Meet the Alumni Association Board of Directors

Adwoa Ansah Rey

Adwoa Ansah Rey ‘05

Adwoa Ansah Rey has over a decade of government, corporate, and non-profit experience. She is the President and CEO of Women of Praize, an organization that provides spiritual support for women in politics. As a student, Adwoa was an active member of the SCSU campus community. She served as President of Programs Council, Charter Member and President of the SCSU NAACP Chapter, Student Government Association Senator, Student Representative to the Connecticut State University System Board of Trustees, Resident Advisor, Secretary of the Pre-Law Society, Help Is On The Way (H.O.P.E.) Peer Educator, and President of the Pi Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (New Haven City-wide). While a student at SCSU, she co-founded H.O.N.E.Y. Afterschool Program for Girls at James Hillhouse High School. Adwoa received many awards for her leadership including the SCSU Service Award, U.S. Postal Service Women's Award, Who's Who Among American Colleges and Universities, and the BSU Barbara Matthews Scholarship. In her professional capacity, Adwoa served as President and CEO at Faith Link Inc. and finance director at The Faith & Politics Institute. She also served as Special Assistant to Congressman John Larson (CT-01) in the House Democratic Caucus, and manager of federal affairs at the New England Council. Adwoa is a member of the Northern Virginia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and the Junior League of Washington. She serves on the Good Shepherd Housing Community Leadership Council and the Fairfax County Community Action Advisory Board. Adwoa earned a B.A. in Political Science from Southern Connecticut State University and a M.A. in Religious Studies from Howard University School of Divinity. She holds a management certificate from Harvard Business School.


Madison (Madi) Csejaka

Madison (Madi) Csejka '19

Madison is excited to serve on the Alumni Association Board to further leverage existing resources to better the lives of current and future Owls, as well as the city of New Haven. Prior to graduating in 2019, she worked in the Academic Success Center, for the Educational Opportunity Program, as a teaching assistant, and as a Peer Mentor. She also studied abroad in Liverpool!

After graduating, she worked in college consulting and tutoring and now works for the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Beyond giving back to New Haven, Madison is interested in helping to facilitate alumni-led workshops that can give current students valuable experience.

Madison feels that our professors are a valuable resource that can be leveraged to better the experiences of current and former Owls, and hopes her creativity and vision for the future will be an asset to the Alumni Association.


Binod Dahal

Binod Dahal '21

Binod started his academic journey a long time ago at Norwalk Community College. Due to life's situations and ups and downs, he took a break from pursuing his education. However, during that time, he had a great realization point that motivated him to continue. He transferred from NCC on a scholarship to Southern, where he completed his undergraduate studies.

After that, he received a graduate studies scholarship at Southern and completed his MBA. Currently, I am serving as a Global Medical/Legal/Regulatory Coordinator for a multinational company that specializes in software, medical devices, and services in the field of blood and cell technologies and operates worldwide in 130 plus countries.

During his time at Southern, he became a lifetime member of at least four honor societies and was also an active member of several clubs and committees - such as the Business Information Systems Club, the Student Engagement Committee, and the Board of Library User Experience. Additionally, he is deeply involved in the South Asian community and participates in many events throughout the tri-state area.

Binod believes that his experiences as a struggling student who became successful and his pursuits in the healthcare industry could serve as an inspiration to many students. Furthermore, he is passionate about academics and values being reconnected with the University.


Rachael Davis

Rachael Davis ’06

Rachael is the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Advising at Central Connecticut State University. I have been at the university for the past 16 years in various capacities. 

Rachael was extremely active as a student, being a part of several clubs and organizations, most notably one of the first members of SCSU’s dance/performance group, “Steppin’ Up”.

Rachael has dedicated her professional career to higher education and working with college students and is looking to join the board and give back to a community that has invested so much in her.


