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Leadership & Staff

Leadership and Staff

The SCI Team
Steering Committee

The SCI Team

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Kerianne Silver headshot
Kerianne Silver (She/Her/Hers)
Assistant Director

Kerianne Silver is an Assistant Director at the Student Conduct Institute where she provides compliance and best practice training and consultations to member institutions. Kerianne has worked in higher education for over 18 years with experience in student affairs including roles as an academic advisor, graduate program administrator, conduct officer, and academic appeal adjudicator. She most recently served as the Director of Student Advocacy and Community Standards/Title IX Coordinator at SUNY Empire State College where she also oversaw the office of student life, accessibility resources, career services and health and wellness. Her areas of interest are academic misconduct, online misconduct, free speech, and due process. Kerianne received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Russell Sage College and her Master of Science in Professional School Counseling from Sage Graduate School.

Alexander Wheeler headshot
Alexander Wheeler (He/Him/His)
Assistant Director

Alexander Wheeler is the Assistant Director of the SUNY Student Conduct Institute, where he assists with the development of legally compliant and best practice training for college administrators involved in all aspects of the investigation and adjudication of violations of law and policy. Prior to joining the SCI team Alex worked at private institutions in upstate NY – Wells College and The College of Saint Rose, his alma mater (B.A. ’16, M.S.Ed ’19). Alex’s joint experiences at Wells and Saint Rose, over the span of five plus years, allowed him to develop expertise in student affairs practices – particularly in the Residence Life and Student Conduct areas. Alex most recently served as the inaugural Assistant Director of Student Conduct at The College of Saint Rose where he developed and coordinated the College’s Student Conduct process and integrated restorative ideologies into the conduct process’ framework. Alex’s areas of interest include general student conduct processes, restorative justice practices, and intentional interactions with students.

Kelly Hendricken, J.D. headshot
Kelly Hendricken, J.D. (She/Her/Hers)
Managing Counsel

Kelly Hendricken, J.D., joined the State University of New York Office of General Counsel in December 2018 as Assistant Counsel. She currently provides legal counsel to various SUNY campuses and the SUNY Student Conduct Institute, including legal and compliance-based training and module development. She is also leading the Student Affairs Practice Unit as Managing Counsel at System Administration. Prior to joining SUNY, Kelly served as Director and Counsel of the New York State Senate Higher Education Committee for Senator Kenneth P. LaValle, the Chairman of the committee. Her portfolio included matters relating to all colleges and universities in the public and private sectors of higher education, as well as all licensed professions under Title VIII of the Education Law. Prior to that, she was a legislative fellow in the New York State Senate Graduate Fellowship Program. Kelly also interned at the New York State Office of the Attorney General in the Litigation Bureau and the New York State Office of the Inspector General. Kelly is a SUNY alumnus, who received her undergraduate degree from SUNY College at Geneseo in 2011. She majored in English (Creative Writing track) and Psychology. Kelly completed her J.D. at Albany Law School in 2014 and was a member of the Albany Government Law Review. Kelly is admitted to practice in New York State.

Mishka Woodley, J.D., LL.M headshot
Mishka Woodley, J.D., LL.M (She, Her, Hers)
Assistant Counsel

Mishka Woodley joined the State University of New York Office of General Counsel in December 2021 as Assistant Counsel. She currently provides legal counsel to various SUNY campuses and SUNY Student Conduct Institute, including legal and compliance training and module development.  Mishka has over two decades of interdisciplinary experience in education, health care, business, and law with a special focus on education, health care, and human services.  Prior to SUNY, Mishka held roles in both private and public settings, including education and healthcare related associations, solving complex legal and policy issues while striving to ensure that client outcomes aligned with their organizational mission, values, and goals.  Mishka completed her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, where she studied biology and bioethics as a premedical student, in addition to postgraduate studies in education and business at the UVA Curry School of Education and the UVA McIntire School of Commerce, respectively.  Mishka also holds a J.D. at Albany Law School, with a specialization in health and bioethics through joint masters studies with Clarkson University and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.  She also recently earned an LL.M from Loyola University Chicago School of Law with a health care and compliance specialization.  Mishka is admitted to practice in New York State and the Northern District of New York.

