The companion to the Student Social Media Academy:

#DigLead Book Club

#DigLead Book Club

Weekly Chats with Digital Leaders in Higher Education

What does it really mean and look like to lead online? The #DigLead Book Club is a series of conversations with leaders featured in my book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education: Purposeful Social Media in a Connected World.

Since October we’ve been streaming live Tuesdays at 4pm ET on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. As the aim of this series is also to build a community of readers, you can also find recordings and dialogue in the Digital Leadership Network.

Schedule at a Glance

This page will showcase all previous events, as well as future dates. Make sure to check out all the wonderful humans in the book here.

    • December 15th: Melissa Woo Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Information Officer at Michigan State University
    • December 8th: Joe Sabado – Associate Chief Information Officer Student Affairs and Executive Director for Student Information Systems and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara
    • November 17th: Patty PerilloVice President for Student Affairs, University of Maryland
    • November 10th: Sumun L. Pendakur – Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategist; Consultant, Speaker & Trainer
    • October 27th: Russell Lowery-Hart – President, Amarillo College
    • October 20th: Pearson – Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs at Florida State University
    • October 13th: Mordecai I. Brownlee – Vice President for Student Success at St. Philip’s College
    • October 6th: Matthew ReedVice President for Learning, Brookdale Community College; Writer for InsideHigherEd.com
    • September 29th: Kristen AbellInterim Director of Student Affairs Communications at Virginia Tech; Executive Director of The Committed Project

Book Club Library

Use this library to tune-in live, watch the recordings, learn more about each featured guest, and of course get connected with them! These are listed in the reverse chronicle order – with the most recent first.

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Melissa Woo

For the final #DigLead Book Club of 2020 I’m thrilled to have on Melissa Woo, Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Information Officer at Michigan State University. She is not only an early reviewer of my book, she’s also a featured digital leader in the text!

Melissa by experience, practice and philosophy is a champion for transformative technology – and also understands the broad reach social media can have when connecting to others within your industry, whether that’s higher ed as a whole or a focused community of CIOs.

Tune in to hear how to expand your professional network online, how community building and mentorship are often intertwined, and how to help your conversations become more inclusive.

Learn more about Melissa

Melissa Woo is the Executive Vice President for Administration and Chief Information Officer at Michigan State University. She provides leadership for IT services supporting the university’s students, faculty, and staff.

Melissa previously served as senior vice president for information technology and enterprise chief information officer for Stony Brook University. She has also held IT leadership roles at the University of Oregon, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where she earned her Ph.D. in biophysics. Melissa received her bachelor’s degree in biophysics from the University of California, Berkeley.

In 2019, Melissa won the inaugural EDUCAUSE DEI Leadership Award for her actions leading to improved diversity, equity, and inclusion in the higher education IT community. She also received the 2012 EDUCAUSE Rising Star Award, recognizing her as an emerging leader in higher education IT.

Throughout her career, she has been actively engaged with higher education IT professional organizations and passionate in her support of aspiring leaders from diverse backgrounds. She serves on several higher education IT committees, authors articles, and is a frequent conference presenter.

Connect with Melissa

Twitter: @mzyw

LinkedIn: /mzywoo/

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

“Including online as a medium provides opportunities for reaching a broader audience that might not have other access to higher ed.”

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Joe Sabado

One role model of digital transformation by nature and profession is Joe Sabado. He’s the Associate Chief Information Officer of Student Affairs and Executive Director for Student Information Systems and Technology at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Joe calls himself blessed to have a job that combines his two passions: technology and seeing students develop throughout their college journey and beyond.

Watch and learn how Joe keeps himself available and approachable to students (even during a pandemic), how tech tools can impact the student experience, and how to stay relevant as social media continues to evolve.

Learn more about Joe

Joe Sabado is the Executive Director for Student Information Systems and Technology (SIS&T) and the Associate Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the Division of Student Affairs at UC Santa Barbara. He also oversees the Graduate Division information system. The systems he oversees include mainframe applications, vendor systems and web applications. Joe graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1997 with a BA in Political Science and a minor in Asian American Studies and received an MBA with specialization in Information Technology Management in 2016 from Capella University.