Shermaine Edmonds

Shermaine Edmonds '04, MBA '06

Shermaine A. Cooke-Edmonds, B.S. ‘04, MBA ’06, immigrated to Hamden, CT USA, in 1998 from the Nature Isle of the Caribbean – Dominica (not Dominican Republic). She is the Owner of S.A.C. Events Planning Services for over 15 years, Realtor and teacher. Shermaine enrolled at Southern Connecticut State University as an adult learner and began employment at SCSU in 2001, until recently taking on a role at Gateway Community College as Executive Assistant to the President.

Affectionately known across SCSU as “Mama Sherms” for her role as the Caribbean Students Association advisor - the strict but understandable advisor is also Mom away from home and life coach all in one.


Stacey Fields

Stacey Fields '15

Stacey was very active in clubs and organizations during her time at Southern. She served on the executive board of Programs Council as both the Vice President (2003) and President (2004). She also co-founded a collegiate chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and served as the Vice President (2004), Treasurer (2004) and President (2005). Her passion for serving continued as she chose the career of nursing. She currently works as an emergency room Registered Nurse and has tirelessly worked through the COVID pandemic that changed the world. Her dedication to the NAACP did not end when she graduated. She joined the Greater New Haven branch and nearly seventeen years later she is still serving on the executive board as the health committee chairperson. As the health chair, she has hosted several health fairs for the community and even organized one at SCSU! She has also worked with a program co-sponsored with SCSU and Yale to provide a variety of mobile health care services to the community on the Yale C.A.R.E.S. van. In sum, Stacey is the right person to serve on the alumni board because she took pride in being a Southern Owl and worked hard to make the campus experience enjoyable for all students. That same attitude will be applied serving alumni and current students in this capacity.


Eduardo Foster

Eduardo Foster '02

Eduardo “Eddie” graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. While at SCSU, he served as a Resident Advisor. He was born in Panama City, Panama, raised in New York, and later relocated to Connecticut.

He is a proud serving member of the United States Army with 25 years of federal service. He held various assignments in various roles at the strategic planning and operational levels. He deployed supporting two operational campaign tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) and one campaign during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan (2012-2013). His most recent deployment was to the Kingdom of Jordan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Spartan Shield) (2020-2021). He has also provided support during state emergencies and disasters, rendering relief to various towns throughout Connecticut. Eduardo is also an active member of The National Guard Association of Connecticut and the American Legion. In addition, he has received several awards and distinctions throughout his military career.

Additionally, he volunteers his time at various soup kitchens in the New Haven area and helped build a community playground at a school in West Haven. With the backing of his church, he served as a missionary providing aid and support to the community of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. He currently works as Senior Human Resources Manager for the Connecticut Army National Guard. Eduardo enjoyed his experience at Southern and made lifelong friends. He attributes his accomplishments to the opportunities SCSU provided.

He is a father of two girls and enjoys hiking with his wife during his leisure time.


Aba Hayford

Aba Hayford ’10

Aba is a former board member, who graduated from Southern in 2010 with a BS in Public Health. Following her undergraduate studies, her interest in public health led her to a position at Yale New Haven Hospital as a Clinical Trial Coordinator and volunteer position with the Connecticut Health Policy Project, a New Haven-based advocacy dedicated to improving access to affordable, quality healthcare for all Connecticut residents. 

Later, she attended the University of New Haven to receive an MBA in 2014. 

In December of the same year, she organized an informal alumni dinner in New York City for the SCSU’s African Students Association alumni to reconnect with old friends and has served as the chair of the NYC Alumni Network for the past four years, assisting in the coordination of our annual Holiday Gathering.

Aba is excited to rejoin the board and continue to find creative ways to engage alumni in the New York Metropolitan area!


Laeticia Iboki

Laeticia Iboki '16

Laeticia is a Scientist at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Chemistry and Psychology. She also completed her Master of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology at Quinnipiac University.

Laeticia is very passionate in serving on the Alumni Association Board to give back by supporting current and future Owls. As a student at Southern, Laeticia was given the opportunity to expand her knowledge in the scientific field by conducting research and presenting at large and prestigious conferences such as the American Society for Microbiology and Posters on the Hill (Capitol Hill).