Dr. Gemma Rinefierd headshot
Dr. Gemma Rinefierd (She, Her, Hers)
SUNY Director of Student Affairs and Senior Advisor for Community Standards

Dr. Gemma Rinefierd is the Director of Student Affairs and Senior Advisor for Community Standards for the State University of New York system which serves 64 colleges and universities across New York. Dr. Rinefierd is the founding director of the SUNY Student Conduct Institute, a nation-leading training institute serving thousands of colleagues across higher education in the investigation and adjudication of conduct cases. Gemma has worked in higher education for over 18 years in New York and the United Kingdom serving a wide variety of institutional types. Working as a practitioner in the field, Gemma has directed several university wide departments in Residential Life and Student Conduct and now broadly student affairs focusing on student leadership, student development, and student behavior. Dr. Rinefierd has presented extensively to colleagues across higher education and currently serves on the NASPA Title IX Sexual Misconduct Advisory Group and the NYS Governor’s Youth Leadership Council. Gemma received her Doctorate of Education as well as a Certificate in Program Evaluation from the Margaret Warner School of Human Development at the University of Rochester, her Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration from Syracuse University and a Bachelors Degree in English from SUNY Albany.

Renee Copperwheat, M.S. headshot
Renee Copperwheat, M.S. (She, Her, Hers)
Manager of Operations and Member Services

Renee Copperwheat serves as Manager of Operations and Member Services for the SUNY Student Conduct Institute, where she oversees the program’s digital membership and training systems. She has worked in higher education for over 10 years, providing professional and administrative support to administrators at the University at Albany and Colgate University, in the areas of honors education, admissions, and national fellowship advising. Renee received her Master’s Degree in School Counseling from Syracuse University in 2010 and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo in 2008.

Ian Nichols headshot
Ian Nichols (He/Him/His)
Training Coordinator

Ian Nichols serves as Training Coordinator to the SUNY Student Conduct Institute. He is the coordinator of SCI’s virtual Live@Distance training program and focuses on developing an inclusive, supportive environment for our members and external trainers at a national level. Prior to joining the SCI, he served as Audio-Visual Technician and Events Assistant for SUNY Special Events, providing technical and logistical support for universities throughout New York State, Board of Trustees, and the Chancellor. Ian received his Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Music from SUNY Oneonta in 2002.

Julia Bouchard headshot
Julia Bouchard (She, Her, Hers)
Operations Assistant

Julia Bouchard serves as the Operations Assistant at the SUNY Student Conduct Institute. Prior to joining SCI, she participated in the AmeriCorps VISTA program through Siena College, serving as the Operations Assessment Coordinator at The Food Pantries for the Capital District. Julia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from St. Lawrence University in 2020.



Valerie J. Ayers, Esq. headshot
Valerie J. Ayers, Esq.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Employee Relations

Valerie is an attorney who joined SUNY in 2003, after 4 years of private practice focusing on employment litigation and 2 years as Assistant Counsel to the Governor's Office of Employee Relations. Valerie focuses on faculty and professional staff issues, concentrating on interpretation and application of the collective bargaining agreements.  In particular, Valerie assists campuses with the implementation of the negotiated disciplinary processes, from investigation through arbitration. She also works with the classified units on an as-needed basis. Valerie has been a University representative on the State’s team for negotiations with the Civil Service Employees Association, Public Employees Federation, and Graduate Student Employees Union, represented by the Communication Workers of America. Valerie also frequently provides training to campus Human Resources and supervisory personnel regarding Employee Relations issues.

Janelle Brooks headshot
Janelle Brooks
Assistant Dean, Conduct and Community Standards
Buffalo State College

Janelle Brooks, Assistant Dean for Conduct and Community Standards came to Buffalo State in 2007 from St. John’s University (Queens, NY campus) where she served as Assistant Director of Campus Activities. She holds a master’s degree in Student Personnel Administration and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Canisius College of Buffalo, NY. Janelle served as a Complex Director in Residence Life from 2007-2011 and as Assistant Director of Residence Life for Student Conduct from 2011- January 2017. From January 2017- November 2017, Janelle served as Assistant Director within the Dean of Students Office. In November 2017, Janelle was hired as Assistant Dean of Conduct and Community Standards at Buffalo State.  In August 2019, Janelle and the Student Conduct Team opened the Restorative Justice Center to offer restorative practices to members of the Buffalo State community. Janelle has certificate from both the Gehring Academy and the Erie County Restorative Justice Coalition. Additionally, Janelle is active with the Association for Student Conduct Administrators as well as the SUNY Student Conduct Association, where she serves as the representative for the University Colleges.  Janelle enjoys working with student leaders and has always been committed to providing them with support for their organizations. Janelle has received numerous awards throughout her career in Student Affairs for her support of student leaders and respective departments. During her time at Buffalo State, Janelle has served on countless committees. Currently she serves as a member of the College Planning Council, the Campus Safety Taskforce, and the High-Risk Admissions Committee.

