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Listed in Alphabetical Order
Instructor, Early Childhood Education
Deirdre Budzyna received her Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Education from Mount Holyoke College and her master’s degree in creative arts in learning from Lesley University.
Prior to teaching at Northern Essex, Budzyna taught elementary school for eight years and opened a private kindergarten program in West Newbury, Massachusetts based on Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. She is the co-owner of Acting Out Productions, an acting studio for students ages 4-17 located at the Tannery in Newburyport.
Coordinator, Criminal Justice Program
Paul Cavan has 26 years of experience with the Farmington Hills (Michigan) Police Department, having served as a patrol officer, in the investigative and crime prevention units, and as a Detroit evidence technician for the Michigan State Police Narcotics Unit. He has been teaching at community colleges for 24 years, five years full-time.
Cavan has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Michigan State University.
Adjunct Instructor, History and Government
Kevin Comtois has been teaching History and Government at NECC since 1999. He has taught at Quincy College and Central Catholic High School where he also served as Social Studies Department Chair. Kevin earned his B.A. in Political Science from Westfield State College and his M.A in American Civilization from the University of Massachusetts Boston. In 2005 Kevin was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study Jazz with Dr. Gerald Early (an expert on the evolution of Jazz in America) at Washington University, St Louis. Kevin has been active in local politics since the 1990s, served as Chairman of the Tewksbury Board of Library Trustees in the 2000s, and continues as an amateur musician and songwriter. In 2011 Kevin taught an Honors Colloquium at NECC titled the Social and Political History of American music.
Instructor of Chemistry
Before coming to Northern Essex, Mike was an instructor of chemistry and department chair at the College of Eastern Utah. He believes that education should be fun and exciting. He enjoys incorporating demonstrations and magic tricks into his teaching.
Mike holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Utah where he specialized in oxidative lesions in DNA and RNA.
Assistant Dean, Foundational Studies and Liberal Arts & Sciences
Dr. Custodia-Lora current role as Assistant Dean of Foundational Studies and Liberal Arts & Sciences began on August 2011. She primarily oversees the Natural Sciences Department and the Mathematics Department.
Dr. Custodia-Lora joined Northern Essex in 2003 as a faculty member of the Natural Sciences Department. She taught Nutrition, Human Biology and Anatomy and Physiology for 8 years before becoming the coordinator of the applied sciences associate degree of science in lab science program which welcomed its first class in the fall of 2009. Developed in collaboration with area employers, this program provides three areas of study: biotechnology, chemical analysis, and environmental sciences, and has received the highest endorsement—a gold level—from the Massachusetts Life Science Education Consortium (MLSEC).
Dr. Custodia-Lora is a founding member of the ESL Social/Learning Club which is an initiative aimed at attracting more English as a Second Language students into the disciplines (and ultimately careers) of science.
Before joining Northern Essex, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Tufts Medical School, in Boston, where she worked on cancer research. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Universidad de Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, and a PhD in physiology-endocrinology from Boston University.
She has special interest in science and math literacy, creative cooking (for those with food allergies), and nature walks.
Dr. Ligia Domenech
Assistant Professor, Department of Global Studies
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Dr. Ligia Domenech has a B.A. in Social Work, a Master in Puerto Rican and Caribbean Studies and a Ph.D. in History. Since 2001 she has taught history, humanities and social sciences and even spent three months as an at-sea professor in a US Coast Guard cutter on patrol. At present she is an Assistant Professor at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts. In 2007 she published her first book on the transition from populism to technocracy in Puerto Rico and since then has published chapters in two other books. Dr. Domenech recently finished her second book: “Imprisoned in the Caribbean: The 1942 German U-boat Blockade”, a thorough study about life in the Caribbean during World War II, and came back from an Institute in India. She has lived both in Argentina and in the United States, where she moved in September 2011.
Associate Professor, Human Services
Coordinator, Human Services Program
Jane Gagliardi, MSW, LICSW, came to Northern Essex Community College in 2002 with more than 20 years of experience primarily working in outpatient mental health as a therapist, supervisor, consultant, and training director. She is now program coordinator of the Human Services Program and assistant professor.
Lane A. Glenn, Ph.D
President Northern Essex Community College
Dr. Lane Glenn became president of NECC on July 1, 2011. Prior to his appointment, Dr. Glenn served as vice president of academic affairs for five years.
Dr. Glenn is focused on student success and is passionate about finding ways to help students achieve their educational goals, especially students who are underprepared for college.
