Dean’s Advisory Council

Roles and Responsibilities

The Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council is composed of Honors College alumni and friends who provide a high level of volunteer service to the Honors College and the University.  The members of the Council serve at the invitation of the Dean.  The Council’s role is to:

  • Advise the Dean on strategies for improving the quality of the Honors College experience at UD.
  • Advise and assist the Dean on matters related to nurturing relationships between the Honors College and its graduates and the wider community.
  • Advise the Dean regarding the development priorities for the Honors College.
  • Help ensure that the Honors College has the resources to achieve its strategic planning goals and commitments to academic excellence by being a source of financial support to the Honors College and by helping the Honors College engage new donors and pursue important new partnerships.

Council Members

Michael Axe, M.D.

Bucknell University B.S. ‘75, Thomas Jefferson Medical School M.D. ‘79 | 
Orthopaedic Surgeon, Clinical Professor of Physical Therapy

Michael is a retired Orthopaedic Surgeon with specialization in knee and sports surgery. He is also a Clinical Professor of Physical Therapy at UD.  Michael was co-founder of First State Orthopaedics. From 1998 to 2020, Michael was voted by his peers as a Top Doc (Delaware Today Magazine). He has won numerous national awards as a surgeon including the 2009 ASMI James R. Andrews Award, the 2012 AOSSM Mr. Sports Medicine Award, and the 2019 AOSSM Brady Award. He has disseminated his research via more than 85 peer reviewed publications.

Michael is extremely active in community service, and his efforts have been recognized with service awards from the following organizations – the American Physical Therapy Association, the Catholic Youth Organization, the Delaware Athletic Trainers Association, the Delaware Boys Club, the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association, the Delaware Lacrosse League, the Delaware Physical Therapy Association, the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Greater Newark Boys and Girls Club, and St. Elizabeth High School. 

Michael received his B.S. from Bucknell University and his M.D. from Thomas Jefferson Medical School. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame at three institutions; J. P. McCaskey High School (Athletics) 1998; Bucknell University (Football) 2007; and Wilmington University (Team Physician) 2005. Michael’s son, Jeremie Axe, M.D., is a 2004 graduate of UD’s Honors College.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2022.

J.D. Bowers, Ph.D.

The College of William and Mary B.A. ‘89, Indiana University M.A. and Ph.E. ‘03 |
Professor and Dean

J.D. is currently dean of the Rutgers Honors College. In addition to his role as dean, J.D. is a Professor of the Practice in Africana Studies and History in the School of Arts and Sciences, as well as a Faculty Associate at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers Global. J.D. also currently serves as the executive director of the Council on Honors Education (CoHE). CoHE, which he co-founded in 2018, is one of the nation’s two leading professional associations for honors colleges and programs.

Prior to becoming dean at Rutgers, J.D.’s academic career included positions at Northern Illinois University where he served as Associate Vice Provost of University Honors, and the University of Missouri, where he served as Director of the Honors College.

J.D. received his Ph.D. and M.A. in History from Indiana University and his B.A. in Government from The College of William & Mary in Virginia. J.D. is an avid hiker, water sports enthusiast, and self-avowed foodie and coffee-aficionado. J.D.’s daughter, Caroline Bowers, is a member of the UD Honors College Class of 2024.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2022.

Alaina Brown, M.D.

UD Honors B.S. ’04 | Physician

Alaina currently works for the Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville. She spent a year working as a newborn nursery physician in Durham, NC before joining Pediatric Associates in 2012.

Alaina earned her undergraduate honors degree at UD in 2004, majoring in biology. She finished medical school at the University of Virginia in 2008. Alaina then went on to Duke University and completed her pediatric residency in 2011.  Alaina is an avid Washington sports fan. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, playing soccer and volunteering at the Charlottesville Free Clinic. She has two toddler Godchildren that she loves to dote on.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2017.

Alan Gilbert

UD B.S. ’85, The Johns Hopkins University M.S. ’91 | Marketing and Public Relations Consulting

Alan founded Trident Communications, LLC, a marketing, public relations, and content development consulting firm, in 2002.  He still runs the business today, delivering strategic counsel and tactical execution for technology companies of all sizes.  Previously, Alan held executive level positions in marketing and strategic alliances at global enterprises and startups in the engineering and telecom fields.  Earlier in his career, he served in software development and management roles, delivering mission-critical systems to the DoD, NASA, and FAA, as well as pioneering vehicle tracking and satellite radio solutions for commercial customers.

