2025 NASPA Annual Conference

Conference Leadership Committee

Conference Chair

Akirah Bradley-Armstrong, Vice Chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs and Success, UC Santa Cruz

Akirah Bradley-Armstrong serves as the Vice Chancellor for the Division of Student Affairs and Success at UC Santa Cruz. In this role, Akirah leads a diverse and talented group of professional and student staff who provide campus-wide coordination and leadership for student affairs and success programs and activities across departments, divisions, colleges, and administrative units.

Akirah is a dedicated student affairs professional with 17 years of experience in the field. She came to UCSC from the University of Colorado Boulder, where she supported student success since 2016, most recently as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. She was also a faculty affiliate in CU Boulder’s Masters in Higher Education program.

Akirah has a wealth of experience in supporting student retention; providing safe space and community for underrepresented students; supporting freedom of speech; ensuring student wellness; and providing for student development and basic needs.

Over the course of her career, Akirah has held leadership positions in student affairs at CU Boulder, UC Berkeley, the University of Vermont, and Semester at Sea. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from UC Davis, where she conducted dissertation research on crisis response and support systems in higher education administration. A first-generation college student, she also holds a master of education degree from the University of Vermont and a bachelor of science in Business Administration from Mansfield University.

Board Chair

Anna Gonzalez, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Washington University in St. Louis

Dr. Anna Gonzalez (she/her/hers), or “Dr. G'' as she is known to students, is a nationally recognized student affairs leader with over 30 years of experience in higher education. As the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis (WashU), Dr. Gonzalez’s primary focus is to provide leadership to the university’s renowned Division of Student Affairs, engage with students to recognize their needs and enhance their experiences, spearhead transformative giving opportunities with University Advancement, and implement innovative strategies to ensure WashU is a leader in providing a 21st century higher education experience. Within her diverse portfolio, Gonzalez oversees WashU’s unified career center, health and well-being, Residential Life, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, Athletics & Recreation, Campus Life, and Bear Beginnings - WashU’s orientation program for first-year students.  

Dr. Gonzalez served on several regional and national boards, including NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. She has delivered national keynotes and is a published author. Her research interests are focused on first-generation students, immigrant students, equity and diversity, higher education policy and governance, personnel development, and higher education finance. Her scholarly publications include the book “Transformational Encounters: Shaping Diverse College and University Leaders.”

A first-generation college student who immigrated to the United States at the age of 10, Gonzalez is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in international business. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees, both in education, from Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Gonzalez enjoys traveling, getting to know the local food scene, gardening, and spending lots of time with her family and her two dogs - Rafa and Yoshi.

Engagement & Volunteers

Melissa Sumiko Keightley, Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, University of Washington Bothell

Melissa Sumiko Keightley (she/her) currently serves as the Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at University of Washington Bothell where she supports the Diversity Center and works to address student equity needs on campus. She has previously served as a Neighborhood Program Director at Stanford University, a Resident Director at Rochester Institute of Technology, and Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at Cornish College of the Arts. She has also served on the NASPA Asian Pacific Islander Knowledge Community leadership team. Melissa is passionate about building inclusive communities and helping others to develop and incorporate emotional intelligence practices to improve relationships and advance areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. 

As an Asian American and first generation college student she earned her B.A. in English with a Minor in Japanese from Oregon State University and her M.Ed. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, reading, hiking, watching anime, and playing video games. 

Jenn Kosses, Dean of Students, Wentworth Institute of Technology

Jenn Kosses currently serves as the Dean of Students at Wentworth Institute of Technology. As Dean of Students, Jenn’s portfolio includes housing and residential education, transition programs, family engagement, student engagement, student conduct and restorative practices, and persons of concern and threat assessment. Jenn received her bachelors from Merrimack College, her masters from Boston College, and her doctoral degree from Northeastern University. Previous NASPA involvements includes the SERVE Academy, 2022 NASPA Annual Conference Committee, the Mid-Level Institute Planning team and various roles at the regional level. In addition to the 2025 CLC, Jenn serves as Member-at-Large for the NASPA Presidential Search Committee.

Innovative Educational Sessions/Extended Learning Sessions

DeMethra LaSha (Sha) Bradley, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Scripps College

Dr. DeMethra LaSha (Sha) Bradley (she/her) serves as vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Scripps College, a highly selective women’s college and member of The Claremont Colleges Consortium in Claremont, California. Dr. Bradley leads eight departments with a focus on residential experience, holistic student support, well-being, and co-curricular education. Prior to arriving at Scripps College, Dr. Bradley’s career included serving as assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and serving as assistant dean for academic and student affairs in the College of Education and Social Services at The University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont.

As a NASPA member, Dr. Bradley has served on the Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs (SAPAA) Knowledge Community leadership team as the 2018-2021 co-chair of the Research and Scholarship committee and the 2012-2014 chair of the Promising Practices Committee. Dr. Bradley is also a two-time recipient of the SAPAA KC Distinguished Service Award.

