Meet the Miami Online Team
Leadership and Administration
Miami Online's leadership and administration seek to support the university's strategic initiatives by encouraging the effective practice of online teaching and learning.
Greg Brainard, Senior Director of Miami Online
Greg Brainard has more than 17 years of higher education leadership experience with nationally ranked and recognized universities and 14 years in business ownership of multi-state companies. He has led the way for groundbreaking teaching and learning programs at multiple institutions. Greg has proven leadership in student success programs, quality teaching delivery, higher education operations, and nationally ranked program development, to name a few.
Greg has actively taught undergraduate and graduate courses since 2007 in human resources management, business development and operations, and various other business-focused content areas. In addition, Greg has mentored new faculty at previous institutions and trained thousands of existing faculty members at nationally recognized universities. Greg's passion for higher education student success, distance education teaching techniques, online learning technologies and tools, increased learning administration, and more will support Miami's ongoing mission and vision.
As a husband and the father of four children, Greg strongly believes in family and the importance of education for future generations.
"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." – Anthony J D'Angelo
Bonnie Erwin, Associate Director of Online Learning
Bonnie Erwin first discovered learning design as an English professor: she has always loved dreaming up new ways to turn students' most dreaded courses into their most favorite courses. She now enjoys working closely with faculty to translate their passion for their subject matter into innovative, engaging lessons. Her core design philosophy uses Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and diversity, equity, and inclusion principles to create welcoming, transformative learning environments.
Bonnie has 20 years of college teaching experience; before joining Miami University, she was Director of Learning Design & Development at Wilmington College. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Indiana University and has earned an Inclusive Teaching Endorsement from the Ohio College Teaching Consortium. Bonnie completed a master's in instructional design and technology in April 2022. She is a lifelong nerd who has published both on medieval literature and pedagogy: when working with her, be prepared for jokes about knights and dragons. Outside work, she loves to run, ride horses, and spend time with her wife and three cats.
"[T]here is nothing which so instructs a reasonable creature as the exercise and experience of many different things." – Christine de Pizan, from The Book of the City of Ladies (trans. Earl Jeffrey Richards)
Kristine Smith, Professional Education Program Manager
Kristine (Krissy) Smith has been with Miami University for over ten years. She first worked as a graduate assistant in the College of Education, Health, and Society and the Center for Career Exploration and Success, then served more than five years in the Miami University Regionals Office of Career Services & Professional Development. Most recently, Krissy has worked as the Professional Education Program Manager with Miami Online. During this time, Krissy has built many valuable relationships across Miami's campuses and with businesses in the surrounding communities. Krissy received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati and both her M.Ed. in Student Affairs and MBA from Miami University.
Before her time at Miami, Krissy held roles focused on sales and service in private organizations. Her experience in these dual sectors has created a bridge that helps her connect higher education with real-world business needs. As a result, she appreciates the importance of preparing and developing course participants to be specialized and competitive in the 21st-century job market and is dedicated to supporting their educational goals.
When not at work, Krissy spends time with her husband, two sons, and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, listening to music, traveling, reading, and streaming movies/TV shows. She has recently taken up crafting and is slowly filling every corner of her house with her hand-made knickknacks.
Ben Kitchen, Learning and Communications Operations Manager
Ben Kitchen oversees student and faculty support initiatives, learning technology, quality assurance, and strategic communications for Miami Online. In his five years at Miami University, he's come to most value building relationships, supporting quality learning experiences, and promoting growth.
Ben is an MBA candidate with a bachelor's degree in media production from the University of Cincinnati (UC), where he completed social media and journalism-focused internships with various organizations, including non-profits, mass media companies, and digital marketing agencies. Ben continued his content marketing experience with freelance work after graduating.
Ben's first role in higher education was as a student associate at UC's LGBTQ Center. His positive experience led him to work at the University of Texas at Austin, where he supported the University Writing Center's daily operations and expansion of graduate student services.
Outside his professional life, Ben is an easygoing individual who loves food, pop culture, and politics. He enjoys quality time—and a good cocktail—with his husband and their brood of dogs (an Australian cattle dog, a dachshund, and two elderly chihuahuas).
"The paradox of education is precisely this – that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated." — James Baldwin
Kim Cochran, Administrative Assistant
Kim is an enthusiastic, experienced administrative professional and an expert in organization. She provides comprehensive support to Miami Online leadership and staff. Kim previously spent five years as a program associate for the Center for Teaching Excellence. Prior to that, she worked for Miami's Student Health Services. Outside of work, Kim enjoys spending time with her husband and four kids.