Alan devotes significant time volunteering for causes he finds meaningful.  In 2024, he completed an 11-year tenure on the Board of Directors for Hillel at UD, including 3 years as President.  Alan currently co-chairs the communications committee as a member of the Board of Directors at Congregation Olam Tikvah in Fairfax, VA.  He also has contributed to development activities for organizations including The ALS Association and The Reading Connection.

Alan earned his undergraduate degree in computer science from UD in 1985, graduating Magna Cum Laude.  In addition to serving as a Dickinson Fellow and receiving the General Honors Certificate, he was named Outstanding Freshman Computer Scientist, an Alison Scholar, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi.  Alan completed his master’s degree in computer science, with Honors, at The Johns Hopkins University in 1991.

Alan joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2024.

Teagan Gregory, Esq., J.D.

UD Honors B.A. ’09 | Attorney

Teagan is an Associate at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington, D.C.  At Williams & Connolly, Teagan’s practice focuses on complex civil litigation, including intellectual property, antitrust, and general commercial disputes.  Teagan has particular experience in pharmaceutical patent infringement litigation.  He has represented clients as a member of multiple trial teams, including in the first “pay-for-delay” antitrust case following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in FTC v. Actavis and in a multi-week murder trial.

Teagan earned his undergraduate honors degree at UD in 2009, majoring in international relations and minors in philosophy, East Asian studies, and religious studies. While at UD, Teagan was a Eugene du Pont Memorial Scholar and served in several student government roles, including as SGA Vice-President and later President.  At graduation, he received the East Asian Studies book award and the Alexander J. Taylor Sr. Award.  Teagan received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Michigan School of Law, where he was a Clarence Darrow Scholar.  He also served as a Contributing Editor on the Michigan Law Review and published a note in that journal titled “Unclaimed Property and Due Process: Justifying ‘Revenue Raising’ Modern Escheat.” Following law school, Teagan served as a law clerk to the Honorable Gregory M. Sleet, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Lou Hirsh

Retired Director of UD Admissions

Lou retired as director of the Admissions Office at UD in 2012. He had been with the university since 1984, previously serving as deputy director and senior associate director of the Admissions Office. Lou was also Assistant Director for Honors Admissions, University Honors Program, 1984-86. In 2017, Lou was recognized with a UD Medal of Distinction. 

Lou earned his A.B. with Honors (English) from Brandeis University and an M. Phil. (British Literature) from Columbia University.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2018.

Thomas Isherwood

UD Honors B.A., M.A. ’06 | Partner, McKinsey & Company

Tom currently works as a Partner with McKinsey & Company based in the Middle East. He is a core leader of McKinsey’s Public Sector Practice—supporting government leaders in more than 10 countries across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East on topics related to economic development, government finances, labor markets, and building effective education systems. Independent of his client service, Tom has led multiple global research efforts on a variety of topics including linkages between education systems and labor markets.

Tom earned his undergraduate honors degree at UD in 2006, majoring in economics and international relations. He concurrently earned an M.A in political science at UD. While at UD Tom was awarded a Marshall Scholarship, a Truman Scholarship, and UD’s Alexander J. Taylor, Sr. award. After completing his B.A. and M.A. degrees, Tom studied at Oxford University where received an MPhil with distinction in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Staci Julie, Esq., J.D.

UD Honors B.A. ’96 | Attorney

Staci is the Senior Vice President and Chief IP Counsel for Teva Pharmaceuticals. She and her global team are responsible for all of Teva’s IP and regulatory law support for its specialty, generic, biologic/biosimilar, and API products. Prior to assuming her current role, Staci was Vice President and General Counsel of IP Litigation for Teva. Before joining Teva in 2004, Staci was an Associate at Fish & Neave. In 2015, Staci was named an Emerging Pharma Leader by Pharm Exec magazine.

Staci earned her undergraduate honors degree at UD in 1996, majoring in chemistry. She then went on to law school and received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2000. Staci and her husband Rich have twin twelve-year-old daughters, who spend every free moment they can in the dance studio. In her free time, Staci enjoys crafting, baking, solving jigsaw puzzles, and watching American football (Go E-A-G-L-E-S!!!). 

