Internal - Faculty & Staff

CFE Staff

Jennifer H. Herman, Executive Director

Jennifer H. Herman, Executive DirectorExecutive Director
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Jennifer H. Herman has over 15 years’ experience leading faculty development in higher education and has been serving as the first permanent director of the Center for Faculty Excellence since 2013. In addition to facilitating or overseeing 150-200 CFE programs and consultations each year, Dr. Herman has supported Simmons strategic initiatives, including the development of PLAN, teaching for inclusive excellence, and the pivot to online learning.

She has been a principal investigator or curriculum designer on multi-institutional projects related to curriculum development, assessment, and teaching strategy, including partnerships with NILOA, the U.S. Department of State, the NYS Small Business Development Center, and Harvard Medical School. Her research focuses on Creating Engaging Discussions, instructional technology, and online education. In her faculty role as Associate Professor of Practice in Health Professions Education, Dr. Herman teaches courses on teaching, assessment, learning theory, and curriculum development for doctoral and CAGS students.

Before joining Simmons, Dr. Herman was the founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship, Teaching, and Learning at Niagara University. Jennifer holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University at Buffalo and a MA in International Training and Education from American University.

Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Ph.D., Senior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning

Sarah Rose Cavanagh, Senior Associate Director for Teaching and LearningSenior Associate Director for Teaching and Learning
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Sarah Rose Cavanagh is a psychologist fascinated by the interplay of emotions, motivation, learning, and quality of life. She has two decades experience teaching and researching in psychology as well as eight years experience conducting faculty development programs and workshops. Sarah heads up the teaching and learning programming offered by the CFE – organizing and sometimes facilitating programs like STAR Scholars, Food for Thought, Let’s Talk Teaching, and New Faculty Orientation. She also works closely with the rest of the CFE team on programs like the Teaching Institute and Course Redesign Institutes, and conducts most of the teaching observations, small group instruction diagnostics, and one-off teaching and learning programming requests. She also teaches as a Professor of Practice in psychology, so far primarily offering a course on Motivation and Emotion in the fall.

Before joining Simmons, Sarah was an Associate Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Assumption University, where she also served in the D’Amour Center for Teaching Excellence as Associate Director for Grants and Research. Her most recent research project, funded by the National Science Foundation, convenes a network of scholars to develop assessment, feedback, and grading practices aimed at greater effectiveness and equity in undergraduate biology education. Sarah is author of four books, including The Spark of Learning: Energizing the College Classroom with the Science of Emotion (2016) and Mind Over Monsters: Encouraging Youth Mental Health with Compassionate Challenge (2022). She gives keynote addresses and workshops at a variety of colleges and regional conferences, blogs for Psychology Today, and writes essays for venues like Literary Hub and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Sarah holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Tufts University, where she continues ongoing collaborations in the Emotion, Brain, and Behavior Laboratory as a Research Affiliate.

Lenko Tankov, Senior Associate Director of Research and Sponsored Programs

Lenko Tankov, Senior Associate Director of Research and Sponsored ProgramsSenior Associate Director of Research and Sponsored Programs
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Lenko Tankov has extensive experience in sponsored programs and has worked in a variety of research administration roles. He has spearheaded process improvement projects and designed faculty development resources and guides. Lenko worked for Harvard T.H. School of Public Health and Boston Children’s Hospital before joining Simmons. His masters degree in Finance from Harvard Extension School compliments his research administration experience.

Lenko has a passion for  research development,  and believes it is a crucial component to a fruitful and collaborative environment . He is a contributing member for the National Council of University Research Administrators and authored How Our Work Makes a Difference (Tankov, L. S. (2020, June), NCURA Magazine, 52(3), 4–5).

Ritamarie Hensley, Instructional Designer

Ritamarie Hensley, Instructional DesignerInstructional Designer
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Dr. Ritamarie (Re) Hensley brings many years of experience teaching and designing courses for both k12 and higher education.  She is committed to supporting faculty and building courses that are inclusive, equitable, and innovative.

