2023 Conference: Presenter Bios


Jana McCarthy – Supervision, Area of Study Advising (Austin Community College) and President Elect, Texas Academic Advising Network

Jana McCarthy is an Advising Supervisor for Austin Community College, where she oversees the ACC Online Advising team and she also serves as President-Elect for the Texas Academic Advising Network. Along with her day-to-day work with students, she is an Advising Trainer for ACC, leads Colleague Peer Mentor training each semester in line with the ACC Coaching Certification program, and is involved in multiple initiatives that inhibit the growth and evolution of Student Affairs at her institution. Jana enjoys working closely with students and further serves as the Staff Advisor for the Honors Student Organization, for which she was awarded Organization Advisor of the Year in 2021 and 2023.

Jana began her higher education career in 2008, as a student worker in Supplemental Instruction (SI) and tutor. She has since served as an SI/Tutor Supervisor, Academic Coaching Supervisor/Trainer, Student Success Specialist, and Master Advisor. She earned a Bachelors in History and a Bachelors in Psychology in 2012 from the University of Houston, with a minor in Creative Work and recently completed her MA in Higher Education Administration with Sam Houston State University.

Outside of work, Jana enjoys spending time with her husband, gaming and going to concerts. She has two pets, her cat Bella Rose and the (arguably) best dog in the world, Maximillian Von Pupperstein. She is always available for brainstorming and collaboration and would love to connect with you on LinkedIn.


Richard M. Rhodes, PhD – Chancellor, Austin Community College District

Since joining the Austin Community College District in September 2011, Dr. Rhodes has worked to improve pathways into higher education, strengthen awareness of the community college mission, and give students the tools to accomplish their educational, professional, and personal goals.

A native of Alamogordo, New Mexico, Dr. Rhodes received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and Master of Arts in Educational Management and Development from New Mexico State University. He earned his doctorate through the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin, receiving its Distinguished Graduate Award in 2001.

His professional associations include Chair of the American Association of Community Colleges; Board Member of the Texas Workforce Investment Council; and Past Chair of the Texas Association of Community Colleges. Dr. Rhodes also is a Board Member for the Trellis Company, Chair of the Trellis Foundation, Vice Chair for the Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts, and Board Member of the League for Innovation.


Dr. Cynthia Ganote – Assistant Professor, University of Louisiana

Dr. Cynthia Ganote is an assistant professor in sociology, and her research focuses on ways to address microaggressions in higher education with microresistance; diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom; race, class, gender, and sexual inequalities; critical and feminist pedagogies; and critical approaches to community-based research. She formerly served as an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology, and later as Director of Faculty Development, at Saint Mary’s College of California in the San Francisco Bay Area. She serves as a national consultant on diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education and has published in such areas as microresistance in the classroom, critical and feminist pedagogies, and ways to connect classroom learning with democratic citizenship


Steven Christopher – Associate Vice Chancellor of Student Accessibility and Social Support Resources (Austin Community College)

Steven Christopher has over 40 years of experience in the fields of higher education, social work, foster care, child care, disability services and leadership working with diverse communities.
Since joining Austin Community College (ACC) in 1995, Steve has served as a direct service provider,an adjunct faculty member and in a variety of leadership roles. Steve serves on many ACC committees.
He is currently serving as the Chair of the Central Texas College Attainment Network and as a Board member on the Jeremiah Program Community Board of Trustees. He has also served separately as President and Vice-President of the Austin Songwriters Group as well as Unity in the Heart of Austin, a local church.

Steve earned a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio and a Master of Arts in Organizational and Human Resource


Christine Berni – Professor of English and Chair of Curriculum for the Composition & Literary Studies Department (Austin Community College)

Dr. Christine Berni has taught literature and writing courses at Austin Community College for twenty-five years. She is a founder of the Liberal Arts Gateway program at ACC, and has served her department and the College on numerous committees. She is a two-time NISOD teaching award winner and is currently chair of the Curriculum Committee for the Composition and Literary Studies Department



Susan Meigs – Adjunct Professor of English and Instructional Associate (Austin Community College)

Susan Meigs has been a professional educator for over 30 years, with experience teaching, marketing, writing, editing, training, and tutoring for over a dozen organizations and programs. While she has taught learners at all levels, her primary focus is teaching writing at the college level. Her academic interests include fostering a sense of purpose and belonging, examining the intersection of education and technology, and creating equitable learning environments


Ray Martinez III, JD – President and CEO of the Texas Association of Community Colleges

Ray Martinez serves as the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), a comprehensive membership association comprised of a diverse mix of 48 community colleges from across Texas. Public community colleges in Texas play a critical role in supporting the continued growth of our state’s economy by expanding access to high quality and affordable academic programs, workforce education training, and continuing education instruction. As President and CEO of TACC, Martinez provides leadership to advance state policy, institutional practice, and research in support of Texas community colleges.

Before joining TACC, Ray served as Deputy Commissioner for Academic Affairs and Workforce Education for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, President of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, Chancellor of Western Governors University (WGU) Texas, and he has held senior government affairs positions at Rice University and Texas A&M International University. Ray has also served as the director of the Committee on Higher Education in the Texas Senate.

A native of Alice, Texas, Ray received his bachelor’s degree from Southwestern University, his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center, and he recently completed postgraduate studies at the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard Graduate School of Education.