Connect with Joe

Twitter: @joesabado

Instagram: @joesabado

LinkedIn: /joesabado

Pinterest: /joesabado

Blog: http://www.joesabado.com

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

“To live a life of significance by helping others fulfill their potential.”

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Patty Perillo

In this edition of #DigLead Book Club, I chatted with Patty Perillo, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Maryland.

Patty is a big part of the personal branding section of the book, specifically in terms of how to write your platform bio(s) and begin creating content that aligns with your values.

Watch and learn more about her digital leadership strategy.

Learn more about Patty

Patricia (Patty) A. Perillo worked at seven institutions of higher learning before returning to her doctoral alma mater to serve as vice president for student affairs (VPSA) at the University of Maryland. Immediately before her arrival to the UMD, she served as the VPSA and assistant professor of higher education at Virginia Tech for seven years. She has also worked at Davidson College, the State University of New York (Plattsburgh and Albany campuses), UMBC and the University of Delaware.

Patty provides leadership and oversight for more than 14 departments and administrative units in the Division of Student Affairs at UMD. With a team of over 3,000 students, faculty and staff, a budget of over $240 million, and responsibility for nearly 50 percent of the campus physical capital, she is committed to ensuring transformative learning experiences for students. She obtained her doctoral degree in public and community health, with an interdisciplinary academic partnership with the student affairs program in the College of Education, from the University of Maryland. Her master’s degree in college counseling and student affairs and bachelor’s degree in psychology are from the University of Delaware. She has received honors and awards including ACPA’s Esther Lloyd Jones Professional Service Award, ACPA’s Diamond Honoree Award, and inductions into Phi Kappa Phi and Omicron Delta Kappa.

Connect with Patty

Twitter: @drpattyperillo

Instagram: @pattyperillo

Facebook: /patty.perillo

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

“I lead online to stay connected to and engaged with my students, colleagues, friends, and communities.”

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Sumun L. Pendakur

Happy to have Sumun L. Pendakur, Senior Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategist; Consultant, Speaker & Trainer, join me for the #DigLead Book Club.

This scholar-practitioner recently transitioned from the University of Southern California to become a full-time consultant. She works tirelessly for access, equity and justice for all.

We discussed how the wholeness of your life connects integrity, authenticity and ownership, and how to mitigate risk when applying your voice and power in online conversations.

Learn more about Sumi

Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur (Sumi) believes that we have infinite capability to imagine and enact a more just, equitable, and compassionate world.  Sumi is a scholar-practitioner, an activist-educator, a skilled facilitator, and a mom.  With nearly 20 years in the field of higher education and a decade as a DEI speaker and trainer, Sumi’s work and research focuses on helping campuses, corporations, non-profits, and other organizations build capacity for social justice and racial equity by empowering individuals at all levels to be transformational agents of change in their spheres of influence. Most recently, Sumi was the Chief Learning Officer and Director of the USC Equity Institutes at the USC Race and Equity Center, dedicated to advancing racial justice in higher education and other sectors. Prior to that position, Sumi held roles as the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Harvey Mudd College, serving on the President’s Cabinet and directing the Office of Institutional Diversity, and as the Director for USC Asian Pacific American Student Services.  

Sumi received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership, as well as the Dissertation of the Year award for her study on institutional change agents, from the USC Rossier School of Education.   Sumi is serving her second term on the Board of Directors for NADOHE, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.  She has served as Faculty Coach for the AAC&U’s multi-year TIDES (Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM) Institute.  She is also the co-editor, with Dr. Shaun Harper and Dr. Stephen Quaye, of Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (3rd edition) (2020).  In 2019, she was named one of the top 35 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

Sumi is the multilingual daughter of immigrants, was raised in the Midwest, and currently calls Los Angeles, CA, home.  She is the wife of actor Sunil Malhotra, and proud mommy to Shashi Veer and Shama Shakti.

Connect with Sumi

Twitter: @sumunLPendakur

Instagram: @dr_sumi

Facebook: /sumi.pendakur

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

“To authentically role model a full life, with all of its complications, including my politics, my family/friends, and my work.”

