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Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

EdD In Organizational Leadership Faculty

Meet the Faculty

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Vance Caesar, PhD

Visiting Faculty of Education

Dr. Caesar is the owner of The Vance Caesar Group, which is known as one of the nation's premier 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.

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Ebony Cain, PhD

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.

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Weina Li Chen, PhD

Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Chen currently teaches in the MA in TESOL and MS in Leadership programs. Her academic backgrounds are in global leadership and change, educational psychology, and management. With about a decade of teaching experience to students of all ages, Dr. Chen found particular passions in educational technologies, learning design, online and hybrid learning, world language learning, and teacher leadership in the classroom. 

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Anthony Collatos, PhD

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.

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Kay Davis, EdD

Senior Lecturer

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. 

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Reyna García Ramos, PhD

Professor of Education

Dr. García Ramos is a professor of education and director of the Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) at Pepperdine University. She lends leadership to the undergraduate and graduate preservice teacher pathways and directs the MAT program at GSEP. Dr. García Ramos teaches in the MAT and doctoral programs and is the faculty liaison for CABE Pepperdine, the California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) university chapter.

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Eric Hamilton, PhD

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.


Samaa Haniya, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Samaa Haniya has many years of experience designing, implementing, evaluating, and researching e-learning practices both in small and large-scale learning environments, such as MOOCs. Her research interests focus on humanizing education practices through digital transformation and innovative pedagogies to foster mastery learning for all learners. 

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Martine Jago, PhD

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.

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Stephen Kirnon, EdD

Visiting Faculty

Dr. Kirnon has over 30 years of operational experience in biomedical and medical device organizations. Dr. Kirnon is currently Co-Founder and CEO of Shawshank Therapeutics, Inc. Since January 2009, he has served as the Co-founder and CEO of PharmaPlan LLC and Vitavis Laboratories Inc, which was sold to Nestle Health Sciences in 2017.

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Seung Lee, PhD

Assistant Professor of Education

Dr. Lee's research focuses on collaborative learning, online interactions, socio-cognitive processes and creativity among K-12 students, particularly in the context of STEM education. He is currently involved in two studies funded by the National Science Foundation. Dr. Lee's methodological expertise is in quantitative ethnography and epistemic network analysis (ENA), which apply statistical and visualization techniques to model the structure of connections in the data.

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Doug Leigh, PhD


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).

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Farzin Madjidi, EdD


“Dr. Farzin” has taught courses in Personal, Organizational and Global Leadership as well as Economics and Statistics in the doctoral programs in Organizational Leadership and Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, where he served as Associate Dean of Education from 2016 to 2022. He has held management positions with the City of Los Angeles, Kreation Juicery Inc., and Matrix Capital Associates, Inc.

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Gabriella Miramontes, EdD

Visiting Professor

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.

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Jennifer Miyake-Trapp, EdD

Associate 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.

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Kfir Mordechay, PhD

Associate Professor of Education

Professor Kfir Mordechay's research examines housing and school segregation issues and 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 is funded by a grant from the Spencer Foundation and explores the relationship between residential and school segregation in gentrifying neighborhoods across California.

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Kent Rhodes, EdD

Clinical Professor

Dr. Kent Rhodes brings senior executive experience to equipping students for lives of purpose, service, and leadership with Pepperdine’s doctoral and executive graduate programs. In addition to his role with GSEP, he serves as Practitioner Faculty with the Graziadio Business School’s Master of Science in Organization Development and Master of Science in Family Enterprise. 

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June Schmieder-Ramirez, PhD


Dr. June Schmieder-Ramirez is the  Chair of the PhD in Global Leadership and Change and Professor of Education. Dr. Schmieder-Ramirez draws from her background as a superintendent of schools to inform her students on how to address complex global challenges as a leader, utilize their interdisciplinary background skills, and encourage critical thinking within an innovative lens.

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Abraham Song, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Song teaches courses on research methods and public policy. His current research examines state business incentives and digital platforms. In one stream of research, he conducts a program evaluation of state business incentives. In another stream of research, he studies the emergence of digital platforms and their implications for entrepreneurship and policy. Dr. Song is a research affiliate at the Milken Institute's Center for Regional Economics and California, conducting research to inform and activate innovative economic and policy solutions to drive job creation and industry expansion.

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Paul Sparks, PhD

Associate Professor

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.


Amanda Wickramasinghe, PhD

Visiting Professor

Amanda Wickramasinghe is a scholar-practitioner. She has been in education for more than a decade in multiple industries. Additionally, she has been teaching in graduate programs for Global Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Human Resources Management, and International Studies. She oversees education initiatives for ERA Brokers and collaborates with international organizations for global assignments for Wickra Consulting. Moreover, she has designed courses for the University of Maine, Presque Isle, and National University. Amanda is an advisor on multiple international outreach and research committees, creating strategic partnerships.

Kevin Wong Headshot

Kevin Wong, PhD

Assistant Professor of Education

Dr. Kevin M. Wong is an Assistant Professor of Education and Chair of the MA in TESOL Program in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University. 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 public school teacher, Dr. Wong seeks educational equity for linguistically and culturally diverse students in Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12 contexts.