Paige Duggins-Clay headshot
Paige Duggins-Clay

Paige Duggins-Clay is a Chief Legal Analyst at the International Development Research Association, Her education law practice includes litigation, investigations, training and compliance with state and federal laws, with a focus on equity issues and organizational response to misconduct.

James Hopper, Ph.D. headshot
James Hopper, Ph.D.

Dr. James Hopper is an independent consultant and Teaching Associate in Psychology at Harvard Medical School.  For over 25 years Dr. Hopper’s research, clinical and consulting work has focused on the psychological and biological effects of child abuse, sexual assault and other traumatic experiences. As a clinician Dr. Hopper works with adults who have experienced abuse as children and assault as adults.  In his forensic work, both criminal and civil, he testifies on short- and long-term impacts of child abuse and sexual assault. Dr. Hopper was a founding board member and longtime advisor to 1in6, a nonprofit serving men sexually abused as children, and served on the Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council. He consults and teaches nationally and internationally to military and civilian investigators, prosecutors, victim advocates, commanders and higher education administrators.

Gary B. Kelly headshot
Gary B. Kelly
Lieutenant, NYS Police (Ret.)

Gary is a 33-year veteran of the New York State Police. His most recent assignment was to oversee the State Police Campus Sexual Assault Victims Unit (CSAVU). He was responsible for establishing CSAVU at the Unit’s inception in December 2015, and for developing and managing the Unit’s operation.  The concept and implementation of this Unit was exclusive and progressive.  The New York State Police CSAVU is a highly specialized unit of trained investigators tasked with responding to reports of interpersonal violence on college campuses and within campus communities, and providing training and assistance to colleges and universities across New York State. The work of CSAVU has been highly effective and has received statewide and national recognition.

Prior to and as part of that assignment, he also held the position of the statewide AMBER Alert Coordinator for New York State (for more than ten years) and along with CSAVU, simultaneously managed the New York State Police Special Victims Unit (SVU).  In the dual role, Gary was responsible for managing the staff and work of CSAVU members across the state in their outreach to college and university campuses, their response to and the investigation of reports of sexual assault and other crimes of interpersonal violence, and operating a prevention education campaign. He was also responsible for managing the staff and work of the state police members assigned to the Special Victims Unit.  In that capacity, Gary oversaw the development and implementation of law enforcement training in the fields of child abuse, trauma informed sexual assault response and investigation, elder abuse, and the state’s AMBER Alert program. As the State’s AMBER Alert Coordinator, he managed the AMBER Alert Program and chaired the AMBER Alert Committee.  Gary was responsible for reviewing activation requests, determining if criteria were met for activation, and for activating the State’s AMBER Alert system for cases involving child abductions that fit the criteria. Gary activated New York State’s AMBER Alert system in 60 child abduction cases involving 72 children, including cross border and international cases.

Gary hold a Masters Degree from the State University of New York at Albany School of Criminal Justice and has been instructing as a certified police instructor for two decades. He has instructed police recruits, veteran investigators, police leadership, advocates and social service professionals, prosecutors, and numerous other criminal justice partners, and he was a staff member of an intensive training program on forensic interviewing of children.

Gary also has fifteen years of field experience as an investigator, conducting investigations of child abuse, sexual assault, homicide, and other felony offenses. He spent four years assigned to a Major Crimes Homicide Unit, and participated in the investigation of numerous homicides, sexual assaults, and cold cases. Gary was assigned as the state police lead investigator for the Porco Homicide case in 2004, and worked directly with the Albany County District Attorney’s Office, and contributed significantly to the successful prosecution of that circumstantial case involving the murder of a prominent law clerk of the NYS Supreme Court.

Gary has also served on numerous task forces and committees, including the New York State Children’s Justice Task Force, the NYS AMBER Alert Committee, the NYS Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, and other advisory groups related to issues pertaining to special victims. He has spent his police career in fostering multi-disciplinary relationships advancing justice for victims.

