ACPA Diamond Honorees | Class of 2019

The Diamond Honoree Program, established in 1999, is a way for those that care about students – and the research, scholarship, and programs that promote student development and success – to help advance our association’s efforts. Diamond Honorees are “Championed” by dedicated individuals who recognize their specific contributions and choose to raise funds in honor of each Diamond Honoree’s outstanding and sustained commitment to higher education through student affairs and student development. Those funds are then utilized to help sustain the ACPA Foundation in its support of the research, scholarship, and programs that advance our field as a whole.

You can help!  Join in the fundraising effort by supporting one of this year’s Diamond Honorees!

Jim Breslin

Jim Breslin

Jim Breslin
Dr. James D. Breslin is a higher education scholar, practitioner, and consultant who specializes in student success, academic support and advising, assessment, institutional effectiveness, and leadership and administration. He currently serves as the Dean of Student Success at Bellarmine University.

Dr. Breslin has presented more than 50 conference sessions and published several peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on a variety of topics. Dr. Breslin participates as an active citizen in the field of higher education and has consulted with more than two dozen institutions across the US and beyond. He has served as Editor of the Academic Support Monograph Series, and currently serves on the editorial board for The Learning Assistance Review and as a reviewer for the Journal of Interrupted Studies.

He has worked extensively with ACPA and currently serves on the Governing Board as the Member-at-Large, Senior Level. Dr. Breslin has been recognized for his work in the field with multiple awards from several associations and funding agencies.

Dr. Breslin is originally from Louisville, KY, and his academic background includes a BA in Anthropology from the University of Notre Dame and an MS and PhD in Higher Education from the University of Kentucky.

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Nina Caldwell

Nina Caldwell

Nina Caldwell
Dr. Nina Patterson Caldwell is the vice president for student life at Maryville University. She has worked in higher education for over 28 years at a number of institutions including; small, large, private and public. In this position, she oversees multiple departments that focus on providing services and programmatic opportunities that foster student learning, engagement, and success.

Working in the realm of student affairs, Nina’s professional portfolio has included athletics, diversity, academic support services, strategic planning, advising, auxiliary services, development, teaching, public safety and professional development.

Serving on the President’s Advisory Cabinet, Caldwell’s focus on reengineering, student centeredness, strategic planning, growth and innovation has been at the core of her leadership. She is affiliated with a number of organizations within the St. Louis area to develop partnerships and promote education.

Caldwell is the 2016 recipient of the Zenobia Hicks Memorial Award from NASPA. Likewise, she was the 2015 recipient of the James J. Rhatigan outstanding dean award for NASPA Region IV-West, honored with the Mathews- Dickey Boys and Girls Club outstanding service award, and St. Louis American Salute to Excellence in Education.

Caldwell holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dillard University, Master’s degree from Illinois State University, MBA from Maryville University of St. Louis, Doctor of Education in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco and a certificate in educational leadership from Harvard University.

Caldwell is a native of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and currently lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Derrick and son Cameron.

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Tim Ecklund

Tim Ecklund

Tim Ecklund
Timothy R. Ecklund, PhD is the Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students and Campus Life at Utica College. Dr. Ecklund has also served as the AVP/Dean of Students at Stony Brook University and AVP for Campus Life at SUNY Buffalo State. He started his career working in different roles as a residential life professional at Illinois State University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the University at Buffalo. He is a 2012 recipient of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Annuit Coeptis Senior Professional Award for service to the profession of student affairs and the 2016 Outstanding Contribution to the Profession Award by the College Student Personnel Association, NY. Dr. Ecklund has held in several leadership roles in ACPA and NASPA including as ACPA conference general programs co-chair and two terms as the Chair of NASPA Faculty Fellows. He has served as assistant professor of higher education at Buffalo State, the University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University. His research agenda includes Native American college student development and creating multicultural change. Tim earned a B.A from the State University of Geneseo, a M.S. in Student Personnel Administration from Buffalo State, and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University at Buffalo.

