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Program Alumni

Anna Skosireva
Anna Skosireva, M.D., M.S., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Acculturation, alienation and HIV risk among the Russian-speaking drug users in Estonia.

Year of completion: 2010

Committee chairRobin Kimbrough-Melton, J.D.

Anna Skosireva (M.D., Tashkent State Medical Institute; M.S., Brandeis University; Ph.D. Clemson University) is a foreign medical graduate who pursued a career as a public health social scientist in the U.S. She graduated from Brandeis University, with a M.S. in International Health Policy and Management and earned a Ph.D. from Clemson University in International Family and Community Studies. Dr. Skosireva is currently a resident at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.

Majdouline Aziz
Majdouline Aziz, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

DissertationMaintaining the faith:  Factors that promote a Muslim religious identity.

Year of completion: 2010

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Majdouline (Maggie) Aziz (B.A., University of South Carolina; M.S., Clemson University; Ph.D., Clemson University) currently serves as an adjunct instructor of sociology and assistant project director for the Middle East Areas Studies and Arabic Language Instruction Program at Greenville Technical College. Dr. Aziz also assists in the design, implementation, and evaluation of various projects aimed at increasing intercultural understanding among students and faculty through the International Education Center at Greenville Technical College. Fluent in spoken Arabic, Dr. Aziz’s research interests include Islamic studies, religious identity formation and Middle East affairs. In her thesis research, Dr. Aziz conducted a media analysis of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In her doctoral research, she investigated the factors that promote a Muslim religious identity among members of Muslim Student Associations located across the United States. Dr. Aziz has volunteered with various community organizations and has served as a reviewer for the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry

Arelis Moore
Arelis Moore de Peralta, M.D., MPH, M.Ed., Ph.D.

DissertationHealth beliefs and socio-cultural factors that predict cervical cancer screening behaviors among Hispanic women in seven cities in the Upstate of South Carolina.

Year of completion: 2011

Committee chairBonnie Holaday, Ph.D.

Arelis Moore de Peralta (M.D.,MPH, M.Ed., Ph.D.) was the director of the Center for Community Services (CCS), an activity of CU/IFNL located in Simpsonville, S.C., and the center’s Café Cultura, a Hispanic family outreach and support program. Dr. Moore serves as an Assistant Professor with the department of Youth, Family and Community Studies and the deparment of Languages at Clemson University. View her complete profile here.

Gita Jaffe
Gita Jaffe, Ph.D

DissertationThe rights of children affected by AIDS: A policy paper focusing on the right to education.

Year of completion: 2011

Committee chairRobin Kimbrough-Melton, J.D.

Gita Jaffe (Ph.D., Clemson University) is a child-welfare specialist.  She was the founder and executive director of Africa’s Children-Africa’s Future (AC-AF).  The organization focused on sustainable solutions in response to the orphan crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, and HIV and AIDS education and awareness for children and youth globally. Her dedication to community development has spanned four continents, and included concentration on refugee-related issues, sport for development and child well-being.  She is currently consulting, with particular focus on strategic planning, program and policy research, design and development.

Jill McLeigh
Jill McLeigh, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

DissertationDoes faith matter? A comparison of religious and secular international nongovernmental organizations engaged in humanitarian assistance.

Year of completion: 2011

Committee chairGary B. Melton, Ph.D.

Jill McLeigh (B.A., University of North Carolina; M.S. [summa cum laude], Carnegie Mellon; Ph.D., Clemson University) is a research assistant professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She currently serves as the co-editor for American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, policy liaison for the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice, and consultant on the Strong Communities replication effort in Tel-Aviv, Israel. Dr. McLeigh has been the recipient of the American Psychological Association Division 37 Early Career Psychologist Service Award, South Carolina Professional Society on the Abuse of Children Community Award, and Outstanding Student Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 18. Dr. McLeigh’s primary research interest has been in preventive measures and interventions that seek to strengthen communities' capacity for family support, participation, and mutual assistance. This interest includes understanding how services to families should be designed and delivered, so as to promote child safety and well-being.

Ekaterina Yazykova
Ekaterina Yazykova, AAS, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

DissertationExit, Voice and Human Security: Serbs in Kosovo After Declaration of Independence.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chair: Gary B. Melton, Ph.D.

