THE AZ GEAR UP TEAM
Arizona GEAR UP is administered from the State GEAR UP Office at the Northern Arizona University (NAU) North Valley campus in Phoenix, where a small team of dedicated college access professionals – the project director, staff, and evaluation team – are housed. The State Office team — in collaboration with partner organizations, and the principal investigators, based on the NAU campus in Flagstaff – are dedicated to creating an Arizona where all students, regardless of socioeconomic status, attain the postsecondary education necessary to lead rewarding, productive lives. Read more about the NAU GEAR UP team below.
Daniel L. Kain, Ph.D., Principal Investigator Accordion Closed
Daniel L. Kain, Ph.D.
Dr. Daniel Kain is a professor in the College of Education at Northern Arizona University and Principal Investigator (PI) for Arizona GEAR UP 2012-19. His role as PI spans three grant cycles and more than a decade. In addition to overall project oversight, Dr. Kain brings to GEAR UP his expertise in curriculum and research-based instructional strategies and in middle school professional development with a specialty in problem-based learning. He also served as Principal Investigator on the 2010-12 research study of the Arizona GEAR UP intervention, academic mentoring. Dr. Kain is the former Dean of the College of Education and former Provost at Northern Arizona University.
Ramona Mellott, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator Accordion Closed
Ramona Netto Mellott, Ph.D.
Dr. Ramona Mellott is the Dean of the College of Education and Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) for Arizona GEAR UP 2012-19. In addition to overall GEAR UP project oversight, Dr. Mellott is an active leader at the national level in discussions of professional science master’s programs and their impact on both students and regional workforce development. Dr. Mellott joined NAU in 1991, beginning her career as a professor in the Educational Psychology Department in the College of Education, eventually becoming Chair of the Department. She was also the Dean of the NAU Graduate College from 2007 to 2014. She is a licensed psychologist who serves on the Arizona Board of Psychologist Examiners. Her teaching and research expertise and interests include assessment, diagnostics, and research ethics.
Teena Olszewski, Executive Director Accordion Closed
Teena Olszewski is the Executive Director of Arizona GEAR UP and has provided leadership to the State GEAR UP Office since 2002. She is responsible for ensuring programmatic, administrative and fiscal requirements of the project; creating and expanding partnerships to meet objectives; representing Arizona GEAR UP to constituents; and initiating actions to increase preparation for, access to, and retention in postsecondary education. Teena presently serves on the AzCAN CAP Advisory Committee, and formerly served on the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, the Arizona ACT State Organization Executive Council and, for several years, co-chaired the Executive Committee of the national GEAR UP Evaluation Consortium. In 2014, Teena was awarded ‘GEAR UP Professional of the Year’ by the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. She brings more than 25 years of executive-level administrative, management and leadership experience in government, education and non-profit environments to the position. Teena received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and her master’s degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University.
Andrea González Sotelo, Program Manager Accordion Closed
Andrea González Sotelo
Andrea González Sotelo joined the state GEAR UP team in January 2015. Andrea has focused her career on promoting college-readiness and access among underrepresented populations. As a Program Manager, she provides guidance, support and accountability to GEAR UP-funded staff at partner schools and institutions to successfully execute annual performance-based work plans. Andrea is also a certified Facilitator for Arizona’s on-line College Access Professional (CAP) Training. Prior to joining NAU, Andrea worked in college access programs at Arizona State University, and at The University of Arizona with the six-year GEAR UP Partnership Grant awarded to that institution in 2005. She received her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and her bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona.
Ann Connelly, Program Manager, College & Career Readiness Accordion Closed
Program Manager, College & Career Readiness
Ann has over 18 years of experience in education and college access. She has worked for Arizona GEAR UP in several capacities. She was a Site Coordinator for four years, the EXPLORE Manager for four years, Program Manager for the Middle Grade Initiative for four years, and previously worked as a high school counselor at a GEAR UP high school. In her current role as Program Manager for Early College & Career Readiness, Ann facilitates on-line College Access Professional (CAP) classes. Ann has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Colorado State University and a M.Ed. in School Counseling from Northern Arizona University. Ann formerly served as State Coordinator for CAP Training in Arizona and works in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Education to increase the use, and usefulness, of AzCIS Junior in Arizona’s middle schools.
John ‘Tie Guy’ Acedo, Technology Projects Director Accordion Closed
John (Tie Guy) Acedo
Technology Projects Director
Tie Guy came to GEAR UP in 2012, after ten years of working with GEAR UP students attending the Summer Enrichment Program at Northern Arizona University (NAU), where he directed the College of Education’s Office of Community Engagement. Prior to his work at NAU on the mountain campus, he taught for a number of years in the Alhambra Elementary School District, as a middle school general/choir teacher, and as the Musical Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix. Tie Guy received his Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 Music Education and his Masters in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University.
Whitney Gilmore, Program Coordinator Accordion Closed
Whitney earned her undergraduate degree from NAU in 1998. She describes the four years at NAU as some of the happiest years of her life and she especially enjoyed the many opportunities that campus life offered. Whitney departed from the beautiful mountain campus to attend graduate school in Towson, Maryland. As part of her master’s program in clinical psychology, Whitney completed a clinical internship. She was selected for the Children’s Guild School in Annapolis, MD during her last year of graduate school. This early work experience solidified her passion to support students in public school settings. Whitney enjoys strengthening systems and advocating for students’ equal access to higher education. Most recently Whitney worked as a GEAR UP Coordinator for the class of 2018 in Winslow, AZ. Over the years she has also worked in the field of behavioral counseling and education.
Kitty Hager, Data Input Operator, Senior Accordion Closed
Data Input Operator, Senior
Kitty Hager joined the GEAR UP team in October 2012. As Data Input Operator, she is responsible for processing the array of data associated with a large-scale college access program, and for producing reports that support program implementation and continuous improvement. Kitty also trains others on the use of the GEAR UP database for data entry and reporting purposes, and participates in the development of forms and procedures that promote accurate, complete, timely data collection and management.
Brooke Adams, Administrative Assistant Accordion Closed
Brooke Adams has been with GEAR UP as the Administrative Assistant, since December 2017. Brooke received her Bachelor’s Degree from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Management of Technical Operations. She comes to us from Prescott AZ, where she worked as the Academic Coordinator in another College Access Program- TRiO’s Upward Bound and Math Science Regional Center. She is also a wife and mother of three amazing children.