Meet the Neag School 2021-22 Alumni Board and Board of Advocates

Meet the members of the Neag School’s current Alumni Board and Dean’s Board of Advocates, who all volunteer to work toward engaging and connecting with alumni and friends of the School throughout the year.

Connecting With Alumni

The Neag School Alumni Board has a history of influencing the School’s outreach in the alumni community and supporting current and future students. With a focus on alumni engagement, the Board supported a yearlong virtual programming schedule.

Madison (Corlett) Coutu ’16 (ED), ’17 MA

Madison Couto takes a selfie with a laptop showing a lesson she set up for her students.

Hometown: Tolland, Connecticut

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? The Neag School of Education is the perfect place to figure out exactly who you want to be as an educator. The Neag faculty fosters a sense of community and provides mentorship before, during, and even after you leave. I believe that their balance between support and challenge guides students to find their true passions in the field. Not only did I feel well prepared to enter the field, but built connections and relationships that continue to support my work as an educator to this day.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? This coming year as a new Neag School Alumni Board member, I am excited to learn more about all the incredible work our board does. I am eager to connect and share ideas with other passionate educators.

Anna Cutaia ’07 (ELP), ’13 Ed.D.

Anna Cutaia, alumna and Alumni Board member.

Hometown: Mahopac, New York

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? The Neag School is a place of professional belonging. The support one gains while participating in studies lasts long beyond graduation day. Neag is a community practice that spans the life of a professional career.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? As an Alumni Board member, I hope that our work continues to strengthen the profession so we can continue to improve learning for all students.

Elizabeth DeVitto ’14 (ED), ’15 MA, Secretary

Hometown: Wolcott, Connecticut

Elizabeth Devitto, Alumni Board secretary, speaks at a Neag School podium.

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? The saying “Huskies forever” definitely holds true with the Neag School! I graduated from the Neag School over six years ago and still feel like a huge part of the School. They provide resources, events, and ways to stay involved as an alumni. The Neag School provided me with much more than an unbelievable education — it landed me a dream job, helped me create lifelong friendships, and allowed me to continue involvement in an institution that changed my life!

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? This year I hope to expand the Neag School’s Alumni Board through involvement of new members from different areas of the state, as well as more virtual opportunities for alumni across the U.S.

Sharon Fuller ’83 (ED), ’87 MA, ’94 6th Year

Hometown: Wakefield, Rhode Island

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? UConn is an exciting, welcoming, and diverse community — it’s a great place to live, learn, and grow into “the change you want to be in this world” (based on a quote from Mahatma Ghandi).

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? I hope to continue the commitment of UConn alumni to give back to UConn, our communities, and our professions. By beginning my tenure on the UConn Alumni Board and by participating on the Recruitment, Scholarship, and Philanthropy Committee, I hope to support aspiring and current UConn students.

E. Jean Gubbins ’79 6th Year, ’82 Ph.D., Faculty Representative

Hometown: South Glastonbury, Connecticut

E. Jean Gubbins, Alumni Board Faculty Representative.

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? The Neag School of Education provides multiple opportunities for continuous formal and informal professional learning for its current graduate students and alumni. Networking opportunities, workshops, online events, conferences, and publications ensure that all interested persons have access to practitioner-based and research-based evidence about the cognitive and affective needs of students, teachers, and administrators involved in designing dynamic learning environments.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? The Neag School of Education Alumni Board will continue to recognize the talents of future teachers and current professionals by providing opportunities to seek professional recognition and awards. We will also continue our commitment to offer online or live networking events to connect professionals at various stages of their careers.

Carl Johnson ’03 (CLAS), ’04 MA, ’15 6th Year, President

Hometown: West Hartford, Connecticut

Carl Johnson, Alumni Board President, 2021-22.

