Letter from the President

Stephens College President Dr. Dianne Lynch

Since 1833, Stephens College has been educating women to become leaders in their professions and in their communities. An institution committed to creative innovation, intellectual engagement, and active citizenship, Stephens takes great pride in our ever-expanding networks of influence — from our partnerships locally, regionally and nationally to our vast community of Stephens alumnae in this country and around the world.

As you may already have discovered, Stephens is widely recognized for excellence in the health sciences and creative arts. Our campus is an extraordinary incubator for big, crazy, fabulous ideas across disciplines — from fashion design, digital filmmaking, acting, education and creative writing to degrees in the fastest-growing arenas of the health sciences. Our graduates leave Stephens prepared to think critically, communicate clearly, act decisively and pursue their greatest dreams — wherever those dreams may lead them.

We’re very proud of what we offer here at Stephens College. Whatever your passion or ambition, we are a community of teachers and learners dedicated to helping you achieve it. Whether you’re interested in joining our community of amazing Stephens women, or just reconnecting with your wonderful alma mater, please take a few minutes to look around the site and discover what it means to dream up.


Meet the President


Office of the President

Dianne M. Lynch, Ph.D.


Dianne became the 24th president of Stephens College in June 2009. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Mass Communication and Feminist History, and her Ph.D. in Art History and Communications from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she studied feminist theory and social identity development among digital natives — children growing up online. Her most recent research, a national study of the future of American journalism and journalism education, commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, was released in February 2015.

Dianne is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International University, the president of the American Midwest Conference (AMC) in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), a member of the Board of Directors of Providence Bank, and a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. She has been active in a variety of local community organizations in Columbia, including the Hagan Scholarship Foundation, the United Way Board of Directors, the Cradle to Career initiative, and the CORE Board of Directors.

Dianne was dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College from 2004 to 2009, and a faculty member and chair of the Department of Journalism at Saint Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, from 1989 to 2004. She was the 1999 National Journalism Teacher of the Year.

Dianne was the founding executive director of the national Online News Association. In that capacity, she was the editorial director of the first national study of the credibility of online news. She wrote a biweekly column, “Wired Women,” about women and technology, for ABCNews.com from 2000 to 2003, and a weekly column on new media ethics for The Christian Science Monitor from 1998 to 2002. She continues to write as a journalist, most recently for The Huffington Post.

Dianne and her husband, Philip Coleman, have four children: Andrew, Amelia, Nicholas and Annie. As avid animal lovers, Dianne and Philip enjoy their many dogs.


Lita Pistono

Executive Assistant to the President

Lita serves as the executive assistant in the Office of the President. She began working for Stephens in November 2008, after staying home with her twin daughters for six years. She has served in positions in the GCS (Division of Graduate and Continuing Studies), Admissions and Academic Affairs offices.

Prior to working at Stephens, Lita worked in IT, serving for 13 years in computer operations at Hughes Aircraft and for nine years in the staffing industry as a network administrator and a systems analyst.

Lita moved to Columbia from Cerritos, California, in 2006. She and her husband, Jim, have three daughters and a lab mix. Her oldest daughter graduated from Stephens with a B.F.A. in Fashion Communication in 2013. Lita enjoys spending time with family, cooking and outdoor activities.

Office of the President

Lita Pistono,
Executive Assistant to the President
(573) 876-7210 Ext: 4210 [email protected] Lela Raney Wood Hall 339 President's Blog: While You’re Away

Senior Staff

Shaashawn S. Dial ’98

Shaashawn S. Dial ’98 

Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Shaashawn joined Stephens in September 2019 in the newly created position of Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She serves as an advocate, advises Human Resources, plans and executes cross-campus training programs, oversees assessments of campus climate, serves as the Title VI (Civil Rights) Officer, and ensures College policies and processes are consistent with best practices related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Shaashawn is the former director of equity and affirmative action and staff liaison to the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission for the City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She previously contributed her skills, work ethic and passion in roles as coordinator, director, adviser and adjunct professor in human social services, Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), broadcast radio, and Central Pennsylvania College.

Shaashawn graduated from Stephens with a B.A. in Philosophy, Law and Rhetoric. While a student, she worked as an information specialist, serving as a public relations spokesperson and ambassador for the student body. She was also a member of the Searcy House Plan, a Ten Ideal (Intelligence), co-captain of the soccer team and a radio announcer; studied aboard in Oxford, England; and received the H.E. Wilkerson Outstanding Leadership and Service Award, Capstone Award, and Jean Clinton Roeschlaub Outstanding Leadership and Service Award. She also is a former member of the Alumnae Association Board.

She went on to earn a Master of Public Administration from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, and a graduate certificate in academic advising from Kansas State University.

She is a doctoral candidate at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, currently in the dissertation phase for a degree in Administration and Leadership Studies.

Shaashawn is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Award, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Community Service Award and the Change Agent Award from Amiracle4sure, Inc.

She has volunteered as co-chair of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs and president of the board of directors for the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania, among others.