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Russell Lowery-Hart

Have you ever considered your intent, impact and online actions as an act of love? Russell Lowery-Hart, President of Amarillo College, aims to foster a positive and loving online community.

Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are so often fraught with divisive and contentious debate. Let Russell demonstrate how love has a place on social media, helping to bring us together and bridge our differences.

Learn more about Russell

Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart became president of Amarillo College in 2014, after serving the previous four years as the college’s vice president of academic affairs.

Russell Lowery-Hart joined the AC administration in 2010 following a dozen years as a member of the faculty and administration at West Texas A&M University, an alma mater where he had risen to associate provost for academic affairs.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in speech communication at WTAMU then obtained a master’s degree in communication studies from Texas Tech University and a doctoral degree in gender and diversity in communication at Ohio University.

The extent of Dr. Lowery-Hart’s academic leadership extends well beyond Amarillo College—from his presidency of the Panhandle Twenty/20 consortium for the Top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle to his past chairmanship of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee.

He and his wife, Tara, have three children.

Connect with Russell

Twitter: @LoweryHart

LinkedIn: /russellloweryhart/

Instagram: @rdloweryhart

Facebook: Russell.loweryhart

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

Our commitment to loving students to success means accessing them where they live—online and in social media—and we must be better at engaging them across such platforms.


#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Pearson

In this #DigLead Book Club, I chatted with fellow digital leadership educator, Pearson, who is Assistant Director of New Student and Family Programs at Florida State University.

I’ve taught a summer graduate course at FSU called Technology in Higher Education for several years, and this summer I was fortunate to have Pearson join me as a co-instructor.

Pearson is committed to being authentic and multifaceted online ‒ just as she is in person. Learn how that impacts her conversations and connections with students, digitally or otherwise.

Learn more about Pearson

Pearson is a Student Affairs professional and doctoral student in the Higher Education Philosophy of Education program at Florida State University.

She also serves as an Assistant Director in New Student & Family Programs. Pearson produced a digital leadership worksheet entitled “Digital Leadership Is Going Viral”in Thinking to Transform Companion Manual (Volpe White, Guthrie, & Torress, 2019) as well as contributed to “Teaching Leadership Through Twitter” in Handbook of Teaching with Technology in Management, Leadership, and Business (Allen, K.Gower, & D. Allen, 2020). 

Pearson is an active member of the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention (NODA) serving as the Co-Chair of the Multicultural Network, and on the 2021 Annual Conference committee, and the 2019 recipient of the NODA Mentor award. She was previously awarded the 2018 William Leftwich Outstanding New Professional in NASPA Region III award and the 2017 New Professional of the Year Award for NASPA Florida.

Connect with Pearson

Twitter: @pearson_ality

Instagram: @pearson_ality

LinkedIn: /pearsonality/

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

I lead online, because I lead in person. I am holistic, multifaceted, and authentic in person so why not be that way online. I challenge social norms, privilege, and oppression in person so why not do that online.


#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Mordecai I. Brownlee

My special guest for this week’s #DigLead Book Club is Dr. Mordecai Brownlee, Vice President for Student Success at St. Philip’s College. 

The “It’s Dr. Mordecai” brand is all across the internet, from Instagram to YouTube. Hopefully you’ve caught his video series, ‘Leadership in Higher Education,’ or read one of his EdSurge columns. Mordecai is a great example of a community builder who engages his audience of educators in meaningful conversation.

Learn more about Mordecai

Dr. Mordecai I. Brownlee currently serves as the Vice President for Student Success at St. Philip’s College in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, he serves as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Business & Leadership at the University of Charleston and the Masters in Community College Leadership Program at Morgan State University. As the Vice President for Student Success, Dr. Mordecai has led St. Philip’s College to record enrollment over 13,800 students and three consecutive years of record student completion in degrees and certificates. Previously, Dr. Mordecai served as the Dean of Students & Chief Student Affairs Officer at the University of Charleston. 

