Our Team

Executive Team

Dean Hoke is the Managing Partner of Edu Alliance Group in the United States and Co-Founder of Edu Alliance Ltd. in the United Arab Emirates. Dean has decades of progressively responsible and visionary leadership roles in higher education, communications & online learning. He has led numerous initiatives that have created innovation & positive change in the higher education & non-profit sector. 

Dean began his career in 1975 with Bellarmine University working in various roles, including admissions and external relations. In 1983 he entered the broadcasting field, serving as a senior executive for Public Broadcasting System stations and a cable network. In 1998 he co-founded The Connected Learning Network, a full-service online learning company. In 2009 accepted an invitation to move to the United Arab Emirates serving in senior positions at Higher Colleges of Technology & Khalifa University.

He participates in numerous consulting projects in the fields of international education, branding, business intelligence, and online learning. He is an active speaker and writer in the field of global higher education and distance learning. Dean has presented and written worldwide on leadership, higher education, and distance learning. Dean in addition to his role with Edu Alliance is President and CEO of the American Association of University Administrators.   He is a Advisory Board member of Franklin University School of Education, and a member of NAFSA. Mr. Hoke has a B.A. from Urbana University, an M.S. from the University of Louisville, and a Certificate in Executive Management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.

Dr. Senthil Nathan is Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Edu Alliance Ltd in Abu Dhabi, UAE.  Since the founding of the company in 2014, Senthil has been involved in numerous advisory & consulting projects for higher education institutions and investment firms. He also serves as a subject matter expert for engineering firms in the field of campus planning.

Dr. Nathan joined the Higher Colleges of Technology in 1993, the largest higher education institution in the UAE with 23,000 UAE National students. He served in various positions and from 2006-2103 was Deputy Vice-Chancellor / Vice Provost for Planning & Administration. Dr. Nathan has been involved in numerous advisory and consulting roles in education/training & development engagements to many clients in the United Arab Emirates, Canada, The United States, Africa, and India and speaks on the current issues of higher education in the Middle East.

Dr. Nathan, in 2014 received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Institute of Technology in India by the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. He is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Livingston University in Uganda. He has his Bachelors of Engineering (Honors) from the National Institute of Technology, India, a Masters of Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, and a Ph.D. in Engineering from Rice University.  Senthil has also completed executive education programs from Harvard and MIT.

Tom Davisson served for 30 years as Executive VP and COO with Sullivan University System in Kentucky. Before joining Sullivan, Tom was Area President of all Chicago area Campuses of DeVry.  At Sullivan University, Tom led their team from a two-year institution to a regionally accredited doctoral-granting university. In addition to adding baccalaureate and master’s level programming, Tom also led the university in adding a doctor of Pharmacy and Ph.D. in Management. He also led the institutions’ online development, growing to over 3,000 students taking online classes each term.

Mr. Davisson is one of the leading experts in the area of higher education institutions, bridging the gap between education and the workforce. He has written White Papers for Governor’s in two states and worked on the Manpower Planning Task Force for the Governor of a third state. He has served on and chaired visiting committees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges in the Southeast US, and five other countries. He retired from the Board of Trustees of the University of Rio Grande in Ohio in the summer of 2019 and has been named Trustee Emeritus from their Board.

He has a Bachelors’s Degree from the University of Rio Grande in Ohio, a Masters’s from National Louis University, and a Certificate in the Executive MBA Program from the University of Chicago.

Nancy K. Hoke is a partner of Edu Alliance and a member of the Board of Directors. Her expertise in online instruction, instructional design, instructional technology, and digital video/audio production. With over 20 years of experience in education, Ms. Hoke has experience in K-12 and higher education. Her expertise in designing and producing instructional media that assists in providing quality instruction and successful learning outcomes.  In addition, she was a  public broadcasting executive and responsible for the broadcast program for K-12 instructional television.

Nancy worked in the UAE in K-12 and higher education, providing online and blended learning expertise. During her six-year tenure at Khalifa University, she managed the learning management system and instructional technology. As a part of the start-up for Khalifa University, Ms. Hoke provided research and recommendations for the learning management system and the technology to be purchased and implemented in the classroom. She is an expert in online learning and learning management systems and has presented and trained in Europe, South Korea,  Oman, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. She has a Bachelor of Education from the University of Nebraska and a Masters in Radio and TV from Michigan State University.

Advisory Council Members

The Edu Alliance Advisory Council is composed of 12 higher education experts. They serve as senior independent consultants and advisors for  North America. The Advisory Council serves as an advocate and consultant for the firm. The members have worked in the higher education sector and understand the day-to-day challenges of senior higher education officers, and can assist on a project basis. Advisors bring their breadth of knowledge and experience gained through years of professional involvement in the United States and internationally.