Ekaterina Yazykova (AAS [summa cum laude], University of Alaska Anchorage; B.S., Salisbury University; M.A., John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, Ph.D., Clemson University) studied community relations in ethnically divided societies. In her dissertation, Dr. Yazykova looked at emigration and political participation of ethnic minority members in the Balkans. Her earlier research addressed questions of legal and psychosocial protections for vulnerable populations, including children left without parental care, children with disabilities, and victims of family violence. Ekaterina worked on matters of implementation of international human rights law at Amnesty International (USA) and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, as well as private international law at the intergovernmental organization in The Hague (Netherlands). At John Jay College, her research and clinical work focused on violence and victimization in small group settings, including family and intimate partnerships.

Liepa Vasare Boberiene
Liepa Vasare Boberiene

Dissertation: A New Civics in the Digital Age: Connecting Online and Offline Activism in Lithuania.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chairSusan Limber, Ph.D.

Liepa V. Boberiene (B.A. summa cum laude, Northwestern University, Ph.D. Clemson University) is the Washington Liaison at the American Orthopsychiatric Association (Ortho), which promotes interdisciplinary approaches to mental health and social justice. Her background is in school psychology, child and adolescent development, and community research and evaluation. As a researcher, instructor, and school psychologist, Liepa has engaged government, NGO, and community partners in the U.S. and Eastern Europe in implementing and evaluating prevention programs that promote child and family well-being. She has worked as a psychologist at the Lithuanian National Centre for Special Needs Education and Psychology, where she led the implementation of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, for which IFNL is the U.S. center of implementation and study. At IFNL, Liepa has conducted research and evaluation studies on bullying prevention, early education, and civic education programs. Her doctoral research involved developing and validating a multi-dimensional Internet engagement measure which predicted civic activism among Lithuanian youth, as digital worlds play an increasingly important role in shaping youth peer environments and civic socialization, empowering community participation and social change. Dr. Boberiene's current projects at Ortho highlight interventions and policies that promote thriving among vulnerable populations, with a focus on improving school climate and reconnecting disengaged youth, promoting mental health in military families, and supporting children without parental care. 

Nizel Fernandez
Nizel Fernandez, B.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation: The Strength of Hispanic Adolescents' Level of Ethhnic identification and Their Parents' Level of Self-Differentiation and Ethnic Identification to Predict Second Generation Hispanic Adolescents' Level of Self-Differentiation.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chairJames R. McDonell, Ph.D.

Nizel de los Angeles Fernández Sánchez (BA, Universidad Iberoamericana; M.A., Universidad Católica de Santo Domingo; Ph.D., Clemson University). She has worked as a clinical psychologist and family therapist and is currently a researcher and professor in the Office of the Dean of Research at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Santo Domingo, Dominical Republic. Dr. Fernández was part of a consortium that received a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to combat child labor in the Dominican Republic. Currently, Nizel is working with the Child First Program at Child Guidance Center of Mid-Fairfield country in Norwalk, Conn. 

Natallia Sianko

Natallia Sianko, B.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Democratic Orientations among Adolescents in Aspiring and Established Democracies.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chair: Mark A. Small, Ph.D.

Natallia Sianko (B.A. in Linguistics, B.A. in English, Minsk [Belarus] State Linguistic University, Ph.D. Clemson University) taught English at both secondary school and university levels as an undergraduate student and assisted in research on social advertising against drug abuse by children. Prior to joining IFNL, she worked at the Department for Foreign Economic Affairs at Minsk Expo Company where she helped organize international trade fairs and exhibitions and facilitated communication between foreign participants and local authorities.

Dr. Sianko spent 2010-2011 in Washington, as a Policy Fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association, a professional membership organization dedicated to promoting mental health and social justice. Her Fellowship experience covered a broad  range of issues, including policy analysis and development, communication with Ortho membership, coordination of the work of task forces and working groups, and representing Ortho at various coalitions and meetings, among other activities. Natallia is a native speaker of Belarusian and Russian and she as a working knowledge of German and Spanish.

Kimberley Brown

Kimberley Brown, B.A., M.Ed., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Factors Explaining Nonprofit Leaders Intention to Build Capacity.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chairBonnie Holaday, Ph.D.

Kimberley Brown (B.A. with Honours [anthropology], B.A. [education], University of Western Ontario; MEd, Michigan State University, PhD Clemson University) has diverse experience in international and cross-cultural education.  She has taught English as a second language in Quebec, Norway, and Michigan, she has been an elementary school teacher in a Cree village in northern Canada, she has assisted in the administration of international programs at Michigan State, and at Clemson she has helped to coordinate studies abroad. She has extensive experience as a volunteer both in the United States and abroad (e.g., East Africa). Dr. Brown also owned and managed a successful health-related business for seven years.

