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Meet the Advisory Board Members

The Department of Sociology is pleased to introduce our current Advisory Board Members. Each member has provided a biography of their accomplishments, and a photo if available.

Advisory Board Member Pamela Conrad

Chair, Pamela J. Conrad
Retired Director, State Government Business Development
IBM Watson Health

A native of Columbus, Pam Conrad has spent 44 years working in government and healthcare, starting as a policy analyst for the State of Ohio, then the City of Columbus. She became a government affairs specialist for Blue Shield, then indulged her love of politics to become the Finance Director for the Ohio Democratic Party for six years. She moved back to the healthcare industry, where she spent 25 years helping state government Medicaid programs upgrade their information management systems. Pam is a specialist in the use of data analytics to improve healthcare quality and affordability. She is now retired and is active in several charities and community organizations. She holds a BA in Sociology from OSU. As an undergraduate, she was in student government and was named a University Outstanding Senior in 1971.  

Vincent Duncan

Robert Vincent Duncan

Vince Duncan earned his B.A. in Sociology from The Ohio State University in December 2001 and A.A. from Columbus State Community College in 1999.  Born and raised in Columbus, Vince was employed for 28 years at the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and retired in March 2012 from the position of Manager of Revenue Collection and Sales.  From 1983 to 1989, he served in the Ohio Air National Guard and was stationed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base (now Rickenbacker International Airport) in the 160th Air Refueling Group.  Vince became a real estate salesperson in 2006 with Keller Williams Classic Properties Realty (KWCP) in Columbus.  He has received several accreditations in the real estate industry which include Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), At Home With Diversity (AHWD), Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA), and Seller Representative Specialist (SRS).  At KWCP, Vince has served on the Associate Leadership Council and most recently served as Chair of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Committee and in June 2020, was selected to be a Social Equality Ambassador in the Ohio Valley Region of Keller Williams Realty, Inc.  He has represented buyers from many different countries, most notably countries located in West Africa.  Vince’s community involvement includes being a board member of CASA of Franklin County (Court Appointed Special Advocates) from 2013 to 2018 and mentoring students at Millennium Community School. Vince currently resides in Columbus.


Dr. Elvis Fraser

Elvis Fraser, PhD

Dr. Elvis Fraser is the Founder and Managing Director of Sankofa Consulting, LLC, a Seattle-based boutique consulting firm whose mission is to reduce inequalities and advance social justice for the poor and marginalized anywhere through the provision of high quality technical assistance to mission-driven organizations.  Through Sankofa he provides thought partnership and technical assistance in monitoring and evaluation (M&E), business process improvement and management support to a wide range of clients, including foundations and non-profits. He has over 20 years of international experience as a social scientist and evaluator. 

Prior to founding Sankofa, Dr. Elvis Fraser spent 10 years in senior leadership roles at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focusing on measurement, learning and evaluation in support of their global development programs.  His primary expertise is in social and economic research, program evaluation, policy analysis, economic analysis, performance monitoring, and program impact evaluation. 

Dr. Fraser has extensive experience working with organizations to design and develop evaluation and learning systems.  He has designed, managed, and implemented research and evaluations of programs across different sectors including, agriculture, health, education, financial services, community development, and environment.  He has served as a senior social scientist and consultant for organizations including, the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, and many foundations.  He is skilled in the application of a wide range of quantitative and qualitative methods.

Dr. Fraser has a doctorate in Sociology, with a concentration on international development.  He has conducted research and has published on the interrelationships among social, political, and economic development.  He has extensive experience working in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Advisory Board Chair, H. Dean Gibson

H. Dean Gibson, Retired Partner
Human Resource & Total Rewards Consulting
HRO BPO Administration/Outsourcing Services
Aon Hewitt

Dean Gibson earned his B.A. in sociology with emphasis in criminology from The Ohio State University in 1974.  A native of Oberlin, Ohio, Mr. Gibson worked for 32 years with Aon Hewitt, leading Human Resources and Total Rewards Consulting, HR/BPO and benefits administration outsourcing specialist teams.  He helped address complex client human resources, talent and total rewards issues, as well as HR/BPO, outsourcing and benefits administration solutions.  During his career with Aon Hewitt, he held office management, sales and sales management and client relationship management positions. He served as client relationship manager for over 20 midsize to large clients and for a number of Fortune 500 and 1,000 companies. His experience included publicly traded and privately owned corporations, public-sector, and tax exempt organizations.

