Director & Staff
Linda LaPinta, EdD
Director of the EdD: Leadership Program
Dr. Linda LaPinta earned a BA from Beloit College in English Composition, English Literature, and Oral History; an MA in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication; an MAT in English from the University of Louisville; and an EdD in Educational Leadership from Spalding University. LaPinta (under her maiden name, Beattie) is the author of four books—Conversations with Kentucky Writers, Savory Memories, Conversations with Kentucky Writers II, and Sisters in Pain: Battered Women Fight Back (co-authored with M.A. Shaughnessy). She has published more than 700 feature articles and book reviews in regional and national journals, magazines, and newspapers, and is a member of the International Leadership Association(ILA) and the Association of Leadership Educators (ALE). LaPinta’s career has included writing, editing, oral history, and social service positions as well as full-time faculty positions teaching English, journalism, communication and leadership at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Cindy Baumert is an experienced entrepreneurial leader and former business owner in the for-profit and non-profit business sectors. She was also the director of a state-wide parent leadership program focused on engaging families and community to improve student outcomes in K-12 public schools. Baumert is an active education advocate at the local, state, and national level for students who have learning disabilities and students who receive free and reduced-price meals. Prior to her career in education advocacy, she owned a software development company and was an IBM marketing representative. Cindy graduated from the University of Louisville, Speed Scientific School, with a Master of Engineering in Applied Math and Computer Science.
Mistalene Calleroz White
Before arriving in Kentucky, Dr. Calleroz White served in Student Affairs at Arizona State University (ASU) at the West and Tempe campuses in various roles, including Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students. During her tenure at ASU, she was responsible for key university initiatives: leading college outreach and access initiatives in the Phoenix community and launching three new on-campus facilities totaling $50M. Dr. Calleroz White holds a BS in Spanish and English Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and received an MEd in Higher Education and a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program from Arizona State University.
Kristen Harris, PhD
Dr. Kristen Harris earned her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland-College Park. During her tenure in Maryland, she researched and worked with pre-service and veteran teachers in urban high schools. Prior to that experience, Dr. Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Centre College. She then taught high school history and geography in Boyle County, Kentucky. Dr. Harris has also worked with the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program. She is a member of the American Educational Research Association, and her scholarship focuses on college access and choice for high school students in Kentucky.
Susan Jackson-Dowd, EdD
Dr. Susan Jackson-Dowd earned a BA from Murray State University in journalism/radio television, an MA from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Education, and an EdD in Leadership Education from Spalding University. Jackson Dowd is the executive director, president and publisher for Presbyterian Women, Inc., the women’s organization of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Previously, she served as communications coordinator for Presbyterian Women, managing editor for Horizons magazine, and associate editor for the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Jackson-Dowd’s leadership experience also includes national and international board service, including chair, World Day of Prayer U.S.A. Board of Governors and executive committee member, World Day of Prayer International Committee. Jackson-Dowd is a national and international group facilitator and a speaker and workshop leader on women’s organizations and leadership, as well as on systemic issues that impact women and children.
Kurt W. Jefferson, PhD
Dr. Kurt Jefferson is currently the Dean of Graduate Education. He earned a BA from Western Illinois University in Political Science and MA and PhD degrees from the University of Missouri–Columbia in Political Science. He is the author of two books, the most recent of which is, Celtic Politics: Politics in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. He has published numerous scholarly articles in such journals including the Journal of Scientific Psychology, The Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, and North American Journal of Welsh Studies. He has been a frequent commentator on world affairs and leadership in various local, regional, national, and international media outlets. Dr. Jefferson served more than 24 years at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where he was a professor, department chair, division chair, and assistant dean. He was the founding director of leadership studies at Westminster where he also taught courses in leadership theories and practice, innovation and creativity, and transnational studies.