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social mobility summit

Social Mobility Summit

Clayton State University’s Social Mobility Summit provides a meaningful platform to evaluate the role of higher education as a key driver of social mobility and to identify ways that institutions of higher education can best partner with community stakeholders to promote social mobility. This Summit is designed to discuss common determinants of social mobility while also looking at the unique barriers present in the greater metro Atlanta area. The Summit will include panels, workshops, and discussions focused on issues related to social mobility, such as access to education, economic opportunity, and student success. This Summit is part of Clayton State University’s ongoing commitment to advancing social mobility on our campus, in the broader community, and throughout the state of Georgia.   

Register now for the Social Mobility Summit!

Summit Parking and Internet

Summit attendees should park in the Student Activities Center parking lots: Lot K and Lot L. Please refer to the Campus Maps and Directions for more information.

To connect to the internet, use the following credentials:

Network: CSUConference Password: Clayton2024

Opening Speaker – President Ellen J. Neufeldt

President Ellen J. Neufeldt"What is Social Mobility?" – Slide Presentation

President Ellen J. Neufeldt is nationally recognized for her trailblazing leadership in higher education and dedication to advancing student social mobility. Since becoming Cal State San Marcos president in 2019, Ellen Neufeldt has worked strategically to dismantle barriers to educational access. She leads the national conversation on student social mobility, now widely accepted as a key measure for assessing college and university effectiveness. 

While serving as vice president of Student Engagement & Enrollment Services at Old Dominion University, President Neufeldt launched a national center for social mobility as well as the annual Social Mobility Symposium, a gathering now in its sixth year where higher education leaders from across the country discuss ways to create pathways (to social mobility) for students and the communities they serve.

President Neufeldt was selected to join Biden-Harris Administration officials and national educational institutions and leaders to discuss innovative strategies and resources for colleges and students to expand access to higher education as a pathway to social mobility in the wake of the 2023 Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action. Neufeldt serves on the boards of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, LEAD California, and the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, illuminating her commitment to CSUSM’s role in cultivating partnerships that create opportunities for students and enrich the communities served by the university. Neufeldt is a tireless advocate for redefining what it means to be a student-centered university in the 21st century.

The Education Trust Speaker – Senior Vice President Wil Del Pilar

Senior Vice President Wil Del Pilar

"Bridging the Divide: Opportunity Gaps Impacting Students of Color" – Slide Presentation

Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s Senior Vice President. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color. Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. 

Wil has experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, including management of the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System, and has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students.

In addition to his policy and development experience, Wil has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State. Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.

Leadership Panelists – Shannon James, Dr. Douglas Hendrix, Dr. Janelle Williams, Ellyn Cochran, and
Gayle Cabrera

Shannon James, Sr.

A native of Albany, GA, Shannon W. James Sr. received a full Men’s Basketball scholarship to Valdosta State University. While in undergrad, he became Polemarch of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc and active member in Students In Free Enterprise. He would obtain B.B.A’s in both Management & Marketing in ’04 and ‘05. Immediately post undergrad, he would begin a 15yr career in banking and become the first African-American accepted into the Park Avenue Bank Management Trainee Program in 2005. Upon MTP graduation, he was promoted to Commercial Lender in Gwinnett County and later Special Assets & OREO during the great recession (2008-2011).  In 2011, Mr. James accepted a position with SunTrust Bank as VP, Commercial Banking where he would be recognized in both 2012 and 2013 as a Platinum Performance Award Winner. 

In 2018, AeroATL leadership would unanimously elect Mr. James as Chairman of the Board of Directors and later to his current role as President and CEO. He currently leads the non-profit mission to serve as a catalyst for regional economic competitiveness for the area surrounding Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Under James leadership, the organization has created Aerotropolis Foundation-501c(3) and Aerotropolis Committee for a Stronger Region-501c(4) which passed the first regional M.O.S.T Referendum in Georgia’s history for Aero cities College Park, East Point and Hapeville in 2022. AeroATL has received numerous awards and considered a change agent for the region. Mr. James was honored by Atlanta Magazine as Top 500 Most Powerful Leader in Metro Atlanta 2021-2023; Inaugural Top 500 Most Influential Georgian’s by Georgia Trend and recognized by Valdosta State University as Harley Langdale College of Business Most Distinguished Alumnus in 2022. 

