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Faculty and Staff Profiles

Adjunct & Visiting Faculty

Adjunct and Former Albert Coates Professor

David N. Ammons is a semi-retired faculty member who continues to work with the School of Government on a part-time basis. During his career as a professor of public administration and government, he has written and taught about performance measurement, benchmarking, and productivity improvement in local government.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA program
Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Evans Ballard joined the School of Government as Adjunct Instructor for the MPA Program in 2015. He has more than 30 years of combined experience in the private and public sectors, including over 20 years developing and using performance management systems. He is a certified budget and evaluation officer and is Past President of the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association. He has led large organizations, presented to ICMA and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, and served on the steering committee for the National Center for Civic Innovation.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Justin Barbaree began teaching in the online MPA program in 2015, where he has taught PUBA 721 Professional Communication. He is also full-time faculty at the University of North Georgia, where he teaches writing and literature courses in the English department. Justin also lived and taught in South Korea for a decade, where he taught academic writing, composition, and presentation courses to undergraduate students.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Blossom Barrett joined the School of Government in January 2018 as an adjunct professor for the MPA program. For more than 10 years she has worked in the nonprofit arena, primarily in the areas of development, data analysis, and program evaluation. Currently, Blossom is the associate director of data and evaluation for I Know I Can, a nonprofit college access organization in Columbus, Ohio. In her role, she is responsible for data management for three school districts. Additionally, Blossom manages stakeholder reporting and program evaluation for funding valued at more than $6M.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Julie Brenman joined the School of Government as adjunct faculty in 2008. She has over 15 years of municipal executive experience and currently works as a management consultant to governments and nonprofits. Previously, she served as director of strategic initiatives, assistant city manager, and director of budget and management services for the City of Durham.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program
Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Christopher A. Cody is a senior researcher at American Institutes for Research, where he works on the Education Statistics Services Institute Network project as director of the postsecondary administrative data division task. As director of the postsecondary administrative data division project, Dr. Cody also serves as a survey director for the integrated postsecondary education data system at the National Center for Education Statistics, where he also serves as a task lead for the longitudinal studies support team. Prior to joining American Institutes for Research, Dr.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program
Operations Assistant, MPA Program

Ana-Laura Diaz works as an attorney. Recently, she has been serving as transactional counsel at a tier-one research institution and reviewing a variety of agreements. In addition, Ms. Diaz teaches legal and ethics courses. Her work focuses on the areas in which business, the law, and ethics intersect. Ms. Diaz's past experience spans the public and private sectors, including positions at a renewable energy company, the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer, USAID, and private practice. She earned her bachelor’s degree and M.B.A.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Courtney Doi joined the School of Government as adjunct faculty for the MPA Program in 2016. She has worked at Alamance Community College as a college English instructor specializing in professional communication and research for the past nine years. In addition to teaching, she is the Writing Across the Curriculum coordinator, providing professional development about writing to faculty across the disciplines and directing the college's Quality Enhancement Plan.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Sharon Edmundson is the current secretary of the Local Government Commission and a deputy treasurer for the state and local government finance division of the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer. She has over 30 years of experience in governmental and public accounting. Sharon received her B.S. in business administration with a concentration in accounting from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina State University.

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Assistant Director, Center for Public Technology

Before joining the School of Government in February 2009, Ferrell served as chief information officer for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia. His efforts were recognized by the governor at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in 2004 for Technology Innovation in Higher Education. He also served as principal investigator for a three-year National Science Foundation grant that totaled $1 million, which focused on providing technology experiences for high school students.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Tara L. Fikes joined the School of Government as an adjunct instructor in 2017. In 2014, she retired after 30 years serving as the housing, human rights, and community development director for Orange County, NC. In that role, she administered federal and state housing and community development programs and was instrumental in the county’s initial development of many affordable housing plans and initiatives. Dr.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Emily Williamson Gangi identifies opportunities for faculty and staff to become involved in public policy matters of statewide significance. She also manages projects designed to help public officials in North Carolina navigate critical policy challenges across a wide range of topics, including education, economic development, health, criminal justice, public finance, and the environment. She teaches a service-learning course for undergraduates on state and local governance.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Kristen Glasener joined the School of Government as adjunct faculty for the MPA Program in 2017

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program
Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Jenny Heckscher is the director of innovation programs for the Center for Innovation Strategies at The Ohio State University, where she manages programs, operations, and outreach to support education, research, and applied practice in innovation. She provides learning experiences and consultation to private and public organizations with the goal of aligning strategy, people, and process in support of initiatives that create social and economic value.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Mary Hemphill-Joseph is a leadership expert & coach, K-12 educator & administrator, author, & inspirational speaker with over 15 years of professional experience in these fields. As a state director, and university professor with a Ph.D. in leadership studies, Mary understands the importance of fusing education, empowerment, and leadership together as she works with learning and working communities and speaks to audiences across the country. Most recently, Dr.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program
Adjunct Faculty, MPA Program
Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Christi Hurt is the Assistant Vice Chancellor/Chief of Staff for Student Affairs. In this role, she assists the Vice-Chancellor with pan-university and student affairs issues. Hurt was previously the director of the Carolina Women's Center. She was appointed by the Chancellor as the University’s interim Title IX coordinator and serves as the chair of the Title IX Task Force.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

