Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice (CELSJ)



Duquesne University's School of Education hosts the Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice (CELSJ) as a part of the  University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA). UCEA is a consortium of higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children. After a unanimous vote by the UCEA Executive Committee in 2009, Duquesne University established its own UCEA Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice (CELSJ) which is now one of only eight UCEA centers worldwide.  

The UCEA Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice at Duquesne University aspires to be a community that is dedicated to identifying and eradicating conditions of social injustice in our schools and communities through enlightened and actionable scholarship, preparation and development of socially just educational leaders, and the encouragement of leader-practitioners in service of all students.

The Mission of the UCEA Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice is to advance equity and excellence on behalf of young people, especially those who have been marginalized, mistreated, and neglected. This Mission will be accomplished by educators, community members, and academics working together to study, implement, and continually assess educational systems, procedures, and activities through the lens of socially-just and educationally-sound practices.

Collaborating with community organizations is central to the work of the CELSJ. Partnerships with community organizations help to bridge the gap between educational leadership and social justice and facilitate dynamic and complex processes that Duquesne University students will experience in their professions. The Homeless Children's Education Fund (HCEF) is an organization that partners with the CELSJ and represents the vision and mission of UCEA.


Liliana Castrellon

Liliana Castrellón, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Director of the UCEA Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice
Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership

410A Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.1213
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Liliana E. Castrellón (Ph.D. Educational Leadership and Policy, University of Utah) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership and the Director of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Center for Educational Leadership and Social Justice (CELSJ) at Duquesne University. Her research lies at the intersections of immigration and education policy. She analyses the ways in which immigration and education policy intersect and affect the educational trajectories of students with immigrant backgrounds, in particular undocumented students. Her work has been featured in the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, Bilingual Research Journal, Information Age Publishing, Routledge, SAGE Encyclopedias, and IGI Global. Dr. Castrellón also is active in national conferences such as the University Council for Educational Administration, Association of the Study of Higher Education, American Educational Research Association, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social, and the Critical Race Studies in Education Administration.

Rachel Ayieko

Rachel Ayieko, Ph.D.

Program Director, Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship
Assistant Professor
Department of Instruction & Leadership in Education

G4B Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.1164
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Rachel Ayieko (Ph.D., Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education, Michigan State University, 2014) is an assistant professor. She has been teaching mathematics methods and content to PK-12 pre-service teachers since 2014. A former high school mathematics teacher (1993-2001) and middle-level college lecturer (2004-2008), Dr. Ayieko focuses her teacher education classes around "productive struggle" to promote problem-solving. Her research explores the opportunities to learn mathematics, mathematics teacher education, teacher quality, and equitable practices using comparative large-scale data analysis and classroom observation schemes.

Shondricka Burrell

Shondrikca Burrell, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Instruction & Leadership in Education

102D Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.5403
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Shondricka Burrell (Ph.D., Science Education, Temple University, 2019) Dr. Shondricka Burrell joined Duquesne University in 2019. As a faculty member of the Department of Instruction & Leadership, Dr. Burrell teaches undergraduate courses in science content and pedagogy as part of the Leading Teacher Program, and graduate courses in secondary science methods as part of the Woodrow Wilson Pennsylvania Teaching Fellowship program.

Gretchen Givens Generett

Gretchen Givens Generett, Ph.D.

Department Chair of Educational Foundations & Leadership
Noble J. Dick Endowed Chair in Community Outreach

107 Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.1890
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Gretchen Givens Generett (Ph.D., Foundations of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel). Dr. Gretchen Givens Generett leads the School of Education as the interim dean. Her work supports adult development by creating learning experiences that are generative, that serve disempowered groups, are co-created, and that are built with communities through actions that break down barriers to deeper understandings of group processes.

Amy Olson

Amy Olson, Ph.D.