Mr. Gibson is past President of the Central Ohio Chapter of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists, former member of the OSU National Alumni Advisory Council, and liaison to the Executive Dean and Vice Provost of College of Arts and Sciences. He is a current member of the OSU Scarlet & Gray Ambassadors. Mr. Gibson retired in 2015 and currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Advisory Board Member Calvin Higgins

Calvin Higgins
Retired, Drug Enforcement Administration

Calvin Higgins, Jr is a graduate of Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology.  Upon graduating from Ohio State University in 1987, Calvin moved to Florida where he began his career in law enforcement, first employed as a police officer in Largo, Florida.  In 1991, Calvin joined the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Special Agent.  During his time with DEA, Calvin returned to college where in 2005 he obtained a Master of Science in Criminal Justice from Tiffin (Ohio) University and in 2014, he obtained a Master of Arts in Political Science from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. 

In 2018, Calvin retired from the DEA after 27 years of service.  However, Calvin immediately return to law enforcement service when he was hired as the Chief of Police for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Police Department, Detroit Branch.  Calvin recently defended his dissertation and in December will be awarded his PhD in Political Science from Wayne State University.  Calvin is married to Diane Higgins and has two daughters, Kasidy and Vanessa.

Advisory Board Member, Sally Lanyon

Sally Lanyon
Retired, Organizational and Leadership Development professional, Raytheon

Sally Lanyon (nee Huber) earned her B. A. in Sociology from The Ohio State University. In her junior year, she co-created the first and second versions of Ohio State’s beloved mascot, Brutus the Buckeye. A campus leader, Sally was selected to represent the student body as Student Response Speaker at the March 1967 graduation.

Raised in Mansfield, Ohio, Sally moved to Columbus, where she started her family and was active in the volunteer community. She and her sons moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she earned her M.Ed. from The University of Arizona in 1984. Her career spanned hospice counseling, project management, talent management, diversity training and process improvement in the social services, medical and aero-space sectors. In her role as a certified Six Sigma Black Belt for Raytheon, she managed projects in Engineering, IT, Finance, HR and Communications that recorded cost savings of a minimum of $1M per year.

Sally has been committed to volunteerism and philanthropy her entire life. She has served on a variety of professional and community boards, with a focus on children and literacy. Sally also has a keen interest in spirituality, recently graduating from Tacheria, a Tucson program for spiritual directors. Sally is a published author, notably co-authoring The Autobiography of Brutus Buckeye and writing The Brutus Blog, www.thebrutusblog.com

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Immediate Past Chair, Risa Dinitz Lazaroff, Professor
Legal Research and Writing
Academic Director of the Externship Program
Capital University Law School

Risa Lazaroff earned her A.B., with high distinction, from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from The Ohio State University, where she was the Chief Managing Editor of The Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution.  Professor Lazaroff currently teaches Legal Analysis, Research, and Writing, Legal Drafting, and Appellate Advocacy and is the advisor for the Civil Litigation Concentration at Capital University Law School.  She is also a writing consultant for the law firm of Frost Brown Todd LLC and the Columbus office of Ice Miller LLP.

Before she began her teaching career, Professor Lazaroff practiced insurance defense litigation for health, life, and disability claims and served as a staff attorney for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. She is a member of the Chief Justice Thomas Moyer American Inn of Court, the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Legal Writing Institute. Professor Lazaroff is licensed to practice law in the state of Ohio, the Southern and Northern Districts of Ohio, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Ramiro Martinez, Professor
School of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Northeastern University

Ramiro Martinez earned his Ph.D. in sociology from The Ohio State University in 1992.  Over the past fifteen years, Dr. Martinez has received several honors and awards.  In 2011, he was a recipient of American Society of Criminology DPCC's Lifetime Achievement for outstanding scholarship in the area of race, crime, and justice.  He was also honored by his alma mater (formerly known as Southwest Texas State University) in 2009 with the Texas State University College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award and the Texas State Alumni Association’s Alumni Achievement Award.  He previously received the American Sociological Association Latina\o Section Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research and a W.E.B. DuBois Fellowship from the National Institute of Justice. Since 2004, Dr. Martinez he has been a member of the National Science Foundation funded Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice-Network working group.  At the national level, he serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals.

