How does a theme park lawyer with a background in meeting planning and 25 years of higher education experience end up as C-BEN’s President?
It was her love for theme parks (and Disney, in particular) that led Charla into higher education. She first started teaching hospitality law and then broadened her teaching areas. She’s taught in the arts & humanities, science & technology, and business divisions of public and private institutions. As a teacher, she infused project-based, experiential learning into all of her classes. As a higher education administrator, she’s launched a social justice institute, a graduate school for aging services, and a new academic college. Today, she is regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts on competency-based education earning her a name as a top 10 influential people in higher education by The Chronicle.
With an undergraduate degree in Meetings and Tourism Destination Management and experience with Disney and Apple Computer, Charla knows how to plan awesome events. CBExchange was an idea she brought to fruition in 2015 and has led ever since. If you’ve been to CBExchange, you know Charla’s heart. If you haven’t attended the conference yet, you must come experience the magic of our CBE community.
Amber Garrison Duncan
Executive Vice President
Amber fell in love with higher education the moment she left her small Texas town and stepped foot on campus at Texas Woman’s University. Her passion for supporting holistic approaches to learning were honed at this “campus with a heart” and led to a career working at institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to support the transformation of the U.S. higher education system to be more equitable and just.
Amber has led work in competency-based education, learning frameworks, assessment, credential recognition, digital learner records, and open data standards, as well as quality assurance. Before her role at C-BEN, Amber spent 8 years as a grant maker at Lumina Foundation and prior to that served as Director of Student Affairs Assessment and Research at the University of Oregon, and various student affairs roles at Florida State University, University of Michigan, Hope College and Texas A&M University.
If you’ve ever caught yourself in a brainstorming session with Amber, you know she thinks about what is possible and how to leverage change to create the most good, for the most people, in the largest way possible. The C-BEN community is a natural home for her as it is full of fun spirited and bright innovators who are focused on what is best for learners.
Vice President of Quality Assurance and Accreditation
In addition to leading on her campus, Laurie has provided leadership on quality, assessment, and accreditation. Namely, Laurie has served as a member of the WASC Senior College Commission Substantive Change Committee and participated in countless accreditation visits both nationally and internationally. Laurie has also served on several association boards, including UPCEA, Credential Engine and is currently on the NC-SARA Board of Directors. Laurie has been a long-time leader in CBE and was “in the room where it happened” for seminal conversations for what would become C-BEN. As C-BEN was formed, Laurie served as the inaugural Chair of the Board.
In 2016 Laurie was named one of “The Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly (September/October 2016). She is co-author of “A Leader’s Guide to Competency-Based Education: From Inception to Implementation” with colleagues Deb Bushway and Charla Long.
Laurie is happy to report that she has evolved from building using glue and taping fabric together to now being a garment sewer, CBE program builder, and inspiring others to embrace innovation for learners. To be a part of the beginning of C-BEN and re-joining the team now is like coming home. Laurie is excited to help build and advance CBE, opening more doors to higher education for all.
Vice President of Consulting Services
Growing up with three brothers, Tiffany spent a lot of time in the great outdoors honing her skills with activities that require precision. Fishing and kayaking were two of her favorite childhood activities, while today she enjoys golfing. Understanding how to perform each activity with perfection in multiple settings is a theme you will recognize over her career.
Besides having a superhero name that should earn her a role in the next Incredibles movie as the real Dr. Freeze, Tiffany is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist as well as Board Certified Behavior Analyst with Doctoral Designation. As C-BEN’s Vice President of Consulting Services, Tiffany manages a team of consultants and works to create custom solutions for our clients. She focuses on the design of behaviorally based assessments and performance-based curriculum for competency-based education programs, particularly through the use of assessment centers.
Previously, Freeze served as Assistant Dean and Academic Chair in the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University where she led the Curriculum and Academic Team to the launch of PACE, Lipscomb’s 126-credit hour competency-based degree program. She is co-author of the book, Using a Competency Development Process Model in Higher Education: A Practice Guide, which was released in 2023.
Tiffany is a supermom to four children and in the evenings and on the weekend, you can find Tiffany surrounded by her family at a daughter’s volleyball or softball game. When it’s a no-sports night, she and her husband, Thomas, and a small group of friends will be competing in Trivia Night at a favorite local restaurant, often winning top honors!
Director of Consulting Services
A sociologist with a love of international travel, languages and food, Yedid pays attention to the details big and small that create the hallmark culture of the C-BEN community. In the same way that she can scratch cook with spices from around the world, Yedid goes above and beyond to create a place where stakeholders can shape the CBE movement from diverse perspectives, locations, and practices to create more access and success for marginalized communities. Prior to joining C-BEN, Yedid was the Office and Budget Manager in the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, a founding C-BEN member. Yedid has competencies in project management, budget management, events, and liaison with consulting clients, vendors, and sponsoring organizations. Yedid has also served as a technical writer and has experience teaching, including serving as an English language teacher in Japan. C-BEN is fortunate to have Yedid bridging communications and processes for our members and partners. While Yedid is the core of C-BEN’s operations, be sure to ask her about her year studying Zapotec as it will give you better insight into her ability to keep people at the center of all we do.
Director of Community Engagement
Brenda’s passion for service to her community started at a young age. Having grown up in a family where volunteering and being active in community were core values, Brenda is most inspired when individuals become community around a common cause. Her career has included membership management and fundraising for museums and later as program director for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brenda has witnessed time and again the power of community to change the lives of people and has driven her decades long career in nonprofit leadership.
This passion for community is also fueled by understanding peoples’ stories. Her family vacations involved a lot of museum trips and stops at Midwest antique malls, giving her windows into the past and prompting her to think critically about the future. Brenda uses her unique degrees in public history and nonprofit administration to help organizations understand the past in order to better prepare for the future. Even if this means wearing a historical costume for special events to fundraise, a skill that will be put to use at a future CBExchange!
Brenda is excited to engage as a cheerleader and community builder for the CBE movement and looks forward to talking with you about membership and sponsorships, as well as opportunities for C-BEN to amplify communications about your work.
Ryan is a problem solver. He is passionate about finding creative solutions to enduring problems, believing there is always more than one way around a mountain. That’s how he discovered and immersed himself in CBE–an innovative, equitable, & learner-centered approach to improving postsecondary attainment.
Prior to joining C-BEN, Ryan worked for seven years in the University of Wisconsin Flexible Option, one of the nation’s leading portfolios of competency-based education academic programs. He can seamlessly navigate between the strategic bird’s eye view as he advises executive leaders, and the on-the-ground tactical steps necessary to make CBE work as he collaborates with operational units. Ryan co-edited the book, New Models of Higher Education: Unbundled, Rebundled, Customized, & DIY, which won Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature, the top national literature award in the field of continuing education.
An adept project manager, adviser, facilitator, and leader, Ryan’s skillset and deep experience with the nuts-and-bolts of CBE pedagogy and operations uniquely position him to help colleges and universities as they discover, build, and scale CBE programs.
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