He currently serves as Secretary for ATL Airport Community Improvement Districts, Advisory Board Member for LISC Atlanta, Clayton State University Advisory Board, Bisnow Advisory Board, Clayton County Public Schools Advanced Learners Board and Fulton County Schools Education Foundation Board. Mr. James is married, father of three children and Cane Corso.

Dr. Douglas Hendrix Sr.

Dr. Douglas Hendrix brings nearly 30 years of distinguished experience and notable accomplishments in various leadership roles within public education. On January 9, 2023, the Clayton County Board of Education appointed him as the Senior Deputy Superintendent – Chief of Staff for Clayton County Public Schools (CCPS). In this influential position, he provides strategic leadership and oversight to all district divisions, driving improved outcomes for the sixth-largest school system in Georgia, with a district population comprised of over 51,000 students and 7300 employees.

Before assuming his current role, Dr. Hendrix held several key positions, including Area Assistant Superintendent, Chief of Human Resources, school principal, assistant principal, and middle school teacher. His career reflects a deep commitment to the Clayton County community and school system, where he is widely recognized as a transformative, innovative, highly inspirational, and ethical leader. Dr. Hendrix is dedicated to positively impacting the lives of Clayton County residents by enhancing academic opportunities and outcomes for all students.

Dr. Hendrix's contributions extend beyond the school system. He serves on the City of Jonesboro, Georgia Initiative for Community Housing Project and is a proud 2012 Graduate of Leadership Clayton. His extensive leadership training includes prestigious programs like the Harvard University Principal’s Center and the Diamond 6 Leadership Workshop. He has also received numerous awards throughout his career, underscoring his commitment to excellence in education. Dr. Hendrix holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from THE Fort Valley State University, a Master of Science in Education Leadership, and a Doctor of Education degree with a concentration in Education Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.

Dr. Janelle Williams

Dr. Janelle Williams is Co-Founder and CEO of Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative, a catalytic nonprofit that seeks to build Black wealth through community wealth-building strategies. She has led several strategies for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Annie E. Casey Foundation to advance inclusive and thriving communities. She is committed to advancing investments and policies that increase opportunities for disinvested communities. Dr. Williams co-designed the Federal Reserve Bank’s groundbreaking Racism and the Economy series with colleagues across the 12 Reserve Banks which amplified how structural racism constrains the overall competitiveness of our economy. Dr. Williams also served as the lead author of Casey’s Changing the Odds reports. Her work has served as a national model to other grant makers looking to operationalize racial equity and inclusion. 

Dr. Williams holds a doctorate in international family and community studies from Clemson University, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Georgia, bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology from Florida Memorial University and attended Harvard Kennedy School of Executive Education. She also served as a Congressional Fellow in the U.S. House of Representatives, is an alum of the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ Connecting Leaders program, the Atlanta Leaders for Results and LEAD Atlanta programs.

Ellyn Cochran

Ellyn Cochran, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quality Care for Children (QCC), joined QCC in 2022. Ellyn was previously the Associate Vice President for Early Learning and Development at the United Way of Greater Atlanta where she oversaw the United Way's grants and partnerships on improving outcomes for children 0 to 8 with a focus on ensuring children enter school prepared to succeed and on a path to read by third grade. Ellyn was with GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, where she was the Director of Innovation Strategies, leading the state’s work in supporting new and creative research and programs that build on the science of early brain development. Ellyn facilitated the launch of Georgia’s relationship with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard as partners in Frontiers of Innovation, convening the state leadership team and facilitating human-centered design techniques in communities across the state. 

Originally a Midwesterner, Ellyn moved to the Atlanta area from Baltimore, where she was the assistant to the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools. In Georgia, Ellyn serves on statewide leadership teams at the local, state and national levels to support QCC’s mission that families and child care providers are equipped with the knowledge and resources to nurture and educate Georgia’s infants and young children.

