William R. Roberts has more than 35 years of experience in business, operations and strategy. He is currently senior vice president and chief administrative officer at KCI Technologies, an engineering, consulting and construction firm serving clients throughout the US and beyond.
He began his extensive career with the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, which later became Verizon, Washington, DC. He held positions of increasing responsibility in Operations, Human Resources, Marketing, Public Affairs, and Government Relations, before assuming responsibility in 2000 for Verizon’s public policy initiatives in Maryland, as president. Subsequently in 2007, he was named region president of Verizon Maryland and the District of Columbia, overseeing all of the company’s operations in those areas. He retired in 2011, following 32 years of service.
As a Maryland native, Roberts’ diverse board involvement reflects his passion for leading institutions and organizations that benefit the community. He currently serves as a board member of Greenspring Financial Group, Ltd. He has also served as chairman of the Board of Directors for MedStar Health, the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. Additionally, he has served as board chairman for the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, National Aquarium in Baltimore, and the Baltimore branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; as well as serving as a board member for the Greater Baltimore Committee, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Partners in Education, Morgan State University Board of Regents, and Federal City Council.
Roberts holds numerous honors and distinctive recognitions, including two honorary doctorate degrees. He also was named the Loyola University Sellinger School of Business 2004 Business Leader of the Year. In 2012, he was inducted into the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame, recognizing the accomplishments of Maryland entrepreneurs and business executives whose contributions, in business and the community, have helped advance the quality of life for Marylanders and the state’s business climate.
Maj Gen (Ret) Cassie A. Strom, USAF, retired in 2015 as the Air National Guard Assistant to The Judge Advocate General. In this position she was principal advisor and liaison to The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force on Air National Guard legal matters and responsible for strategic planning, and management of the Air National Guard Judge Advocate program, encompassing over 440 judge advocates and paralegals at Air National Guard legal offices throughout the United States.
General Strom served six years on active duty before transferring to the Air Force Reserve Component, starting as a traditional Guardsman at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis in 1990. She deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina twice, augmenting the Army Civil Affairs mission and later the Election Appeals Sub-Commission. She has worked a variety of international peacekeeping exercises, served in the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and acted as the Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, United States Transportation Command. General Strom is admitted to practice law in the State of Missouri.
Strom established the Veterans Advocacy Project under Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry at Saint Louis University Law School. It provided the greater St. Louis area homeless and lower income Veteran community with legal representation to remove the legal barriers to obtaining housing, employment, and benefits. Strom provided legal services to include representation in local courts to resolve outstanding warrants and charges, upgrade of discharge characterizations, estate administration, family law/child support matters, applications for Veterans’ benefits and representation before the Department of Veterans Affairs. She has focused on identifying and addressing the needs of women Veterans and raising community awareness. She organized the Stand Up! For Women Veterans annual event in the greater St. Louis area, connecting women to each other and to local services.
Strom is currently involved with a variety of veteran organizations in Missouri: President of Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation and the Missouri Veterans’ Hall of Fame, and Co-chair of the Gateway Community Veterans Engagement Board which provides an interface between the VA and the Veteran community. She is a member of The American Legion, St. Louis Service Women’s Post 404 and serves as The American Legion, Department of Missouri, Judge Advocate. Strom is a 2019 Center for Women Veterans Trailblazer and has been recognized as a 2021 St. Louis Woman of Achievement for Veterans Advocacy. She is a University of Kansas and Creighton Law School graduate, as well as a graduate of the American Graduate School of International Management.
Lawrence E. Leak, Ph.D., is administrator emeritus at the University of Maryland Global Campus. In January 2021, Dr. Leak was appointed as special advisor to Gregory Fowler as he began his appointment as UMGC’s seventh president. Dr. Leak served in an advisory capacity until March 31, 2021.
Dr. Leak was named interim president of University of Maryland Global Campus in September 2020, following the retirement of President Javier Miyares. He was the first African American to lead the university in its 73-year history. Dr. Leak’s interim presidency concluded with the appointment of President Fowler in January 2021.
In a distinguished career spanning five decades, Dr. Leak has been a mainstay of Maryland education, serving as a high school teacher and principal, university professor and administrator, assistant state superintendent of schools, college trustee, and gubernatorial appointee.
The proud son of a 21-year veteran of the United States Air Force, Dr. Leak attended U.S. Department of Defense elementary schools in France and Germany through the sixth grade. He graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 1976 and went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in educational administration and supervision from University of Maryland, College Park. He earned his doctorate under the competitive award now known as the Flagship Fellowship Program.
