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Board of Advisors

The National Center Board of Advisors is a labor-management board with a balanced membership of higher education administrators and union leaders. The Board meets semi-annually to provide guidance to the Executive Director in the functioning of the National Center, to help maintain a cooperative dialogue among labor representatives and administrators in higher education, and to provide ideas and support for the National Center’s initiatives including an annual conference and a bi-annual directory. 

Deborah Bell

Deborah Bell is Executive Director of the Professional Staff Congress (Local 2334, AFT), a labor union representing 25,000 faculty and professional staff at the City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s largest urban public university.  The union seeks to improve compensation and working conditions for its members and to expand resources for public higher education.  She has been at the PSC since 2001, and before that she worked for 23 years for District Council 37, AFSCME, where she served in a variety of positions including Chief Negotiator and Director of Public Policy.  She started her career in New York City government as a city planner.  In her current job, she is primarily an administrator, but her areas of expertise include collective bargaining, health care and retirement policy, as well as economic policy issues affecting women workers.

Lisa Bonick
Lisa Bonick is the Director of Academic Labor Relations at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  Her primary responsibilities include serving as a key member on all academic negotiations teams, managing and administering the collective agreements covering over 9,000 academic employees, and managing university-wide grievances.  She began her employment at the University in 1993 and has held positions with a number of departments, the most recent as Assistant Dean for Personnel at the School of Arts and Sciences.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the College of New Jersey and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management from the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers University.  She is a member of various organizations, including the Academy of Academic Personnel Administration, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (NJ-CUPA-HR), and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Council on Education Office of Women in Higher Education (NJ-ACE-NET).

Howard Bunsis
Howard Bunsis is the Chair of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Collective Bargaining Congress and Professor of Accounting at Eastern Michigan University. His teaching interests include individual taxation, government and nonprofit accounting, and business law.  His research interests include pension and retiree health, as well as state and government performance and financing. As Chair of the AAUP Collective Bargaining Congress, Howard oversees 75 collective bargaining units. Howard is both a CPA and an attorney, but not practicing. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania; a Juris Doctor degree from Fordham University School of Law; an MBA degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD in accounting from the University of Chicago.

Juditra Burgess
Judi Burgess is the Director of Labor Relations at Boston University.  Prior to her tenure at Boston University, Ms. Burgess was the Assistant General Manager for Employee and Labor Relations at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) where she served as Chief Labor Relations Officer handling collective bargaining, negotiations, labor arbitrations and mediations with respect to 29 different bargaining units.  Previously, Ms. Burgess served as Labor Counsel/Human Resources Legal Affairs at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Before that, she served for 7 years as an attorney with the National Labor Relations Board. Ms. Burgess is a graduate of Howard University and Villanova University School of Law.

William Connellan
William Connellan is the Director of Academic Support Services at the University of Florida. He became the chief bargainer for the University of Florida in 2012, after a 41-year career at Oakland University in Michigan.  He is currently responsible for negotiations with graduate assistant and faculty bargaining units.   At Oakland University, he served in various administrative capacities, including a two-year stint as acting vice president for academic affairs.  He also had a faculty appointment in journalism and visiting scholar appointments at the University of Michigan and Harvard University. His graduate degrees are from the University of Michigan.

Jeffrey Cross

Jeffrey Cross is the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eastern Illinois University. Mr. Cross served in the Teacher Corps in Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky, and graduated from Western Kentucky University with an M.A. degree in 1972. He worked for the Illinois Department of Public Health in Springfield, Illinois, before joining the faculty and administrative staff of Ferris State university in 1976, where he served  in a variety of administrative positions including Acting Dean, and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. Mr. Cross was hired at Eastern Illinois University as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs in 1998 and continues in that capacity. He was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004; his dissertation is titled, The Impact of College and University Faculty Collective Bargaining on State Appropriations to Public Higher Education. Mr. Cross is currently a Board Member of the National Center and is Co-editor of the Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy.

Brian Duffy
Brian Duffy is the Acting Associate Provost of Hunter College at the City University of New York (CUNY). Previously, Brian served as Assistant Dean of Fordham College where he taught English in addition to his administrative and advisory work. He returned to academic life at Hunter after a long career in the private sector in financial services. In addition to being Hunter’s representative on the National Center Board, Brian assists the President and Provost of Hunter in a broad range of strategic planning activities and projects and in the day-to-day operations of the 6 colleges comprising the Hunter community.

