Nine months ago, a team of top scholars, practitioners, and leaders from a range of industries were brought together by ACPA to address the issues facing digital educators, students, and administrators in Higher Education. The multi-pronged charge and full list of committee members can be found on the Digital Task Force website.

What are the new competencies required to be an effective educator in a digital age? How can we best encourage new research? What are the emerging themes that require attention and resources?

On this episode of SA Live, hosts Tony Doody and Heather Shea Gasser, talk with task force leaders Ed Cabellon, Paul Gordon Brown, Laura Pasquini, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Kristen Abell, Courtney O’Connell, Josie Ahlquist, and Heather Rowan-Kenyon about their findings, recommendations, and predictions.

Would you like to provide feedback or ask our esteemed panel questions? Send them to #higheredlive during the show and we’ll do our best to incorporate them into the conversation.


Episode Host

Tony Doody

Tony Doody

Tony Doody has over 25 years of practical experience and oversight in senior leadership positions within the Higher Education industry in the areas of Facilities Management, New Student Orientation, Recreation, Parent and Family Programs, Leadership and Training, Marketing and Communications, Adult Learning, and Major Events and Programs. He currently serves as the Director of Student Centers at the University of Delaware. Over the last six years, Tony has presented at over thirty universities and national conferences on topics of innovation, digital leadership, technology, and unconventional leadership. He received the Diamond Honoree Award from the ACPA Foundation, the highest honor of the American College Personnel Association, recognizing transformative contributions to the field (2017) and earned NASPA's 2017 Technology Emerging Practice Award. In addition, Tony has worked over 20 years as a consultant in the areas of executive coaching, leadership development, presentation skills, risk-taking, innovation, social media, conflict resolution, and team cohesiveness. Past clients include J&J, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Vistakon, Navigant, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, United Way, Merrill Lynch, Tumi International, and Aventis Pharmaceuticals.


Heather Shea Gasser - Co-Host

Heather Shea Gasser’s career in student affairs spans 16+ years and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services–she is a true Student Affairs Generalist. Heather is currently serving as the assistant director of RISE (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment), a living-learning community at Michigan State University while also a full-time doctoral student in MSU’s HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. She completed her master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education from Colorado State University in 2000. She currently serves as the Director of Membership Development for ACPA-College Student Educators International and blogs for Feminists in Student Affairs.


Josie Ahlquist

Josie Ahlquist is a student affairs educator, discovering the intersection of digital communication technologies and leadership development in Higher Education.  She is a doctoral candidate at California Lutheran University, studying Higher Education Leadership.

She brings over a decade in the field of Higher Education in areas such as student activities, campus recreation, residence life and student leadership.  She is an alumnus of Northern Arizona University with a Masters in Counseling and undergraduate degrees from South Dakota State University in Sociology and Human Development.

Her dissertation is on college student leaders and their perception and experiences with social media.  Through a mixed methodology she is seeking out an understanding and definition of digital student leadership.  She is also conducting a grant-funded study on Student Affairs Senior Level Administrators who are high users of social media, which will build to studying College Presidents called “Tweeting from the Top.”

Recently named to the “Top 50 Must Read Higher Education Technology Blogs” by Ed Tech in 2014, she blogs weekly at  As a writer, she is a co-author in the Handbook of Student Affairs Administration textbook, writing the chapter on Computer-Mediated Communication and Social Media.  She is also published in The Journal of Leadership Studies, in a thought piece called Trending Now: Digital Leadership Education using Social Media and the Social Change Model.


Paul Gordon Brown

Paul Gordon Brown is a scholar, consultant and speaker working on the fringes of where student learning and development intersect with technology, social media and design. Paul has over 10 years of professional experience in higher education and student affairs in a diverse array of functional areas including residential education, honors programs, academic advising, and student activities. Currently serving as the Acting Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, Paul has extensive experience in student affairs, in the classroom and in working within blended student and academic affairs environments. An experienced presenter, Paul has had accepted and given over 40 refereed presentations at national and regional conferences. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University. Paul has also studied at Miami University in Oxford, OH and at New College, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom. Paul is currently a full time PhD student at Boston College in the Higher Education program.