She founded Voycetress Media, LLC in 2015 to empower individuals and organizations through workshops and training on equity, diversity and inclusion. She is the author of a CD and two books, and is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.


Dane Fuhrman

Dane Fuhrman

Vice President for Finance and Administration

Dane joined Stephens College as the controller in September 2017 and has served as the vice president for finance and administration since Summer 2019. As vice president for finance and administration, his primary responsibilities include the oversight of the College’s financial and business functions as well as operations.

Prior to joining Stephens, Dane served as the director of finance for Services for Independent Living, a nonprofit organization serving seven counties in Missouri. A Certified Public Accountant, he earned bachelor’s degrees from the University of Wyoming and Columbia College.

Dane lives in Columbia, Missouri, with his wife, Christina, and two young children, Pearl and Oren.


Rebecca Kline

Rebecca Kline

Director of Marketing and Communications

Rebecca has been with Stephens since October 2012. She serves as the director of the Office of Marketing and Communications. Her previous experience includes nine years with Intuit Inc., a Fortune 500 company, where she served as marketing manager responsible for print and digital communications, events and public relations for a business-to-business software division. She has also served as a marketing consultant for clients, including nonprofits, a software start-up, retailers and a recruitment (HR) ad agency, and as marketing manager for the Student Auxiliary Services office of the University of Missouri.

She studied English with a concentration in Journalism at Miami University (Ohio). Her previous experience also includes copywriting for The David Group (Cleveland), and Youngstown, Ohio-based manufacturing and retail organizations.

A native of northeast Ohio, she and her husband, David, a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, have two teenage children: Olivia and Nate.


Laura Nunnelly, Ed.D.

Dr. Laura Nunnelly

Vice President for Student Development

With more than 20 years of experience in higher education, Laura became the vice president for student development at Stephens College in July 2019. She previously served as director of student life and engagement in the Office of Student Development since April 2017.

With a deep commitment to Stephens, Laura is dedicated to building a dynamic, inclusive community for all the College’s students. In her role, she leads Stephens’ Security, Student Development and Athletics teams.

Laura has a successful history in developing cross-functional teams, retention strategies (like helping to develop the Stephens Behavioral Intervention Team), program development, assessment and event planning. Prior to Stephens, she most recently oversaw a team of 14 members as the senior director of student life at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

Laura holds a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education: Leadership from the University of Liverpool, Liverpool, U.K.; a Master of Arts in English from Missouri State University; and a Bachelor of Science in Clothing and Textiles from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Jeffrey Phillips, Ph.D.

Faculty Chair

Jeff is an associate professor of life sciences and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a Ph.D. in Zoology. Following a post-doctoral fellowship in natural resources and biochemistry at the University of Missouri-Columbia,
he joined the life science faculty at Stephens College in 2001. Jeff has taught a wide variety of courses, including Ecology, Botany, Research Methods in Biology, Horticulture, Human Anatomy and Parasitology. He most recently taught General Biology (for science majors), Vertebrate Zoology, Evolutionary Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, General Biology (for non-science majors) and Environmental Science (for non-science majors).

Jeff’s excellence as an adviser and educator has resulted in him receiving both the Distinguished Adviser Award and the Outstanding Teaching Award at Stephens.


Gina Sholtis

Gina Sholtis

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Gina serves as vice president for institutional advancement. In her role, she is the chief fundraising officer for the College and advises the president on all matters pertaining to the management and operation of development, alumni relations, as well as community and donor relations. She provides strategic leadership and direction for the Advancement program and is responsible for designing and implementing best practice, sustainable and comprehensive institutional advancement programs, recruiting and developing talented team members focused toward the ultimate goal of significantly increasing constituent involvement and fundraising outcomes.

Gina maintains close working relationships with the president and key internal and external stakeholders. She works to advance the mission, vision, and short and long-term goals of the College in concert with the president and senior administrative colleagues. She personally maintains a dynamic portfolio of high-net-worth individuals and secures major, capital and planned gifts, as well as advanced annual gifts and endowment support.

Prior to Stephens, Gina has had a successful and extensive career in higher education institutional advancement, including leadership roles at Saint Louis University, Washington University, the University of Missouri and Marquette University in Milwaukee. She most recently served as vice president for university advancement at Marquette University, where she was responsible for all areas of the advancement division. Gina was assistant vice chancellor for advancement at Mizzou during its $1.3-billion Our Time to Lead campaign; prior to that, she was associate dean and senior director of development at Washington University, where she participated in the $2.3-billion Leading Together campaign.

Gina has a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Missouri State University. She and her family live in Columbia.


Shannon Blankenship Walls ’93

Shannon Blankenship Walls ’93

Title IX Coordinator, Special Assistant to the President

Shannon serves as the College’s Title IX coordinator and special assistant to the president. As Title IX coordinator, her primary responsibility is to provide support and oversight of the College’s efforts to ensure that its community is a working, living and learning environment free from sex-based and gender discrimination, harassment or violence.