Dr. Samuel Martin-Barbero is the President of Franklin University an independent, private liberal arts university in Lugano, Switzerland. He is a Global Higher Education Leader, Senior Administrator & Academic Innovator, with a keen appreciation for inter-disciplinarity, entrapreneurship and internationalization across different educational models (liberal arts and sciences colleges, business school and research-intensive universities). He holds an additional professional background in the consultancy, media, and telecom industries.

Dr Barbero recently served as Presidential Distinguished Fellow at the University of Miami and has held the position of Rector/President at University Camilo José Cela, in Madrid (Spain) and Chairman (ex officio) at Foundation University Camilo José Cela. He was Founding-Dean and Professor at IE School of Communication-IE University, Associate Dean and Associate Professor at IE Business School and, Secretary-General of the International Advisory Board at IE University. At a corporate level, he worked as Project Manager for Education and Technology at Telefónica Group after some years as a Reporter in the Culture Section for Prisa Media Group (CNN Spain and Cadena Ser).

He frequently writes on transnational higher education trends and challenges for specialized publications such as Times Higher Education, Higher Education Policy Institute, The Conversation, and World Economic Forum-Agenda blog. Dr. Barbero has a B.A Honours from the University Complutense of Madrid,  Certificate in History, Politics and Management, Lunds University (Sweden), MA in Journalism El País-University Autónoma of Madrid, Ph.D. in Communication (Outstanding Doctoral Award), University Complutense of Madrid, and the Global Senior Management Program from The University of Chicago-Booth School of Business (US) & IE Executive Ed.

Areas of Expertise

  • Organizational Change
  • Talent and Culture
  • Curriculum Reform
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Internationalization

Shelton Bridges Jr. is a highly experienced university administrator who for 26 years was a senior executive for the Sullivan University Systems, Inc., located in Louisville, Kentucky. He served as Vice President for Finance and the system Chief Financial Officer. Shelton was responsible for all of the institution’s financial functions for the multi-campus system and an expert in strategic planning and staff development.  He served on the Reaffirmation Review Committees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Before joining Sullivan University, Shelton worked in the corporate community serving as a Controller for the Printing House, Inc, and a member of the management team of Nationwide Health Spas, Inc. He also worked as an independent CPA, where he worked with businesses and individuals preparing audits, financial reviews, and business analytics.

He is a member of the Kentucky Society of CPAs, a Lifetime Member of the Florida Institute of CPAs, and a former member of the CFO Roundtable.  Shelton has his Bachelor’s in Accounting from Florida State University.

Areas of Expertise

  • University Finance
  • Career Education
  • Accreditation
  • Executive Education

Dr. Denise Gifford recently retired as Associate Provost and Dean of Student Success and Associate Professor in Education at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates.  Prior to AURAK, Dr. Gifford served as Associate Provost and Dean of Students at Widener University. She has also served in leadership roles as the first woman Dean of Students at Zayed University dedicated to the higher education of Emirati women located in Dubai & Abu Dhabi. She was responsible for oversight of all student services & supervised a 46 member staff from 10 different countries. Her passion for International Service Learning led her to create and manage the 1st International hands-on service projects for female students of the university to Thailand, Cambodia, and India.

Dr. Gifford for 30 years was with the University of Louisville and, from 1995-2005, served as Vice President for Student Affairs. She was responsible for the provision of efficient student services to 22,000 students and the planning, management, leadership, supervision, and evaluation of a staff of 170 & oversight of an operating budget of  $22 million. Her legacy includes a robust award-winning International Service Learning program that currently takes over 100 students and 20 faculty annually to 10 different International locations for service learning. She has her Bachelor of Science and Masters of Education from Ohio University and an Ed.D in Political Higher Education Policy and Evaluation from the University of Kentucky.

  • Student Services
  • International Student Engagement
  • Retention
  • Diversity
  • Student Leadership

Dr. Candace Goodwin is an Executive Coach and consultant with over 30 years of executive leadership experience, directing innovation and change, leading teams, and providing organizational & leadership development. Candace has designed and delivered workshops in areas such as: Coaching Skills for Leaders, Growth Mindset,  Powerful Communication, Emotional Intelligence, Strategic Planning, and Goal Setting, and Employee Engagement.

Candace has worked in higher education for most of her 30-year career. Her professional experience ranges from a Vice President of Accounting to a President of a University.    She played a pivotal role in advancing Robert Morris University and DeVry University. At Robert Morris, she opened an extension site in Naperville, Illinois. Within two years, she converted the site into a full-service campus and grew the population to over 500 students, surpassing all projections.   She was promoted to Senior Vice President of Enrollment Management, where she oversaw admissions, marketing, communication, athletics, and new location development. Within five years, she led the expansion of five new locations and grew the population to nearly 8,000 students.

