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Board of Directors

Marcia S. Ballinger, PhD; Board Chair

Marcia Ballinger has been a principal with Minneapolis-based KeyStone Search, an executive search firm, since 2004, after serving eight years as a vice president with another prominent executive search firm. Ballinger's previous corporate positions were as director of human resources development with two international manufacturing and distribution firms, which included management of a multiyear corporate culture transformation. She also has been an adjunct faculty member in business at Capella University and St. Mary's University, and began her career with IBM in sales and educational capacities. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Speech-Communication from the University of Minnesota. She received her PhD in Organization and Management from Capella University. She also earned her certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources from the HR Certification Institute. Ballinger is vice chair of the board of the American Red Cross-Twin Cities Area Chapter and a member of the United Way Women's Leadership Council.

Mike Buttry, BA

Mike Buttry joined Capella Education Company as Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications in July, 2010. Prior to that, Buttry served as Chief of Staff and Communications Director for U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel. In nine years with Senator Hagel, he worked on a wide range of issues including entitlement reform, immigration policy, foreign policy, increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and legislation to enhance the GI Bill. He also helped edit Hagel’s Washington Post best seller, America: Our Next Chapter. After Hagel’s retirement from the Senate, Buttry worked as a Managing Director at Chlopak, Leonard, Schechter and Associates, a strategic communications firm in Washington, D.C., where his clients included the Government of Kenya, Google, and the American Dental Association. 

Buttry is a graduate of Creighton University, a Policy Fellows alumnus of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and has attended the executive education program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. In 2014, he was named a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal 2014 40 Under 40 recipient, an honor awarded to 40 young leaders who have achieved significant accomplishments in their professional careers and demonstrated commitment to their community. Mike Buttry was named to the Capella University Board in March of 2015.

Carmen Coballes-Vega, PhD

Dr. Coballes-Vega has more than 35 years of experience in higher education. She holds a master's degree in Humanities Education/School of Education, New York University; and a doctorate in Reading and Linguistics from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. Dr. Coballes-Vega serves as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College, City University of New York, Bronx, New York. Dr. Coballes-Vega has 17 years of administrative experience in three other institutions including Metropolitan State University (St. Paul), University of Wisconsin River Falls and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities named Dr. Coballes-Vega a Millennium Leadership Fellow. She was recently honored by ASPIRA of America in the 2011 Salute to Latina Leaders during their 50th anniversary celebration. ASPIRA is the nation's largest Latino nonprofit organization and the only one dedicated exclusively to the education of Latino youth.

Dr. Coballes-Vega has provided professional service through her work as a member of the Faculty for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) Leadership Academy. In addition, she served on the Board of Directors of AACTE and as a member of the Unit Accreditation Board of the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. She was president of the Wisconsin State Reading Association.

Dr. Coballes-Vega has been active in the community and served on the board of Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio (CLUES), St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has previously served on the board of directors of the Girl Scouts of St. Croix Valley and the National Board of the YWCA of the USA.

Melissa Crane, MS

Melissa R. Crane serves at the Learner Representative for the Capella University Board of Directors and is a doctorate candidate in the School of Education with emphasis on Instructional design for Online Learning. She has a Masters of Education in Exercise Physiology and a Masters of Science in Instructional Design. Melissa has 19 years' experience in Healthcare and has worked as an exercise physiologist in cardiac rehabilitation, supervisor for adult wellness programs, administrator and learning leader for online learning and coordinator of computer education. Currently, Melissa Works at Ascension Health as an enterprise level learning management system administrator supporting clinical excellence initiatives. Ascension Health is the largest Catholic healthcare system in the United States serving 132 hospitals. Melissa has presented her original research in healthcare and online learning at several conferences as the AACE E-Learning International Conference and Global Time Virtual Conference. In addition to serving on multiple committees for Ascension Health, Melissa serves on the HealthStream Advisory Board for Mobile Learning. Melissa is a Certified Health Fitness Specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine as well as certified instructor for The American Heart Association. Her honors include Kappa Delta Pi and Golden Key Society. Melissa also has several years' experience as an adjunct instructor at ITT Technical.

Robert Fox, JD

As one of the founding faculty members and professor emeritus at Metropolitan State University in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Robert Fox has nearly 40 years of experience in higher education. He practiced law at a Twin Cities law firm specializing in non-profit organizations before leaving to help establish the university in 1972. During his tenure at Metro State, Fox served as department chair, assistant to the president, and counsel to the president. He also held numerous university committee and faculty positions, which involved significant work with multiple student centered learning strategies. He consults nationally on the assessment of experiential learning. Fox also served on the Minnesota Department of Health Committee on Chemical Dependency Counselor Credentials.

His passion for the game of table tennis has earned him recognition at the national level, an induction into the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame, and executive leadership responsibilities for professional table tennis organizations. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History from the University of Minnesota; and holds a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law.

Eric Jolly, PhD

Dr. Eric J. Jolly is nationally known for his personal passion for STEM (science, technology, mathematics and engineering) education and for working to identify solutions that address our country's achievement gap. As president of the Science Museum of Minnesota, one of the nation's largest and most esteemed science museums, Dr. Jolly leads a staff that develops and presents exhibits, films and educational programs to hundreds of thousands of people in the upper Midwest and to millions more around the world through its traveling programs. Under his leadership, the museum has hosted provocative and highly-successful exhibitions like Body Worlds, RACE: Are We So Different? and Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. Widely recognized for his work with communities and policy-makers and his many contributions to mathematics and science education, Jolly is the chair of the National Research Council's Out-of-School Time STEM Learning Committee, a member of the National Academy of Engineering's Committee on Guiding the Implementation of K-12 Engineering Education in the United States, and a board member of the Bush Foundation, among many other board affiliations. He is also the author of numerous articles and curricula.