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? I would want people to know how well Neag has prepared me for every phase of my career. Whether it was being a first-year teacher coming out of the IB/M program or as a building administrator after completing the UCAPP program. I believe that both prepared me incredibly well to be successful as a teacher and administrator. Additionally, the connections I have made continue to impact my career in terms of professional growth.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? I hope to continue and support the growth of the Neag School Alumni Board. In my brief time on the Board, I have seen the strides that have been made to further connect and support alumni from the School of Education. I want to see that continue to develop and find new ways to achieve those goals.

Bryan Kirby ’18 (ED), ’19 MA

Bryan Kirby.Hometown: Orange, Connecticut

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? I want people to know that the Neag School prepares you immensely well for your first year of teaching. Now that’s not to say that it won’t be tough, but the Neag School equips you with all the tools you need to succeed.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? My hope for the Neag School Alumni Board this year is that the awards ceremony gets the best reviews yet. We are working hard to create an interactive and professional ceremony that is unlike any other.

Kelly Lyman ’92 MA, ’93 6th Year, ’10 ELP

Kelly Lyman, Alumni Board member.Hometown: Simsbury, Connecticut

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? I would like people to know that UConn prepares its students with practical knowledge and experience to allow its graduates to start strong. It also instills a love of learning and belief that we all must be lifelong learners. This allows its graduates to excel in the workplace.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? This year I hope to help the Alumni Board continue to find ways to support and recognize the outstanding work of its grads.

Emmanuel Omokaro ’11 (ED), ’12 MA

Emmanuel Omokaro.

Hometown: Danbury, Connecticut

As a Neag School grad, what do you want people to know about the School? That the Neag School of Education also features the sport management program.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this coming year as a Neag School Alumni Board member? As a Sport Management graduate, I would like to get a better understanding of the other Neag programs so I can be a better contributor to the committee. Get a full understanding of the School of Education and all the things it has to offer.

Advocating for Advancement

The Neag School Dean’s Board of Advocates supports, promotes, and advocates for the advancement of the Neag School. Its members assist in efforts to raise funds and build relationships through their networks while engaging in Neag School activities.

Crisanne Colgan ’72 (CLAS), ’81 6th Year, ’84 Ph.D.

Crisanne Colgan.Hometown: Wethersfield, Connecticut

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? I am proud that U.S. News & World Report has ranked the Neag School among the top 20 public graduate schools of education for the past six years. Given my three degrees from UConn, including the Sixth-Year Diploma and Ph.D. degree from the Neag School, I can attest to the robust preparation I received for a 40+ year career in K-12+ education. I personally experienced the Neag School’s strong commitment to tailoring programs to individual goals. I was able to design a doctoral program that provided coursework and best practices in curriculum, instruction, and administration – the trifecta for success as a school administrator. In addition to my personal experiences, I want people to be aware of the caliber of today’s students. In all interactions with students, I witness firsthand their impressive talents, contagious enthusiasm, and passionate commitment to making this world a better place. The Neag School has, and continues to be, a beacon for higher education.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? I would like to host an event for area alumni so they can learn about The Neag School’s remarkable success and its inspiring students. I look forward to supporting Dean Irizarry in actualizing his vision for the Neag School, and to collaborating with the other board members in this important effort.

Steven W. Edwards ’85 MA, ’90 Ph.D.

Steven Edwards.

Hometown: Jamestown, New York

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? The Neag School of Education is a top 20 public graduate school of education nationally. It is a school that is clearly setting the standard for excellence and innovation in the field of education with world-renowned faculty and facilities. The School continually strives to improve both undergraduate and graduate programs through research and practice.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? As a new Board member, I look to learn from my fellow Board members, the dean, and Neag School faculty and staff on ways I can continue to effectively promote the School. In addition, I hope to add value in support of the mission and vision of the School through my personal and professional experiences and network.

Carmen Effron ’72 (ED), ’81 MBA

Carmen Effron.Hometown: Westport, Connecticut

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? The Neag School has a new dean who has both a Connecticut focus but also a national one. On a national basis, the School ranks very highly; among the top 20 for public graduate schools of education. Programs to support this are based on a strategy of access, excellence, and engagement.

