Division of DEI Leadership

Division of DEI Leadership

Division of DEI Leadership

Penny McPherson–Myers, Ed.D., Vice President, Division of DEI

Penny McPherson–Myers

Dr. Penny McPherson–Myers has been an integral part of Rowan University's journey since 2007 when she assumed the role of Director of the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program. In 2019, she ascended to the inaugural position of Vice President of the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at Rowan University, where her dedication to positive change has continued to shine brightly.

In her capacity as Vice President of the Division of DEI, Dr. McPherson–Myers orchestrated the creation of the university-wide DEI Strategic Action Plan, charting a definitive course toward a more inclusive campus community. A stalwart advocate for knowledge and growth, Dr. McPherson–Myers played a pivotal role in the development of DEI Certificate Programs and Implicit Bias Sessions for hiring and search committees, fostering intellectual enrichment and practical skill-building among faculty, staff, students, and the broader community.

As the leader of the Division of DEI, Dr. McPherson–Myers works closely with the division's leadership team to facilitate the DEI Council, comprised of representation from across all colleges and schools under Rowan University, and overseeing the DEI Council's Strategic Priority Committees.

Dr. McPherson–Myers' ingenuity extends to pioneering programs such as tailored support initiatives for first-generation university students, including the groundbreaking Flying First Program at Rowan University. Her visionary leadership streamlined pipeline programs for underrepresented populations, dissolving redundant resources through the innovative Achieving Success through Collaboration, Engagement, and Determination (ASCEND) Program at Rowan University.

Her dynamic leadership culminated in the establishment of the fifth food pantry on a college campus in New Jersey, addressing critical issues of food insecurity. Her visionary partnership with Philabundance Fresh Food laid the foundation for providing accessible fresh food to students and the community on a college campus.

Dr. McPherson–Myers is a three-time alumna of Rowan University where she entered as a Minority Achievement Program (MAP) student, completed a BS in Law and Justice and Sociology, an MA in Student Personnel Services, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership.

Dr. McPherson–Myers can be reached by email at mcphersonp@rowan.edu.


Janelle Alexander, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President, Division of DEI

Janelle Alexander

Dr. Janelle Alexander is a distinguished leader in educational equity and inclusivity, holding a Ph.D. in Access, Success, and Equity from the College of Education (COE) at Rowan University. With over five years of progressive leadership within diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, Dr. Alexander is deeply committed to dismantling systemic oppression through professional development, programming, policy change, and community partnerships.

Beginning her career as a special education teacher and charter school founder, Dr. Alexander transitioned to higher education, spearheading initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion across the P–20 continuum. Her research in DisCrit, combining Disability Studies and Critical Race Theory in Education, challenges conventional norms and advocates for inclusivity, establishing her as a sought-after speaker on diverse educator workforces.

Renowned for meticulous preparation, genuine empathy, and adeptness at fostering open dialogue and collaboration, Dr. Alexander exemplifies a steadfast commitment to DEI, demonstrated through tangible actions driving positive change.

Dr. Alexander's leadership extends beyond the university campus, engaging in community partnerships to address broader equity and social justice issues. Her collaborative approach and dedication to inclusivity make her a trusted advocate for change within the institution and the wider community.

Her passion for DEI transcends theory, manifesting in tangible initiatives and mentorship endeavors inspiring positive transformation within the organization and beyond. In her previous roles, she significantly contributed to DEI efforts, orchestrating comprehensive equity audits, leading curriculum development, and driving DEI professional development series and initiatives.

Dr. Alexander's expertise, combined with strategic leadership and commitment to equity, makes her a guiding force of change, fostering inclusive environments where all individuals thrive. She has been an invited presenter at conferences organized by the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME), the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), and the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children (TED CEC). Additionally, she has contributed to the International Conference on Urban Education (ICUE), solidifying her reputation as a thought leader and advocate for DEI in education.

Dr. Alexander can be reached by email at alexanderjn@rowan.edu


Brett Pulliam, Ed.D., Assistant Vice President, Student Success and Inclusion Programs, Division of DEI

Pulliam image

Dr. Brett Pulliam's impressive background and dedication to supporting opportunity programs in higher education showcase his commitment to advocating for first-generation college students. His journey, from being a first-generation college student himself to holding key positions in educational leadership, reflects a passion for mentorship and guidance.

Having earned his BS in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from Bloomfield College, Dr. Pulliam continued his education by obtaining his MA in College Student Personnel Administration and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy, both from Seton Hall University.

Throughout his career, Dr. Pulliam has held significant roles in various institutions, including Executive Director for Educational Opportunity and Student Success Programs at Stockton University, Assistant Director for the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program at the Rutgers School of Health Professions (SHP), and Associate Director of Counseling and Enrollment Services for the Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Plus Program (PMPDPP) at Seton Hall University.