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Needham Yancey Gulley

Needham Yancey Gulley

Needham Yancey Gulley
Dr. Yancey Gulley (he, him, his – pronouns) has been working in higher education for 20 years and is an assistant professor in the Higher Education Student Affairs program at Western Carolina University. Prior to faculty life, he spent 15 years as a college administrator (primarily in the two-year college settings) around the country. Dr. Gulley has a long history of advocating for social justice within the educational context through his scholarship, teaching, publications, presentations, trainings, and volunteer endeavors. He recently completed a co-edited volume Using the CAS Professional Standards: Diverse Examples of Practice. This is the first book jointly published by NASPA, ACPA, & CAS. He has undertaken research on the nature of collaboration between academic and student affairs units in the community college setting and is a fierce advocate for community colleges. As a result, he started an annual drive-in conference related to student affairs in two-year institutions. On-going research projects also include the experiences of LGBTQ community college students, experiences of White faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a book focused on the college student, from a comprehensive perspective. He also enjoys travelling with his husband, Corey, and his Frenchie, Sedgwick.

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Aja Holmes

Aja Holmes

Aja Holmes
Aja C. Holmes is the Senior Associate Director for Residential Life at CSU, Sacramento. Under the supervision of Dr. Holmes are two senior area coordinators, seven residential life coordinators, four graduate student assistants and over 90 student assistants. Dr. Holmes’ area of expertise is the supervision skill development among student affairs professionals. Dr. Holmes is honored to be one of the founding members of the Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis (JCTP) as well as serving on the editorial board of the Journal Committed to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSORE). Dr. Holmes is also one of the creators of the Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow (SALT) at CSU- Sacramento, a free certificate program for student and staff who are interesting in learning more about a career in student affairs through seminar presentations, intentional mentorship and capstone experience.

Dr. Holmes’ involvement in ACPA began in 2001 as a graduate student and she has never missed a convention since 2002! She started her involvement in Pan African Network with the social committee, then she was the commission liaison for Committee for Multicultural Affairs. She was a SAIL for the Standing Committee for Women. Over the past 16 years, Dr. Holmes has made ACPA her professional home and is looking to continue that relationship. When Dr. Holmes is not at work you can catch her enjoying a good book, traveling, and eating gelato.

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Anne Hornak

Anne Hornak

Anne Hornak
Anne M. Hornak is a professor in educational leadership at Central Michigan University. She has been at CMU since 2009, where she teaches courses in theories, ethics, student affairs administration, and social justice. She earned a Ph.D. at Michigan State University in Higher Education Administration. Prior to joining the faculty, she worked at multiple community colleges as a student affairs professional. It was during her time at a community college and then a four-year institution where she solidified her passion for the profession and ultimately teaching in a preparation program. She has been a member of ACPA since 1997 and has served the organization in multiple roles including, state president, commission directorate member, faculty in residence, ethics columnist for Developments, JCSD review board, and coordinator of faculty research grant. Anne has always considered service to the profession critical to her own development, but also that of those preparing to be in the profession. This honor is humbling for Anne as she sees this program as a venue to connect others to the profession. As a recipient of her own scholarship to attend the 1997 ACPA/NASPA convention she knows first-hand the critical role programs like this play in developing our profession.

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Bill Huff

Bill Huff

Bill Huff
Bill Huff serves as one of the Associate Directors in the Office of Residential Living at Georgetown University currently working with Summer Programs. He received his MA in Student Development in Post Secondary Education from The University of Iowa in 2006 and BA in Speech Communication/Theater & Secondary Education from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bill devotes his professional energy toward engaging others in dialogue and reflection centering his work around social justice and critically examining whiteness and dismantling white supremacy in higher education.

ACPA has been Bill’s professional home since his first Annual Convention back in 2007 in Nashville, TN. The Coalition for Sexuality & Gender Identities (CGSI) became the community/family fostering much of his initial leadership opportunities and engagement within the Association. He served on the CGSI Directorate board in four roles over 5 years with the cumulation serving as the Chair from 2015-17. Bill found an equal passion serving on Convention Planning teams including ACPA13 Las Vegas, ACPA15 Tampa, ACPA18 Houston and currently, is the ACPA19 Convention chair in Boston. ACPA is his home, his family, and the Diamond Honoree nomination is truly humbling and one of the proudest moments in his journey.