He began his professional career as a social studies teacher at Great Mills High School in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. He went on to become principal of Manassas Park High School in Virginia before accepting an assistant professorship at University of Maryland, College Park. Dr. Leak subsequently held tenured faculty positions at Morgan State and Towson universities. On a seven-year loan from Towson University, beginning in 1996, he joined the Maryland State Department of Education, where he served as assistant state superintendent in the Division of Certification and Accreditation. In that capacity, Dr. Leak oversaw the state’s teacher certification/licensure process, as well as Maryland’s 21 post secondary teacher preparation programs and its nonpublic school accreditation process.
Dr. Leak first came to UMGC (then University of Maryland University College) in 2003 as vice provost for academic affairs and professor, later serving as interim provost and chief academic officer. He formally retired in December 2007 after a 31-year career in education.
Dr. Leak has remained active in higher education post-retirement. In 2009 he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and the following year to the Maryland Council for Educator Effectiveness, by then-Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Dr. Leak also serves as vice chair of Historic St. Mary’s City Commission.
For 35 years, Lawrence Graham served as a distinguished government relations executive of Verizon—the world’s largest wireless, fiber-optic and global information networks, and services company. During the span of his career, he successfully lobbied government officials throughout the Washington metro area to advance telecommunications public policy as well as the development of STEM programs in higher education.
In his role at Verizon, Graham developed pivotal relationships with the District of Columbia’s Public Service Commission and the Office of the Peoples Counsel, where he negotiated favorable decisions to advance key corporate initiatives including deregulation and the implementation of fiber-optic communications network (FiOS) technology serving over 6.5 million customers.
Additionally, Graham managed Verizon’s business interests, with an emphasis on the implementation of broadband technologies at the local and county levels. One of his primary responsibilities was to develop and leverage strategic partnerships with eight post-secondary institutions with science, technology, engineering, and technology (STEM) programs. He collaborated with university presidents, chief academic officers and local and state government officials to ensure that the business core values were positively translated during philanthropic endeavors.
These efforts resulted in the acquisition of five to six-figure funding and the expansion of educational programs for deserving students including but not limited to: Morgan State University’s expansion of opportunities for students seeking careers in cybersecurity and the University of the District of Columbia STEM Research and Training Center for innovative ideas and activities in the STEM disciplines (biology, chemistry, physics, engineering, computer science, environmental science and mathematics). These efforts also resulted in increased retention and graduation rates of STEM students at additional colleges and universities, and Graham has received numerous recognitions by academic and civic organizations for his support of students at the collegiate level. In 2016, Graham was recognized by Bowie State University as an Outstanding Business Partner of the Year.
As former President and Chief Executive Officer of Noblis, Dr. Thomas was responsible for the general management and direction of the company’s overall technical, financial, and administrative activities. Noblis is a nonprofit science, technology and strategy organization that services national and homeland security, public safety, transportation, health care, criminal justice, energy, the environment, and space.
Dr. Thomas was named president and chief executive officer and elected to the Board of Trustees of Noblis in July 1996. Previously, as a Senior Vice President and General Manager, Dr. Thomas was responsible for strategic planning and leadership of Noblis’ Center for Environment, Resources and Space. She retired as CEO in 2007 and from the Board in 2020.
Prior to Noblis, Dr. Thomas was with The MITRE Corporation from 1973 to 1996. At MITRE, she held a series of technical and management positions, spanning the areas of energy, environment, health, and communications systems.
In 2002, Dr. Thomas was appointed by President Bush to serve as a founding member of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council where she continued to serve under President Obama and Secretary Napolitano. She was twice appointed to serve as a member of the Virginia Research and Technology Advisory Commission, first by Governor George Allen and a second term appointment by then Governor Mark Warner. Governor Warner also appointed her to the Virginia Governor’s Higher Education Summit Steering Committee. In 2008, Dr. Thomas was appointed by Governor Kaine to the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change. She served on the Board of Directors of the Cabot Corporation, Washington Mutual Investors Fund, the United States Energy Association (USEA), the Northern Virginia Technology Council (NVTC), the Conference Board and is an emeritus member of the Charles Stark Dra per Laboratory. She is currently a director for Mueller Water Products, Inc. In 2005 she was appointed co-chair of the Government University Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) of the National Academies, serving in that position for seven years.
Dr. Thomas served as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees, Chair of the Committee on Academic Affairs and on the Advisory Board of the Research and Technology Campus of The George Washington University.
Active in the local community, Dr. Thomas recently retired as a member of the Posse Foundation Advisory Board, a Trustee of the INOVA Health System and Life with Cancer.
David comes to UMGC Ventures with two decades of executive leadership experience in enhancing the learner experience. He is a trailblazer in emerging edtech, alternative workforce preparation, AI-enabled operating models, next generation learning solutions, and emerging education business models.