As special assistant to the president, Shannon serves as the liaison for the President’s office for campus committees involved with management hiring and advancement and strategic initiatives. Shannon serves as the staff liaison for the Trusteeship Committee.

Shannon earned a B.F.A. in Theatre Arts from Stephens, and she began working at the College in 1995.

Shannon is married to Dick, a retired Columbia restaurateur. Together, they enjoy traveling and spending time with their dogs, Boone and Brody. They are avid fans of the Missouri Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals and Stephens Stars, and they frequent many of the local restaurants and arts organizations in Columbia.


Dr. Leslie Swanda Willey ’83

Dr. Leslie Swanda Willey ’83

Vice President for Academic Affairs

Leslie became vice president for academic affairs in June 2016. She previously taught at Stephens for 19 years. She also served as dean of the Stephens College School of Interdisciplinary Studies and as director of The Children’s School at Stephens College. Leslie also has served as director of the undergraduate Education department and as director of the Master of Education program.

Prior to Stephens, Leslie taught in both public and private early childhood and elementary classrooms. She has served as an educational consultant to schools, providing professional development to teachers throughout the United States. She has also worked as a consultant and provided professional development through the Ministry of Education in New Zealand.

Leslie earned a Ph.D. and an M.Ed. from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a B.A. from Stephens College.



Dr. Nat Hardy

Dr. Nat Hardy

Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities

Dr. Hardy most recently served as Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences at College of Saint Mary, a women’s college in Omaha, Nebraska. His international background includes considerable administrative experience in higher education, serving both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as tested leadership experience. As an international faculty member and administrator, and a dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Hardy values and embraces diversity, inclusion and social equity and welcomes the opportunity to help create an even more diverse, global and inclusive Stephens College community.

Hardy holds a Ph.D. in the Early Modern Literature of Illness and Disease (University of Alberta), an M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration (Georgia Southern University), an M.F.A. in Creative Writing (Louisiana State University), an M.A. in Restoration Utopian Literature (McMaster University) and a B.A. in Literature and Philosophy (University of Alberta). To date, Hardy has held teaching and administrative positions at the College of Saint Mary, Savannah State University, Rogers State University, Oklahoma State University, Louisiana State University, the University of Alberta and McMaster University.


Dr. Julia A. Moffitt

Dr. Julia A. Moffitt

Dean of the School of Health Sciences

Dr. Julia Moffit’s experience encompasses department leadership and management, extensive committee service, scientific research and publication, and teaching experience in programs including the biomedical sciences, kinesiology, physiology and pharmacology.

Moffitt earned her B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, an M.A. in Cardiac Rehabilitation from the University of Northern Iowa, and a Ph.D. in the physiology program in Veterinary Biomedical Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Her education also includes a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa, where she focused her work on physiology, pharmacology and behavior.

She has been recognized with numerous awards for teaching excellence as well as for her research and professional service. She served most recently as a professor and chair of the department of physiology, pharmacology and pathology at the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine. Other professional appointments include professor and chair at St. Ambrose University, preceded by five years as faculty at Des Moines University.

She has been an invited lecturer at nearly 30 national and regional events and conferences; has authored nearly 50 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and published abstracts; is a named inventor on more than 20 U.S. and European patents related to cardiac pacing and neural stimulation therapies; and has received significant funding for her research work.

Board of Trustees


Mark Taylor ’73 - Board Chair
Van Nuys, California

Ellen Vollrath ’86 - Vice Chair
Washington, D.C.

Valerie Shaw ’00 - Secretary
Columbia, Missouri

Nikki Krawitz - Treasurer
Columbia, Missouri

Gayle Flannery Bentsen ’67
Houston, Texas

The Honorable Ann K. Covington
Columbia, Missouri

Sara Herrnstadt Crosby ’76
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

George Ann Stokes Harding ’58
Chappell Hill, Texas

Sara Jane Johnson ’56
Orcas, Washington/Wilson, Wyoming

Teresa Rouse Maledy ’78
Columbia, Missouri

Jane Hobson Marcus ’78
New York, New York

Angeleigha “Angel” Mendez ’14
Minneapolis, Minnesota

M. Anne Murphy ’78
Houston, Texas

Anita K. Parran ’73
Kansas City, Missouri

Christy Hanahan Powell ’68
Banner Elk, North Carolina/Coral Gables, Florida

Tom Richards
Columbia, Missouri

Vicki Russell
Columbia, Missouri

Susan Brawley Schmidt ’67
Dallas, Texas

Dylan Shelofsky ’13
Westminster, Colorado

Jim Sinek
Columbia, Missouri

Silissa Uriarte Smith ’98
Long Beach, California

Henry “Hank” J. Waters, III
Columbia, Missouri


Trustees Emeriti

Dale Creach - Columbia, Missouri

Gretchen Bush Kimball ’57 - Belvedere, California

Ann Wrobleski ’73 - Washington, D.C.

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