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2017.

Audrey Murrell, Ph.D.

UD M.S. ’85, Ph.D. ’87 | Professor and Associate Dean

Audrey has been on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh since 1987.  She is currently Associate Dean for the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration and Director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership. Prior to her current position she served as the Acting Dean of the University of Pittsburgh Honors College.  

Audrey conducts research, teaching and consulting that helps organizations better utilize and engage their most important assets – their human and social capital. She is the author of several books including: “Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships within Multicultural Organizations” (with Faye Crosby and Robyn Ely); “Intelligent Mentoring: How IBM Creates Value through People, Knowledge and Relationships” (with Sheila Forte-Trummel and Diana Bing); “Mentoring Diverse Leaders: Creating Change for People, Processes and Paradigms” (with Stacy Blake-Beard); and, the forthcoming book entitled, “Diversity Across Disciplines: Research on People, Policy, Process and Paradigm” (with Jennifer Petrie and Abdesalam Soudi). Audrey received her B.S. from Howard University, majoring in psychology with a minor is sociology. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Tony Paladinetti, CFA

UD Honors BS 2006 | UD Honors BA 2006 | Business

Tony is the Vice President of International Strategy for Walmart based in Bentonville, Arkansas. He leads the strategy function for Walmart’s $100B+ international division which serves 80M customers each week in 18 countries around the world. Tony has delivered over 200 projects for Walmart across M&A, strategy creation, and business development – supporting both the international division as well as its portfolio companies which span industries including retail, financial services, healthcare, and others.

Tony earned dual Honors degrees at UD in 2006 including a BS in Finance and a BA in Foreign Languages and Literatures. He was also a collegiate athlete, rowing for the Men’s Crew Team. After graduation, Tony entered the asset management industry with Cambridge Associates in Arlington, Virginia. He then received his MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business before joining Samsung’s Global Strategy Group in Seoul, South Korea. There, he drove geographic expansion initiatives and brought Samsung’s businesses across a wide range of industries to new markets around the world.

Outside of work, Tony is passionate about staying fit and enjoying the outdoors which he does with his elementary school aged son, Luca, and daughter, Benna, as well as his wife, Meg, who is a Montessori teacher.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2023.

Chris Pickering

UD Honors B.S. ’89  |  Business

For the past 7 years, Mr. Chris Pickering has been involved in leading teams that help enterprises transform to a more sustainable future.  From lighting retrofits to green energy to electrification, he has been involved in reducing or offsetting over 10 million KWh of energy usage.  Mr. Pickering is currently the Business Unit Director for Solera Solar Lighting, a leading provider of environmentally friendly, off-grid solar-powered lighting products for commercial, industrial, institutional, and government customers. Solera is an operating unit of Light Efficient Design, headquartered in Middleton, MA.

Prior to working at Solera, Mr. Pickering was the Vice President of Marketing for Ply Gem Windows from 2008 to 2014. In this role, he led a team of 22 Marketing and Communications professionals, completed the acquisition and integration of five regional businesses, and created and launched the Ply Gem Windows brand. He began his Ply Gem  career as Business Unit Manager of MW Manufacturers, a previously acquired business.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Pickering progressed through a series of sales, marketing, and product management roles with Black & Decker, GE Lighting, and Eaton Corporation.

As a member of the UD’s Honors Program, Chris earned his undergraduate degree in business administration in 1989. While at UD he was a founding member of Alpha Beta chapter of Kappa Delta Rho, a member of the Marching Band, and a member of the Residence Life Staff. As an alumnus he has been active in the UD alumni association serving on the UDAA board from 2017 to 2023, was the Class of 1989 25th Reunion Chair, was a Member of the Office of Admissions Volunteer Support Team (VAST), and is a Delaware Diamond Society member. Chris’s spouse, Kristen, is also an Honor’s alumna.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2023.