Since 2021, David has served as the Senior Advisor for K-12 Solutions at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where his focus has been on helping to scale and commercialize education technology solutions for underserved students. Prior to this, he was the Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President at Stride, Inc. (formerly K12, Inc.) where he led corporate development efforts in supplemental solutions and renewed the company’s focus on career readiness and helping students earn career credentials from high school. Prior to Stride, he launched the Corporate Ventures function at ACT, a leading college and career assessment non-profit, and pioneered Adaptive Learning at Perdoceo (formerly Career Education Corporation), an online post-secondary company. David is also a Senior Advisor to Riiid Inc., an emerging leader in educational AI, New Apprenticeship, a startup focused on expanding apprenticeships in the US, and New Markets Venture Partners, a leading education technology venture fund in Maryland. He is also a founding board member of Undaunted Futures, a non-profit created to help mentor underserved youth in the DMV metro area.
Additionally, David has held various leadership positions with organizations including ECS Learning Systems, Procter & Gamble, and Microsoft, where his business development work under Jeff Raikes was featured in Fortune magazine and contributed to the robust, expanded Microsoft Office experience we know today. He is a first-generation college graduate and holds a BA in Computing and Economics from the University of Kent at Canterbury as well as a MPhil in Management Studies from the University of Oxford, where he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.
As the CEO of UMGC Ventures, David has broad responsibility for the overall company portfolio, incubating and executing on new strategies that will drive benefits for students, staff, and faculty around the world. His priority focus is on establishing new business and product opportunities to support future growth.
Joseph Sergi is senior vice president and chief operating officer of University of Maryland Global Campus, a position he has held since March 2021. Sergi has nearly three decades of experience as a senior operations and finance executive with a proven track record as a change agent and turnaround expert, as well as demonstrated ability for implementing transformative strategies and generating sustainable growth in institutions of higher education.
He served most recently as chief operating officer and chief financial officer of UMassOnline — the online arm of the five campuses of the University of Massachusetts — implementing innovative support services tailored to adult learners, introducing personnel best practices for online learning, and identifying and implementing operational efficiencies to optimize the student experience.
Before that, he served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Southern New Hampshire University; as vice president of finance and administration for Hesser College, in Manchester, New Hampshire; and as senior director of administration and finance of Massbiologics, an innovative developer and manufacturer of vaccines and other biologic products at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
In some 20 years of public service, Sergi held both elected and volunteer positions with the Town of Pepperell, Massachusetts, serving as a selectman and member of the Charter Commission, Planning Board, and Land Use Committee.
Kristophyre McCall is UMGC's chief transformation officer, overseeing innovation, enterprise program management (ePMO), and information security across the organization. In that role, he is responsible for driving forward critical business and technology processes, products, and programs that support academic and administrative priorities.
McCall joined UMGC in 2018 as vice president of academic operations and acting registrar, working to optimize key processes and operations that strengthened their service for learners worldwide. He led the Academic Operations teams to record-setting performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, worked across Academic Affairs and with other institutional partners to develop the Straightline Paths for UMGC’s undergraduate programs, and led a variety of other initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness in service to students.
McCall came to UMGC with more than 17 years of experience in enrollment management and university operations, having served previously as vice president of enterprise solutions at Pearson Online Learning Services and prior to that as senior vice president of university operations for Western International University. Earlier, at Career Education Corporation, he held senior level positions overseeing operations and developing student management foundations across multiple university systems.
McCall holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University and a master’s degree in business management from Colorado Technical University.
Wendy Colby is an accomplished education technology entrepreneur and executive with more than 25 years of experience in higher education. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor, having previously served as CEO of UMGC Ventures as well as its portfolio business, AccelerEd, which manages and develops innovative IT solutions for client organizations including the University of Maryland Global Campus.
With a deep background in education, spanning higher education, K-12, and workforce learning, Colby brings extensive experience in building businesses, driving digital transformation, and delivering market share growth.
Prior to UMGC Ventures, she served as Divisional Vice President at Laureate Education, where she led the development, commercialization and scale of a network-wide portfolio of digital learning solutions servicing over 80 universities around the world. Throughout her tenure, she held a variety of executive general management positions, including leading the College of Nursing at Walden University, which grew to be a $250M line of business, overseeing all enrollment, marketing, portfolio management, online program development and P&L operations.
Previously she was part of a founding Ventures team at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), establishing and scaling a series of new businesses to extend CMU’s market leadership and portfolio of offerings, while also expanding its revenue diversity and differentiation worldwide. In addition, Colby served as Senior Vice President at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she led the company’s new business and digital transformation efforts; and Senior Vice President of Thomson Reuters, growing a new business in the corporate online learning space. Colby began her education technology career as Vice President of Product Management at DigitalThink, a pioneering Silicon Valley-based startup.
A graduate of Illinois State University, Colby holds a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. She has a passion for education, and for collaborating with academic and business leaders to shape the future of education and elevate student success.