Rosana Saladin-Subero

Rosanna Saladin-Subero, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Factors that Predict Hispanic/Latinos' Intention to Use Thirteen Enterpreneurial Behaviors.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chairKathleen Robinson, Ph.D.

Dr. Rosanna Saladin-Subero obtained her PhD from the Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life at Clemson University in 2012. Previous to her PhD studies, she obtained a Masters in Arts in Commerce from Otaru University of Commerce in Japan; and a bachelor in Marketing from the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra in Santo Domingo where she graduated with honors (Cum Laude).
She moved to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2010 where she has been able to position herself as a Latina leader in the community working for different economic and community development organizations, Hispanic church planting, and now serving in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District as the Assistant Director of Community Partnership and Family Engagement.
On March 2016, she was granted the Cesar Chavez Contemplation Women in Education Leadership Award by Leadership in the Clouds for her work in education and in the Latin American community of Charlotte. Dr. Saladin-Subero main passion is working on behalf of children and families.

Tracy Waters

Tracy Waters, B.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Beyond Neighborhood Play:Factors that Predict Child Civic Engagement.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chair James R. McDonell, Ph.D.

Tracy Waters (B.A. summa cum laude, Central Michigan University, PhD Clemson University) majored in child development and Spanish. A series of service-learning trips to Oaxaca, Mexico, sparked her interest in international studies. Prior to entering Clemson, she completed a year of service with AmeriCorps, serving as a lead teacher in an Even Start family literacy program in Downriver Detroit. Her work at Café Cultura, an international family activity center, focused on positive youth development with Latino children. Dr. Waters’ research interests include neighborhood effects on child well-being and child rights. Tracy currently serves as the Assistant Research Director at the Center for Education Policy and Leadership part of The Riley Institute, Furman University.

Michaela Kabelkova

Michaela (Misa) Kabelkova, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Factors Influencing Volunteering among Elderly in the Czech Republic.

Year of completion: 2012

Committee chair:  Mark A. Small, Ph.D.

Míša Kabelkova (M.S., South Bohemia [Czech Republic], PhD Clemson University). Míša is currently working as a Human Resources Specialist for Training and Development for a large engineering firm in the Czech Republic. She helps to design training systems for a large workforce engaged in multiple production processes. Related to her core area of academic interest, volunteerism, she and her Schnauzer Abby do pet therapy activities in nursing homes. Míša also works directly with Cantes o.s., the umbrella non-profit organization that coordinates these volunteer experiences, where she serves as the coordinator of training and development for the local chapter of Cantes. The volunteers come largely from the fields of Social Work and Nursing and work to improve gross and fine motor skills of residents through interaction with dogs.

Weijun Wang

Weijun Wang, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

DissertationBullying among U.S. school children: An examination of race/ethnicity and school level variables on bullying.

Year of completion: 2013

Committee chair:  Susan Limber, Ph.D.

Weijun Wang was a high-school teacher and school administrator in China, where he completed his undergraduate study. His master’s is from Dunedin, New Zealand and his doctoral from Clemson University. His training as a postdoctoral fellow in education and psychology is from University of Ottawa, Canada. He is currently a Principal Research Scientist in the State University of New York at Buffalo. His research involves the examination of youth culture and aggression, specifically bullying and its links to school climate, school transition, academic achievement, mental health, and race and ethnicity. His research also involves marijuana and alcohol use in young adults and community couples. He has been active in the Chinese community activities, and he is interested in the neighborhood behavior of Chinese immigrant families and children in Western cultures. He also serves as an active reviewer of manuscripts on bullying for Aggressive Behavior and Child Abuse & Neglect.

Anna Amani

Annah Amani, B.S., MPH, Ph.D.

DissertationBasic Needs Satisfaction in Birthplace Choice- Banyankole Women of South West Uganda.

Year of completion: 2014

Committee chair:  Bonnie Holaday, Ph.D.

Annah Amani (B.S., California State, Northridge; MPH, UCLA, Ph.D. Clemson University) came to the USA as a child refugee from Uganda. Soon after completion of her master's degree, she began work for the Christian Foundation for Child and Aging as a program coordinator in Uganda. She previously served as team manager in the implementation of programs to prevent maternal mortality in rural Kenya. In general, Dr. Amani's education and work experience have emphasized maternal and child health. She served as research assistant in Clemson's Department of Public Health Science.