His involvement in professional associations, such as the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association (EOFPANJ), where he served in multiple capacities including president, highlights his commitment to the broader community and the advancement of opportunity programs. Additionally, he serves as Treasurer for the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pulliam has also actively contributed to the academic community through presentations at conferences such as the inaugural NASPA First-Gen Conference, Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs Biennial Conference, New Jersey New York Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Offices (NJNYACRAO) Regional Conference, and New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling (NJACAC). His expertise in topics related to EOF and student services make him a valuable contributor to the field.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Dr. Pulliam's personal joy in supporting opportunity programs is rooted in the opportunity to serve as a mentor to first-generation students—a role that aligns with his own experiences and underscores his commitment to making a positive impact on the educational journeys of others.

Dr. Pulliam can be reached by email at pulliamb@rowan.edu.


Dominique Pierson, Manager, Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR), Division of DEI

Dominique Pierson

Currently Manager for the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion, and Conflict Resolution (SJICR), Dominique Pierson embodies her personal mantra "lead with love." Over the last five years, Dominique has been serving the Rowan University community, amplifying student voices and curating brave and humanizing spaces in which community members can connect across their differences.

After graduating with her BA from Montclair State University, Dominique's dedication to student affairs continued when she joined Rowan University's Residential Learning and University Housing (RLUH) department as Resident Director and simultaneously completed her MA in Higher Education. Prior to degree completion, Dominique served as intern for the Office of General Counsel and Office of Student Equity and Compliance (OSEC), focusing on policy development and reform. In 2021, she accepted the Area Coordinator position in RLUH and, later that year, assumed Assistant Director for Leadership Programs position in SJICR.

Dominique's work as a social/racial justice advocate stretches beyond institutional lines as she partners with organizations to build community alliances and champion local activist efforts. She also serves as a board member for both the Mercer County Community College's Legal Advisory Board and Rowan University's Student Code of Conduct Hearing Board. As a scholar–practitioner and proud first-generation college student, Dominique advances educational equity and belonging and will remain committed to centering love, criticality, and intersectionality in her approach to servant leadership.

Dominique can be reached by email at piersond@rowan.edu


Rachael Shapiro, Ph.D., Fellow on DEI, Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning; and Associate Professor of Writing Arts, Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts (CCCA)

Dr. Rachael Shapiro has focused her research, teaching, and service on social justice, linguistic diversity, and antiracist and decolonial pedagogy for 15 years. She holds a Ph.D. in Composition and Cultural Rhetoric from Syracuse University, and an MA in English with a concentration in rhetoric and composition from Washington State University. At Rowan University, Dr. Shapiro applies antiracist and decolonial teaching strategies in undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Writing Arts at the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts (CCCA) at Rowan University, as well as in her work with preservice K–5 teachers in the Literacy Studies Program.

She has led and served on DEI committees across the university, including the University Senate Diversity Committee; the Division of DEI Committee on Promoting and Supporting Inclusive Teaching, Scholarship, and Professional Development; the CCCA DEI Committee; and the Department of Writing Arts Diversity Council.

In her scholarship, Dr. Shapiro advocates for linguistic agency and justice for BIPOC, multilingual, and non-standard language users. Other areas of scholarly expertise include literacy studies, transnational feminism, digital writing, basic writing, critical pedagogy, and composition pedagogy.

Dr. Shapiro is recipient of the 2020 Richard C. Ohmann Award for Outstanding Article in College English, the plenary journal of English studies. You can read her work there, as well as in journals like Composition Forum and Literacy in Composition Studies. She has a co-authored chapter titled "Averting Colorblind Translingualism" in the collection Racing Translingualism in Composition: Toward a Race-Conscious Translingualism.

In her role as Fellow on DEI to the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, some of Dr. Shapiro's responsibilities include providing joint leadership and direction for Faculty Center staff in the area of DEI; assisting academic departments and faculty with course design and curriculum development to promote anti-racism, culturally responsive, and relevant pedagogy; and creating a faculty cohort prepared to join a faculty recruitment initiative.

Dr. Shapiro can be reached by email at shapiror@rowan.edu.


John Woodruff, Director of the Academic Success Center and Office of Accessibility Services; and Co-Director, Center for Neurodiversity, Division of DEI

John Woodruff

John Woodruff is Director of the Academic Success Center and Office of Accessibility Services at Rowan University. He coordinates campus services for students with disabilities and manages transitions for students entering college.

John holds a BS in Business Administration from St. Francis University, and a MS in Health Education from St. Joseph's University. He is the co-author of a book with Dr. S. Kay Kuder and Dr. Amy Accardo, College Success for Students on the Autism Spectrum: A Neurodiversity Perspective; and co-author of a book with Dr. Michelle Kowalsky, Creating Inclusive Library Environments. His most recent accomplishments at Rowan include program development, activities, and events to promote access and understanding on campus; and leadership of faculty-led and community-led strategic partnerships for inclusion, training, and mentoring.