Bill Russo

UD Honors B.A. ’06  | Political Science, History, and English

Bill Russo is a global communications executive, who has spent his career advising senior leaders in government and politics. He most recently served as the Assistant Secretary for Global Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, leading hundred of public affairs professionals around the world tasked with telling the story of America abroad and at home. Russo previously served as the Deputy Communications Director for Press on the Biden-Harris campaign and as the Spokesperson for President Biden’s personal office. In the Obama-Biden Administration, Russo served in numerous communications and foreign policy roles at the State Department, National Security Council, and the Office of the Vice President. He currently lives in Washington, DC with his wife Alice and their two children. After over a decade in public service and political campaigns, he is taking a brief sabbatical as a full-time dad before starting a new professional chapter in fall 2024.

Bill earned his honors degree at UD in 2006, majoring in Political Science, History, and English. After completing his degree, Bill studied at Sussex University in Brighton, UK where received an MA in Environment, Development, and Policy.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2023.

Matt Scarborough

UD Honors B.E. ’96, M.A. & MBA ’97 | Business

Matt is CEO of Bridgeforce Data Solutions. He has spent his career at the intersection of business and technology, starting with MBNA in the 1990’s and helping to lead the bank’s early expansion into leveraging digital channels for generating new business. Although Matt has had many roles since, he has always focused upon the power of combining data, strategy, and decision processes. As part of this he has successfully developed and implemented data-driven strategies for lenders across six countries and many product types.

Matt was an Honors student and earned his undergraduate degree at UD in 1996, majoring in mechanical engineering. He earned an M.A. and MBA from UD’s Lerner College of Business and Economics in 1997.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2017 and has served as the council’s current chair from 2017 to the present.

Ami Schiess, Ph.D.

UD Honors B.A. ’97 | International Relations

Ami is an educator and literary scholar living in Oakland, CA. Prior to her doctoral studies, she worked as a K-12 teacher and non-profit educator in the Bay Area and in Somerville, Massachusetts. She currently offers no-cost writing coaching to East Bay public school students.  Ami received her undergraduate honors degree at UD in 1997, with a major in International Relations and a minor in Spanish (magna cum laude). She completed an M.A. at UMASS-Amherst in 2000 and a Ph.D. at Stanford University in 2020, both in the area of Latin American Literatures. She and her husband Andy spend loads of time watching basketball, from the Golden State Warriors to their sons’ AAU games.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2021.

Zachary Senzer

UD Honors B.S. ’17 | Product Manager

Zachary currently works as a Senior Product Manager with Google, based in New York. He leads Google’s Editing and Computational Photography experiences in Google Photos.

Zachary earned his Honors Bachelor of Science (with Distinction) in 2017 as a member of UD’s Honors College. While at UD, he majored in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration. He also served as an Undergraduate Research Assistant, authoring published papers on natural language processing and sentiment analysis. Zachary earned the Department of Computer and Information Sciences Outstanding Junior Award in 2016 and Outstanding Senior Award in 2017. He also served as a Freshman Fellow and Senior Fellow for the Honors College and on the Executive Board of UD’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2024.

MJ Shiao

UD Honors B.S. ’07 | Electrical Engineering

MJ is currently Vice President of Supply Chain and Manufacturing for the American Clean Power Association (ACP), which represents over 800 U.S. energy storage, wind, utility-scale solar, clean hydrogen and transmission companies. He leads initiatives that enable resilient supply chains and domestic manufacturing to support the sustained growth of the U.S. clean energy industry. Prior to ACP, MJ led North America business development and strategy for a leading global solar supplier, helping the company set up U.S. solar manufacturing and a sustainable supply chain. He was formerly Head of Content and Commercialization at Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables, directing a global team of market analysts. MJ started his career as an electrical engineer at Solar Design Associates, where he designed solar projects ranging from 5 kW building-integrated photovoltaic systems to multi-megawatt utility solar farms.

MJ graduated from the University of Delaware in 2007 with an Electrical Engineering degree with distinction. His senior thesis explored reducing solar energy costs through high efficiency solar cells. While at UD, MJ was selected as a National Truman Scholar and helped organize volunteer abroad opportunities for UD students traveling to South Africa.

A believer in the transformative power of clean energy, MJ has researched, developed and maintained off-grid solar projects in rural Thailand and India. He has also served as a liaison between global youth non-government organizations and the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat. He currently lives in rural Virginia and is an avid cyclist and Cleveland sports fan.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2024.

Alison Spoonmore

UD Honors B.ChE. ’85 | Engineering

Alison is currently President of Sabbatical Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning, business transformation, process improvement, and career coaching.