Jeffrey Frumkin

Jeffrey Frumkin is the Associate Vice Provost and Senior Director, of Academic Human Resources, at the University of Michigan. He has held this position since 1998.  Previously Dr. Frumkin worked at the University of California (Office of the President), Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (Board Office), Eastern Michigan University (Academic Human Resources) and Michigan State University (Student Affairs).  Most of Dr. Frumkin’s career has been in the area of academic administration, focusing on faculty personnel issues including labor relations.  Dr. Frumkin is a native of Detroit and earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Ph.D. from Michigan State.  He is currently a Board Member of the National Center, and is a past president of the Academy of Academic Personnel Administrators.

Kenneth S. Hawkinson

Kenneth S. Hawkinson is the Provost and Academic Vice President at Western Illinois University. Mr. Hawkinson has held this position since January 1, 2012. His previous position was the associate provost and academic vice president for budget, planning, and personnel.  He also served as contract administrator and director of the summer session, provided oversight to the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research, the Office of the Registrar, the Office of Sponsored Projects and the School of Distance Learning and Outreach, as well as performed various other duties.

Steve Hicks
Steve Hicks is Associate Professor of English at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and serves as co-editor of the National Center's Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. Steve is the former president of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF), which represents approximately 6,000 faculty and coaches at the 14 state-owned universities in Pennsylvania.

Frederick E. Kowal

Frederick E. Kowal is the President of the United University Professions (UUP) of the State University of New York (SUNY). Running on a platform to make United University Professions a dynamic and progressive force, Frederick E. Kowal of Warnerville, NY won election as UUP President in May 2013. UUP is the nation’s largest public higher education union and represents more than 34,000 academic and professional faculty on the State University of New York’s 29 state-operated campuses. Kowal has been a UUP activist for 20 years on both local and statewide levels. He served as UUP Chapter President at SUNY Cobleskill from 1993 to 2003 and again from 2011 until his election as statewide president. Since 1985, Kowal has also taught political science and Native American studies at Cobleskill.

Michael Mauer

Michael Mauer, Esq. has been on staff with the American Association of University Professors since 1996, and is currently Senior Labor Advisor to the AAUP. His prior union experience includes 10 years as General Counsel – West for the (then) West Germany affiliate of the National Education Association, and Director of Collective Bargaining for the Service Employees International Union. Mauer also teaches labor and employment law and a variety of labor studies classes at the National Labor College and at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and serves on the editorial board of the National Center’s Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy. He is the author of The Union Member's Complete Guide and co-editor (with Ernie Benjamin) of Academic Collective Bargaining (jointly published by the AAUP and the Modern Language Association.)

Theresa Montaño
Theresa Montaño is the President of the National Council for Higher Education of the National Education Association (NEA). She is a professor of Chicano Studies and Education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), is the voice of the California Faculty Association and the Community College Association on the board of the California Teachers Association. Her many years of experience as a middle and high school teacher in Los Angeles and Denver, CO, gives her a special understanding of issues facing educators in California’s public schools. An active unionist, Montaño was also on the staff of United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), where she worked in professional development and as an area representative for nine years. Montaño’s research interests include Teacher Activism, Chicano/a- Latino/a Educational Equity; Critical Multicultural Education; and Bilingual/ELL education. She has published several articles and is a co-editor of Assault on Kids: How Hyperaccountability, Corportization, Deficit Ideologies are Destroying Our Schools with Roberta Ahlquist and Paul Gorski. Her latest book This is What Democracy Looks Like: Critical Projects in Urban Education with William DeLaTorre and Jacqueline Hughes will be released in 2014.

Alyssa Picard

Alyssa Picard is the Acting Director of the Higher Education department of the American Federation of Teachers. With 200,000 members, roughly half of whom are contingent, AFT is the largest higher education union in the United States. Dr. Picard previously served on the field staff of AFT Michigan, helping to organize and negotiate first and subsequent contracts for more than 10,000 contingent faculty members over ten years. She earned a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she was the lead negotiator for the Graduate Employees Organization (Local 3550 AFT Michigan, AFL-CIO) when it won the first-ever child care provisions in an American graduate employee contract; subsequently, she staffed the local when it negotiated the first-ever trans-inclusive health insurance benefits in an academic collective bargaining agreement in the US. She is the author of "Making the American Mouth: Dentists and Public Health in the 20th Century" (Rutgers University Press, 2009), which was named to the American Association of University Press's 2010 "Best of the Best" list, and has taught as an adjunct at Muhlenberg College and in the Wayne State University Labor School, a nondegree program for working adults.