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Kelley Kenney

Kelley Kenney

Kelley Kenney
Dr. Kelley R. Kenney is full professor/program director of Student Affairs in Higher Education at Kutztown University in Kutztown, PA. She has been on the faculty at Kutztown University since 1984 serving in the University Counseling Services, the Advisement Center for Undeclared Students, the Graduate Department of Counseling and Human Services, and the Student Affairs in Higher Education Graduate Program of the College of Education. While at Kutztown University, Dr. Kenney has also served in affiliate faculty roles at Chestnut Hill College; Lehigh University; Johns Hopkins University; and Antioch University – Seattle.

Dr. Kenney has been an active member of both the student affairs and counseling professions and has served in multiple state, regional, national, and international volunteer and leadership roles for the American College Personnel Association; the American Counseling Association; and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

Dr. Kenney’s scholarly agenda is focused upon diversity, inclusion, and social justice with specific attention to multiracial individuals; couples; and families, including transracial adoptees and families. She has published and presented extensively; conducted consultations and trainings; and been the recipient of numerous honors and awards for her advocacy, service, and work addressing the issues and concerns of the multiracial population.

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Cindi Love

Cindi Love

Cindi Love
Cindi Love, Ed.D. is Executive Director of Out for Undergrad (O4U) and former Executive Director of ACPA. Love is one of 95 Content Experts for the Global Diversity & Inclusion Benchmarks (GDIB). Between 2010 and 2018. Love served on the Working Advisory Group to the US Secretary of State John Kerry on Religion, Human Rights & Foreign Policy. Love was plenary speaker at the United Nations UUO Compass Coalition for LGBT Human Rights in 2009 and a thematic country specialist with Amnesty International in 2008. Former President Obama invited Love to the White House twice in recognition of her human rights work. She was also a guest of former President George Bush, Sr. Bush’s during Bush’s honorary chairmanship of the First Tee Foundation. Senator Ted Kennedy also recognized Love’s disaster recovery work following Hurricane Katrina. Love is a former executive of the NYSE TORO Company, NASA Visiting Investigator, founder of the Inc. 500 ICSS, one of North America’s Top 50 Entrepreneurs (INC Magazine), inaugural member of MIT’s Birthing of Giants and recipient of the Boehnett Fellowship to the Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education Program for State & Local Officials. Love is featured in John Dugan’s Leadership Theory: Cultivating Critical Perspectives.

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Sam Offer

Sam Offer

Sam Offer
Rev. Sam Offer serves as Vice President and senior consultant with the Washington Consulting Group, a Multicultural Organizational Development Firm based in Baltimore, MD. He began his education career in K-12, serving as an English teacher for 15 years and a senior high principal for 10 years. Earning a degree in Early Childhood Development, the success of students has always been a priority to him.

Sam is a national speaker, consultant, facilitator and trainer on Diversity and Inclusion, Multiculturalism, Religion, Leadership, and Community Development. He has a way of engaging participants that fosters effective change in both their personal and professional lives. In his role, he has the opportunity to work with various institutions helping to foster social and systemic change in to create greater justice and inclusion.

Sam is an ordained minister within the Unity Fellowship Church Movement. He has three wonderful children,13 grandchildren and shares his life with Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington.

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Angela Powell

Angela Powell

Angela Powell
Angela Powell is a graduate of Emporia State University, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Student Personnel while working in Residence Life. As a student and professional, Angela was involved at all levels of the NACURH organization. Angela spent her early career as a hall director at Missouri State University. Her work at MSU included supervision of staff and advising student organizations. In 1995, Angela joined OCM and put her NACURH background to work. Angela serves as the OCM liaison to ACPA, NASPA, NACURH, and ACUHO-I and the regional affiliates. During Angela’s time with OCM, the organization has received regional and national recognition for service and commitment to these Associations, including ACPA Partner of the Year. Angela has been recognized with several awards from NACURH, including a gold pin and ACUHO-I, the S. Earl Thompson Award, for outstanding contributions to the housing profession. Angela has served on various association committees, and currently serves on the ACUHO-I Foundation Board. Angela and OCM support the Diamond Honoree Program, NextGen and the Commission for Housing and Residence Life, including planning the awesome annual CHRL Awards and Social. Angela resides in Ewing, New Jersey and enjoys traveling, crafting, cooking and being with family and friends.