Gentry McCreary, Ph.D. headshot
Gentry McCreary, Ph.D.
CEO & managing partner of Dyad Strategies LLC

Dr. Gentry McCreary is the CEO and managing partner of Dyad Strategies LLC, a consulting firm working with college campuses and fraternal organizations on issues related to research, assessment and strategic planning. Over the last seven years, Dyad Strategies has been engaged in a longitudinal research project aiming to better understand the culture of fraternity and sorority chapters and trends within the fraternal community. The surveys that they have developed in that research have been completed by over 100,000 fraternity and sorority members across North America.

Prior to his work at Dyad Strategies, Dr. McCreary worked for over 12 years in higher education, including nearly five years as Director of Greek Life at the University of Alabama.  His award-winning research examines the psychology of hazing, the moral development of college students, and the roots of fraternal brotherhood and sisterhood.  He is a widely sought-after expert on Greek Life and hazing prevention, and has appeared on the Today Show, NBC Nightly News and CNN Headline News.

Scott Schneider headshot
Scott Schneider

Scott Schneider is a Partner at Husch Blackwell, a national law firm known for its outstanding higher education law work. Scott is a prominent litigator as well as a sought-after advisor on Title IX, labor and employment law issues.

Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger headshot
Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger

Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger is an attorney in private practice specializing in Title IX and the institutional response to complaints of gender-based discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence. Rebecca conducts external Title IX investigations and hearings for colleges, universities, and K-12 schools across the country. She also conducts comprehensive Title IX compliance and systems reviews for educational communities, examining past responses to complaints of sexual misconduct and providing recommendations for best practices in the field.

Rebecca teaches and trains on school-related sexual misconduct nationwide. She is an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Law, where she teaches a seminar on Title IX. She serves as an instructor for the State University of New York's (SUNY) Student Conduct Institute, leading online modules on effective investigative interviewing and on collecting and understanding specialized evidence. Rebecca is also a contributing author to SUNY’s Joint Guidance on Federal Title IX Regulations, a free comprehensive online resource geared to providing high-quality Title IX interpretation, insights, and practice tips for institutions of higher education. She also regularly provides sexual misconduct prevention and response training to higher education administrators, K-12 personnel, coaches, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers.

In April 2022, Rebecca was selected to serve as the external co-chair of the University of Michigan’s Coordinated Community Response Team, an entity tasked with collecting information from the University community about sexual misconduct, developing that information into community-based initiatives, and communicating directly with the University’s president regarding those iniatiatives.

Before entering private practice, Rebecca worked at the University of Michigan as a Title IX investigator, where she investigated complaints of sexual harassment, sexual violence, and stalking involving students, staff, and faculty. She also served as Michigan State University’s interim deputy Title IX coordinator, overseeing MSU’s creation of a free-standing civil rights investigation unit in 2015. Rebecca is the former sex crimes prosecutor in Monroe County, Indiana (home of Indiana University), where she prosecuted hundreds of cases of domestic and sexual violence involving children and adults. Rebecca began her legal career as a federal judicial clerk for The Hon. Harold H. Greene of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. She received a JD, cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center, a master's degree in public policy and women's studies from The George Washington University, and a BA from McGill University.


Steering Committee

Representing SUNY SCA:
  • Nate Pietropaolo – SUNY Geneseo
  • Rebecca Nadzadi – SUNY Cortland
  • Megan Lennon - SUNY Polytechnic
  • Brian Stephenson – University at Albany
  • Marcia Butland - Dutchess Community College
Representing SUNY STIXCA:
  • Emma Morcone – SUNY New Paltz
  • Kesha Lanier Foster - University of Buffalo
Representing CCSAO:
  • Eric D. Duchscherer - SUNY Potsdam
Representing CCCSAO:
  • Sarah Whiffen - Finger Lakes Community College
Representing SUBOA:
  • Laurie Barnum - Buffalo State College
Representing CCBOA:
  • Vacant
University Police Commissioner:
  • Mary Ritayik
Counsel’s Office:
  • Adam Haney
  • Mishka Woodley
Ex-Officio Institute Director:
  • Michelly Peña
Ex-Officio Institute Founding Director:
  • Gemma Rinefierd
Student Conduct Institute
SUNY Student Conduct Institute

For More Information, contact:
Student Conduct Institute
The State University of New York
H. Carl McCall SUNY Building
Albany , NY 12246