Meet the Campus Admin and Operations

Dave Thurman, Dean and CEO

Dave Thurman

Dean and CEO

Role at Northeastern:
As Dean & CEO of Northeastern in Seattle, Dave is responsible for defining and executing the campus strategic plan, which includes expanding academic programs, providing innovative and beneficial co-curricular programming, overseeing campus operations and expansion activities, and building experiential learning partnerships with companies and community organizations. His favorite part of the job is getting to know students and understanding their backgrounds and ambitions in order to ensure that Northeastern is always helping them meet their goals.

Educational/ Professional Background:
Dave has a background in human machine systems engineering and 25 years of experience at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), initially as a software engineer, then as a data visualization researcher, and later as a manager of their computing and data analytics research portfolio. Before coming to Northeastern, he was the Director of PNNL’s Seattle Research Center, just down the street from campus.

Personal Background:
Dave grew up with four generations of family in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon where cows likely outnumbered people.

[email protected]

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Rebecca Steffenson

Rebecca Steffenson

Associate Dean, Campus Administration & Academic Affairs

Role at Northeaster: At Northeastern, Rebecca is responsible for oversight and guidance of academic programs, compliance and regulatory support, faculty development, student services, and overall program innovation.

Educational/ Professional Background: Rebecca has over 20 years of experience across multiple institutions both as faculty and as an administrator, with a wealth of experience covering strategic planning, faculty affairs, student services, campus leadership, and program administration.

[email protected]

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Jaren Walker

Jaren Walker

Director of Partnerships and Planning

Role at Northeastern: Jaren works closely with Dean Thurman and the Leadership team to support university advancement through external partnerships.

Educational/ Professional background: Before joining the university, Jaren worked as the Program Manager for the Technology Alliance and served as U.S. Congresswoman Suzan DelBene’s District Scheduler. She is currently a board member for the SoFi Member Advisory Board and the Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Business, Government, and Economics at Seattle Pacific University. She is an alumnus of the University of Washington where she earned her master’s degree in policy studies. She also attended Seattle Pacific University where she earned bachelor’s degrees in politics and international economics.

Personal background: Originally from Nevada, I moved to Washington state 17 years ago and have called Seattle my home for the last 10. I am an avid gardener and proud pet parent. I'm looking forward to being able to attend local theater shows again post-pandemic.

[email protected]

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Gina Copping

Gina Copping

Director of Program Development

Role at Northeastern:
Gina Copping acts oversees the learner experience for Seattle Campus students, ensuring quality throughout all aspects of their graduate program.

Educational/ Professional Background:
Her previous career experiences revolved around early childhood education and teaching English in Japan. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Santa Clara University and a master’s in comparative education from University College London’s Institute of Education. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education through Northeastern.

[email protected]

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Teresa Schaaf

Teresa Schaaf

Special Assistant to the Dean

Role at Northeastern: Teresa provides administrative support for the Dean's office and contributes to successful campus operations.

Educational/ Professional background: Teresa received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington. She spent her early career as a Research Scientist in the healthcare, biotech, and biomedical research industries before transitioning to a career in higher education administration in 2023.

Personal background: Teresa is a Seattle native who loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest outdoors by skiing, hiking, and paddle boarding. When not outside, she enjoys painting, cooking, and hunting for new restaurants in the city.

[email protected]

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Desiree Gualandri

Desiree Gualandri

Director of Global IT services

Role at Northeastern:
At Northeastern, she supports daily technology needs across all the regional campuses and enjoys helping faculty, staff, and students.

Educational/ Professional Background:
Desiree holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Illinois. She has enjoyed spending most of her career working in higher education in various technology-focused roles, starting as a student work study at a law school and developing it into a professional career.

Personal Background:
Desiree grew up living in the Midwest and the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She has always enjoyed living near mountains.

[email protected]

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Olivia Ruggieri

Olivia Ruggieri

Associate Director- Administration and Operations

Role at Northeastern: Olivia leads the amazing Seattle campus operations team, a group of dedicated folks who manage 250+ events each year, staff the desks and provide support to all community members, support recruiting and onboarding for all faculty and staff, maintain campus finance, facilities, security, and access across 3 buildings, and more. Collaborating with her peers across the Global Network, Olivia loves scaling operations to enable outstanding experiential opportunities for all Northeastern learners.

Educational/ Professional Background: Olivia’s career in higher education administration has spanned three institutions – Highline College, the University of Washington, and Northeastern University. Joining Northeastern Seattle in 2018, Olivia served as Administrative Coordinator and Special Assistant to the Dean prior to her current position. Previous professional experience includes roles at Seattle Country Day School and American Dance Festival School (North Carolina). Olivia holds a BFA in Dance Performance from the University of Florida.

Personal Background: A Seattleite since 2013, Olivia loves exploring the city’s many neighborhoods and trails along the water. She is an avid consumer of personal finance YouTube content, a connoisseur of the local grocery store scene, and a public transportation enthusiast.

[email protected]

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Ryan Carter

Ryan Carter

Marketing Manager

Role at Northeastern: At Northeastern, Ryan leads brand visibility and overall marketing strategy for the Seattle Campus. He creatively integrates marketing campaigns to build awareness, promote programs, and support recruitment efforts.

