​Edward L. Tarlton, Ph.D.

President & CEO, HELP Consulting, Inc., and Executive Director, HELP “Social Justice Initiative”

Dr. Tarlton serves as the President & CEO of the federally recognized 501c3 non-profit organization, Higher Education & Learning Professional Consulting, Inc. (HELP), and Executive Director of its “Social Justice Initiative”(HELP SJI). HELP’s mission is to assist students to get “to and through” high school, college, graduate school and on to careers. To accomplish the mission, HELP partners with youth-serving organizations, faith-based institutions, businesses, community leaders, and secondary and postsecondary institutions to enhance college and career readiness levels enabling students to become productive members of society where they live and work. HELP SJI addresses the need for intentional, data-driven programming and interventions that improve community – law enforcement relations by building trust, creating opportunities for difficult conversations surrounding social justice issues and increase college and career preparation. As his positions highlight, Dr. Tarlton, is a highly motivated scholar and entrepreneur with over 28 years of leadership, business development and management, and higher education consulting experience. Dr. Tarlton is known as a creative leader and is not shy about utilizing his time, talent, treasure, and network to assist others, especially youth, and young adults.

Dr. Tarlton attended the University of Georgia, and while there played football, became a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. and graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. While working as a landscape architect, Dr. Tarlton helped start Snead Associates, LLC, the first African-American owned Landscape Architecture firm in the state of Georgia before leaving to open his own firm, E.L. Tarlton & Associates.

Dr. Tarlton earned a master’s degree in Land Development and his Ph.D. in Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communications from Texas A&M University, in College Station, TX. His research focuses on college and career pathway readiness, from middle school through the doctorate, across all populations: rural – urban, low – high income, non-athlete – athlete, and advantaged – disadvantaged populations. His range of academic, athletic and professional experiences allow him to bridge the gap between the academic, professional practice, and real-world arenas, maximizing his ability to inspire students, inform scholars, work with professionals and significantly impact the communities he serves. Dr. Tarlton’s academic and professional prowess is underscored by his uniqueness and authenticity, and his commitment to improve the lives of youth and young adults from underserved communities.

Dr. Brian N. Williams, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Public Policy University of Virginia

Dr. Williams, originally from Thomasville, GA, is an Associate Professor of Public Policy in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia, after previous faculty appointments at Florida State University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Georgia (UGA), as well as administrative appointments at UGA and Vanderbilt. His research centers on issues related to demographic diversity, local law enforcement, and public governance, with special attention devoted to the co-production of public safety and public order. His interests are in understanding how the assorted experiences and perceptions of officers and members of the public affect the formation and functioning of their working partnerships to understand and mitigate or address community problems.

As the author of Citizen Perspectives on Community Policing: A Case Study in Athens, GA, Dr. Williams is published in leading journals in public administration, public management, community psychology, education, and police studies. His research and engagement have resulted in an appointment to serve on the International Association of Chiefs of Police Trust Advisory Board as well as invitations to speak and/or participate in various gatherings, including the National Policy Summit on Community-Police Relations hosted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police in 2014; the Trending Issues in Policing Summit hosted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 2016; the Law Enforcement Advancing Data and Science (LEADS) Agencies Program Development Roundtable hosted by the National Institute of Justice in 2016; the Expert Review Panel for the Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics Survey hosted by United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2018; and the 50th Anniversary of the Minnowbrook Conference hosted by Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs in 2018.

Professor Williams has taught courses on public administration and democracy, public organizations, public management, ethics, co-production of public services, urban policy and administration, and human services administration and has served as a consultant, trainer or subject matter expert with police departments or public safety related agencies and other governmental and non-governmental entities. Moreover, he has been recognized as a service-learning faculty fellow and was honored in 2012 to be designated as a Kavli Fellow during the National Academy of Sciences 24th Annual Kavli Frontiers of Science Symposium. Over the course of his career, he has provided service to his academic field, scholarly community, the community-at-large, and the law enforcement community at the local, state and federal levels. Recently, he completed his three-year term on the Commission on Peer Review and Accreditation for the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).

Brandi Lynette Blessett, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Director of the Masters of Public

Brandi Blessett, Ph.D. is an associate professor and Director of the Masters of Public Administration program, which has a social justice focus at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Blessett’s research seeks to contribute to the intellectual development of urban policy and public administration through three core research areas: administrative responsibility, cultural competence, and social justice. Her research interests are integrated and seek to examine the role of institutions and administrative actions in facilitating disadvantage. Ultimately, she hopes her research will help public administrators move toward more thoughtful consideration and engagement of all groups in society, particularly those traditionally marginalized groups.

