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In the spirit of open and a more collaborative model of grant making, the Michelson 20MM Foundation has begun working with a committee of community advisors to guide our work. Over the past decade, grantmakers have sought to be more in step with the communities impacted by the issues we all care about. To that end, Michelson 20MM has brought together a team of campus administrators, policymakers, educators, and students to provide feedback on the 2022 Open Educational Resources (OER) Spark Grant applications and the process overall. 

We would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the dedicated OER professionals and advocates providing feedback for this grant cycle. Please join us in welcoming and celebrating the community advisors:

Richard Sebastian, PhD

Director of Open and Digital Learning for Achieving the Dream

Richard SebastianAs the Director of Open and Digital Learning for Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit supporting a national network of community colleges in achieving sustainable institutional transformation and improved outcomes for all students, Dr. Sebastian leads innovative grant projects investigating the effective and equitable implementation of OER. Specifically, his work includes open and culturally responsive pedagogy, hybrid and digital learning, as well as designing resources and services to help Achieving The Dream (ATD) colleges effectively use high-impact, open, and digital practices to support their institutional reform and student success efforts.  

Throughout his career, Dr. Sebastian has worked in a variety of educational settings, from university campuses to literacy centers, in correctional institutions, manufacturing facilities, and wilderness classrooms. He received his doctorate in education from the University of Virginia and lives with his wife, son, and dogs in Richmond, VA.

Shagun Kaur

Faculty Member, Communion Studies, De Anza College

In addition to being a Communication Studies faculty member at De Anza College, Shagun Kaur also serves as a Project Facilitator for the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Open Educational Resource Initiative. Over the past four years, she has facilitated the creation of over 30 Open Educational Resources. She also regularly conducts training on OER development, open advocacy, Universal Design for Learning, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Kaur has also created open Public Speaking courses and co-authored the open textbook, “A Survey of Human Communication,” available on LibreTexts.  

Kaitlyn Vitez

Higher Education Liaison, U.S. Department of Education 

Kaitlyn VitezKaitlyn Vitez is a liaison for the U.S. Department of Education, connecting policy experts at the Department with the wider higher education community as they seek to make college more affordable, accessible, and equitable. Previously, Kaitlyn was the higher education campaign director at the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), where she worked to make textbooks more affordable by writing reports exploring “inclusive” access and the rise of access codes, advising campus-based campaigns for OER, and lobbying in DC on behalf of students. She also worked as the federal government relations officer for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), supporting faculty members in their pursuit of academic freedom and higher education reform.

Winni Zhang

Law Student, Washington and Lee University

Winni ZhangPrior to law school, Winni Zhang was the Open Education Project Manager at SPARC where she analyzed contracts for the Automatic Textbook Billing Contract Library and assisted with the organization of the 2020 and 2021 Open Education Conference. Winni has always been invested in open education advocacy for students; during her time as the Student Body President at the University of Houston, she worked with the Provost and Dean of Libraries to start the first pilot program for open education materials and represented student needs and concerns during the implementation period. A native of Houston, Texas, she hopes to stay involved with OER initiatives throughout her career. 

Leslie Kennedy, Ed.D

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Technology Services in Academic and Student Affairs, California State University, Office of the Chancellor

Leslie KennedyAs the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Academic Technology Services in Academic and Student Affairs at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor, Dr. Kennedy is responsible for the management, leadership, administration, and oversight of the Academic Technology Services with the goal of infusing information technology into the teaching and learning processes, research, scholarship, and creative activities. She directs the implementation of existing academic technology initiatives, administration of ATS budgets and personnel. In addition, she advises the Chancellor’s Office leadership with respect to academic technology services and initiatives including library services, online education, academic software support, learning management systems, accessible technology, affordable learning solutions and web design.

We look forward to welcoming the 2022 OER Spark Grantee cohort, based on the community advisors’ recommendations, in the coming weeks.  

Michelson 20MM is a private, nonprofit foundation seeking to accelerate progress towards a more just world through grantmaking, operating programs, and impact investing. Co-chaired and funded by Alya and Gary Michelson, Michelson 20MM is part of the Michelson Philanthropies network of foundations.

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