She received many scientific awards during her time at Southern including the Noble Procter award for excellence in Undergraduate Research, American Society for Microbiology Student Postdoctoral Award, American Society for Microbiology Undergraduate Research Capstone fellowship, and Southern Connecticut State University Travel Award.

Over the years, Laeticia held scientific positions at Unilever, BioMedica Diagnostics, and Pfizer where she had the opportunity to support the development of the COVID-19 Vaccine. She has also been active in mentoring high school and college students in career development.



LaShante Kelley-James ’04, MS ’14

LaShante' James is a native of New Haven and was educated in the New Haven Public School System. She earned a Bachelor of Science in English Education and Master of Science in Political Science with a concentration in Urban Education at SCSU. LaShante' was extremely active on campus as a Resident Advisor, President of the Black Student Union, Miss SCSU, and chartering the NAACP chapter. In 2015, she obtained an 092 certificate and Sixth year degree from Sacred Heart University. LaShante' worked 11 years as a High School English Teacher in grades 9-12 at Riverside Education Academy. Currently, she is an Assistant Principal for Norwalk Public School.

She has been awarded the Teacher of the Year award for Riverside Academy 8 out of 11 years. Also, she placed First Runner up for the NHPS Teacher of the Year Award in 2010. In 2016, she was a nominated second time for the NHPS’s Teacher of the Year Award, and recently accepted the opportunity to become an Assistant Principal at her alma mater, Brien McMahon High School.

Currently, she serves as the President of the Bridgeport/Fairfield County Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


Dr. Aaron Johnson

Dr. Aaron Johnson '04

As a tireless advocate for children, education, and community building, High School Educator and Civic Leader Dr. Aaron D. Johnson’s mandate is inspiring youth to dare to dream, while helping make their aspirations come to fruition through diligence in higher scholastic heights.

Aaron taught Global Studies, African American Studies, and Criminal Justice at Bay Shore Senior High School on the south shore of Long Island for over 15 years, and was recently appointed Assistant Principal at Freeport High School. Aaron is an award-winning educator and speaker who has been recognized for his dedication to equity, social justice, activism, child advocacy, and of course - education. During his esteemed career, Aaron has also served as the keynote speaker for several commencement ceremonies, as Master of Ceremonies and co-organizer for the annual Black History Month program at Bay Shore High School, and as Assistance Coach of the school’s basketball team and volunteer coach and mentor with the United North Amityville Youth Organization – just to name a few of his accolades.

For his civic involvement, Johnson has received a New York State Proclamation for education and activism from the New York State Assembly, Citations from New York Assemblyman Philip Ramos for his “dedication as an advocate for children,” from Suffolk County Legislator Ricardo Montano for “outstanding achievements and contributions to the betterment of our community” during Islip Town’s celebration of Black History; and from Congressman Steve Israel as an Honoree during Islip Black History Month for “continuous commitment to serving our community.”

Johnson earned a Doctor of Education from St. John's University and a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies (History concentration) from SUNY Stony Brook University. He holds two BA degrees: in Adolescence Education (7–12) & Social Studies from SUNY College at Old Westbury, N.Y., and in History from, of course, our very own SCSU. For the latter, he received a full athletic scholarship for basketball. Upon graduation, he played basketball in Mexico and had multiple offers to play overseas before deciding to remain home and continue his education.


Leo Kivijarv

Dr. Leo Kivijarv ‘74

Dr. Kivijarv, also known as Dr. K. by students and Dr. Leo by clients and colleagues, has an eclectic background as he has both academic and corporate experience. Thus, he knows the current needs of students, as well as the needs of companies that will hire those students.