Dr. Blessett served as co-principal investigator on a 2-year grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice. Her grant titled “Intersectional Subjection, Law Enforcement: Examining Perceptions Held by LGBTQ People of Color in New Orleans, LA” investigates the ways people who have multiple identities perceive their interactions with the New Orleans Police Department. In 2015, Dr. Blessett was participated in a joint-learning agreement with the Kettering Foundation to better understand how returning citizens (people who were formerly incarcerated) worked to reestablish voting rights in Florida. She has also been awarded several institutional grants from Rutgers University-Camden to support her research and professional development.

Over the last 10 years, Dr. Blessett has worked with numerous organizations. She has served as a program evaluator and worked collaboratively with nonprofits to build organizational capacity to enhance service delivery to their constituents. Her passion is working with organizations that provide services to underrepresented groups, including but not limited to: returning citizens (e.g. formerly incarcerated persons), LGBTQI people of color, and low-income communities of color. Dr. Blessett conducted a program evaluation for Developing Despite Distance, a Detroit nonprofit organization, designed to help youth with incarcerated parents thrive academically and socially.
Dr. Blessett has published over a dozen peer-reviewed articles in journals such as Administration & Society, Public Integrity, American Review for Public Administration, Administrative Theory & Praxis, and the Journal of Public Affairs Education, among others. Dr. Blessett’s research has the potential to offer insightful perspectives regarding the effects of institutional and systemic injustice as well as their contemporary implications for urban communities and their residents. Dr. Blessett completed her doctoral work at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. She also holds Masters in Educational Leadership from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Triba Gary, Ph.D.

Organizational Leadership and Development, Coaching & Training, Center For Extended Education, Tennessee State University

Dr. Triba Gary is an educational leader specializing in standardized testing education and research. After attending the University of Georgia, South University, and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Gary earned her Doctor of Education at Pepperdine University in California. Her commitment and dedication to her education earned her scholarships from PCOM Alumni and the Randy Clark Endowment Fund.

Dr. Gary worked in the pharmaceutical industry for Bristol Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, and Eisai Pharmaceuticals for many years. Dr. Gary later worked for Kaplan Test Prep, where she assisted medical and nursing students in board preparation. With over a 95-percentile ranking score on both the SAT and ACT, Dr. Gary taught standardized prep classes at Kaplan Test Prep and Emory Continuing Education in both traditional and online formats. She developed curricula, provided engaging learning environments, and provided creative testing strategies to improve standardized testing scores. She also advocated for education equality in marginalized communities. Dr. Gary has assisted students in reaching their personal post-secondary goals and gain admission to Harvard, Howard, Spelman, Yale, University of Pennsylvania, The Airforce Academy, Pepperdine, Barnard, and many more!

Dr. Gary’s research focused on cultural and contextual complexities in education and leadership. Her dissertation entitled “Race Matters: A Phenomenological Study of Cultural Education and Preservation in the Gullah-Geechee Community, reinforced her commitment to foster cultural awareness, education, and appreciation in her community. Dr. Gary presented at the Hawaiian International Conference on Education-Exploring Cultural Education and Preservation of an Indigenous Population and the Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Conference-Symbolic Annihilation of Women in Media. Dr. Gary is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the International Society of Performance Improvement. Currently, Dr. Gary resides in Nashville, TN. She works for Tennessee State University, where she continues to develop her innate ability to extract the good from students by utilizing positive organizational scholarship, collaborative learning, and technology integration.

Galen Newman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture & Urban Planning; Associate Department Head Program Coordinator, Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning; Director, Center for Housing and Urban Development; Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Communities; Vice President for Research and Creative Scholarship, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture

Dr. Newman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at Texas A&M University. Here, he also serves as Associate Department Head and Coordinator of the highly ranked Bachelor of Landscape Architecture Program. Within the College of Architecture, he is also the Director of the renowned Center for Housing and Urban Development and the prestigious Youngblood Endowed Professor of Residential Land Development. Nationally and internationally, Newman served roles to the profession such as President of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) and co-editor of the Journal of Planning Education and Research. He received his B.S. in Environmental Design and went on to also receive two Master Degrees – one in Landscape Architecture and one in Community Planning –
from Auburn University. He also obtaining a PhD from Clemson University in Environmental Design and Planning.