Dr. Mordecai received his Ed.D in Educational Leadership from Lamar University, where he earned the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award for his research regarding Texas House Bill 5 and the future of higher education. He also holds a M.S. in Human Resource Management and B.A. in Mass Communication & Political Science degrees from Houston Baptist University, his A.A. in Liberal Arts degree from Kingwood College, and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Community College Leadership Program at Dallas Baptist University. 

Dr. Mordecai currently resides in San Antonio, Texas with his wife of 13 years, Daphne Brownlee, their son, Mordecai Jr. and their daughter, Lauren Machelle.

Connect with Mordecai

Twitter: @DrMordecaiB

LinkedIn: /drmordecaibrownlee/

Instagram: @ItsDrMordecai

Facebook: /ItsDrMordecai

Website: www.ItsDrMordecai.com

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

My online mission is to provide social media content that promotes student inclusion, student engagement, student success, and the development of academic and career pathways, as well as information to support the sustainability, vitality, and continued growth of all educators.


#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Matthew Reed

This week I’m chatting with Matthew Reed, Vice President for Learning at Brookdale Community College. He’s also a writer for InsideHigherEd.com, documenting his “Confessions of a Community College Dean.” You might also know him on Twitter as @DeanDad.

We talked about work/life balance beyond gender roles, how blogging informs his digital impact (and job opportunities), and the ongoing effort to elevate community colleges.

Learn more about Matthew

Dr. Matthew Reed is an experienced senior-level community college administrator with a national profile in higher education. He is currently the Vice President for Learning (chief academic officer) at Brookdale Community College, and is the author of the widely-read IHE column “Confessions of a Community College Dean.”

At Brookdale, he has initiated the University Partnerships program, fostered the creation of five Early College High School programs, and reduced online achievement gaps. Prior to Brookdale he was the CAO at Holyoke Community College. On his watch, HCC was recognized by the Aspen Institute as one of six community colleges across the country with exemplary transfer relationships with public flagship universities. At HCC he directed a Title III grant that resulted in five consecutive years of improved course completion rates and one of the highest community college graduation rates in the state. He was selected to the inaugural class of Aspen Institute Presidential Fellows, finishing as the sole representative from New Jersey. He has been a keynote speaker at NACCE, the Chair Academy, the New England Transfer Association, and the New Jersey Council of Community Colleges Best Practices conference.

His book, Confessions of a Community College Administrator (Jossey-Bass, 2013), has been taught in educational leadership doctoral programs. He has worked on accreditation self-studies for the HLC, Middle States, and NEASC, and has done multiple site visits for NEASC. He has taught at DeVry, Rutgers University, Kean University, and the County College of Morris. He received a B.A. in political science from Williams College, and a Ph.D. in political science from Rutgers University.

Connect with Matthew

Twitter: @deandad

Blog: www.insidehighered.com/users/matt-reed

What is your why for leading online?

To demystify academic administration in hopes of attracting good people to it and avoid unproductive conflicts based on stereotypes.

#DigLead Book Club: Featuring Kristen Abell

This week I’m joined by not only a digital leader feature in the book, but also a wonder woman who significantly helped me in the last year when big (very big) editing changes were required. Kristen Abell is Interim Director of Student Affairs Communications at Virginia Tech and Executive Director of The Committed Project. We talked about resources and realities for higher ed communication professionals right now, throwing back to the early days of #sachat and advocating for your mental health.  

Learn more about Kristen

Kristen Abell is a writer, a web developer, and a mental health advocate, and her pronouns are she/her/hers. She has been writing her memoir for a few years now, but she promises she’ll finish it someday. You might even get to see parts of it on her blog. She is the partner of a pretty amazing guy, and she is the mom to a spectacularly intelligent and funny teenager (who takes after her). She also likes to cross stitch snarky comments and occasionally play the piano.

She develops the occasional website and has done most things in higher ed, from being an academic adviser to running a student housing department. But most recently, she’s serving in an interim role overseeing communications in a student affairs division and glad to be interim.

Connect with Kristen

Twitter: @Kristen_Abell

Instagram: @Kristen_Abell

Facebook: /kristendom

Website: thecommittedproject.org

Website: kristenabell.com

What is Your Why for Leading Online?

I want to show people they are not alone in experiencing mental illness and provide support and resources to help them be successful.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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