Currently, Dr. Kivijarv is the Executive Vice President & Director of Research at PQ Media, a custom media research firm that provides strategic intelligence to media companies, such as the Associated Press and NBC Universal. He is a leading authority on media spending & usage trends as the co-publisher of more than 100 global media forecast reports, written almost two dozen articles on the media, spoken  at over 75 US & global media conferences, and is often interviewed and quoted by the press on media trends.

Leo has almost 50 years of academic experience, teaching more than 30 different courses. He was a full-time professor for the first ten years, attaining the position of Association Professor. During the past 30 years, he has been an adjunct professor at ten New York City area institutions, most recently teaching media & communication classes at Mercy University.

In addition to receiving a B.A. in Speech from Southern Connecticut State University, he has a M.A. in Communications from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. in Communications & Media from Bowling Green State University. 


Joey Linebarger

Joey Linebarger '15

Joey graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Following completion of his degree, he returned to Southern for his Masters in Business Administration and graduated in 2018. Joey currently works as an Associate Recruiter for CDW.

In addition to his full time position, Joey also works as a bartender at Wine Knot Sky Bar and Lounge in Wilmington, North Carolina, as well as with DLS Events, LLC. where he works events in live music with Live Nation.

While at Southern, Joey was a part of the Residence Life staff serving as a Resident Advisor for three years. He continued on during his masters program to be a Graduate Intern with Student Affairs, and oversaw student activities and programming with the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership

Joey is currently a resident of Wilmington, North Carolina. He is thrilled to join the Alumni Association and give back to the university that was his home for 8 years.


Grace Mukupa

Grace Mukupa, ’02

Dr. Mukupa, a proud SCSU graduate, was born in Zambia, raised in Japan and Belgium, and is now a U.S. citizen who speaks nine languages. As an orphan, immigrant, and former international student, she seeks to amplify underserved and underrepresented groups' voices while supporting SCSU alumni initiatives. Mukupa earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Journalism from SCSU. She served as president of the African Student Association, held public relations position for the SCSU Student Government, wrote for the Southern News, and became a lady of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She also holds a Master in Business Administration from SUNY Oswego and a Doctorate in International Development from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mukupa, currently a Senior Associate of Student Success Initiatives at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, supporting the 37 American Indian tribally controlled colleges. She received a Fulbright Fellowship to Tajikistan and a Peace Corps Volunteer in North Macedonia. She was elected president of the Iota Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Syracuse, NY. In July 2021, she will be inducted president of the Rotary International, Crystal City-Pentagon club, Virginia; she attributes her leadership to SCSU.


Julia (Napolitano) Nelson

Julia (Napolitano) Nelson ’19
Vice President

Julia graduated from Southern Connecticut State University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. Julia currently works for the state of Connecticut at CTNext as an Operations and Analytics Manager. 

Julia oversees the administration of several CTNext programs and resources, managing the state’s funding initiatives that foster collaboration among institutions of higher education and strengthen institutional capacity as it relates to innovation and entrepreneurship. 

In addition to working full-time for the state of Connecticut at CTNext, Julia is also currently pursuing a Juris Doctor from Western New England University School of Law, where she is expecting to complete her degree in 2022. 

Julia hopes to continue to serve on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, prioritizing academic excellence, access, and social justice in the SCSU community.


Morris Patton

Morris Patton ’97

Morris "Rippy" Patton is a 1997 graduate of Southern Connecticut State University. He is a 48-year-old father of one daughter who is employed as a Senior Group Benefits Underwriter with AFLAC.

In the spirit of his role models, Morris serves his community in various capacities. He currently has served on the Executive Board of former local nonprofit For Goodness Sake. Patton also served as the 3rd Vice President of the Greater Bristol NAACP, as a Board member for the American Clock and Watch Museum, and as a member of the Bristol Exchange Club and as Chairman of the Bristol Democratic Town Committee. He also served as a Mayoral appointee to the Bristol Board of Education.

When he can find down time, Patton can be found supporting his Philadelphia Eagles, Boston Red Sox, or simply soaking up dad and daughter time with his daughter Camryn, 16.