"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched ― they must be felt with the heart." ― Helen Keller
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Learning Design Team
The learning design team reports to the Associate Director of Online Learning. Our designers work with Miami faculty to develop engaging online courses and promote best practices for course design and delivery.
Jenny Culbertson, Learning Designer
Jenny comes to Miami University/Miami Online with a bachelor's degree from Tiffin University in business administration and marketing. She worked in manufacturing and banking before going to graduate school for a master's in education and has taught business and technology courses for 18 years. During this time, Jenny realized how much she enjoyed course development and online learning. Most recently, Jenny completed a Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology. She has instructional design experience with a private investment company, with the University of Tennessee's office of information technology, and developing coursework for the U.S. Air Force.
Through professional experience and education, Jenny has continually refined her skills and discovered new ways to engage learners. Jenny believes that creating optimal user experiences is especially significant in the learning process for both instructors and students. With targeted course design strategies, proper implementation of learning technologies, and the availability of quality training resources, instructors can focus on course content and student learning. Jenny's approach to designing and developing learning experiences relies heavily on Bloom's Taxonomy classifications with an emphasis on cognitivism, constructivism, and social learning theories.
Jenny is a mom to three wonderful young men: Isaac, Ben, and Evan. She is also mom to her two dogs: Rhett & Rufus. Jenny loves the outdoors, especially biking, hiking, and kayaking. Her hobbies are flower gardening, reading (especially historical fiction), and baking, and she recently joined the Peloton craze.
"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching." — Kirill Korshikov
Tom Luo, Learning Designer
Tom holds a master's degree in instructional systems from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. As a learning designer, Tom helps design and develop online courses and works with faculty to integrate technologies into online classes. He is also interested in online learning in global settings. Before joining the Miami Online team in 2009, Tom worked as an instructional technologist at the University of North Carolina Asheville.
Tom enjoys sports, hiking, and watching sci-fi movies outside of work. Sometimes he can also be found walking with his two sons and their dog in Oxford.
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." — William Butler Yeats
Michael Stram, Learning Designer
Michael (Mike) is a learning designer with a lifelong passion for learning. He holds a bachelor's degree in visual communications technology and a master's in instructional design. Before coming to Miami, Mike worked as an educator at a non-profit organization devoted to helping people with disabilities build independence and transfer into the working world. This experience helped him find his life goal of building equitable learning experiences for everyone, no matter their learning barriers.
Another one of Mike's many passions is graphic design, which is something he loves to bring to the learning materials he designs. He strongly believes that instructional design and graphic design are all about organizing information in people-friendly ways.
Outside of work, Mike is a proud cat parent to an orange cat named Chalupa. He loves all things nerdy and spends most of his time painting miniatures, cooking, and playing video games."Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace." — 孔夫子 (Confucius)
Cassandra Kessinger Black, Learning Designer
Cassandra is intrigued and challenged by the creativity and intellectual dynamics forged when working with online learning, innovative course design, and training initiatives across higher education institutions and corporate eLearning environments. Coming to Miami with a robust cross-functional collaborative skillset, efficient project management abilities, targeted focus on student-centric learning experiences, and impactful planning frameworks over ed tech initiatives, she is thrilled to be a part of this immensely talented team. She looks forward to the growth and development endeavors Miami Online has in its sights.
In an educational landscape where we all need to do our part to create and promote sustainability, flexibility, and personalization in educational programming, Cassandra thrives in driving endeavors that increase inclusivity and accessibility across all platforms. Her lengthy career in higher ed instructional design proves that professional collaborations, meticulous planning, and high-impact Universal Design for Learning (UDL) frameworks are key to successful instructional initiatives. Creating, collaborating, and coordinating online programs and course developments are the "3 Cs" that Cassandra excitedly points her professional focus to daily. She holds a Master of Education in Educational Technology & Secondary Education from Georgetown College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Lit Education with minors in Communications and Speech.
Cassandra's passion for aiding local philanthropic and humanitarian endeavors is unquestionable, as she is currently President of the Board and Executive Director of Anderson United. This nonprofit organization organizes free clinics and wellness programs for families in need. She also holds a board seat for the Thoroughbred Figure Skating Club out of Lexington. Her two children keep her bustling between practices and competitions for figure skating, fencing, academic team, violin, cheer, and theater productions — to name a few. She resides in Central Kentucky with her family, two dogs, fish, and an axolotl, living life to its fullest!
