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Zarrow Institute Personnel

Photo of Dr. Kendra Williams-Diehm

Dr. Kendra Williams-Diehm

Email: klwd@ou.edu

Kendra L. Williams-Diehm, PhD, became the Director of the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in January 2017. In addition to being the Zarrow Family Endowed Chair, Kendra is also a Professor of Special Education in the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education holding the Brian E. and Sandra L. O'Brien Presidential Professorship. Her primary research interests include comprehensive transition services with a focus on appropriate assessment and self-determination for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Prior to coming to the University of Oklahoma, she was at the Beach Center on Disability at the University of Kansas where she conducted research looking at self-determination of students in secondary schools. She holds a doctorate degree in transition services and low-incidence disabilities from Texas A&M University. Kendra has over 50 publications and 100 presentations in the field of transition and self-determination.

 


 

Photo of Dr. Malarie Deardorff

Dr. Malarie Deardorff

malarie.deardorff@ou.edu

Malarie Deardorff, PhD, is the assistant director of the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination and assistant research professor at the University of Oklahoma. Her primary research interests are in transition assessments, incorporating transition practices into elementary and middle school classrooms, and compliance and quality transition planning. Prior to her work at the Zarrow Institute, Malarie was a special education teacher for several years in Oklahoma public schools.

 


 

Photo of Dr. Mindy Lingo

Dr. Mindy Lingo

mindylingo@ou.edu

Mindy Lingo, PhD, BCBA-D serves as the Sooner Works Program Assistant Director. Dr. Lingo’s interest include expanding postsecondary education program opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, transition planning for students with disabilities, and Applied Behavior Analysis. She was a special education teacher in K-12 settings for 15 years in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas. Most recently she was awarded the Oklahoma DCDT James Martin Educator of the Year Award for her contributions to the field of transition education and serving students with disabilities.

 


 

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Dr. Melissa Wicker

mwicker@ou.edu

Melissa Wicker, PhD is a Research Associate at the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination. Her primary research interests include literacy and culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies for Indigenous youth. Prior to joining the Zarrow Institute, Dr. Wicker worked for the Oklahoma Writing Project, and she has also taught middle school language arts in Oklahoma and Maryland. Dr. Wicker recently won an award from the Literacy Research Association for her work with Native American youth.

 


 

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Megan Beck

megan.beck@ou.edu

Megan Beck is the administrative assistant and office manager at the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination. Megan is a 2009 graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University where she holds a bachelor's degree in International Business and joined the Zarrow Center in 2020. Before joining the Zarrow Institute, Megan spent 5 years in the payroll department at OU.

 


 

Photo of Rylee Murray

Rylee Murray

rylee.murray@ou.edu

Rylee is the social worker and educator for Sooner Works, and she is passionate about her profession. Rylee served as an intern at Sooner Works while receiving her MSW from the University of Oklahoma in 2021. Before joining Sooner Works, was an intern and worked with high-risk children and adolescents with behavioral issues and extensive trauma histories. Rylee specializes in working with and advocating for the youth and young adults in her community. She offers a wide range of services from independent living skills and self-advocacy to mental health interventions.

Photo of Heather Eisel

Heather Eisel

heisel@ou.edu

Heather Eisel, M.Ed., BCBA joined the Zarrow Institute in the Fall of 2019 as a Sooner Scholar to pursue a Ph.D. in Special Education with a focus in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Secondary Transition. She earned her Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Oklahoma in the Spring of 2019. Prior to her studies at the University of Oklahoma, Heather was a special education teacher for students with learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities and a Project Director at the National Center for Disability Education and Training (NCDET) at OU. She has worked as an advocate for individuals with disabilities for over 20 years. Heather’s training and research interests include ABA, Acceptance and Commitment Training (ACT), Prosocial group facilitation, teacher burnout, and teacher preparation in self-management, restorative practices, and self-care.

 


 

Photo of Brooki Beasley

Brooki Beasley

brooki@ou.edu

Brooki Beasley, M.Ed. joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in the Fall of 2020 as a Leaders for Transition, Razorback-Sooner Scholar doctoral student. She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education. Brooki obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Oklahoma and her Master’s degree from Oklahoma City University. She has taught 6th through 12th grade special education at Salt River High School, Westwood High School, and Crooked Oak Public Schools. Her research interests include special education transition for multicultural and multiethnic students.