At Northern Essex, he has provided leadership for the college’s involvement in Achieving the Dream, a national effort to help more community college students succeed, with a special focus on students of color and low income students. In the past four years, the college has adopted many new initiatives, including enhanced academic advising, new tutoring resources, a college success skills course, and more, designed to increase retention and graduation rates.
In addition, he expanded the college’s relationships with local high schools and partnered with local employers, such as Raytheon, to develop programs that deliver the skills most needed in the job market.
Examples of successes under his leadership include the college’s new associate of science degree in lab science which was developed in partnership with ten local employers and an innovative Early College Program at Amesbury High School which has been called a statewide model. He also spearheaded NECC Riverwalk, which opened in Lawrence in the fall of 2010, bringing together credit programs, adult literacy programs, and noncredit personal enrichment and career programs in one location for the first time, and iHealth@NECC, a new health care opportunity at the college.
Before he joined the Northern Essex staff he served as dean of academic and student services at Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, Michigan; and on the faculty at Lansing Community College in Lansing, Michigan. He has a diverse background in education and the performing arts that includes nearly 20 years of teaching and administration, alongside work as an actor and director for the stage, television, and films.
Glenn is a facilitator for the International Chair Academy for Leadership Training and Development and a certified Appreciative Inquiry trainer for Company of Experts.net.
As a researcher, author, and consultant for higher education professionals, businesses, and the social sectors, he has produced articles and workshops on topics ranging from behavioral styles and team building, to conflict management, strategic planning, change management, leadership through storytelling, academic master planning, student development at commuter colleges, and learning styles in the classroom and in the workplace.
A born optimist and former president of his local chapter of Optimists International, Glenn seeks solutions to student success and organizational development challenges through a “strengths-based and evidence-guided” approach to visioning, planning, and communications.
Glenn earned a Ph.D. from Michigan State University, a Master of Arts from Oklahoma State University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Northeastern State University.
Glenn is proud to say he got his start at a community college: Rose State College in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
Assistant Professor, English
Thomas Greene, Ph.D. a resident of Salem, MA, is assistant professor in the English department at Northern Essex Community College. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, a Master’s of Fine Art in Creative Writing and a doctorate in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Prior to teaching at NECC he taught English at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, N.Y. and served as a teaching associate at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dr. Greene specializes in Victorian Literature and Cultural Studies. He also works part time as a ghost tour guide in Salem.
Professor, Dental Assisting
Coordinator, Dental Assisting Program
Kerin Hamidiani, MEd, RDH, CDA, holds an Associate of Science Degree in Dental Hygiene and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, and a Master’s of Education in Adult Learning from the University of Vermont.
She has taught and served as program coordinator at Northern Essex since 1984. Prior to that, she was an instructor in the dental hygiene program at the University of Vermont.
Instructor, Art & Design
Portland, Oregon native Lance Hidy learned italic handwriting at age 12. Hidy went on to major in art at Yale University from 1964 to 1968 and later studied privately with Leonard Baskin.
Hidy was co-founder of David R. Godine, Publisher in 1969, before starting his own design firm in 1973. He switched from books to posters and illustration in 1980, incorporating his love of printmaking with his training in letterforms.
He was the art director of Harvard Business Review, and has designed three U. S. postage stamps. In addition to running his design and illustration studio, Hidy has lectured and written on design history, and teaches graphic design and illustration half-time at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Ginger Hurajt is a professor of English at Northern Essex Community College, where she teaches Poetry as Literature, Creative Writing Poetry, and Creative Nonfiction, as well as composition and other literature courses. She is also a member of the NECC Poetry Group, a writing group that meets monthly and whose work was profiled in the latest issue of Parnassus (2010).
Adjunct faculty, English, elementary education, academic preparation
Dr. Melissa Juchniewicz has taught a variety of courses at Northern Essex Community College for more than 15 years; she has helped to initiate new programs for student success, and was instrumental in reviving the elementary education program. She also teaches composition at UMass Lowell, and has been recognized nationally for teaching excellence. She is a board member of the Thoreau Farm Trust, a member of the Hyla Brook Poets, and facilitates a memoir writing workshop in Newburyport. She earned her doctorate in Language and Literacy in Education as well as a Master’s degree from UMass Lowell, where she was named Outstanding Graduate Student, and a Bachelor of Science degree from Salem State. Prior to her education studies, Melissa worked in the professional theater in San Francisco and Boston, including the Lyric Stage, and was a reporter for the Eagle Tribune and other newspapers.