Dr. Bradley earned her EdD in education in educational leadership and policy studies and her MEd in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont. She completed her undergraduate degree in Black studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Lester Manzano, Assistant Vice President for Student Academic Services, Loyola University Chicago

Lester Manzano, PhD (he/him) serves as Assistant Vice President for Student Academic Services in the Division of Enrollment Management and Student Success at Loyola University Chicago, where he provides leadership support for: First and Second Year Advising; New Student Programs; Scholars Programs (Achieving College Excellence TRIO Student Support Services, Academic Enrichment Programs, Leadership Scholars Program); the Student Accessibility Center; Student-Athlete Academic Services; and the Tutoring Center. He previously served as Associate Dean of Students in the Division of Student Development, and as Assistant Dean for Student Academic Affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences. Prior to arriving at Loyola, Lester served as Director of Residence Life at Lake Forest College and as Assistant Director of Residential Life at Colgate University.

Lester holds an appointment as Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Loyola, where he teaches graduate courses in higher education. He has presented papers at the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) annual meetings, and he has published work in Review of Educational Research, Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, and Journal of College Student Development.

A NASPA member since 1997, Lester served as chair of local arrangements for the 2011 Region IV-East Conference, as director of the 2011 and 2012 NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP) Dungy Leadership Institutes, and as chair of the NUFP Board 2013–2015. In 2023, he served as a faculty mentor for NASPA’s APIDA Leadership Academy.

Lester earned a Ph.D. in higher education from Loyola University Chicago, a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie Mellon University.

 SA Series

Reyna M. Anaya, Senior Student Affairs Officer and Dean of Student Success, Community College of Aurora

Dra. Reyna M. Anaya is a student-centered leader with a commitment to equitable and transformative student success. As the Senior Student Affairs Officer & Dean of Student Success at the Community College of Aurora, she provides leadership that promotes inclusive and proactive student services across the college and Colorado Community College System.

Dra. Anaya is an active member of NASPA’s Community College Division and has provided service to REACH Collaborative; Association of Student Conduct Administration; and Colorado Coalition for the Educational Advancement of Latinxs.

Dra. Anaya is also a scholar in areas of student conduct, college equity, and identity intersectionality. 

Ariella Robbins, Assistant Vice President for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Villanova University

Ariella Robbins, M.S. is the Assistant Vice President for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Villanova University. In her role, Ariella works to foster an inclusive campus climate through supporting the strategic vision of embedding DEI throughout the university, including policies and initiatives for students, staff and faculty. Ariella leads the education and training opportunities for staff and faculty through workshops, trainings and webinars based on current research, better practices, and the needs of the community. Throughout the campus Ariella collaborates with various departments as a thought partner, and strategy and action consultant. 

Ariella has worked in a variety of roles in higher education. She has served as a Trio College Prep Counselor at Delaware Valley University, Academic Advisor at Peirce College, and a Supplemental Instruction and Learning Skills Coordinator at California State University, Long Beach. Ariella Robbins earned her B.S. from Mansfield University in Business Administration and her M.S. from California State University Long Beach in Counseling: Student Development in Higher Education. She is committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice within higher education and challenging and supporting the journey of institutional change. 

New Orleans Experience

Tanya Mandishona, Director of the Center for Academic Equity, Tulane University

Dr. Tanya Mandishona (she/her) was born and raised in Zimbabwe and moved to the United States in 2007 to pursue her college education. She earned her Bachelor's and master’s degrees in business administration from William Carey University in Hattiesburg, MS. Following some time in South Bend, IN working in residence life and student activities, she went on to earn her PhD in Higher Education Administration at The University of Southern Mississippi in 2018. Her dissertation focused on the racial identity development of Black African international students at HBCUs in the southern US.

Tanya relocated to New Orleans in 2018 and joined Tulane University’s Academic Success Initiatives Office where she served as a success coach and established a peer coaching program. Tanya currently serves as the Director of Tulane’s Center for Academic Equity, an office that supports the academic success of historically marginalized students. In addition to serving as CAE’s Director, Tanya also serves as Tulane’s liaison to the College Track and Posse Foundations. She is also subcommittee co-chair on Tulane’s President’s Commission on Race, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion.

Tanya is an avid foodie, and she enjoys trying new restaurants often or cooking new recipes. She is also a dedicated fan of the New Orleans Saints and enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, watching documentaries, and attending festivals in New Orleans.

Courtney E. Williams, Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life and Founding Director of the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership, Dillard University

Courtney E. Williams (he/him) serves as the Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life and Founding Director of the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership at Dillard University where he provides administrative oversight multiple areas of co-curricular engagement including the student union, student organizations, student government, royal court, student leadership development initiatives, fraternity and sorority life, civic engagement and social justice, global learning and experiential education, volunteer experiences, campus programming, and campus recreation. In this role, Williams enjoys the opportunity of collaborating with multiples stakeholders both on and off-campus to enhance the quality of student life. Williams takes pride in his daily work of inspiring students to succeed and developing the next cadre of social justice scholars and activists.