Associate Dean for Teacher Education
Associate Professor
Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership

405A Canevin Hall
Phone: 412.396.5712
Curriculum Vitae
Full Profile

Amy Olson (Ph.D., Educational Psychology, University of Arizona, 2014) is the Associate Dean for Teacher Education and an associate professor of Educational Psychology and Classroom Assessment in the Department of Educational Foundations and Leadership at Duquesne University. Her research is primarily focused on the ways in which student, teacher, and principal self-beliefs and beliefs about academic content influence instruction and assessment decisions. Although much of her work has taken place in mathematics classrooms, she is also interested in issues of equity more broadly. Her teaching focuses on supporting future teachers to create engaging learning environments in which learning is made visible to both students and teachers.

Grad Students

UCEA Jackson Scholars

The CELSJ would like to congratulate our new UCEA Jackson Scholars! The Barbara L. Jackson Scholars Program is a two-year program that provides formal networking, mentoring, and professional development for graduate students of color who intend to become professors of educational leadership. For more information, please visit the UCEA Jackson Scholars Network page.

Lucia Gonzalez-Prier

Lucia Gonzalez-PrierLucia Gonzalez-Prier is an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership student in the Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership. She brings over 16 years of combined experience as a licensed social worker and a higher education administrator. She currently serves as the College Readiness Liaison for a non-profit organization where she works with Latino/a/x students in their pursuit of post-secondary educational options.

Previously, Lucia held various roles at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). During her tenure at CMU, she served as an academic advisor for minoritized students; co-founded a summer retention program for enrolled students; redesigned an academic transitions program for students seeking internal transfer; launched a program for first-generation college students on campus; and was the Director of the Summer Academy for Math a Science, a pre-college program for minoritized students who seek to pursue STEM-related undergraduate majors.

As a former social worker, Lucia implemented a pre-college program for Latino/a/x students; developed soft-skills training to support the workforce transition of formerly incarcerated persons; and managed a federal homeless prevention grant.

Lucia is interested in building her research on Yosso's Community Cultural Wealth Model and LatCrit Theory in Education to better understand the contributing success factors of Latino/a/x students pursuing computer science as their undergraduate major.

Michael Warren

Michael Warren

Michael Warren is an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership student in the Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership. Michael shares his perspective and mission as an educator:

"After dealing with years in the foster care system, multiple health crises, homelessness, and racial discrimination in the educational system, I've concluded that the world we live in is not a place for all. Many institutions of education preach "a sense of belonging", "equal opportunity" and "liberty and justice for all", yet practices often contradict these mottos. Unfortunately, I've been victim to these many contradictions and unjust practices. Due to my challenging past and my current status as an educator, it is my personal mission to fight against these injustices through research and practice!

I fight for students experiencing homelessness who are discriminated against for not having permanent housing. I fight for the young black boys who are viewed as great athletes and performers, while others are viewed as a perfect addition to the many private prisons housed throughout our country. I fight for students who have been told they can't accomplish their goals because of their gender, race, or sexual orientation. I fight so that all students are treated equitably and justly. Our students' lives depend on it. Even if it's emerging, my research will have an impact on the educational experiences for youth in the foster care system."

2020 CELSJ Scholars

The CELSJ would also like to congratulate the 2020 CELSJ Scholars, who will be attending who will be attending the virtual 2020 UCEA Annual Convention held on November 17-19. The scholars have been selected as they have shown a dedication to the field as well as a commitment to social justice in educational leadership.

Daniel Clara

Daniel ClaraDaniel Clara is an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership student in the Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership. His research focuses on the beliefs and practices of teachers in the third grade at one rural elementary school to homework. Through the lenses of C.S. Peirce's Belief and Genuine Doubt, Albert Bandura's Self Efficacy and Collective Efficacy, and Bernard Weiner's Attribution Theory, his dissertation will capture and codify rural elementary teacher beliefs regarding the purpose and value of homework. Rural school systems are under-researched and present notable differences in homework challenges, including access to libraries and distance from home to school. Using mixed methods, this study will identify themes regarding the teacher's perceptions of homework. His research explains that many of the long-held tenants of homework may be questioned as a basis for evaluating student learning, programmatic, and curricular efficacy, and to raise the question of homework as a practice in the current school setting. As school administrators look to craft policy, understanding homework from the teacher perspectives is crucial, and the building of a collective understanding among faculty before developing a systemic model for measuring student learning is critical.