John C. Kuzenski joined the School of Government as adjunct faculty in the MPA Program in 2015. A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he has served as university faculty in Political Science and Public Administration for over 25 years, in addition to division management-level service in the North Carolina Department of Revenue and as a law clerk to judges at the US District Court (Eastern District of NC) and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Emily B. McCartha joined the MPA faculty as an adjunct instructor in 2016. She is currently working to finish her PhD in Public Administration at North Carolina State University. While at NCSU she has taught undergraduate courses for the Political Science Department and worked on several research teams.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Kelley O'Brien has more than 15 years of experience as a communicator, grant writer, project manager, and administrator in higher education and nonprofits. As owner and principal of KT Strategy & Communications, Kelley works with public and private organizations to articulate strategic priorities, develop program plans, create content, manage complex projects, and secure funding. Kelley is also a strategic search partner at Elinvar, a Raleigh-based executive search firm that matches mission-driven leaders with mission-driven organizations.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program
Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Dennis R. Strachota has served as an adjunct faculty member with the School of Government since 2017. He designed and taught the first online version of Advanced Budgeting and Financial Analysis in the 2020 fall term. He is the author of the teaching case study, “Orange County, NC’s Budgetary Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.” Strachota has more than 40 years of experience in state and local government finance as a budget and tax policy analyst, budget manager, and chief financial officer.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Amy Strecker serves as Duke Energy’s stakeholder engagement manager overseeing the company’s charitable giving and Duke Energy Foundation’s grantmaking in North Carolina. Amy is also responsible for Duke Energy’s sports marketing and business hospitality in the Triangle and Triad regions. Previously, she worked on the company’s corporate communications and local government and community relations teams. Amy joined the School of Government in 2013 as an adjunct instructor and course coordinator with the MPA program.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Sarah Towne has been teaching at the School of Government since 2017. After earning a bachelor's degree in sociology and applied business, she spent a year teaching English in Mexico before pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Appalachian State University. She moved to Washington, DC to pursue a doctorate in public administration and policy at American University’s School of Public Affairs.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Joseph Vrabel has been General Counsel to BlaisCo, LLC for close to 15 years. Prior to that, he was a senior partner at Bowditch and Dewey. His work consists of Department of Defense contract negotiations and corporate advice on all aspects of business law including mergers, acquisitions, banking, and strategic partnering opportunities. Vrabel is a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, the Massachusetts Town Counsel Association, and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education (MCLE), where he continues to serve as trustee.

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Director of MPA Faculty Network, Adjunct Instructor

Amy Wade serves as the Director of the Faculty Network for the MPA program at the School of Government, where she is responsible for the hiring, on-boarding, and continued support of live session faculty, ensuring the MPA program engages in high-impact teaching practices to maximize student learning.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA Program

Joy Wilkins joined the School of Government as adjunct faculty in 2015. She is an advisor, speaker, facilitator, instructor, and author on community development, economic development, and leadership development matters. She has served as a senior public service associate with the University of Georgia, as a group manager and project director with Georgia Tech, as a researcher with the Metro Atlanta Chamber, and as a private consultant. Wilkins has delivered research, planning, and consultation services for clients in the United States and Canada.

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Faculty

Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government

Whitney Afonso is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's School of Government. Whitney’s research focuses on state and local public finance with an emphasis on local sales taxes. Whitney won the Burkhead Award for best manuscript published in Public Budgeting & Finance in 2015 and the Curro Award for best student paper in 2010. She also has served on the executive committee of the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management since 2018.

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Adjunct Instructor, MPA@UNC

Monica R. Allen joined the School of Government in 2014 as an adjunct instructor with MPA@UNC. She also teaches at Ashford University and Pfeiffer University. Allen serves as a performance and evaluation manager and enterprise management analyst with the Mecklenburg County Manager's Office of Management and Budget in North Carolina. Previously, she was a management analyst with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the City of Norfolk Department of Public Works in Virginia.

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Teaching Professor; Secretary, School of Government Foundation Board of Directors

Gregory S. Allison is a teaching professor at the School of Government, where he lectures and provides technical support in the field of governmental accounting and financial reporting. He has been on the faculty since 1997 and is director of the School’s Municipal and County Administration course. He was an assistant director with the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada in Chicago, Illinois; former finance director for the City of Morganton, North Carolina; and an auditor with the international accounting firm Deloitte and Touche.

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Professor of Public Administration and Government

Maureen Berner first joined the School of Government in 1998. She teaches evaluation and analysis courses for MPA students and provides similar training and advising to state and local government officials throughout North Carolina. Her personal research focuses on the ability of local organizations to address food insecurity, poverty, and income inequality. She has worked with nonprofits, food banks, local governments, and state agencies.

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Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government

Leisha DeHart-Davis is a Distinguished Term Coates Professor of Public Administration and Government. She directs the Local Government Workplaces Initiative, which conducts organizational research for improving city and county workplaces. DeHart-Davis is a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow and recipient of the 2019 Gary Cornia Distinguished Lecturer given by the Romney Institute of Brigham Young University.