"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." — Albert Einstein
Learning Media Team
The learning media team also reports to the Associate Director of Online Learning. This multitalented group of individuals produces high-quality online course content and marketing materials for Miami Online programs.
Ben Hartman, Video Production Specialist
Ben is one of the video producers on the Miami Online team. He's been working in some facet of video production for the last 18+ years, most of which was spent in Boston, MA, where he earned his MFA in Film Production from Boston University. He has worked as a video producer, director, cinematographer, editor, teacher, and account manager for various institutions, companies, and projects. Ben joined Miami University in October 2018 and enjoys working with faculty to create engaging, informative video.
He said, "I enjoy learning — particularly as it pertains to practical, hands-on skills. As a relatively new owner of an old home with a large garden and a small flock of chickens, there is no shortage of skills out there for me to improve. And as a father of two small children, I get to not only facilitate their learning and play but also see their love of learning grow and develop. Beyond that, I love cooking and playing with sounds that go bleep. Between the house, kids, etc., there's not much room left over, but when there is, I try to keep feeding my appreciation of movies."
"Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you've got about a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you've got to be kind." – Kurt Vonnegut
Samuel Speck, Video Production Specialist
Samuel Speck is a video producer for the Miami Online team. Originally from Cleveland, Sam studied video production at Ohio University, where he focused primarily on developing as a cinematographer. He's spent time in various roles filming for an antiques and art distributor, the aviation industry, and the industrial robotics field. Although he enjoys all aspects of the production process, he values meaningful collaboration above all else.
Sam lives in Cincinnati with his wife, dog, and chickens. His wife's equestrian lifestyle has made him an honorary horse dad. In addition to filmmaking, he's passionate about cooking, rock climbing, and long-distance cycling.
"We build our legacy piece by piece, and maybe the whole world will remember you or maybe just a couple of people, but you do what you can to make sure you're still around after you're gone." — David Patrick Lowery
Rachel Valerio, Video Production Specialist
Rachel Valerio has over 15 years of experience as a producer, director, editor, and videographer. Before joining Miami Online, she was the production manager of The Ohio Channel, a PBS affiliate based at the Ohio Statehouse. She spent several years directing live broadcasts, producing documentary content, and working with the top public officials in the state.
Rachel earned dual bachelor's degrees from the Ohio State University in film/video production and strategic communication, as well as a graduate certificate in interactive media studies from Miami University. She also completed Miami's miniMBA and the Online Learning Consortium's Instructional Designer Certificate Program.
As a lifelong learner, Rachel loves collaborating with faculty to harness their passion and share their expertise with students through professional-quality instructional videos.
When Rachel isn't in the studio or roaming around campus with a camera, she's spending time with her husband, three young children, and mini Goldendoodle in Cincinnati.
"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." — Dorothea Lange
Amy Racic, Post-Production Specialist
Amy Racic (Ray-sik) has worked in video production for more than 16 years. She has spent the majority of her career producing educational, promotional, and journalistic videos for non-profit performing arts organizations such as; WGI Sport of the Arts, Drum Corps International, and Bands of America. Using her learned skills to give back to the community, Amy volunteers time to make videos for youth groups, local schools, and memorial services.
From an early age, Amy had an interest in video and art. She went on to earn a bachelor's degree in new media from IUPUI with a specialization in video production. Amy's excited to join the world of higher education at Miami University and to collaborate with the great minds of the Miami Online team.
Outside of work, you can find Amy riding rollercoasters at Kings Island, making Halloween props, watching movies, and spending time with her husband, two kids, and corgi.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."― Mahatma Gandhi
Tony Strader, Post-Production Specialist
Tony Strader studied web design and interactive media at The Art Institute of Ohio-Cincinnati. His skills quickly evolved to include print design, video production, audio engineering, and digital marketing.
Tony has spent time teaching technology to at-risk youth for a non-profit in the San Francisco Bay area. He has built and managed numerous websites and brands with a strong foundation in design, UI/UX, and accessibility. He was also the digital media coordinator for a park district, creating award-winning wildlife video and photography.
In his free time, you'll catch Tony writing music, practicing judo, photographing wildlife, or exploring nature with his corgi named Ripley.
Philip McDaniel, Videographer & Media Production Associate
Philip (Phil) is a videographer who loves to tell stories. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Art Institute of Ohio-Cincinnati, focusing on digital film and video production. Before coming to Miami Online, Phil was an award-winning local news video journalist for WXIX. He worked with and experienced all walks of life with a camera in hand, educating viewers about events in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Phil is a father of two energetic little girls: Allison, a competitive cheerleader, and Kaitlyn, an animal lover. There are no furry friends at the McDaniel residence, but he does have a 60-gallon mixed reef tank filled with coral, fish, snails, and several crabs. Outside of work, Phil enjoys board and table games (miniature wargaming in particular), video games, and (of course) watching movies.