Dr. Goodwin has also founded and is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization, My Charlie’s Heart Foundation. She has a B. A from the University of Illinois, an MBA in Human Resources Management from DePaul University, and an Ed.D in Organizational Leadership from Argosy University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Executive Coaching
  • Leadership Development
  • Enrollment Management
  • Employee Engagement
  • Strategic Planning

Don Hossler is a Senior Scholar at the Center for Enrollment Research, Policy, and Practice in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He also holds the rank of Distinguished Provost Professor Emeritus in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Indiana University.  He has also served in several leadership roles, including the vice chancellor for student enrollment services on the Bloomington campus. Dr. Hossler is the founding Executive Director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Hossler has authored or co-authored 23 books and scholarly reports, more than 100 articles, and book chapters. His research program has attracted support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, Spencer Foundation, and the College Board.  He has consulted with more than 50 colleges, universities, and educational organizations, including the College Board, Educational Testing Services, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the State of Maryland, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

He has lived in Russia conducting research in postsecondary education. Hossler has received career achievement awards from the American College Personnel Association, the Association for Institutional Research, the College Board, and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.  In 2015 he was named a Provost Professor and received the Sonneborn Award for Outstanding Research and Teaching from Indiana University Bloomington, the highest award the Bloomington campus awards to its faculty members for a distinguished career of research and teaching.

He has his Bachelor’s degree from California Lutheran University and his Ph.D. in Higher Education from Claremont Graduate University.

Areas of Expertise

  • College Choice
  • Student Persistence
  • Student Financial Aid Policy
  • Enrollment Management.

Dr.  Steve Jones is the President/CEO of Great Blue Heron in Madison, Alabama, a consulting firm dedicated to applying nature’s wisdom to living, learning, serving, and leading. Steve is also well known as a university administrator and has worked in senior higher education positions for over 30 years.

He has been a President and Chancellor at four institutions, Fairmont State University (Interim), Antioch University New England (Campus President), Urbana University in Ohio (President), and The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) (Chancellor). He began his academic career as an instructor at SUNY and an Associate & Assistant Professor with the School of Forest Resources at Pennsylvania State University. In 2001 he became Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement for North Carolina State University in Raleigh and then became Chancellor of University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Dr. Jones has a Associate of Science, Allegheny Community College, a B.S. from State University of new York Syracuse, and a Ph.D in Environmental Science and Forestry, State University of New York, Syracuse. He is a published author and has written in several academic publications and journals. He is also a founding board member of the Alabama State Parks Foundation and the Nature Based Leadership Institute.

Areas of Expertise

  • University Leadership
  • Community Engagement
  • Fundraising
  • Strategic Planning
  • Nature-Based Projects

Cheryl King is an expert in workforce development, has dedicated her career to adult and post-secondary education at the state and national levels. She has held a variety of positions in state government and higher education. They include serving in 2006 as VP of External Relations, then selected as President of Kentucky Wesleyan College from 2008-11, focusing on long-term sustainability through a highly detailed Strategic Plan that asked the tough questions.  She returned to state government as Senior Policy Advisor for Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to develop competency-based education options to help adults to be successful and complete a credential or degree.  Recently she has worked with the Lumina Foundation Strategy Labs program as a State Advisor to help states achieve the Foundation’s goal of 60% of U.S. adults with college degrees, certificates, or quality credentials by 2025.

Cheryl has served in several state government posts and task forces, including the Commission that led to the development and ultimate passage of the Kentucky Adult Education Act in 2000.    Later as Vice President for Kentucky Adult Education with the KY Council, King and her staff implemented the new legislation, and during her tenure the state made significant gains in GED completions and the percentage of adults transitioning to post secondary education and the workforce. This led to increased funding, identified best practices, and set specific goals for adult programs in every county.

King was also selected in 2006 as the Study Director for the newly created National Commission on Adult Literacy.  The Commission, comprised of national leaders in business, education, and government, made the case to address the educational needs of millions of adults in the U.S.

Dr. King has a B.A. in Education from Kentucky Wesleyan College, M/A. in Education and Psychology, Western Kentucky University, and an Ed.D in Organizational Leadership from Vanderbilt University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Workforce Development
  • Adult Education and Literacy
  • Private/Public Partner Development
  • Small College Leadership
  • Fundraising

Dan L. King is the retiring President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Association of University Administrators (AAUA). Over more than five decades as an educator, King has served as a high school teacher and principal, education administration faculty member, education dean, and provost. He retired from full-time work in 2012 and now—in addition to his AAUA efforts— teaches part-time and mentors doctoral students who are conducting research in higher education. King has authored/co-authored a book chapter, four technical reports, and over 50 papers that have been published or presented in scholarly forums. He has been principal or co-principal investigator on nine different funded grant projects totaling over $5 million; has served on the editorial boards of two journals—Educational Planning and the National Forum of Applied Educational Research Journal (NFAERJ); served as editor for the NFAERJ in 2002 and 2004, and has served as editor for several annual issues of the Journal of Higher Education Management.