Anita Tam, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

DissertationEmpowering Citizens in a Global Era: A Grounded Theory Study of Community Gardens

Year of completion: 2014

Committee chair:  Catherine Mobley, Ph.D.

Anita Tam (B.A. with high distinction [magna cum laude], University of Virginia; M.S. Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. Clemson University) is a professor of psychology and Faculty Advisor for the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society at Greenville Technical College. Prior to this commitment, she served as the executive director of the Center for Community Services in Simpsonville, S.C., Anita has continued to coordinate the national award-winning community garden known as the Synergy Garden. Before coming to Clemson, she was a community initiatives advocate for Family and Children Services of Central Pennsylvania in Lancaster and community impact staff for the United Way of Lancaster County. She was also an adjunct professor of psychology at Harrisburg Area Community College. Dr. Tam has been a researcher in several human service initiatives under auspices of multiple community agencies in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and she also has been a research assistant at Hong Kong Baptist University. She has had a long list of volunteer experiences, and she has been a high school coach and official in various girls’ sports (e.g., lacrosse; track and field). She has been author or co-author of six publications, and she has a longer list of presentations at professional meetings. Dr. Tam speaks Cantonese fluently, and she has good skills in French. She also has been a volunteer in Guatemala and El Salvador, and she has basic skills in Spanish.

Sheila Snoddy

Sheila Snoddy, B.A., M.Ed., Ph.D.

Dissertation: The Black Baptist Denomination of South Carolina: A Social Capital Analysis.

Year of completion: 2014

Committee chair:  Mark A. Small, Ph.D.

Sheila Snoddy (B.A., South Carolina State; M.Ed., Howard; certificate in Higher Education Administration, South Carolina; Ph.D. Clemson University) is regional director of Girl Scouts, a former community college administrator (focusing on various aspects of vocational education), a former Army officer (active duty and then Reserves to the rank of major), and a former technical-school consortium director in the public schools in Sumter and four bordering counties. Sheila‘s advocacy for Active Living for every resident of Spartanburg County has been widely recognized. Dr Snoddy was named a Community Champion by the Mary Black Foundation in recognition of her implementation of exercise classes and walking and running clubs for community members. Among other community activities, Sheila is a certified doula (helper to pregnant teens). She has participated in missions trips to Honduras, and she was based in Korea during part of her military service.

Julie Xavier

Julie Xavier, B.A., M.Sc., Ph.D.

DissertationAdverse Childhood Experiences and Risky Behavior among Adolescents in Saint Lucia.

Year of completion: 2014

Committee chair:  James R. McDonell, Ph.D.

Julie Xavier (BSc. and M.Phil., University of the West Indies; M.Sc. London School of Economics; Ph.D. Clemson University) worked as a Social Development Specialist with the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C., prior to entering the Ph.D. program with IFNL. There, her principal role was the promotion of Caribbean participation in the social development and employment activities of the OAS. Drawing from the best practices of Chile, Dr. Xavier coordinated a south-south cooperation initiative between Chile and the English-speaking Caribbean to promote effective social protection strategies in the Caribbean. Following her studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI), she served as the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the St. Lucia Poverty Reduction Fund where she supervised an impact evaluation of the organization’s World Bank and European Union projects. Dr. Xavier has a keen interest in social protection, mixed research methods, child poverty and family-oriented approaches to social policy. Her educational background has involved sociology, psychology and development management. A native of St. Lucia, she is a native English speaker with advanced knowledge of Spanish and basic French.

Julie Richards

Julie Richards

DissertationNew Americans' Perspectives on Retention and Adaptation of Childrearing Practices in Vermont: Building Intercultural Relations.

Year of completion: 2015

Committee chair:  James R. McDonell, Ph.D.

Julie Richards (BSW, University of Vermont; MSW, McGill University, Ph.D. Clemson University) has been a licensed clinical social worker, having practiced school social work in Vermont for nearly 20 years. Since 1997, she has been a full-time faculty member at the University of Vermont, initially providing coordination, consultation, and technical assistance to school districts throughout Vermont regarding best practices for inclusion of students with emotional and behavioral challenges in the regular educational system, as well as teaching in the undergraduate social work program. Since 1999, Dr. Richards’ responsibilities have been to coordinate the Undergraduate Social Work Program. Her teaching areas include introductory social work courses as well as practice and field experiences courses. Recently, she has also expanded her practice arena to develop and foster service-learning partnerships with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in Mumbai, India, including working extensively with a school that serves children with developmental disabilities and their families. Moreover, Dr. Richards has extensive experience providing supervision to graduate social work and counseling students working in schools throughout northern Vermont.

