Leadership

In addition to our leadership listed below, REL Appalachia staff includes research experts in our three priority areas, alliance coordinators, and state liaisons.

For general questions or to contact any member of our staff, please email us at .

REL Director

Patricia Kannapel, Ph.D., Director
Patricia Kannapel, Ph.D., Director

As director, Dr. Patricia J. Kannapel leads the development of research studies and plans and executes technical assistance and dissemination activities to meet education needs in the REL Appalachia region. Prior to becoming director, Kannapel served the REL as a senior research scientist and as alliance coordinator of its Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance (KyCCRA).

Kannapel possesses more than 25 years of experience conducting qualitative research on K-12 school improvement projects. She has acted as lead researcher on numerous projects in Kentucky, and served as a research team member on large-scale research projects across the United States. She also has been an adjunct faculty member at Bellarmine University in Louisville, KY.

Kannapel received her M.Ed. from the University of Louisville and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

Deputy Director, Collaboration and Coordination Lead, and Appalachia Higher Education Consortium Lead

Christopher Sun, Deputy Director, Collaboration and Coordination Lead, and Appalachia Higher Education Consortium Lead
Christopher Sun, Deputy Director, Collaboration and Coordination Lead, and Appalachia Higher Education Consortium Lead

Christopher Sun is the deputy director and collaboration and coordination lead for REL Appalachia, as well as the Lead for the Appalachia Higher Education Consortium alliance. An associate research analyst at CNA, he brings more than seven years of quantitative and qualitative analytical experience in education practice and policy, as well as facilitation expertise. He has worked directly with stakeholders at all levels of education, including state board of education members, state education agency staff, state and district superintendents, and school-level staff. Through these interactions, Sun has provided research-based insights in understandable and meaningful ways on a variety of topics, including college and career readiness, summer learning, school leadership, and teacher preparation.

Assessment of Regional Needs Lead and Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance Lead

Stephanie Baird Wilkerson, Ph.D., Assessment of Regional Needs Lead and Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance Lead
Stephanie Baird Wilkerson, Ph.D., Assessment of Regional Needs Lead and Metro Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance Lead

Stephanie Baird Wilkerson, Ph.D., president of Magnolia Consulting, LLC, leads needs assessment for REL Appalachia and manages technical assistance and research projects for the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools Data Use Research Alliance. She has led large-scale studies of data use and systemic improvement and has directed 32 curriculum efficacy evaluations in the areas of science, reading, math, and English language proficiency.

Wilkerson has expertise in program evaluation, qualitative and quantitative research methods, multi-level modeling, logic model development, and instrument construction. She received her master’s degree in education and doctoral degree in program evaluation from the University of Virginia Curry School of Education, where she has served as an adjunct faculty member.

Maintenance and Refinement of Research Alliances Lead and West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance Lead

Lydotta M. Taylor, Ed.D., Maintenance and Refinement of Research Alliances Lead and West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance Lead
Lydotta M. Taylor, Ed.D., Maintenance and Refinement of Research Alliances Lead and West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance Lead

Lydotta M. Taylor, Ed.D., is the founder of L-evation and the president and founder of The EdVenture Group, and she leads efforts to support and maintain REL Appalachia’s research alliances, as well as the activities of the West Virginia School Leadership Research Alliance. Taylor provides consulting and training services to the education and business market through her organizations, and she specializes in leadership development and change management solutions. In May 2012, Taylor published the book Transforming Learning through 21st Century Skills, which focuses on change management for schools.

Taylor completed her Doctorate of Education in May 2011, and she holds a master’s degree in secondary education from West Virginia University. Taylor currently serves as an adjunct professor for the WVU Leadership program, the Education Leadership Graduate Program, and the WVU Industrial Relations Master’s Program.

Analytic Technical Assistance Lead and Virginia Middle School Research Alliance Lead

Andrea Muse, Ph.D., Analytic Technical Assistance Lead and Virginia Middle School Research Alliance Lead
Andrea Muse, Ph.D., Analytic Technical Assistance Lead and Virginia Middle School Research Alliance Lead

Andrea Muse, Ph.D., is a senior research scientist at CNA, and she leads REL Appalachia's technical assistance projects, in addition to the activities of the Virginia Middle School Research Alliance.

Muse's work has focused on conducting research that informs public policy and enables evidence-based decisionmaking in education. She specializes in translating research into practice in areas such as school climate, academic achievement, and teacher training and professional development. She has expertise in instrument development and the collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of quantitative and qualitative data.

Prior to joining CNA, Muse was the director of research and program evaluation at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). She has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology and a master’s degree in cognitive psychology from the Florida State University.

Dissemination Lead

Liza Cordeiro, Dissemination Lead
Liza Cordeiro, Dissemination Lead

Liza Cordeiro, REL Appalachia’s dissemination lead, is the senior marketing advisor for CNA Education. She joined the team in 2015, bringing with her more than a decade of experience in communications and public relations. Previously, Ms. Cordeiro worked with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE), overseeing all public relations, crisis communications, and new media strategies, as well as marketing and image development. Ms. Cordeiro also worked in the West Virginia Governor’s Office of Technology as a media specialist and as press secretary for former Congressman Bob Wise. She began her media career as a television anchor and reporter.

Ms. Cordeiro has a bachelor’s degree from Emerson College and a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications from West Virginia University.

Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance Lead

Michael Flory, Ph.D., Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance Lead
Michael Flory, Ph.D., Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance Lead

Dr. Michael Flory is alliance lead of REL Appalachia’s Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance (KyCCRA).

A CNA research scientist who has supported REL Appalachia since 2008, Flory's primary interest is college and career readiness, including advanced coursework, career and technical education, and uses of data to inform interventions. He also has worked on issues related to early childhood education, low-performing schools, and rural education.

He is a former chemistry teacher, with a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona and a B.S. from Purdue University.

West Virginia Workforce Readiness Alliance Lead

Laura Holian, Ph.D., West Virginia Workforce Readiness Alliance Lead
Laura Holian, Ph.D., West Virginia Workforce Readiness Alliance Lead

Laura Holian, Ph.D., leads the activities of the West Virginia Workforce Readiness Alliance for REL Appalachia. An associate director at Insight Policy Research, Holian has worked on numerous projects for REL Appalachia and has conducted work in each of its four states. She recently completed a data catalog for the Kentucky College and Career Readiness Alliance, and her other recent work includes describing the use of blended and online learning in southwest Tennessee and examining college-going rates by student subgroup in Virginia. Holian’s work focuses on college and career readiness, career and technical education, and STEM education. She has conducted randomized controlled trials and quasi-experimental design impact analyses. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Virginia, where she was also an IES pre-doctoral fellow in education sciences.