Prior to joining Dillard University, Williams served as the Associate Director of Student Involvement and Danna Student Center at Loyola University New Orleans where he led programs designed to enhance retention, develop leaders, and support academic success. Under his leadership, the department grew its robust program offerings, reorganized to include campus programming and wellness promotion programs, and launched a Black Male Initiative – Brothers for Progress. Williams also served as an Area Director in Residential Life at Loyola where he helped to revitalize hall council and develop a programming model tailored to upperclass students.

Williams is a two-time graduate of Vanderbilt University where he received a BA in French and Medicine, Health, & Society and an M.Ed. in Community Development and Action from the Peabody College of Education and Human Development. Williams did his doctoral work in Organizational Change and Leadership at the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education where his research focused on factors which influence the recruitment and retention of African American males in Student Affairs.

Williams is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership society, Kappa Delta Pi international honor society in education. Williams is an alumnus of the 34th Cohort of the Social Justice Training Institute as well as the Donna M. Bourassa Mid-level Manager Institute and also serves as a Co-Lead facilitator for LeaderShape in addition to being a certified Gallup Strengths Coach.  

Williams has served many roles in NASPA including multiple years as State Director for Louisiana, local arrangements committee for NASPA 2015, executive board member for the African American Knowledge Community, NUFP mentor and campus coordinator, mentor for the Early Career Development Institute, two-institution LEAD initiative cohort member, and member of the 2022 Ujima institute.

Recently, Williams was recognized by the Higher Education Consortium for Student Affairs Certification as a Certified Student Affairs Educator in both core student affairs and student activities. Williams is currently a member of EAB’s Rising Higher Education Leaders Fellowship as well as a 2023 Higher Education Leadership Foundation Fellow

Virtual Engagement

Naddia Palacios, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Student Equity and Inclusion, University of Southern California

Dr. Naddia Palacios serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Student Equity and Inclusion at the University of Southern California. Her portfolio includes Asian Pacific American Student Services, Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, First Generation Plus Success Center, Latinx/Chicanx Center for Advocacy and Student Affairs, LGBTQ+ Student Center, Student Basic Needs and the Veterans Resource Center. She acts as the campus-wide liaison for DEI issues that impact the student experience and leads student development programs and student-facing DEI services that focus on intersectionality, sense of belonging and well-being among USC students.

Dr. Naddia Palacios joined USC in 2018 as the Senior Director of Student Equity and Inclusion Programs before transitioning into her current role in 2021. Naddia has worked within departments in higher education that have promoted empowerment, social justice and equity for more than fifteen years and has overseen the implementation of campus-wide programming around issues of equity, diversity and leadership development. Before her current role, she has held positions that focused on enhancing the student experience at Occidental College, the Claremont University Consortium, and the University of California Riverside.

Dr. Palacios earned a B.A in Latin American Studies from San Diego State University, an M.Ed. in Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs from the University of Southern California and an Ed.D. at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Joe Thomas, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, University of Colorado Boulder

Dr. Joe Thomas serves as associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) overseeing nine departments with a focus on Student Transitions and Academic Partnerships. Joe came to CU from Indianapolis, IN and has worked in higher education for over 15 years in various capacities. He has served as a faculty member developing and delivering curriculum to healthcare students, as well as an assistant dean of students overseeing all student engagement areas, assessment, and Title IX compliance. He also served as director of New Student Programs and University Testing for five years prior to those roles. 

Joe earned his bachelor's degree in Geography (Meteorology/Climatology) and master's degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at Ball State University and a doctorate in Teaching and Learning at Indiana State University.

VPSA Initiatives

Stephen C. Sutton, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, UC Berkeley

Stephen C. Sutton, EdD, has served as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC Berkeley since 2017. Dr. Sutton has spent his career advocating for students and operationalizing policies, services, and programs to support students in their growth and success. He has held several different administrative positions at UC Berkeley, including serving as the associate vice chancellor for Residential & Student Service Programs (RSSP).

Steve started his Student Affairs career at Berkeley in 1987, when he served as a residential life coordinator, working directly with students, residential advisors, and hall coordinators. He then worked at universities in Florida and Texas in various capacities, including student activities and student union management, and served as a dean of students. As the vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at the University of St. Thomas, he implemented a new and integrated model for both divisions grounded in student development best practices, with the primary objective of growing the current enrollment. This included creating a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) program and an innovative First-Year Experience Program.

Dr. Sutton returned to RSSP at UC Berkeley in 2009. During his tenure as associate vice chancellor for that department, Dr. Sutton contributed his expertise and leadership to critical campus and divisional issues such as organizational development, crisis intervention, change management, sexual assault/sexual violence education, student development theory, student health and wellness, and student advocacy. As a seasoned leader, he has led teams of volunteers in developing goals, implementing strategic and operational initiatives, and setting metrics of success that resulted in process improvements.

Dr. Sutton’s vision for student life is largely informed by his own college experience as a first-generation college student at a large, public institution and from his experience as a resident assistant. As a result of these and other impactful experiences, he sees the objective of Student Affairs as “to make a big campus feel smaller” by creating supportive and engaging communities for all students. Helping each student feel that they matter and belong is crucial to this vision and drives the focus of the division’s programs, services, and philosophy.