Dr. Richards’ professional interests include school social work, developmental and emotional/behavioral disabilities, family-strengths assessments, social work practice and consultation in India, and cultivating global citizenship in the social work curricula.


Natalie Worley
B.A., MSW, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Objective and Subjective Correlation of Quality of Life in Rural Haiti.

Year of Completion: 2015

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Natalie Worley (B.A. magna cum laude, Wake Forest University; MSW, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ph.D. Clemson University) has worked with diverse groups of children and adults in various capacities both in the United States and overseas. As an undergraduate, Dr. Worley participated in anthropology studies in Greece, Honduras, and South Africa. She was the first graduate student in the University of Tennessee’s College of Social Work to undertake an international master’s internship, returning to Cape Town to serve with the South African Education and Environment Project. Dr. Worley’s master’s thesis explored the prevalence of symptoms of depression among older Kurdish refugees, the results of which were later published in the journal Social Work. Dr. Worley has been active in immigrant and refugee resettlement issues, serving on the board of directors for the Sudanese Community and Women’s Services Center (Nashville, Tenn.), volunteering as an ESL tutor, and participating in several task forces and committees to improve immigrant services. In addition, she designed health outreach and education programs for immigrant and refugee women through Vanderbilt University. Natalie also worked for several years in immigration law prior to beginning her doctoral program. 


Jasmine Hedge
B.S., Ph.D.

Dissertation: Children of Incarcerated Parents: The Relation of Contact and Visitation to the Parent-Child Relationship and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems.

Year of completion: 2016

Committee chair:  Susan Limber, Ph.D.

Jasmine Hedge (B.S., Psychology, College of William and Mary, Ph.D. Clemson university) designed and implemented a mentoring program for children in a domestic violence shelter and interned at a community organization focused on the prevention of child abuse and neglect while an undergraduate student. She also served as a research assistant for a study exploring emotion regulation of children with incarcerated mothers. During her time at Clemson, Jasmine worked with the Center for Adolescent Research in Schools to implement mental health interventions to help students with emotional and behavioral problems and served as the Project Director of a four year longitudinal study of teen dating violence in rural South Carolina funded by the NIH. Her dissertation focused on the relationship among contact and visitation with an incarcerated parent, the parent-child relationship, and internalizing and externalizing problems. Currently, Dr. Hedge is a Research Associate for the Strategic Management Division of the District of Columbia Courts. 


Albina Balidemaj
B.A., MSc., Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Acculturation, Ethnic Identity, and Psychological Well-Being of Albanian-American Immigrants in the United States.

Year of Completion: 2016

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Albina Balidemaj finished her undergraduate and graduate studies in Clinical Psychology at the University of Minnesota in Twin Cities and University of Prishtina respectively, as a Gold Scholar and University of Minnesota Excellence Scholar. She was a member of the Psi Chi Honor Society and is now a member of the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Balidemaj also graduated as the valedictorian of her graduate class. She is trained as an Adult and Family Clinical Psychologist. Albina received her PhD from Clemson University in 2016.

Currently Dr. Balidemaj works in the Academic Affairs at the American University in Kosovo where she also teaches Introduction to Psychology and provides counseling to undergraduate students. Previous work experiences include World Health Organization (working with lead poisoned Roma Children), Safety and Security policy research through Saferworld as well as a teaching assistant position for the following courses: Psychology of the Oppressed, Liberation Psychology and Cognitive Psychology.

Her publishing’s include an essay on “Psychological aspects of post-war suicide”, published through University of Sakarias during the First International Balkan Congress: History and the culture of Balkans held in 2009. Her second essay “Territorial aspects of the reconciliation process in Kosovo” was published in 2010 through The Regional Studies Association annual conference held in Pécs, Hungary. She also published a study about the safety in high schools in Kosovo named “Safety in Schools: A challenge for the Community” which was published by Forum for Civic Initiatives in Prishtina in 2007.

Her academic interests include: human developmental course, assessment, prevention and treatment of adults with conduct problems; family and community based interventions, adult psychopathology, psychology of self-regulation, professional practice, personality theory, psychotherapy, social psychology, intergroup relations, self.


Timothy Hagen
B.A., M.Ed, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Atttitudes toward Marriage among Albanians. Establishing baseline attitudinal clusters and predictors from the 2008 European Values Study.

