Alumni Profiles

Michael Amodio

  • Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Michael Amodio began working in education as a student volunteer helping second graders to read at an inner city school in Milwaukee, WI. After graduating from Earlham College with a BA in Biology in 1998, he decided to continue his path of service by joining the Peace Corps as a volunteer in a small rural village in The Gambia, West Africa. Although stationed as an agroforestry extensionist, he spent many hours working with students and teachers at the local school. After completing his two years of service, he moved to Decatur in Georgia where he received a Masters of Teaching from Emory University while teaching middle school science and taking part as a founding member of the PRISM problem based learning program.

Eventually, Michael returned to the international life in La Ceiba, Honduras where he taught 6th grade at an international school for two years. For the past 8 years, Michael has been working at the American school of Milan, Italy. He began as a math and science teacher, but for the last three years has held the role of Assistant Principal of the Upper School.

Michael has been a student in Lehigh’s International Educational Leadership program since 2009 and hopes to complete his dissertation and have his Ed.D. by spring of 2015. His dissertation examines the role incentives play on the retention of teachers working in American Overseas School abroad.

Maria G. Asayag

  • M.Ed., Educational Leadership

Maria G. Asayag, immigrated from Lima, Peru to the Lehigh Valley in 1994. A product of the Allentown School District, she began cultivating her passion for social justice during her time at Muhlenberg College.  She received her BA in Media and Communications and Spanish Language. Upon graduation, she joined the Admissions Team at Lehigh University. Over the past three years, she has devoted her work to the field of diversity recruitment. Her passion lies in working with underrepresented, first generation students and college access. She truly believes in education being the key for social mobility and is happy to be able to provide students with an opportunity to attend Lehigh.  

Starting her 4th recruitment season at Lehigh, Maria has been an integral part of the diversity recruitment and international recruitment teams. During her tenure at Lehigh, she was able to help bring in one of the most ethnically diverse classes in Lehigh’s history. She has also increased enrollment numbers in the states of California, Florida, and Puerto Rico making them the highest in over 4 years. Aside from her responsibilities in the Office of Admissions, Maria is also the advisor of the student-led organization, Latino Student Alliance.   In addition to diversity recruitment, she also works directly with students Southern California, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and international recruitment in Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Maria is currently enrolled in the Educational Leadership Program at Lehigh and is thrilled to be an active member of the Lehigh community.


Rachel Holler

  • Ed.D., Educational Leadership

Currently, Rachel is the Director of Educational Programs for the Quakertown Community School District in Quakertown, PA.  She works with the curricular areas of math, science, social studies, health/physical education, and the practical arts (business and information technology, technology education, and family and consumer science).  Her main responsibilities include curriculum development and renewal, with a focus on implementation of the Common Core State Standards.  She also supervises a team of learning facilitators who serve as instructional leaders and coaches throughout the district.  [If you are looking for more information: One of the main projects that she supported for the 2012-2013 school year is infusing literacy through the various disciplines by integrating the Common Core State Standards for History/Social Studies and Science and Technical Subjects.  Another project was supporting the secondary math teachers in unpacking the eight mathematical Practice Standards to apply them in daily instructional planning and practice.] Rachel’s past experiences include building-level leadership experiences as the principal of a middle school and the high school in the Norristown Area School District.  Rachel also served as a middle and high school math teachers in the states of Ohio, California, and Pennsylvania.  She applies these experiences, as well as her doctoral work at Lehigh, to support her daily responsibilities in Quakertown. 

Lisa A. W. Kensler

  • Ed.D., Educational Leadership

Lisa is an assistant professor of educational leadership in the College of Education at Auburn University. She began at Auburn in August of 2008 and recently earned promotion and tenure, effective in the fall of 2013. Her original training as an ecologist continues to shape her research interests. She uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore the ecology of leadership and learning, or the characteristics of schools that facilitate individual and organizational learning among students, teachers, and administrators. Lisa’s current research is focused on green schools and the leadership and learning required for transforming schools into more socially just, ecologically healthy, and economically viable communities that engage intentionally with the global sustainability movement. She looks for opportunities to integrate sustainability into the courses that she teaches. Lisa was the 2013 winner of the Emily & Gerald Leischuck Graduate Teaching Award, an award that recognizes “faculty members who have consistently shown evidence of superior teaching excellence. These individuals have gone above and beyond the call of duty by engaging their students in the classroom and instilling a love for life-long learning.” Her research and writing has appeared in the Journal of School Leadership, the Journal of Research on Leadership Education, the International Journal of Urban Educational Leadership, The Journal of Sustainability Education and the High School Journal. She also has work published in two recent handbooks of educational leadership. She is currently co-authoring a book about school leadership and whole school sustainability.

Matthew J. Link

  • Ed.D. Educational Leadership
  • Superintendent Letter of Eligibility
  • Supervisor of Special Education
  • M.Ed., Special Education

Matthew Link, a native of Bethlehem, PA and currently residing in Schnecksville, PA is a proud member of the LU College of Education community.  Matthew earned his B.A. in Politics, with a Secondary Social Studies certification from DeSales University in 1997.  He is also a graduate of the LU College of Education with a Master’s Degree in Special Education, earned Supervisor of Special Education certificate, and most recently, the Superintendent Letter of Eligibility.  Matthew has held several educational leadership positions, including the High School Program Coordinator at Centennial School of Lehigh University and Assistant Director of Special Education at Northampton Area School District.  Matthew also has held the positions of Director of Special Education and Assistant to the Superintendent for Special Education and Student Services at Kutztown Area School District (KASD).   