Jeanine Plottel
Jeanine Plottel is the Former Executive Director of the New York State, American Association of University Professors (AAUP). Jeanine Parisier Plottel earned her B.A. degree with honors from Barnard College, her M.A. and Ph. D. degrees with distinction from Columbia University. She has taught at Columbia University, City College, The Juilliard School of Music, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate School, climbing the academic ladder from Lecturer to Professor. For ten years, she was the elected chair of Hunter’s Department of Romance Languages, the largest college language department in New York City. She is the recipient of an NEH fellowship, several City University faculty research awards, and a CUNY distinguished faculty award. The French government twice honored her for her contribution to French literature and she holds the rank of Officer in the “Ordre National des Palmes Académiques.” She is a trustee of Barnard College and the President of the Maurice I. Parisier Foundation, Inc. She serves on the boards of several organizations including the Society for French-American Cultural Educational Aid (FACE), the NYU Institute of French Studies and the Columbia University Center for French and Francophone Studies and its Maison Française.

DeWayne Sheaffer
DeWayne Sheaffer is a graduate of California State University at Stanislaus, where he earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing.  Following graduation, Mr. Sheaffer took a position at California State University, Los Angeles working in the Admissions and Records Office.  While completing his Master of Science degree in Counseling with an emphasis in higher education, he moved to California State University at Dominguez Hills serving as the supervisor of the graduation unit. Since 1996 he has worked at Long Beach City College (LBCC) in the Counseling and Student Development Department. While at LBCC, he has served in several leadership capacities including Department Chair, Transfer Coordinator, Career Services Coordinator, and Association President at the college.

Pamela S. Silverblatt
Pamela S. Silverblatt is the Vice Chancellor of Labor Relations at The City University of New York (CUNY). Ms. Silverblatt joined CUNY as Vice Chancellor for Labor Relations in January 2008 after nearly seven years in the New York City Mayor's Office of Labor Relations. Ms. Silverblatt oversees and manages CUNY's Labor Relations with its Faculty and Classified Staff. Prior to joining CUNY, Ms. Silverblatt represented the Mayor in labor relations matters affecting New York City and over 100 labor organizations. Her responsibilities included managing the General Counsel's Office, Negotiators, Supervision of the Budget and Personnel Administration. Ms. Silverblatt was responsible for the management and oversight of the New York City Health Benefits Program as well as the Deferred Compensation Program. Ms. Silverblatt served nearly 12 years at the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), finishing as the Senior Assistant Vice President of Operations with responsibilities for all of the Corporation's labor relations departments, including Labor Relations/Labor Counsel, Workforce Planning and Development, Personnel, Classification and Compensation, Examinations and Certification. Ms. Silverblatt is a graduate of the SUNY Binghamton and received her J.D. Degree from Hofstra University School of Law.

John Swarbrick
John Swarbrick is the Associate Vice Chancellor of Labor Relations for the California State University system. This position includes operational responsibility for the negotiation and administration of the CSU's collective bargaining agreements with its 50,000+ unionized faculty and staff. Prior to joining the CSU John worked as a labor relations consultant, providing advice and services to a wide variety of labor and management clients across multiple sectors, including higher education. John is a California attorney, with LL.M's in International Business law from the University of Manchester, and in Dispute Resolution from Pepperdine University. John also has extensive legal experience, having worked for many years as a private practice attorney in the United Kingdom, where he was professional qualified as both a barrister and solicitor.

Phadra L. Williams
Phadra L. Williams is an Organizational Specialist in the Higher Education Program of the National Education Association (NEA). Phadra began her work with the National Education by serving as Alabama’s student state president of NEA. After finishing her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Alabama State University, Phadra worked as a K-12 teacher and track coach for three years. After successfully graduating from the NEA Affirmative Action Program in 2000, Phadra represented K-12, community college and technical college members in Alabama. In 2004, Phadra was promoted to organizational specialist at the National Education Association. Over the past nine years, Phadra’s work has focused on higher ed organizing, training and development, coordination of NEA Higher Education Emerging Leaders Academy, UniServ assessments, local release time presidents’ training and serving as staff liaison to national, internal and external committees. Phadra holds an Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership.

Liesl K. Zwicklbauer
Liesl K. Zwicklbauer is the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Employee Relations at the State University of New York (SUNY). Liesl received her bachelor’s degree from Lafayette College, and law degree from Albany Law School, Union University. She joined the State University of New York, the nation’s largest public university system, after 7 years of private practice focusing on public sector labor law. Her office represents the University in its relations with unionized faculty and staff (60,000 employees), serving 29 campuses and administering 9 collective bargaining agreements. Liesl concentrates on faculty and professional staff issues, managing and administering the collective bargaining agreement covering over 35,000 faculty and professional staff, representing the Chancellor in both the contract and disciplinary grievance process, and providing technical and strategic advice to campus administrators. Liesl has been a University representative on the State’s team for negotiations with the faculty and professional employee bargaining unit, represented by United University Professions, and the Graduate Student Employees Union, represented by the Communication Workers of America.