Year of Completion: 2016

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Timothy Hagen (B.A. summa cum laude and M.Ed. Valparaiso University; Ph.D. Clemson University) is a lecturer in the Department of Economics at Epoka University. He began teaching in Chicago during two years of work in the M.Ed./LEAPs program through Valparaiso University and continued for another three years at Grace English Lutheran School in Chicago. He now lives with his family in Albania, where he has taught middle grades at Memorial International School of Tirana and undergraduate and graduate English classes at Epoka University. His work and research interests include exploring ways to equip young people, families, and organizations to build healthy, truth-seeking societies.


Dana Varkis
B.A., M.SW, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: The impact of Marital Satisfaction on the Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Soldiers.

Year of Completion: 2016

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Dana Varkis (B.A. Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles; MSW, University of California, Los Angeles, PhD Clemson University) is a Licensed and Board Certified Clinical Social Worker. She serves as a Health Services Officer in the U.S. Public Health Service and is assigned to the Department of Defense (DoD). She is involved in multiple efforts that seek to promote access to psychological health care for service members, veterans, and their families.

Dr. Varkis has provided traumatic event management and debriefings following mass casualty event and suicides. Dana has extensive experience in counseling individuals with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, women's health issues, and complex medical issues.


Holly Grover
B.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Where Cultures Collide: Hispanic Family Involvement in Education Among Different Socioeconomic Groups

Year of Completion: 2016

Committee chair: Sue Limber, Ph.D.

Holly Grover (Fetters) (B.A. with honors, Brigham Young, PhD  Clemson University) has served as both volunteer and paid staff member in service projects in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States. As an undergraduate, she majored in international studies, with minor in Latin American studies. In addition to long-term mission work in her church, she served as an AmeriCorps volunteer., and coordinated Women Build in Habitat for Humanity in Dayton. Dr. Grover is especially interested in education of girls in developing countries. Fluent in Spanish, she worked in Building Dreams and Cafe Cultura.


Ole Ben R. Koissaba
B.A., MA, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: A Critical Analysis of Factors that Contribute of Maasai Land Appropriation: A Case Study of Kajido and Narok Counties in Kenya

Year of Completion: 2016

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D.

Ben Koissaba Ass. Dip in Art Teaching (ICS), PGD Community Development (Leeds, UK), M.A. Social Entrepreneurship (Northwest University WA), PhD Clemson University, has over 20 years of work experience both as an employee and Consultant for nonprofits namely World Vision, Child Fund, Heifer and Plan International. His roles involved working with disadvantaged families and children in urban and rural setting in providing counseling, relationship restoration and family relations as well as developing mechanisms for food production through innovative and sustainable agricultural practices that involved enterprise development. Dr. Koissaba has diverse multicultural working experience in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Africa. He was founder and Lead consultant at Indigenous Concerns Resource Center, founding member of Minorities Reforms Consortium, Pastoralists Development Network of Kenya and Coordinator for Maa Civil Society Forum Kenya as well as a representative of the Pastoralists communities in Kenya in the National Civil Society Congress and COMESA and IGAD Pastoralists and livestock initiatives. Dr. Koissaba had speaking engagements on human rights issues at the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights where he represented the Maasai at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples during the 2004/6/9 sessions and was  the global co-chair during the 2009 session held in New York. He authored a book on advocacy titled, “Advocacy to National Activism: Maa Civil Society Forum, Kenya.”


Laura S. Bogardus
B.A., MA, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Suicidal Behaviors among College Students: Are Transfer Students at a Greater Risk?

Year of Completion: 2017

Committee chair: Mark Small, Ph.D

Laura S. Bogardus (B.A., Political Science, Miami University, Oxford, OH; M.A., Human Behavior and Conflict Management, Columbia College, Columbia, S.C., P.h.D Clemson University) has extensive experience in workforce development, career development, fund development and human resources. Laura was a 2009 fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Sector Skills Academy where she focused on connecting low-income individuals with employment through industry sector-based strategies. She held a position of Chapter Operations Director for the Greenville Society for Human Resource Management (GSHRM) and provided strategic and operational management.  As a volunteer member of GSHRM for many years, Laura is active on the Workforce Readiness Council, which received a distinguished SHRM National Pinnacle Award in 2010.  Dr. Bogardus also worked with Greenville Technical College as a liaison between manufacturing employers and adult students engaged in on-the-job training. 