Brian Noble

Brian Noble, VP, Enterprise Program Manager at Huntington National Bank

Brian Noble lives in Upper Arlington, Ohio with his wife (Jessica), daughter (Claira) and 2 golden retrievers (Samson and Toula). He is a Vice President, Program Manager for Huntington's Enterprise Program Management Office and has managed several key strategic and regulatory initiatives while at Huntington.  

Brian joined Huntington in 2015 and has been leading teams in the banking industry for more than 14 years, primarily driving programs and projects that support strategy or innovation. He previously served as VP, Senior Project Manager at Huntington, and VP, Project Manager II as part of the Branch Innovation and ATM team at Chase. These positions were responsible for managing large, high profile ATM installation and replacement projects for corporate, branch and partner locations, building partner relationships and the full lifecycle of self-contained ATMs.  Other responsibilities have included managing the Accounts Receivable/Financial Control, Accounts Payable and Document Control teams as part of Corporate Real Estate at Chase.

Brian is an active volunteer in the community and is passionate about mentoring and helping others connect with the people and resources necessary to help them achieve personally and professionally. Brian is the Vice President of the Upper Arlington Civic Association and served as a Director from 2018-2019. He participates in several community activities including riding in Pelotonia (2011 – present), volunteering at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank (2016-present), walking in the Autism Speaks Walk, tutoring at Northtowne Elementary, mentoring through the ASC Match Mentor Program, and participating in Junior Achievement Biztown.  

Brian served as the Chair for the Huntington Easton Inclusion Council in 2019 and is a member of several Business Resource Groups. In addition, He served as a team co-lead on the Easton Inclusion Council for 2 years; Spending 1 year each as part of the Workforce and Workplace teams. Brian earned his bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University, MBA from Ohio Dominican, and PMP certification from the Project Management Institute. 

Dr. Toby Parcel

Toby Parcel, Professor Emerita
Department of Sociology and Anthropology 
North Carolina State University

Toby L. Parcel is Professor of Sociology Emerita at North Carolina State University. Her B.A .in Sociology was awarded from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, summa cum laude, where she was also inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.  Her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology were awarded from the University of Washington.  She served on the faculty in the Department of Sociology at The Ohio State University between 1984 and 2002, where she was promoted to full professor.  During this time she served as Associate Dean for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences from 1992-2000, and as Chair of the Department of Sociology from 2000-2002. She has also served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University, and Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at North Carolina State University. 

Through these administrative appointments she held responsibilities for promoting faculty research; allocating academic space, fiscal and research resources; faculty and leadership recruitment; strategic planning; department and college fiscal administration; and department and college development.  She also served as Program Director for the Sociology Program at the National Science Foundation from 2017-2020. 

She has published over 100 books, book chapters, journal articles, scholarly reports and reviews in the areas of economic sociology, work, education, and family. She has also received grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the National Research Council, as well as awards for her research from the American Sociological Association and the National Council on Family Relations.  She has served on numerous professional committees and panels for the American Sociological Association, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health, as well as 12 editorial boards, including The Ohio State University Press Board. 

She resides in Raleigh, North Carolina and Naples, Florida.

Photo of Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson, Undergraduate Student Representative 

Emily Johnson is earning a Bachelor of Science in Sociology, a minor in Philosophy and a certificate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion with plans to graduate in May of 2024. She is writing an undergraduate research thesis on socioeconomic gaps in conversations about college, to work towards dismantling barriers to higher education for low-income individuals. She is particularly interested in poverty and education inequalities, which she hopes to investigate further in a Sociology Ph. D. program upon graduation. Emily is a first-generation college student from Chesapeake, Ohio. Her identity as a first-generation college student prompted her to establish Ohio State’s chapter of Tri-Alpha, an honor society that aims to recognize the resilience of high-achieving first-generation college students. She is also involved in the Undergraduate Student Government, where she serves as the Vice Chair of Academic Affairs and works to advocate for the academic needs of the undergraduate student body. Other involvements include working as a tutor for Statistics in Sociology, working as a Recruitment Host for Ohio State’s football department, and Buckeye Leadership Fellows. Emily's academic awards include the Beinecke Scholarship, the Land Grant Opportunity Scholarship, and the Keith and Linda Monda International Experience Scholarship. 