John's professional career reflects over 38 years of education, training, administration, and management of employment and training programs for persons with disabilities.

John can be reached by email at woodruff@rowan.edu.


Chiara Latimer, Coordinator, Autism PATH Program; and Co-Director, Center for Neurodiversity, Division of DEI

Chiara Latimer

Chiara Latimer is Coordinator of the Autism PATH Program at Rowan University. This program is designed to support the transition of neurodiverse students from higher education into meaningful employment. She has dedicated 10 years of her career to supporting neurodiverse students in clinical and educational settings.

With the growth of neurodivergent students entering higher education, Chiara began teaching courses on career development and self-advocacy as an adjunct faculty member at Camden County College. In addition, she supported students and faculty in the implementation of academic accommodations at the Community College of Philadelphia, and served as inaugural Co-Chair of the Neurodiversity Affinity Group for the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers (EACE).

In 2022, Chiara was recognized by ROI–NJ as a Diversity and Inclusion Influencer and was highlighted in the article, "Hiring Neurodiverse: 5 Questions with Rowan's Chiara Latimer." With a focus on career readiness and employer education, Chiara continues to promote the importance of empathy and inclusion in the workplace through professional conferences and training for employers.

Chiara can be reached by email at latimerc@rowan.edu.


Patricia Fortunato, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Communications Coordinator, Division of DEI

Patricia Fortunato

Patricia Fortunato is a content, communications, and grants management professional. From 2019 through 2023, she served as Instructional Designer, Content Manager, and Program Manager for the NeuroMusculoskeletal Institute (NMI), a state-designated Center of Excellence for Substance Use Disorder (SUD), and further in 2023, she earned experience as Researcher and Writer for psychiatry programming, all part of the Rowan–Virtua School of Osteopathic Medicine (Rowan–Virtua SOM). She also earned experience as Content Manager for addiction medicine programming affiliated with Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU). She has served as a Co-Chair on the Rowan University DEI Council since 2021; as a subcommittee Co-Chair on the university-wide DEI Task Force since 2023; and in 2024, she joined the Division of DEI.

Patricia is a proud alumna of the Ric Edelman College of Communication and Creative Arts (CCCA) at Rowan University. As a journalism student, she achieved internships at Hearst and Condé Nast, and after graduating, was promoted to global media opportunities therein. She went on to work in academia, focused on stewardship, development, and continuing education to improve global health and equity; and further earned experience in nonprofit development, focused on development and communications programming to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). In 2019, she returned to her alma mater to address the statewide overdose crisis through education and training programming at the NMI. She credits her time doing this work as a humanistic experience, wherein she cultivated deeper empathy for all people living in pain and/or with other stigmatized conditions, significantly shaping the professional, leader, and person she is today.

Since returning to her alma mater, Patricia's efforts in academic medicine focused on partnering with clinical faculty and leading interdisciplinary collaborative teams to execute measurably effective curricula and programming. Through this work, she envisioned, conducted research, authored, and innovated nationally accredited continuing medical education (CME) series for prescribers and all health care professionals, primarily focused on the confluence of pain and preventing, treating, and reducing harm in substance dependence or SUD/addictions among special populations; destigmatizing prescriber education and health communication resources; and white papers and proposals, among other forms of content. She is grateful to have helped lead this work, and for the resulting paradigm shift emerging in statewide and national discourse and federal policy.

As part of the DEI Council and now the Division of DEI, Patricia looks forward to continuing her focus on university-wide DEI efforts and driving positive change, while utilizing her educational and creative content development and communications expertise among a dedicated team that leads with inclusion and meaningful collaboration. You can follow some of her writings and content contributions on intercultural and educational topics for the university community on the Division of DEI blog.

Patricia can be reached by email at fortun83@rowan.edu.


Kim Wampler, Administrative Assistant, Division of DEI

Kim Wampler

Kim Wampler joined the Division of DEI in 2024 as Administrative Assistant for Dr. Penny McPherson–Myers.

Kim earned her BA in Psychology from Shippensburg University, and her MA in Positive Development Psychology and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University. She enters Rowan with eight years' experience in higher education. She began as Administrative Assistant for the diversity team at Dickinson College, and then transitioned to public safety where she was the Safety Services Coordinator. She has served on various committees, such as the Queer and Trans Advocacy Committee (QTAC), Take Back the Night Planning Committee (TBTN), COVID Reimplementation Committee, served as departmental representative for the Bias Education and Response Team (BERT), and served as a Title IX specialist (investigator, hearing, panelist, and decision-maker). Kim is passionate about strengths-based approaches and issues around belonging. She is dedicated to the work of the division and beyond.

Kim can be reached by email at wamplerk@rowan.edu.