Educational/ Professional Background: Ryan has extensive experience in marketing in the music and travel industries and spent 5 years behind the mic with iHeartMedia as both an on-air personality and morning show producer. Ryan has a MA in Public Interest Media & Communication from Florida State University.

Personal Background: In his free time, Ryan is an avid Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and competitor. He’s also a fledgling snowboarder, an enthusiastic at-home pescatarian chef, and a lover of wine, coffee, oysters, and music.

[email protected]

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Megan Sykes

Associate Director, Academic & Community Partnerships

Role at Northeastern: Megan is responsible for establishing and managing the ongoing engagements associated with Northeastern Seattle's academic and community partnerships. The Associate Director of Academic and Community Partnerships works to ensure positive partner experiences and to optimize the strategic value of each relationship for all parties.

Professional Background: Megan has an educational background in sociology, anthropology, and higher education administration. She received her master’s degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs from University of San Francisco. Her past experience is a blend of student-facing roles, management, and program development. Megan enjoys making genuine connections with our key academic and community partners and developing new pipelines into our stellar academic programs.

Personal Background:Megan was born and raised south of Seattle, where she grew up exploring the different corners of the Pacific Northwest by hiking and camping with her family. After some time in San Francisco, she returned to Seattle in 2016 to be closer to family again. She can be found happily expanding her garden, cooking, watercoloring, and listening to music.

mailto:[email protected]

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Amrita Bagwe

Amrita Bagwe

Experiential Partnership Specialist

Role at Northeastern:

At Northeastern, Amrita is responsible for identifying and establishing new and ongoing experiential learning partnership opportunities for Seattle students.

[email protected]

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Tom Gibbons

Tom Gibbons

IT Support Specialist

Role at Northeastern:
At Northeastern, he supports students, faculty and staff across the global campuses.

Educational/ Professional Background:
Tom has an extensive background in customer service and tier one technical support.

Personal Background:
Tom was born in Southern California but moved to the Seattle area when he was a kid. He has a life long love of technology and the outdoors.

[email protected]

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Ryan McPherson

Ryan McPherson

ITS Support Specialist

Role at Northeastern: Supports students, faculty and staff across the global campuses.

Educational/ Professional background: B/S in Computer Information Systems from University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

Personal background: Originally from Minnesota, Ryan grew up just outside of St. Paul. He loves spending time outdoors, especially hiking and backpacking, which is one of the many reasons he is excited to be here in Seattle.

[email protected]

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Odessa Woodlee

Operations Manager

Role at Northeastern: At Northeastern, Odessa oversees facilities management, long term facilities planning, and construction project support.

Educational/ Professional Background: Odessa brings a wealth of expertise in facilities and operations including 10 years of leadership experience in the Seattle Colleges system as well as time with Slalom Consulting and other organizations.

[email protected]

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Kenan Aden

Operations Coordinator

Role at Northeastern: Kenan is an essential member of the Operations team at the Seattle campus, whose role encompasses all aspects of campus operations and logistics.

Professional background: He has 10+ years of experience in operations & business manager. Kenan’s educational background includes Hospitality and Business Management AA and Psychology BA, and Graphic Design & UX/UI Design Certification, and TEFL English teaching Certification. He is currently pursuing a Master’s in Project Management.

[email protected]

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Sara Boop

Sara Boop

Events Specialist

Role at Northeastern: Sara supports event planning and execution, operational support, course scheduling on Seattle campus.

Educational/ Professional background: Sara has completed her undergraduate - B.A. in English literature from Trinity University and
graduate in Master of Natural Resources Stewardship from Colorado State University. She has worked in events (weddings, corporate events) for a small catering company for 3.5 years before joining Northeastern.

Personal background: Sara was born and raised in Kansas City, attended college in Texas, and lived in the southeastern US for several years before moving up to the Pacific Northwest. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her dog and being outdoors.

[email protected]

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John Blair

Administrative Coordinator

Role at Northeastern: John provides administrative support for the Operations Team by tracking campus finances, reviewing staff recruiting and onboarding procedures, and overseeing the the campus Administrative and Events Assistants.

Educational/ Professional background: John received a BA in International History from Richmond, The American International in London, and a Graduate Diploma in International Relations from King's College London. While in London, he worked as a Senior Student Advisor, providing support to American students studying abroad in the UK. He has also worked as a Residence Life Coordinator in Florida.

Personal Background: Originally from Florida, John moved to London to attend university. After completing his graduate studies, he returned to the US. Eager to continue exploring, he relocated to Seattle to take advantage of the Pacific Northwest's forests, mountains, hiking trails, culture, and history.

[email protected]

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Jackson Johnson

Operations Assistant

Role at Northeastern:As the Operations Assistant, Jackson plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth functioning of daily operations. Working closely with the Operations Manager, he actively contributes to various operational tasks that support the overall efficiency of our department. Additionally, he collaborates with the Events Specialist to provide invaluable assistance during various university events.

Educational/ Professional background: Jackson studied Acting from the University of Northern Colorado, he has honed his abilities in communication, collaboration, and adaptability, which are essential in his current role. His educational background in performing arts has provided him with a solid foundation in effectively conveying information, both verbally and non-verbally.

Personal Background: Outside of work, you can often find Jackson engaged in animated discussions about movies, history, and various other subjects. When he is not engaged in lively discussions or immersed in captivating RPG adventures, he finds solace in nature through hiking.

[email protected]

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