  • Access: High school program scholarships dollars needed. TCPCG programs needs scholarships.
  • Excellence: Support for doctoral programs; more fellowships help professors get more grants.
  • Engagement: Outreach to superintendents to educate them on what the school is doing.
  • Find a way to provide in-state tuition for out-of-state students close to regional campuses.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? Get the right people on the Board to support the mission. Create outreach and donation opportunities that are fun and also supportive of the School; e.g., a golf outing in 2022.

Kathryn G. Fuller — Past Chair

Katie Fuller.Hometown: Rye, New York

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? The values of the Neag school professors spoke loudly to me. The school works tirelessly to ensure the school's values continue to be met and addressed or challenged when the time calls for such challenges.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? I hope to work with the Board to see some of Dean Irizarry's visions for more Black, Brown, and Indigenous candidates for MAs, Ed.D.s and Ph.D.s. I also want to help the Neag School gain more candidates for the school counseling program, as a means of ensuring Connecticut school students' emotional needs are being met.

Sandra Hastings ’89 MA, ’94 Ph.D.

Hometown: Bristol, Connecticut

Sandi Hastings.

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? As a nationally ranked school, the Neag School tackles the barriers that prevent equity in education. The Neag School’s researchers inform the practice of education throughout Connecticut and help school districts implement strategies to reduce the disparity that exists in school experiences. I’m proud to be an alumna of this university, which promotes the development of global student citizens, actively recruits minority students to be teachers, and addresses the social-emotional needs of students in the classroom.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? I’d like to continue to spread the good news about the Neag School while helping to expand alumni support for Neag School programs. I’m interested in developing new strategies to build alumni support for the Neag School – large and small gifts – to  enhance research and scholarship opportunities for all students.

Terrell M. Hill

Terrell Hill.Hometown: Springfield, Massachusetts

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? I would like people to know that the Neag School is committed to evolving and adapting to the research-based practices and ideals that will best serve those seeking preparation for both teaching and leadership.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? I hope to be a voice and “marketer” for the board.  I also hope to be a driver on the Board for all that is excellent and needed.

John Robert “Bob” Jones III ’73 (BUS)

Bob Jones.Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? I want the world to know what a first-class, highly ranked educational institution it is for our future teachers. Our country and the world have never needed great teachers more.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? Besides making a five-year financial commitment, we want to assist the dean and the Board of Advocates to get the word out about the quality of the Neag School and also help to improve the quality of students and faculty that we attract.

Karen S. Jones 

Karen Jones.Hometown:  Moline, Illinois

What do you want people to know about the Neag School? The Neag School is known for the quality of educators it produces, and for the innovative methods it employs to ensure a breath of experiences for its students.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? I hope to contribute as a sounding board for the dean, with a breadth of experience in IB/M and nonprofit governance.

Julie Wood ’71 (ED), ’72 MA — Chair

Hometown: Tenafly, New Jersey

Julie Wood.What do you want people to know about the Neag School? To be able to follow your dreams and receive all the support and encouragement you need to make them a reality is for me (as a two-time alumna) the No. 1 reason to study at the Neag School of Education. Through research, curriculum design, leadership, school psychology, and so much more, the Neag School serves as an intellectual incubator for everyone who wants to change the world through education, both in the U.S. and internationally.

What do you hope to accomplish or contribute this year as a Neag School Board of Advocates member? In concert with Dean Irizarry, I will do everything possible as a Board member to promote an all-hands-on-deck ethos as the University emerges from the pandemic. We have a tremendous amount of healing to do as a community. But we also have an unprecedented opportunity to help the Neag School build back even stronger than before. Some of the initiatives I’m most excited about include extra support for first-generation students (having been one myself), increased diversity among students and faculty, a rigorous research agenda with significant funding from various educational entities, and a special emphasis across disciplines for helping to narrow the achievement gap for children in underserved communities. Phew! That’s a lot. But I believe the Board of Advocates is up to the challenge!