The Kessler Scholars Collaborative operates as a direct initiative of the Wilpon Family Foundation, and its core team is responsible for guiding the implementation and ongoing work of campus-based Kessler Scholars Programs. Collaborative staff lead a generative community of practice among campus-based partners to encourage shared learning and capacity building, all focused on improving outcomes for first-generation students across the nation.
Shakima Clency, MS
National Director of Campus Partnerships and Student Success
As the National Director of Campus Partnerships and Student Success, Shakima Clency is responsible for developing and supporting sustainable institutional partnerships with leadership of campus-based Kessler Scholars Programs to support effective implementation of the Kessler Scholars student support model.
Shakima has worked in higher education for over 17 years in both academic and student affairs and has extensive experience establishing rapport and cultivating relationships with campus stakeholders to drive institutional change in support of student success. Prior to joining the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, Shakima served on the leadership team at Cornell Tech and oversaw the implementation and assessment of initiatives in support of strategic diversity and inclusion priorities and previously served as the inaugural Director of First-generation and low-income student support and led the planning and implementation of the Kessler Scholars program at Cornell University. Shakima’s previous consulting activities, teaching and research has focused on empowerment strategies to support first-generation college students, critical theory and higher education, college access and the first-year experience for college students.
Shakima is currently pursuing her PhD in Educational Studies with a concentration in Cultural Foundations from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Alfred University and a master’s degree from Canisius College.
Gail Gibson, PhD
Gail Gibson leads the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, working with campus colleagues to imagine and build better systems of support for first-generation college students. Previously, Gail served as Director of the Kessler Scholars Program at the University of Michigan, where she designed and led the early development of this cohort-based student support initiative.
A former journalist, Gail was a national legal correspondent for The Baltimore Sun, and she is a former recipient of the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship in the Law at U-M.
Kristen Glasener, PhD
National Director of Organizational Learning and Strategy
As the National Director of Organizational Learning and Strategy, Kristen Glasener is responsible for managing and supporting the assessment of organizational learning across the national Collaborative network and overseeing the design, implementation, and assessment of campus-based Kessler Scholars Programs.
Prior to joining the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, Kristen worked in selective college admissions and as a college advisor to support underserved students in navigating the college-going process. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Ohio State University and an MSW from Boston University.