the Co-Vice Chair for Trans Inclusion. Known for her dedication to students, she was awarded the Robert D. Bradshaw Small College’s Advocate Award in 2014 with NASPA Region III. Her research has been published in the Journal of Higher Education and anthologies on educational philanthropy. As a nationally recognized advocate for diversity and inclusion, she has been quoted in key higher education publications including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Education, and Insight into Diversity magazine. Dr. Sanders-McMurtry completed her Associate's degree at Pasadena City College, her B.A. and M.A. in Sociology, a Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies and her Ph.D. in Educational Policy Studies with a concentration in Higher Education at Georgia State University.

Jerrold Stein Headshot PhotoJerrold Stein

Dr. Jerrold (Jerry) Stein serves as Dean Emeritus and Advisor to the Vice President for Student Affairs at Stony Brook where he has worked since 1976.  He retired in 2014.  In his last full-time position at Stony Brook, he served as Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students.  In this role, Jerry oversaw several units including Student Health Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Student and Campus Life, Multicultural Affairs and Athletic Bands. Jerry served for 25 years in the Division of Campus Residences where his last appointment was the Dean and Director of Residential Education. Dean Stein held faculty appointments in the Higher Education Program and was a founding member of the Student Community Development Specialization in the School of Social Welfare.

During his tenure at Stony Brook, Dean Stein helped to create a sense of community and a “community of care” on campus, enhancing student life as well as building partnerships throughout the academy.  Jerry has mentored hundreds of staff and students throughout his career and has presented at regional and national conferences. He conceived the Center for Prevention and Outreach, created Stony Brook’s Marching Band and is one of the founding members of the Red Watch Band Program, a national initiative to prevent toxic drinking.

Gabrielle St. Leger Headshot PhotoGabrielle St. Léger

Dr. Gabrielle St. Léger, affectionately known by her students as “Dr. Gaby”, is the Chief Student Affairs Officer as Dean of Students at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Currently at NYIT, she leads Student Life on both New York Campus which includes residence life, student involvement, student conduct, first-year experience, orientation, Greek life, CARE team, and student emergency response. 

She has served higher education for the last 17 years in both Academic Affairs and Student Affairs in various positions including Residential Education, Student Conduct, Recruitment and Retention, Multicultural Affairs, Athletics, TRIO Programs, and Graduate Education. She has garnered expertise in Student Affairs assessment and program review, specifically assessment of multicultural and diversity programming.

Her agenda is shaped by her own past experiences as a student attending and excelling at a predominantly white institution which shaped her desire to pursue Student Affairs as a career. Gabrielle holds a Bachelor's in English, Master of Arts in Secondary Education Language Arts, and Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership Studies from West Virginia University. Her greatest joys come from serving as deaconess at the Reflections of Christ’s Kingdom in Brooklyn, New York and as devoted aunt of 11 nieces and nephews.

TJ Sullivan Headshot PhotoTJ Sullivan

T.J. Sullivan is among the most successful college leadership speakers in the nation. After earning his undergraduate degree from Indiana University, he worked for Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, and for the BACCHUS Peer Education Network. In 1992, Sullivan and his friend, Joel Goldman, began touring with an educational keynote called "Friendship in the Age of AIDS."  The duo helped more than 2-million college students confront the realities of HIV/AIDS prevention at a time when the nation was struggling with the emerging pandemic and received the highest award from the Ryan White Foundation for their national advocacy. In 1999, Sullivan founded CAMPUSPEAK, which became the nation's dominant agency providing educational speakers in the college market. He left that company in 2014 and is now a partner with ForCollegeForLife, a boutique college speakers agency based in Michigan. His 2012 book, "Motivating the Middle: Fighting Apathy in College Student Organizations," is wildly popular in the college leadership realm. To date, Sullivan has spoken to more than 3-million students in all 50 states. Sullivan has been recognized with the top national awards from the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA) and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). He and his family live in Portland, Oregon.