"A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order." – Jean-Luc Godard
Professional Education Team
Miami Online's Professional Education arm reports to the Professional Education Program Manager. This team supports professional development and adult education opportunities for internal and external audiences.
Katherine Marusic, Professional Education Learning Designer
Katherine Marusic has almost twenty years of experience in higher education, in both faculty and instructional design roles. Experienced in online instruction from a teacher's perspective, she has a passion for designing easy-to-navigate engaging courses which lead to measurable outcomes for the learner.
Her experience with diverse groups of adult learners allows her to utilize best practices in teaching and learning to create and design courses for various audiences across a wide range of content areas. Katherine taught a wide range of undergraduate integrated marketing courses in her faculty role, including advertising, public relations, and consumer behavior.
Joining the Miami University Online Learning team is also a homecoming for Katherine, as her undergraduate degree is also from Miami University. With master's degrees in communication theory and methodology and education, this combination of communication and education skills translates into a unique perspective combining pedagogy with practicality.
Outside of work, Katherine enjoys spending time with her two children, traveling, and various outdoor activities in the Cleveland Metroparks. One of her new pandemic pursuits was becoming a plant parent to a wide range of indoor houseplants, all of which are still thriving!
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education." –Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ariana Smith, Professional Education Program Coordinator
Ariana (Ari) comes to Miami University with a bachelor’s degree from West Chester University of PA in psychology (2014) and a master’s degree from Drexel University in higher education administration (2020). Before joining the Miami team, Ari has experience working closely with diverse groups of non-traditional learners. Ari has a passion for higher education and student success and believes that all students should have the opportunity to pursue a quality postsecondary education at any stage in their lives. She understands the value and importance of professional education opportunities in the current — and future — global job market. She is esteemed to serve as the Professional Education Program Coordinator at Miami University. Whether professionals aspire to develop their skills, explore new areas, or pursue an academic passion, Ari is devoted to making that experience worthwhile for students.
Student and Faculty Support Team
The student and faculty support team reports to the Learning and Communications Operations Manager. This group supports faculty development, student success, and the effective use of learning technology at Miami University.
Cynthia Govreau, Instructional Design & Technology Specialist
Cynthia (Cyndi) Govreau has worked in higher education for more than 20 years. She earned her master's degree in teaching and learning fully online. Before coming to Miami University, she was the project manager for online learning at a for-profit institution with 28 campuses across the country.
As an instructional designer, Cyndi can help faculty transform courses into engaging and creative learning opportunities. Working with faculty allows her to share her passion for engaged learning and positively impact each student. We all know that no single approach works for every student, every course, and especially not for every faculty. Cyndi finds what works for you in your course and ensures it aligns with the learning objectives.
Anthony Jones-Scott, Instructional Design & Technology Specialist
Anthony has worked in higher education for more than fifteen years in various roles at several institutions ranging from small private colleges to large public universities. He has taught courses both online and face-to-face and delivered numerous workshops for faculty and staff. Anthony has also worked in the labor movement, publishing industry, and for a national co-op and outdoor outfitter on both the east and west coasts of the US.
In addition to undergraduate degrees in political science, history, and psychology, he holds a master's degree in curriculum studies and is completing a doctoral degree.
Anthony enjoys helping faculty explore new ways of teaching that allow them to build upon their strengths and implement innovative techniques and technologies that are proven to support student success.
When not at work, Anthony is most likely found on a local squash court, in a sea kayak on one of the Great Lakes, watching old films, or reading yet another book that convinces him that the world runs on myth and ideology.
"To delve into history entails, besides the grievance of hard work, the danger that in the depths one may lose one's scapegoats." ― Jacques Barzun, The Energies of Art: Studies of Authors, Classic and Modern
Lisa Sheard, Student Support Specialist
Lisa Sheard has worked at Miami University for over 20 years. Over the years, she has become a "Jill of All Trades" with an extensive background in institutional history/procedures, data analysis, technology, web creation, training, student/faculty support, and troubleshooting. Lisa is bringing all these skills to Miami Online to improve instruction and support students to become the best they can be.
Outside of work, Lisa strives to make time for all her interests: crafting, reading, animals, and learning new things. Lisa received her bachelor's in education from Miami, created a Miami Merger with her husband, and is fascinated by the history of Miami University.