Thursday, November 14, 2019
The RP Group
Keynote Speakers

Keynote speakers for our RP Conferences are leaders in their fields, and offer attendees the opportunity to learn new skills and information to help them in their own work.


 RP Conference Past Years Keynote Speakers

See the full list of keynote speakers from previous RP Conferences below

RP Conference Past Years Keynote Speakers

We are pleased to announce that Matthew Wetstein will be serving as the keynote speaker for the 2019 RP Conference.

Matthew WetsteinMatt Wetstein has just completed his first year as Superintendent/President of Cabrillo College. Prior to being hired by the Cabrillo board, Wetstein served for six years as the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction and Planning at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, CA. Before that time, he served as Delta’s Dean of Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness. He is a statewide leader in the California Community Colleges IRPE community, having spent six years on the board of the RP Group and two years as President. During that time, Wetstein represented the community on several statewide task forces related to student success metrics and helped the RP Group rewrite its strategic plan. He is the co-author of three books on the Canadian Supreme Court, one book on abortion politics in the United States, and has written or co-authored more than a dozen peer-reviewed articles on judicial behavior, abortion politics, and community college student success. Wetstein is a member of a number of community advisory boards in Santa Cruz County, including the United Way, Santa Cruz Symphony, Santa Cruz County Business Council, Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce, the Agri-Culture Board, and Sutter Health/Palo Alto Medical Foundation Advisory Board. A member of the Capitola/Aptos Rotary Club, Wetstein  resides in the La Selva Beach area.

We are pleased to announce that Nader Twal will be serving as the keynote speaker for the 2018 RP Conference.

Nader twalTwal serves as Program Administrator for innovative Professional Development (iPD) in the Office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development of Long Beach Unified School District and coordinates a focused team effort to actualize the iPD Theory of Action, through Design Thinking:

"Given simple and multimodal access to high quality, job-embedded, collectively-developed online and offline professional development (anchored in a common Teaching and Learning Framework and high functioning Communities of Practice), teachers will be better equipped with the tools, research, and professional learning opportunities to accelerate implementation of the Common Core State Standards and increase student achievement." 

For the four and half years prior, he served as the Smaller Learning Communities (SLC) and Linked Learning Project Coordinator in the Secondary Schools Office, working with a gifted team of educators to actualize the district’s Academic and Career Success Initiative. With over nine years of classroom experience, eleven years of site-level teacher leadership, and six years as a district administrator, he has developed a unique perspective on systems-level reform  from grant writing and strategic planning to effective community outreach and building teacher capacity.

Twal has managed multi-million dollar budgets, and has established systems of accountability and progress monitoring that inform processes in the Secondary Schools Office to date. 

As a Milken National Educator (CA 2003) and California Association of Teachers of English Award for Classroom Excellence Recipient (2008), he remains committed to equipping, empowering, and inspiring educators to own the profession and better serve every student, every day.

Dr. Darla Cooper| Interim Executive Director of the RP Group\Director of Research and Evaluation |

Dr.Darla CooperDr. Darla M. Cooper is an educational leader and expert in research and evaluation dedicated to using inquiry, data, and evidence to improve the lives of all community college students. After serving for the past several years as the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Research and Planning Group for the California Community Colleges (The RP Group).

Dr. Cooper has worked in the California Community College system for almost 20 years, having previously held institutional research director positions at Santa Barbara City College, Oxnard College, and Ohlone College. She led Student Support (Re)defined, a landmark research project that examined what supports student success, and has been invited to present on this work at various venues across the state.

She also recently served as one of the coaches for the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project, is on the advisory committee for the California Guided Pathways Project, and is currently co-directing a research study funded by the College Futures Foundation that will examine what happens with students who appear ready to transfer, but do not.

She has extensive experience serving as an external evaluator for several federal and private foundation grants, and has worked on various other projects designed to promote student success including the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, and the RP Group’s Bridging Research Information and Culture (BRIC) initiative, Student Transfer in Professional Pathways Project, and Accreditation Study.

Dr. Cooper also has direct experience assisting students in achieving their educational goals in her previous work at the University of Southern California as a Director of Research and Information, student services counselor, and ombudsperson. She holds a BA in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego, and an MSEd and EdD from the University of Southern California.