Dan has received numerous recognitions for his outstanding work in public school education. King maintains active membership in the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He has a Bachelor of Music, Madonna University, Masters of Arts Education Research, the University of Detroit, and an Ed.D in Educational Leadership, Wayne State University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Strategic Planning
  • Executive Coaching and Mentoring
  • Professional Development Training
  • Public School Training and Planning
  • Fundraising

Dr. Allen Meadors is an American higher education professor and administrator. He has worked in international higher education as President/CEO of St. John International University in Torino, Italy, and served as Executive Director for Higher Education for the Ministry of Higher Education in the United Arab Emirates. He is currently serving as an Associate Editor for the journals “Frontiers in Public Health” and “Frontiers in Education.”

His previous US career included serving as President/Chancellor of three US state universities, including Penn State Altoona (February 1994 to June 1999); University of North Carolina-Pembroke (July 1999 to June 2009); and University of Central Arkansas (July 2009 to September 2011).  Prior positions held include Dean of Health, Social and Public Services, Eastern Washington University; Dean of Public Health, University of Oklahoma, Executive Director of the Northwest Arkansas Radiation Therapy Institute; and an executive at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas.

Dr. Meadors has successfully attracted quality staff and generated new funding for buildings and endowed faculty positions. He has a B.B.A. from the University Central Arkansas, a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Kansas, and a Ph.D. in Administration and Education from Southern Illinois University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Executive Recruitment
  • University Leadership
  • Enrollment Management
  • International Education
  • Health Sciences

Jay Noren, M.D., is the Founding Director and Professor-Clinician Executive Master of Healthcare Administration Program, University of Illinois-Chicago College of Medicine and School of Public Health.

His 40-year career includes President of Wayne State University, Founding Provost of Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi, the founding Dean College of Public Health The University of Nebraska Medical Center, and the Executive Vice President and Provost for the University of Nebraska. Noren has also served as Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at Texas A&M University, Interim Chancellor for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Noren has published numerous papers and books over the years in health and workforce partnerships. He has secured numerous grants for his institutions. Noren was the Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow at the National Academy of Sciences and U.S. Congress and a Churchill Fellow in the United Kingdom. He has his B.S. from the University of Minnesota, Masters in Public Health, Harvard University, and an M.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Areas of Expertise

  • University Leadership
  • Medical Schools Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Federal Grants
  • Faculty Development

Dr. Barry Ryan is President and CEO of Woodbury University in California. He has an extensive background in teaching, academic administration, accreditation, and law.  As a first-generation college student, he fell in love with higher education in all of its many forms.  Barry has served in large public universities and non-profit, faith-based, and for-profit institutions of all sizes in traditional and online educational contexts.

Barry’s international experience is equally varied.  He has focused on international education and established programs for US universities throughout Latin America and Europe throughout his career.  As part of a long history of involvement in regional accreditation, he has just completed his second term as a Commissioner with WSCUC (“WASC”).  Barry has also worked with HLC and SACS-COC and several programmatic accreditors, including the ABA, APA, ACPE, CACREP, ACOTE, CODA, ACBSP, CCNE, CAPTE, and ATS.

His legal service has included law school teaching and consulting, as well as the practice of law.  One of the highlights of his professional career was his appointment as the Supreme Court Judicial Fellow, working in the chambers of former Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

In university settings, Barry has lengthy and recognized service as a faculty member in multiple disciplines.  He has been a department chair, founder, director of a center for teaching and learning, dean, vice president, provost, and president. Dr. Ryan has his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary, Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Diploma in Global Business from the Said School of Business, Oxford University.

Areas of Expertise

  • Global Education and Partnerships
  • Accreditation
  • University Leadership
  • University Operations
  • Institutional Effectiveness

Ken Salomon is chair of the Thompson Coburn Lobbying & Policy Group. Over the course of his career, he has provided clients with government relations and public policy services in a broad range of issues, including higher education, intellectual property, telecommunications, e-commerce, financial services, and international trade.

Ken was Deputy Chief Counsel at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which is the presidential advisor on communications and information policy. He also served as senior legal counsel at the Federal Communications Commission. He has conducted numerous lobbying campaigns, e-commerce, higher education, and telecommunications projects.

In 2015, Mr. Salomon was appointed to the Ethics Committee of the United States Olympic Committee. He is also a member of the Industry Advisory Board of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. Mr. Salomon has a BA from Tufts University and a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University Law School.

Areas of Expertise

  • Higher Education Law
  • Education Lobbying
  • Ethics
  • Telecommunications
  • E-commerce