Sarah Lauture Pullen

Sarah Lauture Pullen ’15

Sarah Lauture Pullen is an experienced educator and advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in education. With a strong background in counseling, coaching, and program development, she has dedicated her career to creating spaces that are safe and welcoming for students and staff alike. 

As a former Resident Advisor and employee in the Office of Academic and Career Advancement at her alma mater, Sarah gained invaluable experience working with students and developing programs to support their academic and personal growth. 

In 2019, she moved to Nashville, TN, to serve as Founding School Counselor at KIPP Antioch College Prep Middle School, where she has laid the groundwork for a comprehensive school counseling program. 

Sarah is a strong proponent of restorative practices and SEL curriculum development and has a passion for creating spaces that are both safe and brave. She is known for coining the term "lead with love and respect" as a means of inspiring educators to lead with empathy and compassion. Sarah's experience, skills, and commitment to education make her an excellent candidate for the board of her alma mater.


Daniel Shields

Dr. Daniel Shields ’96, MA ’99

Dr. Daniel Shields is a proud graduate of Southern Connecticut State University. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in English (96) and his Master’s degree in English (99). 

Upon graduation, Daniel pursued a career in higher education working various positions including Director of Compliance, Director of Financial Aid, and Divisional Director of Student Financial Services. 

In addition to these full-time positions, Daniel has also spent approximately ten years teaching at the college level and in adult education programs. Most recently, Daniel was an adjunct professor for the University of Bridgeport between 2014 and 2020. 

In terms of furthering his education beyond his years at Southern Connecticut State University, Daniel went on to earn his doctorate in 2005. He completed the majority of his coursework at the University of Hartford (2001-2003). Then, he finished his doctorate at Capella University in 2005. His dissertation was on the effects of student loan defaults, Finally, Daniel went on to earn a second Master’s degree from Trinity College in 2015. 

In addition to his academic and professional pursuits, Daniel is an active member in his community. He is married and the father of four children ages, 17, 14, 11, and 7. 

Dr. Shields would be honored to serve on the Alumni Association Board for Southern Connecticut State University.


Anthony Tamburri

Anthony Tamburri '71

Anthony is Dean of the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute (CUNY) and Distinguished Professor of European Languages and Literatures. He is co-founder of Bordighera Press, past president of the Italian American Studies Association and of the American Association of Teachers of Italian.

He won honors in student teaching in Italian at then SCSC for his B.S and began his teaching career in high school.

After earning his PhD in Italian from the University of California, he went on to hold various academic positions at the university level: department chair, associate dean, and dean.

He founded undergraduate and graduate programs in Italian and Italian-American studies, as well as programs of study abroad for both students and faculty development.

In addition, he has authored more than a dozen books, his latest, "Signing Italian/American Cinema: A More Focused Look" (2021).

He is executive producer and host of the TV program, "Italics," produced in collaboration with CUNY TV. He writes a column for "La Voce di New York," “The Italian Diaspora."

When not in Manhattan, he spends time in New Fairfield, CT.


Brian West

Brian West, ’80

Brian West has served two previous terms on the Board of Directors and is seeking re-election. He graduated from Southern in 1980 with degrees in history and political science. He worked for three years in the State Legislature in various positions, followed by two years with the Connecticut Public Expenditure Council (CPEC), a state government watchdog organization. For the next 23 years he worked for the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) as a Research Analyst and chief staff person to the Connecticut Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). For the past seven years, Brian has worked for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) as the Principal Research Analyst helping member cities and towns resolve local issues of concern.

He is very involved with his church, where he is a Lector and serves on the Parish Council. He is a member of the Knights of Columbus and has been the coordinator of the Homefront program, an annual home rehabilitation program helping the elderly and less well-off members of our community.

A resident of West Hartford, Brian has been married to his wife, Marie, for 27 years and they have four children, Meredith, Amy, Stephanie and Eric. Eric will be starting his freshman year at Southern this Fall.