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Claire Robbins

Claire Robbins

Claire Robbins
Claire K. Robbins, Ph.D., is assistant professor and director of the Higher Education master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs at Virginia Tech. Her research concentrates on equity, diversity, and inclusion in graduate education; student development, socialization, and learning; and critical perspectives on race and gender.

Dr. Robbins has authored or co-authored over 20 publications in venues such as the Journal of Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, New Directions for Student Services, Handbook of Student Affairs Administration, and Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education. She has received over $20,000 in grant funding, ACPA’s Emerging Scholar award, and the Southern Association for College Student Affairs’ Dissertation of the Year award. She was runner-up for NASPA’s Melvene E. Hardee Dissertation of the Year award.

Dr. Robbins is a former student leader and longtime activist. Her research, teaching, and advising draw on student affairs experience in women’s centers, Dean of Students offices, living-learning programs, and diversity initiatives at Duke University, the University of Maryland, College Park, and Gettysburg College. Nothing brings her more joy than her relationships with phenomenal students and educators, including her Diamond Honoree champions – Drs. Patty Perillo, Lucy LePeau, and Susan R. Jones.

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Windi Sasaki

Windi Sasaki

Windi Sasaki
Windi Natsuko Sasaki is a Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino American student affairs professional. Windi serves as the inaugural Program Manager for the University of California, San Diego Asian Pacific Islander Middle Eastern Desi American Program. Windi is a graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt College at UC San Diego, and the Student Affairs in Higher Education Program from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Windi previously worked as the Director of the Jerome Holland International Living Center at Cornell University and as the Student Engagement, Appeals, and Accommodations Manager at UC San Diego. Windi has also served as the Co-Chair for ACPA’s Asian Pacific American Network, Chair for ACPA’s Coalition for Multicultural Affairs, Marketplace Logistics Coordinator for the 2015 ACPA International Convention, and Entities Liaison & Convention Resource Coordinator for the 2016 and 2017 ACPA International Conventions. Since 2018 Windi has served as ACPA’s Director for Equity and Inclusion. In addition to her professional service to ACPA, Windi has also contributed a great deal to The National Association of College and University Residence Halls’ National Residence Hall Honorary, whose Pacific Affiliate named their Cornerstone award in Windi’s honor.

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Tricia Schwery Smith

Tricia Schwery Smith

Tricia Schwery Smith
Patricia (Tricia) S. Smith serves as the Associate Vice President for Student Life at Radford University. In this role, she works with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Involvement, and Student Recreation and Wellness. She has previously served at Virginia Tech, Semester at Sea, and the University of Arizona and enjoyed roles with housing, intercultural engagement, civic engagement, and service learning. Tricia holds a Bachelors degree from Clemson University, a Masters in Student Affairs Administration from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Virginia Tech.

Tricia calls ACPA her professional home and credits much of her learning to the community of learners and the organization itself. She has served the Association on the Commission for Housing and Residential Life, the Commission for Administrative Leadership, the Taskforce on Alumni Relations and Development, and the Nomination and Elections taskforce. Tricia has attended the Bourassa Mid-Level Management Institute and has hosted the formerly titled Residential Curriculum Institute. She has been a program reviewer for over a decade and presented at as many national conventions.

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Erin Simpson

Erin Simpson

Erin Simpon
Erin Simpson serves as the Assistant Director for Residence Life at the University. In her Housing role, Erin focuses on the first year experience, curriculum development, assessment, and graduate student development. Erin has 2.75 degrees from the University of Oklahoma; a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education, a Master’s in Higher Education, and almost a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration (everyone send her good vibes for finishing). She is an active member of ACPA, serving as the Assembly Coordinator for Coalitions and Networks on the Governing Board as well as Institute on the Curricular Approach Faculty and Co-Chair. In her spare time, Erin is a curriculum nerd and consults with other campuses and divisions on their own curriculum development and advancement.

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