Meet the Faculty
GSEP's PhD in Global Leadership and Change faculty holds doctorates from some of the most prestigious universities. They are accomplished professionals with large responsibilities in school districts, technology firms, private practices, corporate offices, hospitals, laboratories, and clinics. All GSEP faculty offer an important balance between theory and practice in a practitioner-based curriculum.
Dr. Schmieder-Ramirez has extensive experience in education and business consulting, including serving as school business manager, associate superintendent for business services, and superintendent of schools. In addition, she has taught at California State University in Fullerton and California State University in San Bernardino. She is also co-author of several texts on law, finance, and personnel. She teaches courses in legal and socio-political theory. Her research interests include cyber-law and e-commerce. She founded the "Hermanas Escuelas" program which provides computers to indigenous Mexican youth as well as students in Los Angeles and Riverside County.
Associate Dean and Professor of Leadership
Dr. Farzin Madjidi teaches personal, organizational, and global leadership and change in the doctoral programs in Organizational Leadership and Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology, where he also serves as Associate Dean for the Education Division. Dr. Madjidi has held management positions with the City of Los Angeles and Kreation Juicery Inc., and Matrix Capital Associates, Inc. He has also served as a consultant to AT&T, British Petroleum, Kaiser Permanente, Federal Express, Hyundai USA, Inc., Universal Music Group, SweetNovations, City of Los Angeles, LAUP, SWRL, and Psychemetrics, Inc., among others. As an entrepreneur, he was a founding partner at Kreation Juicery Inc.
Assistant Professor of Education
Dr. Kfir Mordechay's research focuses on examining issues of residential and school segregation and of racial and socioeconomic disparities in academic achievement and educational success. He has published policy reports and articles on topics including metropolitan and neighborhood demographic trends, social and urban policy, and race and immigration in U.S. society. His current research looks at inequality, gentrification, and segregation in American cities and schools and the role of policy in shaping equitable educational opportunities.
Professor of Education
Dr. Jago was awarded a three-year full-time research scholarship for her doctoral study which explored the impact of policy on practice in terms of social change and curriculum innovation, and a two-year grant from the European Union for the training and mobility of young researchers. Until 1995, she was the vice principal of a public elementary school in England. She has been a high school teacher of foreign languages in Germany and California, and an Assistant Professor in education at Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Alaska. In 2001, she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce in London for her contribution to language education.
Dr. Doug Leigh earned his Ph.D. in instructional systems from Florida State University, where he served as a technical director of projects with various local, state, and federal agencies. His current research, publishing, and speaking engagements concern psychometrics, machine learning, and science communication. He is co-editor of The Handbook of Selecting and Implementing Performance Interventions (Wiley, 2010) and coauthor of The Assessment Book (HRD Press, 2008), Strategic Planning for Success (Jossey-Bass, 2003), and Useful Educational Results (Proactive Publishing, 2001).
Jan and Robert Davidson Endowed Professor of Education and Technology
Dr. Eric Hamilton is a learning technologist who directs the International Community for Collaborative Content Creation, a five-year research effort funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF). During the 2018-2019 academic year, Dr. Hamilton is on leave serving in Geneva Switzerland as Sr. Manager for Critical and Emerging Issues in Curriculum and Related Areas for UNESCO's International Bureau of Education. His current NSF effort involves learners from six countries collaborating in digital makerspace activities. He has directed numerous research projects funded by NSF, the Department of Education, the US State Department, and the Microsoft Research Foundation since coming to GSEP.
Associate Professor of Education
Prior to joining GSEP, Dr. Cain served as a nonprofit leader building programs that focus attention and services on the educational inequity and academic advancement of at-risk and low-income students and communities. She previously taught at the University of Southern California. Additionally, Dr. Cain worked within urban schools as they implemented and created instructional and structural programs promoting greater equity, access, and choice for students of modest means. Her interest in critical research studies was sparked when, as a high school student, she was selected to work with the UCLA Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access.
Dr. Sparks leads technology courses in the doctoral and master's programs at Pepperdine. Previously, he was director of training at Epoch Internet where he developed its curriculum. Dr. Sparks was also an educational technologist and information systems specialist for Rockwell International. He was previously a high school and adult education instructor in the Whittier Union High School District.