Christopher King, PhD

Dr. Christopher J. King, FACHE, is a healthcare executive, researcher, educator and strategist who is committed to health reform efforts aimed at bridging the gap between the healthcare and public health sectors.

As a health services leader, Christopher has taught in public schools, managed private and federal community health programs, and written more than $20M in award-winning grants for healthcare providers. As the assistant vice president of community health for MedStar Health, a $4.2B not-for-profit healthcare system, he provides leadership for ten hospitals' community health activities. He is also responsible for conducting community health assessments and evaluating unconventional delivery models that support population health management.

As a health services researcher, Christopher's national investigations have been documented in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the American Journal of Medical Quality. He has also presented to national audiences and conducted lectures on minority health and workforce development for the American College of Healthcare Executives. Christopher teaches Strategic Planning and Human Resources at the University of Maryland, School of Public Health and he recently completed a 3-year term as chairman of the Consumer Health Foundation, which invests more than $1.8M annually in health equity initiatives focused on the Washington, DC region.

Christopher has a PhD in Health Services Administration, a master's degree in Health Science and an undergraduate degree in Community Health. He is also a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives.

The Washington Business Journal has recognized Christopher as one of the top minority business leaders in the national capital area.

Scott Kinney, MBA

University President, Capella University

Scott Kinney joined Capella in January 2012 as university president after serving as president of West Education Group at Thomson Reuters Corporation. While at West Education Group, he led a group of five businesses providing legal education products and services to academic and legal professional customers around the world. His experience lies across many industries, with an emphasis on technology and information-driven businesses. Previously, Kinney served as president of FindLaw at Thomson Reuters Corporation from 2004-2007. Prior to that, he was an executive vice president at CBS MarketWatch, and worked for eight years at The Boston Consulting Group. Kinney graduated with an AB from Dartmouth College and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Richard Senese, PhD

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Chief Academic Officer

Prior to returning to Capella in 2014, Dr. Senese served in leadership roles with the University of Minnesota Extension for 13 years. He most recently served as Extension’s Sr. Associate Dean, where he oversaw research, program evaluation, international partnerships, and faculty development, among other responsibilities. Prior to his promotion to Sr. Associate Dean, he served as the founding Associate Dean for the Center for Community Vitality. He has taught at a number of Minnesota-based institutions, including St. Olaf College, Metropolitan State University, and the College of St. Scholastica, and served previously as the Associate Dean for Capella University’s Harold Abel School of Psychology. Dr. Senese received his PhD from the University of Minnesota through the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program with the Department of Educational Psychology. He is licensed psychologist and active in community affairs in his native Minnesota.

Todd Sorensen, JD

Todd Sorensen joined Capella in January 2011 as Senior Corporate Attorney, with a focus on litigation, internal business advice and academic policy. He came to Capella from Seattle-based law firm Williams, Kastner & Gibbs, where he served as a business litigation attorney from 2004-2010 and chaired the firm's Education Law Practice Team. Washington Law & Politics Magazine named Mr. Sorensen a "Rising Star" in 2010. Mr. Sorensen earned his Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College and his Juris Doctor from University of Minnesota Law School.

Kathryn Van Asselt, PhD

Dr. Kathryn Watkins Van Asselt was appointed Faculty Representative of Capella University's Board in March of 2015. Since joining Capella in 2006, she has served in a variety of governance and academic positions, including the University Policy Council (UPC), Faculty Review Panel (FRP), Counselor Education Executive Council, CES Governance Board, Subject Matter Expert (SME), residency curriculum redesign, and currently the CPPS review committee.

Dr. Van Asselt has more than 19 years of educational and leadership experience, including special education teaching and school counseling at both the elementary and middle school levels. She served as the Oregon School Counselor Association Past-President and is President of the Western Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (WACES). She has published peer-refereed articles, including the flagship Journal of Counseling and Development, has presented educational sessions at more than 20 national and international conferences and has been recognized for distinguished teaching including the Harold Abel Distinguished Faculty Award, the Stephen Shank Outstanding Faculty Member Award, and the WACES Outstanding Mentor Award. Dr. Van Asselt earned her Bachelor of Science from the University of New Mexico, her Master of Arts in School Counseling from Western Carolina University, and her Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Northern Colorado.

Harry Williams, PhD

Dr. Harry L. Williams became the 10th President in the 123-year history of Delaware State University on January 10, 2010, after serving as the institution's provost and vice president for academic affairs. During the first eight months of his tenure, Dr. Williams held more than 200 meetings with constituencies, including White House officials, Governor Jack Markell, the Delaware Congressional delegation, state legislators, alumni groups, community organizations and others. Dr. Williams also took several trips abroad to sign new collaborative agreements with institutions of higher education in China and South Africa.

Prior to his arrival at DSU, Dr. Williams served the University of North Carolina General Administration as interim associate vice president for academic affairs beginning in September 2007. He was elevated in March 2008 to interim senior associate vice president for academic and student affairs in which he focused on access and outreach for the 17 campuses of the UNC system. In addition to his experience within institutions of higher education, from 2002 to 2008 Dr. Williams was a national marketing and recruitment associate consultant with Noel-Levitz, the top national consultation firm for enrollment and management solutions in the country. In that capacity, Dr. Williams provided consultation expertise to 14 different institutions of higher education, including Delaware State University.

Dr. Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Broadcasting and a Master of Arts in Educational Media, both from Appalachian State University. He earned an EdD in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University.