Tia Brown Mcnair| Association of American Colleges and Universities |

Dr. Tia Brown McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. She oversees both funded projects and AAC&U’s continuing programs on equity, diversity, inclusive excellence, high-impact educational practices, and student success, including AAC&U’s Network for Academic Renewal series of yearly working conferences. McNair also directs AAC&U’s Summer Institute on High-Impact Educational Practices and Student Success. McNair serves at the project director for AAC&U’s “Advancing Roadmaps for Community College Leadership to Improve Student Learning and Success,” and a newly funded Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) project “Committing to Equity and Inclusive Excellence: Campus-Based Strategies for Student Success.” She is a co-PI on another project “Advancing Underserved Student Success through Faculty Intentionality in Problem-Centered Learning.” McNair chaired AAC&U’s Equity Working Group that was part of the General Education Maps and Markers (GEMs) project that represented a large-scale, systematic effort to provide design principles for 21st century learning and long-term student success. She is a co-author on the publication Assessing Underserved Students’ Engagement in High-Impact Practices.

Prior to joining AAC&U, McNair served as the Assistant Director of the National College Access Network (NCAN) in Washington, DC. McNair’s previous experience also includes serving as a Social Scientist/Assistant Program Director in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF); Director of University Relations at the University of Charleston in Charleston, West Virginia; the Statewide Coordinator for the Educational Talent Search Project at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; and the Interim Associate Director of Admissions and Recruitment Services at West Virginia State University. She has served as an adjunct faculty member at several institutions. McNair earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and English at James Madison University and holds a master’s in English from Radford University and a doctorate in higher education administration from George Washington University.

Robert (Bob) Daly| California Association for Institutional Research (CAIR) Board Member and Former CAIR President |

Bob Daly began his 40-year career in institutional research at Santa Ana College (SAC) in 1974. After spending six years at SAC, he accepted the position of Director of Information and Planning Analysis at University of California, Irvine, where he stayed for 24 years. Then in 2004, he was hired as the Assistant Vice Chancellor of Strategic Academic Research and Analysis at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). Although Bob formally retired from UCR in 2014, he continues to serve as a leader and visionary in the institutional research field. Bob recently presented at the California Association for Institutional Research 2015 Conference on “The Future of IR.” In addition, Bob has been interviewed twice for the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) e-newsletter (eAIR) regarding AIR’s recent publication Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research. In these interviews, Bob discussed the “Six Stages of Growth for the IR Professional,” which was honored with the CAIR Best Presentation Award in 2013, and “The Future of IR.” Bob served as CAIR's first president in 1987-1988 and continues to be active in the institutional research community, currently serving as a member on CAIR's Board of Directors.

J. Luke Wood, PhD| Associate Professor of Community College Leadership and the Director of the Doctoral Program Concentration in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU) |

J. Luke Wood, PhD, is Associate Professor of Community College Leadership and the Director of the Doctoral Program Concentration in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University (SDSU). Dr. Wood is Co-Director of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), a national project of the Interwork Institute at SDSU that partner with community colleges across the United States to enhance access, achievement, and success among minority male community college students. He is also Chair-Elect for the Council on Ethnic Participation (CEP) for the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Director of the Center for African American Research and Policy (CAARP) and Co-Editor of the Journal of Applied Research in the Community College. Wood’s research focuses on factors impacting the success of Black (and other minority) male students in the community college. In particular, his research examines contributors (e.g., social, psychological, academic, environmental, institutional) to positive outcomes (e.g., persistence, achievement, attainment, transfer, labor market outcomes) for these men. Dr. Wood is a former recipient of the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from which he served as research fellow at the Stanford Institute for Higher Education Research (SIHER), Stanford University. He has also served as a Young Academic Fellow for the Institute for Higher Education Policy and Lumina Foundation.

Dr. Frank Harris, III| Associate Professor: Postsecondary Education, Co-Director: Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3), San Diego State University |

Dr. Frank Harris, III, is Associate Professor of Postsecondary Education and Co-Director of the Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) at San Diego State University. His research is broadly focused on student development and student success in postsecondary education, and explores questions related to the social construction of gender and race on college campuses, college men and masculinities and racial/ethnic disparities in college student outcomes. In his role as co-director of M2C3, he partners with community colleges across the United States to conduct research and design interventions to facilitate student achievement among men who have been historically marginalized in postsecondary education. Before joining the faculty at San Diego State, Harris worked as a student affairs educator and college administrator in the areas of student affairs administration, student crisis support and advocacy, new student orientation programs, multicultural student affairs, academic advising and enrollment services. His most recent administrative appointment was at the University of Southern California as Associate Director of the Center for Urban Education.

Dr. Milbrey McLaughlin, Co-Director, Center for Research on the Context of Teaching, Director of the John Gardner Center for Youth and their Communities, Stanford University

Sonia Ortiz-Mercado, Dean of Matriculation, Early Assessment Program, Student Equity, Student Leadership and Division Administration, California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office

Randy Swing, Association of Institutional Research

Thomas Bailey, Community College Research Center