Matthew continues to work to improve student achievement in all areas and teacher effectiveness. Currently, Matthew is Assistant Superintendent, with oversight of Student Services, Curriculum and Instruction, and Human Resources at KASD.  Most recently, he has overseen KASD’s All Hazards Planning process, as well as leading the District through the Comprehensive Planning process.  Matthew is continuing his education at the College of Education as he pursues his Educational Doctorate degree in the area of Educational Leadership. 

Steven V. Mancuso

  • Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Currently, Steve is the High School Principal at the American Community School, Amman, Jordan. He has been there since 2006, having held this position as he worked on his doctoral research. Despite his busy schedule, he continues to be actively engaged in research and writing on matters related to educational leadership, and has served on three dissertation committees since he graduated – two having successfully come to completion thus far. His current research is focused on the leadership characteristics that international schools are looking for when hiring new school heads.  Steve says “the knowledge and skills I attained while immersed in my doctoral studies at Lehigh serve me well each and every day of my professional life.” He is confident that the quality of his Lehigh degree will set him apart from other candidates as he looks for a position as head of school in the overseas arena. 

Bridget O’Connell

  • Ed.D., Educational Leadership
  • M.A., Secondary Education
  • B.A, English & Anthropology

Dr. Bridget O’Connell has been the Superintendent of Palisades School District since 2011; she served as the Assistant Superintendent responsible for Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction prior to assuming the Superintendent’s position.  The school district she leads covers one-hundred square miles and is mainly a rural area encompassing approximately 9,000 households.  Student achievement remains an important goal for Dr. O’Connell and the Palisades School District.  To that end, Dr. O’Connell has led the charge to offer more flexible scheduling for students through providing on line course options as part of the district’s rigorous curriculum.  Under her stewardship, student achievement has continued to surpass benchmarks set for public schools by the state of Pennsylvania and the district’s standardized test scores remain high.  Preparing students for their future, whether they attend a post-secondary institution, enter the military or become part of the workforce is the mission of the district under Bridget’s leadership.

Also, in her position as Superintendent, Dr. O’Connell fosters community outreach by meeting regularly with area business leaders, students and parents, local police, firefighters, and emergency responders, township supervisors, local legislators and other stakeholders in the community.  Sharing what is happening in the Palisades schools is an important part of building partnerships and maintaining relationships to promote leadership opportunities for students.

Dr. O’Connell has received numerous awards during her tenure as Superintendent.  Most recently, she was awarded both the Leadership Excellence Award and the 2013 Real Heroes Award by the Red Cross for her commitment to providing food and shelter to the residents of Palisades during Hurricane Sandy.  She has also received the Blended Schools Leadership Award by the Pennsylvania Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development for her leadership in providing online courses and the Cooperative Leadership Award by the National School Development Council.

Dr. O’Connell continues her affiliation with Lehigh University through serving as the 1995 Class Correspondent and teaching as an adjunct professor in the College of Education.

Joseph J. Roy

  • Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Dr. Joseph J. Roy is the Superintendent of Schools at the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD), the 6th largest school district in Pennsylvania. Since the start of his tenure as Superintendent in August 2010, Dr. Roy developed and implemented the BASD’s Roadmap to Educational Excellence, a framework for establishing goals for school improvement. Dr. Roy introduced restorative practices at both Liberty and Freedom High Schools to build positive relationships and improve school safety.

Previously, Dr. Roy served as the Assistant Superintendent of the School District of Springfield Township in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  Dr. Roy also served as principal of Springfield Township High School and Palisades High School. The creation of the Palisades Academy, a school-within-a-school and the implementation of a standards based curriculum ultimately resulted in Palisades High School earning National Blue Ribbon School recognition.  At Springfield, the faculty’s focus on research and information literacy skills earned the school national acclaim.  

Dr. Roy is the 2011 recipient of the United Way of the Lehigh Valley’s Community Builder Award. Dr. Roy is also the 2004 recipient of the Montgomery County Human Relations Commission’s Multicultural Educator of the Year Award. Dr. Roy received the School Library Journal’s 2004 Administrator of the Year Award and the 2005 National School Public Relations Association’s Outstanding Communicator Award.

Dr. Roy received his undergraduate degree from Franklin and Marshall College, his master’s degree from Bucknell University and his doctoral degree from Lehigh University.

Samuel A. Varano, Jr.

  • M.Ed., Ph.D., Educational Leadership

Dr. Varano has been the Principal of Souderton Area High School, a ninth through twelfth grade school in the Souderton Area School District, for the past nine years.  Souderton is located about 45 minutes from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  After beginning his career as a social studies teacher at Pennridge High School, Dr. Varano was formerly the Assistant Principal of Pennridge Central Middle School and the Administrative Assistant at New Hope-Solebury High School-Middle School.  Just prior to becoming the Principal of Souderton Area High School in January 2004, Dr. Varano served for 3.5 years as the Principal of Indian Crest Junior High School in the Souderton Area School District.  He earned his B.S. in Secondary Education from Penn State University and his M.Ed. and Ed.D in Education Leadership from Lehigh University.  Dr. Varano is also currently an adjunct professor in Lehigh’s College of Education.

During Dr. Varano’s nine years as principal, Souderton Area High School has progressed from relative obscurity to U.S. News and World Report’s #26 ranked high school in Pennsylvania and #2 in the education-rich Montgomery County (PA) in 2012.  Dr. Varano was named Pennsylvania’s 2011 MetLife/NASSP High School Principal of the Year, recognizing his leadership that has fostered an organizational learning culture, yielding excellent programs and high student achievement.  While such recognition is based largely on hard data, at the heart of Souderton’s excellent student achievement and cutting edge Career Pathways Program, are the positive relationships within the high school organization and between the high school and the community, that have been built through organizational learning strategies.