Ed Cabellon

Ed Cabellon has 17 years of progressive experience in Higher Education administration and is a leader in digital technology integration, education, and assessment. He currently serves as the Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs at Bridgewater State University and is enrolled at Johnson and Wales University pursuing an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership. The focuses of his work at BSU are managing the division budget, strategic marketing & communication, and technology integration. His research interests include 1st generation student retention through social media and digital student identity development. He currently serves as co-chair of ACPA’s Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology in Higher Education.

Ed connects on social media to create and sustain learning communities, specifically through his blog, which was named one of the “Top 50 Must Read Higher Education Technology Blogs” by Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Education in 2012, 2013, & 2014. He also created the first ever Student Affairs Technology UnConference at Boston University and expanded the model to ten locations across the US & Canada; featured in Fast Company’s “Fast Talk” Series & on Slideshare’s homepage; and named on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Technology Innovators” List.

Since 2007, Ed has spoken at over 75 universities & associations including the University of Kentucky, the University of Arizona, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), College Student Educators International (ACPA), EDUCAUSE, the Auxiliary Organizations Association, and South by Southwest Education and Interactive.

Ed believes that understanding one’s digital identity and gaining literacy in technology should be part of the core curriculum in a 21st century Liberal Arts education; that every enrolled college student should have access to high speed internet while matriculated; and that the most powerful learning happens when it is peer-peer.


Courtney O'Connell

Courtney O’Connell is a rising thought leader on the topic of disruptive innovation. Her TEDx talk “Go All In on Education,” and blogs on The Huffington Post have provoked a national conversation about innovation in education. She has extensive experience building the digital capabilities of organizations in the education and non-profit space. Courtney is one of co-founders of the New Jersey state association for higher education administrators. She was acknowledged for her entrepreneurial approaches in education as an inductee into the American College Personnel Association’s prestigious Annuit Coeptis honor society in 2011. Currently, she is working alongside best-selling author Erik Qualman as Director of Business Design where she is developing and distributing digital leadership content that will educate the world. Ultimately, Courtney is determined to disrupt the current education system in hopes of making education a more engaging and meaningful experience for all students.


Laura Pasquini, Ph.D.

Laura Pasquini is curious as to how the open, social web impacts learners, scholars, and educators. Her research agenda is focused on how online communities of practices create identity, share knowledge, design artifacts, and scaffold one another via informal learning and professional development. Dr. Pasquini is a Lecturer with the Department of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX, and a Researcher with Dr. George Veletsianos at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. Before entering academia, her experiences in student development and academic support included academic advising, career counseling, campus activities, first year experience programs, orientation, and residence life. She is a self-declared geek and a self-taught techie who is enjoys dabbling in new ideas to impact organizational design and culture. You can often find Laura curating a wealth of goodness on Twitter and writing about her experiences of learning, performance, and technology on her blog. If connected to her personal learning network, you might even learn about Laura’s travel exploration, food adventures, indie music taste, and love of spontaneous dance parties.


Kristen Abell

Kristen Abell is a web developer at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has been in student affairs for fifteen years, in a variety of roles. She’s worked primarily in housing and women’s centers at three different universities over that time. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, women’s studies and English and a master’s in social welfare from the University of Kansas.

Kristen previously served as the Information Technology Coordinator for the IV-West Region of NASPA and webmaster for the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community. Kristen has been blogging since 2006, and she is a cofounder and editor of the Student Affairs Women Talk Tech collaborative blog. She is also the coordinator of the #SAtech Unconference series and a cofounder and moderator of the #SAtech weekly chat on Twitter. In addition, she speaks and consults on technology and social media use in higher education.