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Lecturer in Public Administration; Director, Public Intersection Project

Margaret Henderson joined the School of Government in 1999. Her current responsibilities include teaching in the School’s MPA program, facilitating public meetings, and assisting local governments to address human trafficking. As director of the Public Intersection Project, she researches and communicates strategies that strengthen cross-sector working relationships for more effective public problem-solving.

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MPA Program Director, Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government, and Director, LGFCU Program

Willow Jacobson joined the School of Government faculty in 2003. Prior to that, she taught in the Master of Public Administration program at the University of Connecticut and worked on the Government Performance Project and the New Jersey Initiative at the Alan K. Campbell Institute at The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. She has also assisted with strategic planning for community collaboratives in California and Oregon state government.

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Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government

Kara Millonzi joined the School of Government in 2006. She specializes in local government finance law, general county law, school finance, utilities finance, development finance, and incorporation. She administers the Coates’ Canons Local Government Law Blog and has authored well over 100 posts on issues related to local government law and finance. Millonzi also administers NC Finance Connect, an online community portal, centered around the topic of local government finance.

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Albert and Gladys Coates Distinguished Term Professor of Public Administration and Government

Jonathan Morgan joined the School of Government in 2003, where he teaches, advises public officials, and conducts applied research on economic development. His research has focused on industry cluster-based development, the role of local government in economic development, business incentives, development impact analysis, and innovative, homegrown approaches to job creation. His articles have been published in leading journals such as Economic Development Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, and Community Development.

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Associate Professor of Public Administration and Government

Rick Morse is an associate professor at the School of Government where he has been on the faculty since 2006. His research, teaching, and consulting focus on public leadership, collaborative governance, and civic engagement.

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Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Term Professor of Public Law and Government, and Director, Development Finance Initiative

Tyler Mulligan joined the School of Government in 2007, where he counsels state and local government officials and their partner organizations regarding community economic development, affordable housing, public-private partnerships for development, and revitalization efforts.

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Professor of Public Administration and Government

Kim Nelson joined the School of Government in August 2013. She was named Albert and Gladys Hall Coates Distinguished Term Associate Professor for 2017–2019. Her research on form of government, corruption, and innovation has been published in Public Administration Review, The American Review of Public Administration, State and Local Government Review, and other journals. As a member of the Center for Public Leadership, she conducts training and advice on leadership and management topics.

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Professor of Public Administration and Government

Bill Rivenbark joined the School of Government in 1999. Prior to that, he worked for the city of Greenville, South Carolina, in various management positions.

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Lecturer and Director, North Carolina Benchmarking Project

Dale Roenigk joined the School of Government in 2005 and took over the directorship of the North Carolina benchmarking project in 2006. Prior to that, he worked for the State of North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services doing program evaluation and quality monitoring for mental health services. He began his career in public service working for a policy consulting firm in Washington, DC.

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James E. Holshouser Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Administration and Government

Carl Stenberg joined the School of Government in 2003. Previously, he served as dean of Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts, University of Baltimore; director of the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia; executive director of the Council of State Governments; and assistant director of the US Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. He is former feature editor of Public Administration Review and co-author of America's Future Work Force.

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Associate Professor of Public Law and Government and Director, Center for Public Technology

Shannon Tufts is associate professor of public law and government and is the director of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Public Technology. She designed and implemented the first local government Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO) program in the nation in 2004 and continues to run multiple CIO certification programs across the US for local and state government IT professionals. Dr.

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Postdoctoral Fellow

Assistant Professor of Public Administration and Government

Teshanee Williams joined the School of Government faculty in 2021.

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Staff

Associate Director of Career Services and Professional Development

Allison Binkley joined the School of Government in June 2015. She previously served as Career Development Counselor at UNC Wilmington and is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from North Carolina State University and she holds a Master of Education in Counselor Education from North Carolina State University.

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Managing Director MPA Program

Heather Duhart joined the School of Government in January 2015. She previously served as associate director of student life for the Daytime MBA program at Duke University. Before that, she worked at North Carolina State University as an academic advisor and assistant director of recruitment. Duhart earned a B.S. and a master's degree in education from James Madison University.

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Associate Director of Academic Advising and Student Life, MPA Program

Elizabeth Langefeld joined the School of Government in August 2017 as the Associate Director for Academic Advising and Student Life in the MPA Program. Previously, she served as a Senior Academic Advisor for the UNC College of Arts and Sciences. She earned a B.A. in communication studies and an M.Ed. in counselor education - student affairs administration, both from Clemson University.

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Operations Manager, MPA Program

Susan Lynch joined the School of Government in 2005 as a program manager working with local government officials. In 2006, she became operations manager for the UNC Master of Public Administration program.

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Director of Admissions, MPA Program

Cara Robinson joined the School of Government in 2017. Her career in admissions and recruitment spans 10 years. She has worked with graduate students across many platforms including social work, medicine, and biomedical sciences. She specializes in inclusive, holistic, and diverse admissions planning using meaningful collaborations, technology, and historical data. Robinson earned a B.A. in psychology and education from Marquette University and an M.A.

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