Previously, Laura served as Project Director for Greenville Works, a partnership of 12 organizations focused on implementing long-term economic and workforce development strategies based on industry input. In 2011, she coordinated a successful bid to secure a National Fund for Workforce Solutions project to support manufacturing sector training in Greenville. She is a member of the International Center of the Upstate and has traveled to Europe, China, and Honduras for study, work, and volunteer service.  Laura is interested in cross-cultural studies in the field of employment. Her areas of research interest include the changing nature of employment, employer/employee relationships, veterans employment, and issues pertaining to low-wage employment. Currently, Laura works as a consultant at Bogardus Research Consulting, LLC.


Hy V. Huynh
B.A., Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Factors affecting the psychosocial well-being of orphan and separated children in five low and middle income countries: which is more important, quality or form of care?

Year of Completion: 2017

Committee chair: Susan Limber, Ph.D

Hy V. Huynh received his B.A. in Anthropology at Ithaca College as a scholarship recipient of the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar Program, a community committed to promoting King’s legacy of social justice and equality. After graduating in 2008, he received a Ford Foundation Community Fellowship and volunteered full-time for a year in Hue, Vietnam, through a non-profit organization called Volunteers in Asia. He was placed in a children’s shelter (orphanage) sponsored by Friends of Hue Foundation, where he taught English, facilitated positive youth development programs, and coordinated extracurricular activities and overseas volunteer groups.  Subsequently, over the past three years he has taken on various leadership roles with the Friends of Hue Foundation Children’s Shelter, including the Shelter Youth Liaison for the Board’s Shelter Executive Committee, the Children’s Shelter Support Officer, Shelter Creative Director, and most recently, the Global Volunteer Program Director. Much of his work with the shelter youth embraced a focus on positive youth development and civic engagement strategies.

Hy V. Huynh is the Research Project Director for an intervention and evaluation research project titled, "National Evaluation of Childcare in El Salvador", within the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research (CHPIR) at Duke University. The project works with both the El Salvador government and Whole Child International (WCI), a U.S.-based non-governmental organization focused on improving the caregiving environments for vulnerable children by effecting changes within child care centers and orphanages.


Athena K Ramos, 
B.S., M.S., MBA, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: Precarious work, invisible people, unjust livelihoods: A social ecological model of migrant farmworker health in the MidWest.

Year of Completion: 2017

Committee chair: Jim McDonell, Ph.D

Athena K. Ramos is currently the Community Health Program Manager for the Center for Reducing Health Dis­parities and holds an Assistant Professor appointment within the Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) in Omaha, Nebraska. Athena completed her PhD in International Family and Community Studies at Clemson University. She received a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 2009, a Master’s degree (M.S.) in 2004 in Urban Studies, and her Bache­lor’s degree (B.S.) in 2002 in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Additionally, she also received her national certification as a Public Manager (CPM) in 2008. 

In her role as Community Health Program Manager, Dr. Ramos leads a Latino outreach and engagement team and serves as principal investigator for a number of community-based health research and education initiatives including a tobacco control outreach program, migrant farmworker mental health study, immigrant agricultural worker health study, and various women and girls programs. She is an experienced administrator and junior researcher with proven ability to develop and implement social and human service programs with culturally diverse populations. She has over 14 years of experience in management operations, public relations, strategic planning, health promotion and educational programming.

She is a member of the City of Omaha Parks & Recreation Advisory Board. She serves as the co-chair of the Board of Directors for Justice for Our Neighbors Nebraska and is a member of the Board of Directors for Fontenelle Forest. Ms. Ramos is member of the National Council of La Raza’s President’s Council, National Latino Tobacco Control Network and the National LGBT Network for Health Equity. 

Athena has been recognized numerous times for her commitment and dedication to making Omaha and Nebraska a better place to live, work, and play. Athena was recognized as one of the “40 Under 40” by the Midlands Business Journal, one of the Ten Outstanding Young Omahans, the American Heart Association’s Advocacy Volunteer of the Year Award, Latina of the Year, and was recognized as one of Sarpy County’s 40 Women Under 40. She was also named an Honorary Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. She has received the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Gold “U” Award, University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Women of Color Award for community service, the Community Leader of the Year award from the Lincoln County Boys & Girls Club, and the Outstanding Community Service Award from the South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance.   

Athena continuously strives to bring a sense of hope and vitality to the work that she does both personally and professionally. Athena is married and is the mother of three children.