Newman’s research and creative work focus on urban regeneration and resilience. He is particularly interested in the formation, impacts, measurement, and reuse of vacant urban land and how these spaces can increase community flood resilience. Dr. Newman is trained as both a landscape architect and an urban planner, and as such, is in a strong position to advance methods for adaptive reuse, urban retrofit, reclamation, and successful land use planning projects. He is also uniquely positioned to produce evidence-based design that is both aesthetically pleasing and solves complex environmental problems. His scholarship integrates land use science, design, spatial analytics, and built/natural environment factors. As such, Dr. Newman has led or engaged with numerous research projects involving hydrologists, ecologists, environmental planners, marine biologists, landscape architects, urban designers, engineers, transportation planners, chemists, physicists, real estate developers, horticulturalists, public policy researchers, public health practitioners, and architects.

Dr. Newman’s success at interdisciplinary research is indicated by his success in garnering both internal and external grant funding from a wide variety of funders and initiatives. For example, Dr. Newman has served as PI or Co-PI on external grants totaling more than $30 million from funders including the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. He writes about his research at an unprecedented rate and his rate of publication is significantly high in his disciplines, indicative of his strong dedication to sharing his work. His work has appeared in high impact journals that span several disciplines. Further, his work has been featured in mainstream periodicals, including The Atlantic, and more recently, Forbes Magazine.

His design teaching, particularly his work on GeoDesign—the intersection of geo-informatics and design—has gained wide recognition. Dr. Newman’s work with students has been extraordinarily successful in state-wide and national design awards. Students or student groups advised by him have won three national awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and more than twenty state-wide awards from the Texas Chapter of the ASLA. He also received the coveted “Most Admired Educator Award” from Design Intelligence.

Nicole T. Cole, M.B.A.

College Funding Planning Specialist, Founder, Chief Executive Officer of The College Money Team

Nicole Cole is an educational leader specializing in college funding and financial aid planning, application, and implementation. After attending the University of Maryland, College Park, and earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a minor in Spanish Languages, Ms. Cole earned her Master’s in Business Administration in Finance and Health Services Management from the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Committing herself to achieving these educational degrees in a financially successful way, Ms. Cole was awarded Banneker Key and Kellogg scholarships and also worked as a peer counselor in the Office of Student Financial Aid and a resident assistant at Maryland and a graduate resident assistant at Kellogg.

Ms. Cole worked in the pharmaceutical industry for Eli Lilly prior to graduate school and then after as a management and strategy consultant for Arthur D. Little’s pharmaceutical division before starting her own pharmaceutical management consulting firms, Potomac Consulting and Phase V Consulting. Her client’s included AstraMerck, AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Baxter Pharmaceuticals. Making a lifestyle change from management consulting to financial planning and wealth management, Nicole established the independent financial planning and wealth management firm Nicole Cole Financial Services Group, LLC, where she transitioned her planning and financial expertise to working with individual, family, and business clients to plan to achieve their financial goals. In the process, she realized college funding was one of the most costly financial goals for many families. Further, the area of financial planning and wealth management held little in the way of educational resources and tools to assist families in successfully achieving this goal.

Thus, Ms. Cole pursued a Certification in College Funding Planning through what is now College Funding Educators of America (CFEA) and started The College Money Team. She is a sought out educator and presenter on College Funding and Financial Aid by high schools around the country and organizations including Jack and Jill of America, Inc., National Pan-Hellenic Council Sororities & Fraternities, youth ministries and college admissions planners. She has advised families across the U.S. on planning their path to funding their scholar’s degrees from universities including Hampton, Harvard, Northwestern, Duke, University of Virginia, Tulane, Virginia Commonwealth, Elon, and many more. Ms. Cole recently co-authored and published College Funding Strategies, I Wish Someone Had Told Me book and workbook. Providing her expertise through this book extends her commitment to helping scholars and their families educate themselves and then successfully design and implement plans to fund their college education taking on as little debt as possible in the process.

Ms. Cole has previously served on the Boards of the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, the Black Mental Health Alliance, and College Funding Educators of America. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Currently, Ms. Cole resides in Fredericksburg, VA. She is a Series 7, 63, and 65 licensed independent wealth management advisor with LPL Financial, owner of Nicole Cole Financial Services Group, LLC and President of The College Money Team.