Before joining the team at Simmons, Re taught face-to-face, hybrid, and asynchronous courses in English at the high school level.  After receiving her Ed.D in Leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University, she worked in the School of Education as an adjunct instructor where she designed and taught asynchronous courses within the Ed.D program.

She has also been a student in many online courses and earned a postgraduate certificate in online teaching and designing from VCU, so she has an understanding of what works and what does not in a virtual environment.  In her previous role as the LMS Transition Coordinator at VCU, she provided faculty with tools, resources, and workshops on how best to enhance student learning and build community so that all students have a similar experience.

Suzanne Edmonds, Instructional Designer

Suzanne Edmonds, Instructional DesignerInstructional Designer
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Suzanne Edmonds holds a Master of Arts in Educational Media from Appalachian State University. Suzanne is passionate about both learning and technology, and has years of experience combining both to build engaging experiences for students. Prior to joining Simmons, Suzanne was a Learning Technology Specialist at Wake Forest School of Medicine, where she collaborated with subject-matter experts to create interactive materials and develop graduate courses online.

Her past roles have also included working as a Lead Instructional Technologist at NC State University, and teaching multiple grades in the K-12 environment before making the transition to higher education.

Karene Alexander Thorne, Operations and Program Manager

Karene Alexander Thorne, Operations and Program ManagerOperations and Program Manager
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Karene is a highly skilled and experienced professional in the field of program and project management, with a specialization in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. With a proven track record in leading and facilitating successful projects and programs, she is dedicated to driving efficiency, implementing strategic initiatives, and fostering inclusive environments.

As a continuous learner, Karene is committed to personal and professional growth. She believes that the pursuit of knowledge and the willingness to adapt and evolve are crucial for success in an ever-changing world. She holds a Master’s degree in Education (Organizational Management) and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), which she considers as valuable learning experiences that have equipped her with a strong foundation of knowledge and skills.

As the newest member to the CFE team, she is eager to leverage her skills and experience to contribute to its’ success and make a lasting impact in the field.

Kaylee Paul, Graduate Assistant

Kaylee PaulGraduate Assistant
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Kaylee Paul is a current Simmons MLIS candidate who is excited to be joining the CFE team! She holds an MTS from Harvard Divinity School and a BA from Dartmouth College, where she studied Spanish and Religion. Kaylee’s academic and professional interests include misinformation and disinformation, the intersections of media, policy, and belief, increasing access to trustworthy information and skillbuilding opportunities through both physical and online resources, and reshaping libraries into spaces that better meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve. In her past work and student activity involvement, Kaylee’s primary goal has been increasing inclusivity and community engagement.

Martina Zhelezarova, Research Administrator/IRB Analyst

Martina ZhelezarovaResearch Administrator/IRB Analyst
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Martina Zhelezarova joined CFE in November 2022 as a Research Administrator/IRB Analyst. She comes from working in the healthcare industry and prior to joining Simmons University, she worked in a variety of administrative and project management/analyst roles. She obtained an MBA in Management from Fitchburg State University in 2021 and decided to switch industries and start her journey within the academic space. She has a passion for technology, research and education.

Jyoti Puri, President’s Fellow for Faculty Leadership and Career Development

Jyoti Puri, President's Fellow for Faculty Leadership and Career DevelopmentPresident’s Fellow for Faculty
Leadership and Career Development

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Jyoti Puri is Hazel Dick Leonard Chair and Professor of Sociology at Simmons University.  She is the author of three books including, Woman, Body, Desire in Post-colonial India (Routledge 1999) and Encountering Nationalism, (Blackwell Publishers 2004).  Puri’s book, Sexual States: Governance and the Struggle against the Antisodomy Law in India’s Present (Duke University Press, 2016) received the 2018 Distinguished Book Award from the Sexualities Section of the American Sociological Association.  She is the recipient of the 2021 Jessie Bernard Award given by the American Sociological Association.