Gayle CabreraGayle Cabrera is Director of Small Business Direct for Truist Financial Corporation. She oversees the team of Small Business Virtual Bankers for the entire Truist footprint. These teammates help advise and consult with Small Business owners each day to help achieve goals and overcome challenges to help their company succeed. Since being named to this position in January 2023, Cabrera has helped Truist reach more than 37,000 Small Businesses. This team has also been able to provide capital to almost 2,700 Small Businesses. She has also led the Commercial Team in Cary, North Carolina as the Market President, led Business Banking in Georgia, and led a team of Underwriters for the Georgia Region. With more than 17 of banking experience, she previously served in many different capacities within the Wholesale Bank and most recently Consumer and Small Business Bank.

Passionate about education, Cabrera serves as the Chair of the Development Committee for the Board of Trustees at Clayton State University Foundation. She currently serves in various capacities with Georgia Council for Economic Education and is a Leadership Atlanta Graduate with the Class of 2022.Previously, she served as the Chair for Cole Women United with United Way of Greater Atlanta. Under her leadership, the Women’s Initiative Fund was created to help support women and children in the Atlanta area. Cabrera earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Georgia.

Action Planning Leaders – Dr. Carin Barber and Melanie Graham

Dr. Carin BarberDr. Carin Barber is the Director of Strategic Projects in the Office of the President and Deputy Director of Government Relations at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). With over 20 years of experience in higher education teaching, research, and administration, she has previously served in roles at William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Eastern Michigan University, and Southern Methodist University. Carin earned degrees from Eastern Michigan University (Ed.D.) and Virginia Tech (B.S.Ed., M.A.Ed.).




Melanie GrahamMelanie Graham serves as the Director of Special Projects in Student Enrollment, Engagement & Services at Old Dominion University where she leads social mobility efforts. Melanie served in Peace Corps Ukraine as a university instructor teaching English as a foreign language and was then awarded a Fulbright Public Policy Fellowship to work at the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports on national reforms for youth and education policies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Radford University and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Old Dominion University.




Summit Schedule

Time Event
8:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Registration | SAC Ballrooms

Continental Breakfast | Ballroom Lobby

Resource Fair Time 1 | SAC Lobby

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

Kickoff: Welcome Address | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Don Stansberry, Vice President of Student Affairs at Clayton State University
  • Leon Tuazama, Student Government Association President at Clayton State University
  • Dr. Georj Lewis, President at Clayton State University
9:15 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

What is Social Mobility? | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, President at California State UniversitySan Marcos
10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Bridging the Divide: Opportunity Gaps Impacting Students of Color | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Wil Del Pilar, Senior Vice President at The Education Trust
11:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Resource Fair Time 2 | SAC Lobby

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Leaders Panel & Lunch | Ballroom B

Education, Industry, Policy, and Partnerships: The Multipronged Approach to Achieving Social Mobility

  • Dr. Ellen Neufeldt, President at California State UniversitySan Marcos
  • Shannon James, President & CEO at Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance
  • Dr. Douglas Hendrix, Senior Deputy Superintendent – Chief of Staff at Clayton County Public Schools
  • Dr. Janelle Williams, CEO & Co-Founder at Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative
  • Gayle Cabrera, Senior Vice President – Director of Small Business Direct at Truist
  • Ellyn Cochran, President & CEO at Quality Care for Children
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

The Academe, Education, and Social Mobility

Panel 1: The Liberal Arts as a Driver of Social MobilityCollege of Arts & Sciences | Ballroom A

Panel 2: Financial Literacy, Post-Secondary Education, & Social Mobility—College of Business | Ballroom B

  • Kate Cotter-Reilly, Lecturer of Accounting
  • James Gathings, Economic Development Research Fellow for The Partnership for Inclusive Innovation (PIN)
  • Chike Uzoka, FIC, CCA
  • Moderator: Larry Menter

Panel 3: Social Mobility: Advancing Students' HealthCollege of Health | Ballroom C