Kimberly Dickert-Wallace

Kimberly Dickert-WallaceKim Dickert-Wallace is an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership student in the Department of Educational Foundations & Leadership. She is a new elementary school counselor in the Ligonier Valley School District, a rural school district about fifty miles southeast of Pittsburgh.  She has been an active member in the community and schools for over 18 years.  She worked for early childhood centers in the area as a teacher and director, a school board director of the school district, and a parent of teenage daughters.  As well as the director and creator of the Tiny R.A.M. program, an early intervention program to work with families and young children for kindergarten.  Her work at Duquesne University is focusing on adult caregiver and children relationships and how it is changing due to the use of technology.  With the increase of young children entering kindergarten with developmental delays and the increased use of technology, she has been researching the importance of the relationship of children and parents or adult caregivers. 

2021 CESL Scholars

Brother Lloyd Cheatom, M.Ed

Mr. Lloyd M. Cheatom was born, raised, and still resides in Pittsburgh, Pa with his lovely wife and their beautiful daughters Llogan Marie and Lailee Mauriah. After graduating from Central Catholic High School, he went on to receive his Bachelor's degree from Saint Vincent College. He then obtained his Master's degree in Instructional Leadership from Robert Morris University and now is a doctoral candidate in the School of Education at Duquesne University. In 2013, he was selected as a Heinz Endowments Graduate Fellow and worked within the Pittsburgh Public School District. During this time, he contributed to the positive cultural shift of the school community through academic and social skills, mentoring and advising African American male and female students. After the two year fellowship, he alongside with Kevin McNair and Samuel Morant co-founded the nonprofit organization "1Nation" where the vision "is to change the negative narrative of African American youth". Mr. Cheatom is the Director of Student Affairs as well as a Character Coach within the organization and is currently an adjunct professor at Duquesne University. Mr. Cheatom is a dedicated individual who fortifies students with social-emotional functioning and life skills development in order to navigate complex and diverse spaces while modeling community-centric leadership to teachers and administrators while providing students with problem solving, critical thinking, and listening skills.

Dawn Gordon, MSW, LSW, M.Ed.

Mrs. Dawn Gordon has worked in education and mental health settings for over 20 years. She currently serves as the Assistant Principal at Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy 6-12. Prior to her school administration promotion, she was a school social worker and served as a field instructor and adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work. Mrs. Gordon graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Child Care and Master of Social Work degree with a direct service concentration in children and families. Additionally, Mrs. Gordon earned a Master of Education degree and principal certification from Duquesne University. Mrs. Gordon is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc, the largest historically black service organization in the world. Mrs. Gordon is currently enrolled in the Educational Leadership doctoral program at Duquesne University with an emphasis on Social Justice. Her research interests include teacher efficacy and teacher impact on African American students who experience poverty and attend less resourceful schools. Mrs. Gordon is a dedicated life-long learner with a vision to remove barriers in academic settings and cultivate a learning environment that is culturally responsive and nurturing for all students.

Bobby Marcus Roberson, M.Ed.

Mr. Roberson has provided student services in the K-12, higher education, and mental health settings for 14 years. Mr. Roberson is currently an Academic Adviser at Penn State, Greater Allegheny. Prior to his position at Penn State, he served as a special education teacher in high school and middle school settings, an academic adviser at the University of the District of Columbia, and a community-based interventionist at a nonprofit social service agency in Washington, DC. Mr. Roberson received his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Clemson University, and his Master of Education in Special Education from The University of Illinois at Chicago. Mr. Roberson is currently enrolled in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership at Duquesne University. As a first-generation college graduate, he knows firsthand the ways in which a higher education degree can meaningfully contribute to lifelong success, and is interested in research related to culturally responsive teaching practices within higher education. During his free time, Mr. Roberson enjoys art, music, soccer, and spending time with his family and pets.