The leadership structure and headquarters team, while small, work to ensure continuity and awareness of CUMU’s vision and mission. The Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities is headquartered at Towson University in Towson, MD. Towson University was one of the original founders of CUMU and remains committed to the values of the organization.

Board of Directors

The CUMU Board of Directors is comprised of presidents and chancellors of member institutions. Board members are elected to two-year terms.

Kristin Sobolik
Kristin SobolikBoard Chair 2023–2025
Chancellor, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Ellen Neufeldt
Ellen NeufeldtVice Chair & Treasurer 2023–2025
President, California State University, San Marcos
Steven Angle
Steven AngleMember-at-Large 2023–2025
Chancellor, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Virginia Arthur
Virginia ArthurMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Metropolitan State University
Loren Blanchard
Loren BlanchardMember-at-Large 2023–2025
President, University of Houston-Downtown
Frank Gilliam, Jr
Frank Gilliam, JrMember-at-Large 2022–2024
Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Sandra Haynes
Sandra HaynesMember-at-Large 2023–2025
Chancellor, Washington State University, Tri-Cities
Kenneth Jessell
Kenneth JessellMember-at-Large 2023–2025
President, Florida International University
Joanne Li
Joanne LiMember-at-Large 2022–2024
Chancellor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Thomas Parham
Thomas ParhamMember-at-Large 2023–2025
President, California State University, Dominguez Hills
Deidra Peaslee
Deidra PeasleeMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Saint Paul College
Paul Pribbenow
Paul PribbenowMember-at-Large 2022–2024
President, Augsburg University
Antonio Tillis
Antonio TillisMember-at-Large 2023–2025
Chancellor, Rutgers University–Camden
Mark R. Ginsberg
Mark R. GinsbergCEO of Administrative Headquarters (ex-officio)
President, Towson University

Headquarters Team

The CUMU headquarters team manages events, communications, finances, and operations in addition to serving as liaison to partner organizations.

Debbie Darr

Director of Membership & Operations

valerie holton ph.d. executive director of the coalition of urban and metropolitan universities (cumu)

Valerie Holton, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Stacey Johnson, Ed.D.

Director of Learning & Engagement

Debbie DarrDirector of Membership & Operations

Debbie Darr serves as director of membership and operations for CUMU. She oversees membership, including recruitment, member retention, and the on-boarding of new members to ensure the success of the organization. She also manages finances and supports the planning of the annual conference and the functions of the board of directors.

Debbie’s background includes ten years in the financial services industry at two Baltimore firms. Debbie holds an M.B.A. from Loyola University Maryland and a B.S. in business administration and marketing from Towson University.

Valerie Holton, Ph.D.Executive Director

Valerie Holton serves as executive director for CUMU. She brings over 25 years of experience in and across universities and non-profit organizations, as a faculty member, administrator, Fulbright Senior Scholar, practitioner, and consultant. Valerie has developed and strengthened internal and external partnerships to advance strategic and operational imperatives to deepening our public mission. Valerie’s scholarship draws on her professional experience by examining organizational change and impact.

Valerie has served as CUMU’s senior fellow, facilitated its strategic planning processes, developed and led the Barbara A. Holland Scholar-Administrator Award, and guided the early development of CUMU’s partnership with the Democracy Collaborative, which later expanded into the Anchor Learning Network. After serving as an author and guest editor, she served as the editor of Metropolitan Universities journal (MUJ) from 2016 to 2023.

Valerie holds a B.A. in psychology from The College of William & Mary, and a masters and Ph.D. in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She continues to teach courses with National Yang Ming Chaio Tung University in Taipei, Taiwan.

Stacey Johnson, Ed.D.Director of Learning & Engagement

Stacey M. Johnson serves as director of learning and engagement for CUMU. She brings over 20 years of experience in higher education both as faculty and professional staff in research universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges. Stacey is also an active scholar in her discipline. She is a journal editor, podcast producer, workshop facilitator, presenter, and author. She has published books and articles on topics related to online/hybrid instruction, postsecondary language classroom practices, and adult learning including transformative learning and critical pedagogy. Her most recent publication is an edited collection entitled How We Take Action: Social Justice in PK-16 Language Classrooms that features more than 50 authors sharing how they foster more engaged, justice-oriented educational spaces for language learners.

Stacey holds an Ed.D. in adult education and an M.A. in Romance languages from the University of Memphis and a B.A. in Spanish and international studies from Union University.

Towson University Support Staff

  • David Brasington, Events and Operations Manager
  • Cassidy Cregan, Graphic Design Manager
  • Sharyn Grove, Director, Communications & Events
  • Mikey Mullen, Video Production Specialist
  • Arthur Smith, Senior Communications Manager