Thank you to our previous members for your hard work and dedication.


Advisory Board Member Tanya Poteet

Tanya Poteet
University Counsel and Vice President for Institutional Integrity, Capital University

Tanya Poteet earned her Juris Doctor in 1991 and her Ph.D. in Sociology in 1998, both from The Ohio State University.  Dr. Poteet is Vice President of Institutional Integrity & University Counsel at Capital University. She is also an Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and an Adjunct Professor of Law.

Dr. Poteet manages Capital University’s legal needs, oversees the university’s enterprise risk management, compliance, and safety initiatives, and supports the governance of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Poteet leads a cross-divisional council to address institutional effectiveness and compliance with the broad array of legal, governmental, and accreditation requirements of the institution. In addition, she chairs the university’s Enterprise Risk Management Steering committee which works to proactively identify, define, and address risk from an enterprise risk framework. As general counsel for the university, she works closely with the Board and the administration on a variety of legal, policy, and governance issues.

Prior to her appointment as University Counsel, Dr. Poteet held several positions at Capital University including chair of the Behavioral Sciences Department, and as Assistant and Associate Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Classes she has taught include Law and Social Sciences, the Criminal Justice System, Sociology of Law, Class and Crime, Criminology, Social Research Methods, and Principles of Sociology

Earlier in her career, Dr. Poteet worked as an assistant public defender for the Office of the State Public Defender, where she specialized in death penalty cases, defending inmates convicted of capital murder in their post-conviction appeals before the state courts of Ohio.

Sharon Schweitzer

Sharon Schweitzer, Founder
Access to Culture

Sharon Schweitzer holds a B.A. in Sociology from the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and a J.D. (juris doctorate) from South Texas College of Law-Houston in Texas. She is a Hofstede Centre Accredited Lecturer in Intercultural Management. She is a qualified administrator of the IDI, GCI, IES, and Cultural Detective.  Early in her career Sharon practiced labor and employment law in Austin, Texas; she has been board certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization since 1997.

As the founder of Access to Culture, an internationally recognized global leadership coach, cross-cultural trainer, and attorney, she delivers cross cultural business training for top expats and executives employed by leading multinational organizations.

Sharon has received various awards and honors including being named the winner of the British Airways International Trade, Award (small business category) at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards, named Volunteer of the Year, Air Services Task Force, Austin Chamber Business Awards and being the 2009 honoree in the City of Austin program Celebrating the Entrepreneurial Spirit of Austin Women.

She is a multiple award-winning entrepreneur and author of the Amazon #1 best-selling book in International Business, Access to Asia (3rd printing), named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. Since her first book was released, it has won over 15 book awards. She was selected from over 250,000 entries to be a 2018 and 2019 SXSW international business mentor. In Hong Kong, she served as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People.

Sharon has been an instructor at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic and an Adjunct professor in Hospitality, Travel & Tourism at Austin Community College in Texas.

She sits on the board of the Global Thinkers Forum in London, U.K. and the National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Sharon resides in Austin, Texas, USA with her husband John of 25 years and their golden retriever Toffee.

Advisory Board Member Shelley Zimmerman

Shelley Zimmerman
Professor, National University; Retired (Chief of Police, San Diego Police Department)

Shelley Zimmerman joined National University in January of 2019 as a Chancellor appointed professor focusing on public safety and leadership.

Prior to this appointment Chief Shelley Zimmerman was hired by the San Diego Police Department in October of 1982. She was promoted to Chief of Police on March 4, 2014 and retired on March 2, 2018 after an illustrious thirty-five-year career. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio and is a graduate of The Ohio State University, with a degree in Criminal Justice. She is also a graduate of the FBI National Academy, FBINA #241.

During Chief Zimmerman’s career she worked many of the San Diego Police Department's patrol commands. Shelley also has extensive investigative experience. Some of Chief Zimmerman's assignments have included Vice, Narcotics, Internal Affairs, Multi-Cultural Community Relations, the Mayor's Executive Protection Detail, and the Narcotics Task Force.