 


 

Photo of Courtney Brewer-Tennell

Courtney Brewer-Tennell

courtneytennell@ou.edu

Courtney Brewer-Tennell joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in the Fall of 2020 as a Leaders for Transition, Razorback-Sooner Scholar doctoral student. She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education. Courtney obtained her bachelor’s degree in science elementary education from Oklahoma’s Northeastern State University in 2015 and taught 5th through 12th grades for Butner Public Schools. Courtney’s research interests include Indigenous postsecondary education resources and outcomes.

 


 

Photo of Wendy Mitchell

Wendy Mitchell

wendymitchell@ou.edu

Wendy Mitchell joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in the Fall of 2020 as a Leaders for Transition, Razorback-Sooner Scholar doctoral student. She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education with a focus in post-secondary transition. Wendy obtained her bachelor’s degree from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 1999. Wendy’s teaching experience ranges from developing a pre-school special education program to teaching high school equivalency classes for adults. Most recently, Wendy worked as a 5th-6th grade teacher for students with significant support needs. She earned a master’s degree in Special Education from Northeastern Oklahoma State University in 2003. In May 2017, Wendy received an Elementary Principal certification from East Central Oklahoma University. Wendy’s research interests include (a) interagency collaboration (b) earlier start to teaching transition skills, (c) students with disabilities and the justice system, and (d) impact of self-determination skills over time.

 


 

Photo of Fanee Webster

Fanee Webster

fanee@ou.edu

Fanee Webster joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in Fall of 2020 as a Razorback-Sooner Scholar doctoral student.  She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education with a focus in transition. Fanee obtained her undergraduate degree from Oklahoma City University in Kinesiology and Exercise Sports in 2010.  She earned her master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 2012.  By the Fall of 2013, Fanee began her career as a special education teacher in the co-taught and resource setting in the Mid-Del School District in Midwest City, Oklahoma.  She would spend 3 years as a secondary special education math teacher.  In the Spring of 2016, Fanee earned her second master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Central Oklahoma. In Fall of 2016 moved to Richardson, Texas and taught resource math at J.J. Pearce High School for 3 years.  Most recently, Fanee resumed teaching at Midwest City High School. Fanee’s research interests include (a) transition education, (b) financial literacy skills for secondary students, and (c) teacher preparation programs.

 


 

Photo of Isela Plasencia de Alba

Isela Plasencia de Alba

isela.plasencia-1@ou.edu

Isela joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in the Fall of 2021 as a doctoral student. She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education. Isela obtained her bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Oklahoma and worked as a graduation support specialist for high school students at Epic Charter Schools.

 


 

Photo of Peighton Pratt

Peighton Pratt

peighton.pratt@ou.edu

Peighton joined the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination in the Fall of 2021 as a doctoral student. She is pursuing a PhD in Special Education. Peighton obtained her bachelor's degree in Special Education from the University of Oklahoma and taught 1st-5th grade Special Education at Noble Public Schools. She is a Zarrow Transition Scholar at the University of Oklahoma in a partnership between the Special Education and Social Work Programs. Her research interests include Transition Education to support high school students with post-secondary success, human relationships and sex education, and the connection between social work and transition education.

Maeghan Hennessey, PhD

Maeghan Hennessey, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, devotes a portion of her time to serve as the assessment expert and assessment statistician on a Zarrow Center project developing new transition assessments funded by the National Center for Special Education Research.

Christina Miller, PhD

Christina Miller, PhD, associate professor and assistant director of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, collaborates with the Zarrow Center Faculty on personnel development grants awarded by OSEP to increase transition knowledge of teachers and students with disabilities.

Emily Kuntz, PhD

Emily Kuntz, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, partners with the Zarrow Center on personnel preparation grants through the Office of Special Education Programs.

Chad Bailey

Chad Bailey serves as the webmaster for the online Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG), developed by the Zarrow Center with funding by the National Center for Special Education Research.