  • Dr. Dwayne Hooks, Dean of College of Health & Interim Dean of College of Arts & Sciences
  • Dr. Elicia Collins, Associate Professor of Nursing & Associate Dean of College of Health
  • Dr. Victoria Foster, Professor of Nursing
  • Dr. Comfort Obi, Associate Professor of Nursing
  • Ariyanna Hall, Nursing Student
  • Moderator: Dr. Marcia Butler, Assistant Dean of Healthcare Professions & Chair of Health Care Management

Panel 4: Technology, AI, and Social MobilityCollege of Information & Mathematical Sciences | Laker Lounge, SAC First Floor

  • Dr. Muhammad Rahman, Professor of Computer Science & IT
  • Dr. Ken Nguyen, Professor of Computer Science & Director of Cyber Security Lab
  • Dr. Byron Jeff, Associate Professor of Computer Science
  • Moderator: Dr. Michelle Furlong, Professor of Biology & Associate Dean of the College of Information & Mathematical Sciences

Panel 5: Get Comfortable: Creature Comforts Brewing Co. Early Literacy Initiative | Conference Room, SAC Second Floor

  • Matt Stevens, Senior Director of Community Impact at Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
  • Fenwick Broyard, Vice President of Culture at Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
  • Moderator: Dr. Dennis Attick, Assistant Dean of School of Education

Get Comfortable logo

Since its inception, the mission of Get Comfortable has been to channel the generosity of many toward the greatest local needs. In 2021, we approached our Advisory Council—a consortium of social services professionals—to help identify a single area of focus to which we would direct our resources and energy over the subsequent years, with the aim of achieving a measurable impact. Through the guidance of this group, we selected early literacy as the first multi-year impact area, targeting 3rd-grade reading proficiency as our metric of success. Get Comfortable is committed to increasing the percentage of Clarke County 3rd-graders reading at grade level from 20% to 60%.

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.

Break | SAC First Floor

2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Transforming Today for Tomorrow | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Georj Lewis, President at Clayton State University 

President Lewis will share a special message related to Clayton State University, the new Strategic Plan, and opportunities for campus and community involvement.

3:30 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.

Champions for Change: Action Planning for Social Mobility | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Carin Barber, Director of Strategic Projects, Deputy Director of Government Relations at California State UniversitySan Marcos
  • Melanie Graham, Director of Special Projects in Student Enrollment, Engagement, & Services at Old Dominion University

As we conclude our day of learning, let's turn insights into action. Together, we will collaborate to develop a comprehensive plan with tangible steps aimed at fostering student success and closing equity gaps on our campuses. Through interactive discussions, participants will explore current campus social mobility practices, identify areas for improvement, and formulate actionable items to help our students reach the finish line.

4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks | Ballroom B

  • Dr. Don Stansberry, Vice President of Student Affairs at Clayton State University 
  • Dr. Joshua Meddaugh, Professor of Political Science & Chair of Social Sciences

Resource Fair Participants

CSU Child Care Subsidy | Deborah Deckner-Davis NAMI Henry Fayette Affiliate | Sheila Taylor
Center for Academic Success | Karrina Moen QCCP | Dr. Keon N. Berry
Career Services | Bridgette McDonald QCCP | Reynaldo Green
Disability Resource Center | Tenesea Grant Quality Care for Children | Satara Clark
Disability Resource Center | Andrea Plunkett Embark Georgia Center | Arden Bakarich
House of Dawn | Bria Murray Human Resources | Rodney Byrd
Atrium/University Health & Wellness Services | Jada Herring

Summit Executive Committee

  • Don Stansberry, Co-Chair Social Mobility Summit, Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Joshua Meddaugh, Co-Chair Social Mobility Summit, Professor of Political Science, Chair of Social Sciences
  • Virginia Bonner, Professor of Film Studies
  • Deborah Deckner Davis, Professor of Psychology
  • Taralyn Keese, Senior Lecturer, Social Work Minor Program Coordinator
  • Michael Little, Executive Director of Government & External Affairs
  • Jada Mitchell, Executive Director of Student Success
  • Matthew Sansbury, Assistant Professor of English, Director of First-Year Writing & The Writers’ Studio