Chief Zimmerman assisted in the security planning for several large events in San Diego such as the Super Bowl, Republican National Convention, Comic Con, MLB All-Star game, major conferences, protests and the 4th of July Independence Day holiday at the beach, where more than one million people come to enjoy each year.

Chief Zimmerman believes in community policing and that public safety is a shared responsibility with everyone playing a crucial role in keeping San Diego safe. Chief Zimmerman instituted new policies and deployed new equipment such as body worn cameras, (the largest city at the time to do so), and gunshot detection sensors.

During Chief Zimmerman’s tenure as Chief (2014-2018) San Diego experienced historic low crime rates, including the lowest homicide rate per capita of any of the largest cities in the country. In 2017, the City of San Diego had the lowest overall crime in the past 49 years and was named the safest large city in America.

Chief Zimmerman received numerous awards and citations throughout her career which included; the San Diego Press Club Headliner of the year award for her undercover work, the San Diego Business Journal's Woman Who Mean Business Exemplary Award for her civic involvement with both the business and residential communities, the San Diego Police Foundation Women in Blue Award for her commitment to making San Diego one of the safest large cities in the United States and the Gold Key Award from the Hotel/Motel Association for her commitment to the Hospitality and Tourism Industry.

Chief Zimmerman is an avid sports fan and often participates in athletic charity fundraisers.

Advisory Board Member John Michael Brooks

John Michael Brooks, Emeritus Professor
Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice
Valdosta State University

Michael Brooks received his B.A. and M.A. degrees at Texas Tech University and earned a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1970. While at OSU, he taught for one year and then became a research assistant with the Disaster Research Center. His dissertation focused on a comparison of mass media responses in natural disaster and civil disturbance settings.

Professor Brooks has held faculty and/or administrative positions at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the University of Kentucky, Texas Christian University, Washington State University in Pullman, Valdosta State University, and South University in Savannah, GA. Dr. Brooks retired in 2014 and lives on Tybee Island near Savannah, GA.

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Heidi Gossett, Claims Manager
NiSource Incorporated

Heidi Gossett earned her B.A. in criminology from The Ohio State University in 1995. She has over 20 years of claims management experience and is currently a Claims Manager for NiSource, Inc.  Ms. Gossett is responsible for managing and executing the strategy, investigation, and settlement of the NiSource insured claim portfolio, including all Casualty and Disability lines. Prior to joining NiSource, Ms. Gossett was the Senior Director of Claims Administration at DHL Global Business Services for 8 years where she was responsible for establishing and directing the risk management claims strategy across the Americas region and managed claims with a loss portfolio in excess of $250M in exposure.  While in this role, she served as the Chairperson for the Global Claims Steering Committee, coordinating a group of her peers from across all regions of the world to focus on global process, procedures, manuals, and strategy.

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Brian M. Hunt, Retired
Federal Court System

Brian Hunt is a lifelong resident of Ohio. He received his B.A. degree from The Ohio State University in sociology and a master’s degree from Loyola of New Orleans.  Following his graduation from OSU, he began his career with the Franklin County Municipal Court as a Bond Investigator and moved into the role of a Probation Officer. 

After 11 years with the Franklin County court system, he continued his career by accepting an appointment with the United States Court in the Southern District of Ohio.  During his time with the U.S. Courts, Mr. Hunt worked in the probation office as a Supervision Officer, an Intensive Supervision Officer, and an Electronic Monitoring Specialist Officer. He retired from his career with the Federal Court System in 2014 and currently resides in Zanesville, Ohio.

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Jose M. Lopez, Principal Associate
Lopez, Severt & Pratt Co., L.P.A.

Jose Lopez is a principal associate of the law firm Lopez, Severt & Pratt Co., L.P.A. He practices law in the areas of personal injury, medical malpractice, civil litigation, criminal law, trials and appeals, estate planning, and probate matters. Mr. Lopez earned a B.A. degree from The Ohio State University in 1975 (majoring in sociology) and his law degree from the University of Dayton in 1979.

Since then, he has received multiple awards, including Ohio Super Lawyer, 2004 – 2008 and Top 100 Trial Lawyers from the American Trial Lawyers Association. He is a member of the Miami County Bar and Ohio State Bar Associations, as well as the Ohio Academy of Criminal Defense Lawyers.