Alison started her career at GE and continuing at Eli Lilly. She has been drawn to start-up and development projects throughout her career. In manufacturing, Alison was part of several new plant and new product development teams, including leadership of Lilly’s Fermentation Pilot Plant, developing scalable processes for new large molecule products. Transitioning to Human Resources, Alison worked on several strategic transformation initiatives across several organizations. Within HR, Alison developed myLilly, the global employee portal for access to information and services specific to employees and supervisors. Alison was also invited to be one of Lilly’s first Lean Six Sigma Black Belts, and achieved Master Black Belt status in 2005; in these assignments, she was instrumental in directing projects as well as mentoring and leading other black belts through process improvement programs across Global Services and Product Development.

Alison earned her undergraduate honors degree at UD in 1985, majoring in chemical engineering. Alison and her husband Bob have three wonderful sons and a really lazy dog named (ironically) Nike. When not enjoying a Notre Dame football game or an IndyCar race, Alison enjoys baking, blogging, and home improvement projects. Alison and Bob are founders/sponsors of the High School Film Competition at the Heartland Film Festival, recognizing young filmmakers and their works for more than 10 years – ask her about it!

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Emeritus Council Members

Joan Digby, Ph.D.

UD M.A. ’64 | Retired director of the Honors Program, Long Island University

Joan has been a Professor of English at Long Island University for 51 years, and served as Director of the Honors Program at Long Island University for 41 of those years.

Joan received her M.A. degree from UD in 1964, majoring in English. She received her Ph.D. in 1969 from NYU.  Joan has been very engaged in the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), having been a past president in 1999. She has had continued involvement on the Publications Board (Co-Chair) and Partners in the Parks Committees (a program that she developed).  Joan developed and edited four editions of Peterson’s Guide to Honors Programs and Colleges, a resource book for The National Collegiate Honors Council.  In 2018 Joan won NCHC’s Founders Award, the society’s highest honor.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Steve Esser, Ph.D.

UD Honors B.S. ’85 | Retired Investment Manager

Steve is a retired investment manager, having last worked in that industry as a partner at Permit Capital in West Conshohocken, PA.  Prior to this he worked as managing director for Morgan Stanley Investment Management; partner at Miller, Anderson & Sherrerd; and assistant vice president at Kidder Peabody.  After retiring from Permit Capital, Steve served as the Associate Director for the Philosophy for the Young Project at the University of Pennsylvania. 

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2017.

Brenna Trout Frey, Esq., J.D.

UD Honors B.A. ’07 | Attorney

Brenna currently works as a Litigation Associate for Skadden, Arps, Meagher, and Flom LLP. She specializes in the area of mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation in the Washington office.  Prior to joining Skadden, Arps, Meagher, & Flom LLP, Brenna was a Litigation Associate at Weil, Gotshal, & Manges LLP in NY.

Brenna earned her undergraduate honors degree at UD in 2007, majoring in political science. She received her J.D. degree from NYU in 2012.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2020.

Katharine Carter Kerrane

Retired Senior Associate Director, UD Honors Program

Katharine retired as Senior Associate Director of the Honors Program in 2013, after working at the University of Delaware since 1981.  Then Katharine served for five years as Special Assistant for the Fulbright Initiative in the Institute for Global Studies.  In 2005, Katharine was named an Outstanding Truman Advisor by the Truman Foundation, and the university was named a Truman Honor Institution.

Katharine earned her bachelor’s degree in English language and literature with distinction, and a master’s degree in counseling, both from the University of Virginia. Katharine also has a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Delaware.

She joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2018.

Dave Sang

UD Honors B.S., M.S. ’15 | Technology

Dave currently works at Google as a Senior Business Operations & Strategy Associate in Mountain View, CA. Prior to joining Google in 2017, David was a Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company in NYC with a focus on consumer technology.

Dave earned his undergraduate honors degree at UD in 2015, majoring in finance & accounting. He concurrently earned an M.S. in accounting with a finance concentration at UD. While at UD, Dave interned at AstraZeneca, Morgan Stanley, and KPMG New Zealand. Dave was also president of the Blue Hen Investment Club and the national winner of PwC’s 2014 case competition.

He joined UD’s Honors College Dean’s Advisory Council in 2017.