Dr. Stephen Kirnon heads the Northern California office of Strawn Arnold Ashpitz Groover, a life science executive search firm, and serves on several biomedical boards. With more than 25 years of operational experience in biomedical organizations, Dr. Kirnon joins GSEP as an adjunct faculty for the new Social Entrepreneurship and Change master's program.
Kirnon is a firm believer in the idea that social entrepreneurship should be a part of every for-profit business model and has long been involved in both education and transformational leadership development. He is a trustee for the New England College of Optometry, and a member of the steering board for Pope John Paul II Catholic High School.
Dr. Gabriella Miramontes is a passionate human capacity developer, leadership advocate, and project management professional; bringing non-profit experience in strategy, leadership development, organizational effectiveness, portfolio management to ECE-K12, and higher education. She has over 20 years of experience working in the non-profit, education consulting arena and has demonstrated success in driving high-stakes project execution, building collaborative partnerships and leadership advisement, assessment management, and training development.
Assistant Professor of Education
Dr. Miyake-Trapp has over a decade of experience in K-12 public schools. She has taught middle school and continuation high school in both urban and suburban settings, coached new teachers, and designed professional development workshops focused on meeting the needs of linguistically and ethnically diverse learners. Her primary interests center on teacher preparation for urban contexts, culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, elementary and secondary curriculum and instruction, project-based learning, and teacher reflection. Other areas of interest include second language acquisition and online learning.
Dr. Rhodes teaches courses in organizational behavior and ethics. He is the ombudsman for the Graduate School of Education and Psychology and he maintains a consulting practice, coaching executive teams through merger and acquisition integration strategies. Dr. Rhodes founded and served as chief executive officer of OnCourse Network, Inc., an Internet distance education company. He successfully negotiated the sale of the company to a Silicon Valley publicly traded corporation and subsequently served as a principal with that company in San Jose, California until successfully completing its acquisition and integration strategies in 2001, when he joined the Pepperdine faculty.
Assistant Professor of Education
Dr. Wong is an Assistant Professor of Education at Pepperdine University, teaching in the M.A. in Teaching and M.A. in TESOL programs. Dr. Wong draws from his biracial, multilingual upbringing in Hong Kong to examine language learning among children, with a particular interest in new language learning and heritage language maintenance. As a former elementary school teacher, Dr. Wong seeks educational equity for linguistically and culturally diverse students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 contexts. He is currently involved in research projects that investigate dual-language bilingual education programs, language policies for multilingual education, and early childhood vocabulary learning through educational media.
An award-winning educator, internationally recognized speaker, executive consultant, and decorated author, Dr. Mark Allen was recently named one of the Top 100 Human Resources Influencers by Engagedly. He is a Professor at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School, as well as the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. His expertise includes consulting at the executive level for major companies and international organizations.
Dr. Davis has been a faculty member with Pepperdine University for 30 years. Her expertise is as an applied research methodologist with an emphasis on supporting doctoral students through the dissertation process. She earned an Ed.D. from Pepperdine University in Institutional Management and a Master of Nursing from UCLA, minoring in Research Methodology. Providing consultative services to healthcare organizations and universities, Dr. Davis has been a consultant with Samuel Merritt University since 2014 and serves as Research Methodologist for the Health Sciences Simulation Center, developing and monitoring clinical trials for safety and efficacy.
Visiting Faculty of Education
Dr. Caesar is owner of The Vance Caesar Group, which is known as one of the nation's premiere leadership coaching and training firms. He has also served as the operating head of publicly owned daily newspapers and his own media group. Dr. Caesar has led groups of executives in developmental situations, been an individual and organizational consultant, and taught leadership and entrepreneurship to industry groups and MBA candidates. He is published in magazines, newspapers, and websites. He has also been elected to many for-profit and not-for-profit boards and is the founder of the Professional Coaches and Mentors Association. He has a B.S. from The Citadel, an M.B.A. from Florida Atlantic University, and a Ph.D. from Walden University.
Professor of Education
Dr. Collatos is a research associate with UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access and the University of California All Campus Consortium on Racial Diversity (UC/ACCORD). His research involves the Futures Project, an eight-year longitudinal study that examined alternative pathways for first-generation urban youth to more effectively navigate the K–16 educational pipeline. Dr. Collatos is also the director of the Urban Parent/ Teacher Education Collaborative and the Youth and Empowerment Research Seminar Program. He has published several articles and book chapters and regularly presents his research to educators, to community groups, and at national and international conferences.