Janelle Williams, 
B.S., MPA, Ph.D.

Dissertation Title: 

A Descriptive Exploratory Study: Neighborhood Factors Related to Black Business Density



Year of Completion: 2017

Committee chair: Susan Limber, Ph.D

Janelle Williams serves as the Senior Associate for Family Economic Success and Research with The Anne E. Casey Foundation. Williams is based in the Atlanta Civic Site unit which works to deploy a place based strategy to support a set of five neighborhoods of highly concentrated poverty called Neighborhood Planning Unit V or NPU-V. Williams manages grants that advance results for the Family Economic Success strategy to ensure Neighborhood Planning Unit V families are employed and on a pathway to family-supporting careers, accessing work supports and building assets and wealth. Her work also supports an influence agenda that create system changes to help connect low income families to the economic mainstream. Additionally, Williams leads the performance management process to increase ACS and partners’ capacity to understand and use data for learning and assessment.

Prior to joining the Atlanta Civic Site, Williams served as the Chief of Research and Policy at The Center for Working Families, Inc. — a community-based service provider that helps adults work toward economic stability. For almost five years, she led efforts to incorporate data analysis and evaluation into the organization’s program design and implementation to promote policies that support families. She also directed the integration and implementation of best practices that align with the organization's strategic and operational plans. Williams has extensive research experience in an array of socioeconomic and international issues. Before coming to The Center for Working Families, Inc., she helped assess the statewide implementation of the Reading First curriculum in kindergarten through third grade at the University of Georgia. Williams also served as a congressional fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, conducting policy research and analysis on issues tied to education, health, workforce development and immigration. As a fellow, she was part of a team that drafted federal legislation that was unanimously adopted as an amendment to the College Opportunity and Affordability Act to promote a community-centered approach to deterring gang violence and reducing recidivism rates among former juvenile offenders. She has also conducted and presented a range of international research issues including the implementation of economic sanctions, ethnic based conflict and the Caribbean Single Market Economy.

Dr. Williams earned a Doctorate degree in IFCS from Clemson University, a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Georgia, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Florida Memorial University, where she was valedictorian. Janelle is an active community volunteer and is an alumnus of Atlanta Leaders for Results and LEAD Atlanta. She is a native of Trinidad and Tobago and resides in Georgia with her husband and daughter.

Matt Flege

DissertationGetting Things Done for Life: Long-term Impact of AmeriCorps Service for Diverse Groupd of Memberd

Year of completion: 2018

Committee chair:  Susan Limber, Ph.D.

Matt Hudson-Flege (B.A., Global Development Studies, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL; Master of Nonprofit Management, Regis University, Denver, CO, Ph.D. Clemson University) has been Management Associate with St. Vincent de Paul in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 2008 where he has filled multiple roles, including Strategic Initiatives Manager, Interim Director of Member and Volunteer Services, Area Stores Manager, Interim Director of Development, and Assistant Director of Programs. Matt served in the Peace Corps in Jamaica from 2006 to 2008.

Matt has been actively involved in several leadership development and civic engagement programs, most recently leading a community-wide study and planning process to better address family homelessness in the Cincinnati area, as well as a project designed to change welfare work-requirements in the state of Ohio.  Matt looks forward to building upon these experiences and deepening his research skills at Clemson's Institute on Family and Neighborhood Life.

Currently, Dr. Hudson-Flege is a Research Assistant Professor with the Department of Youth, Family and Community Studies.

N Suzanne Falconer

Suzanne Falconer, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.

DissertationFactors that Protect Children from Violence. Findings from a Community-Based Sample of South African Children

Year of completion: 2018

Committee chair:  Susan Limber, Ph.D. and Martie Thompson, Ph.D

Suzanne Falconer (B.S., Biology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn.; M.A., Secondary Science Education, Rockford University, Rockford, Ill. Ph.D. Clemson University) is currently Team Trainer and Consultant for ReachGlobal, Office of GlobalFingerprints, a child sponsorship program with multiple global sites.  Suzanne has extensive experience as a leader in non-governmental organizations in multi-cultural settings and 15 years of experience in international settings including Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte-d’Ivoire, and Cameroon with extended work stays in France, Haiti, South Sudan, and West Bengal, India. Dr. Falconer and her husband founded a center of community development in conjunction with regional agricultural and public health efforts in DRC. She developed training methods for international partners working with children in adversity, as well as established baseline and ongoing metrics to ensure quality assessment and excellent care for all children reached by affiliated sponsorship programs.