Assistant Professor, Economics
Patricia Machado is an assistant professor of economics at NECC. She earned her undergraduate degree from UMASS Lowell with honors in Business Administration, her MBA from Western New England College, and most recently earned an additional Masters Degree in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University where she is also a PhD candidate. After spending several years working in private industry, Prof. Machado followed her passion for teaching. She has over twenty years of teaching experience in Community Economic Development by teaching courses in Economics at UMASS Lowell, Southern New Hampshire University, and NECC, teaching Literacy in the Workplace at numerous businesses throughout the Merrimack Valley, and teaching Adult Literacy at community based programs and the Lowell Public School System. Her commitment to adult literacy, combined with her experience in Economics, led her to specialize in the fields of Community Economic Development and Financial Literacy.
Professor, Human Services
Diana Mele, MA, LMHC, ICTC, CT, NIC, is a faculty member in the NECC Deaf Studies Program and the Human Services Program Division of Law, Education and Social Professions. Mele holds a Master of Arts degree and has worked professionally within two distinct disciplines, the field of Interpreting and the human services profession, for 30 years.
She is a tenured member of the faculty and has taught at Northern Essex since 1996. She has worked to train students in career paths in the field of sign language interpreting as well as human services and social work professions.
She holds an Associate of Arts Degree: Deafness Communication–dual emphasis–Human Services Program from Northern Essex Community College, a Bachelor or Arts in Psychology from Flager College, St. Augustine, Florida, and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling from Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.
She is a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) in the State of Massachusetts, a member of the National Registry of the Deaf – Interpretation Certificate, Transliteration Certificate (1983, 1989), Mass. State Office of Deafness – State Screened Interpreter (1980).
Coordinator, Sleep Technology Program
John Murray, coordinator of Northern Essex’s Sleep Technology Program, is a registered respiratory therapist as well as a registered polysomnographic technologist. He earned an Associate of Science in Respiratory Therapy from Newbury College and a Bachelor of Science in Polysomnography from California College of Health Science.
Before joining the Northern Essex faculty in 2007, he worked at the Maine Sleep Institute at Maine Medical Center, where he was the manager of the service. Prior to that, he was the director of Rehabilitation Services at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro N.H. where he was responsible for clinical operations in cardiopulmonary care, cardiac rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, speech pathology, and long term care patient activities.
Adjunct Faculty, Geography, History, and Government
Richard is a graduate of Northern Essex Community College, Salem State College, Northeastern University, and is currently enrolled at Salem State University for a second Master’s degree. A longtime educator, he has been teaching history, geography and government courses at Northern Essex since January 2005.
Outside of the classroom, Richard serves on the Board of Directors of the Lawrence History Center and the Service Center of Greater Lawrence, Inc., and is also a member of the Andover Historical Society, the Friends of Memorial Hall Library (Andover), the Friends of Lawrence Heritage State Park, the American Political Items Collectors, the St. Alfio Society of Lawrence, and the NECC Alumni Advisory Board.
During the summer, he also provides historic walking tours at Lawrence Heritage State Park.
Instructor, Computer Science and Technology
Michael Penta joined the NECC faculty in the Computer & Information Sciences department in the fall of 2012. Previously, Michael was Associate Director of the Future Engineers Center, the K12 outreach arm of UMass Lowell’s College of Engineering (2007 – 2012). The FEC focuses on hands-on, design-based STEM education. Michael got his start with the FEC in 2006 as a lead teacher at DESIGNCAMP, teaching micro-controller programming and video game programming. Michael has also been a Lecturer in the Computer Science department at UMass Lowell, as well as a Computer Science and Mathematics tutor at Middlesex Community College in Lowell (2010 – 2012).
In December 2011, Michael completed his MS in Computer Science. His thesis, Video Game Creation as a Platform for Mathematical Learning (uml blog, defense video, pdf), focused on the role of video game programming in math education. In that same year, Michael was featured in a US News and World Report article on using game design in STEM education. A link to that article, and others, is available under the press area of this site.
His interests are computer science education, technology and recruitment, and how they intersect with other fields such as math, science and art.
Previous presentation: “Toy Engineering, the Science of Fun”
Professor, Theatre and English
Coordinator, Theatre Department
Susan Sanders has participated in several learning communities and has become an advocate for active learning. She is the advisor to and designer for the Northern Essex Community College Top Notch Players, the college’s theater company.
Sanders earned her Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College, a Master of Science in Education from Elmira College, and a Master of Science from Emerson College.
She has worked professionally as a designer at Gloucester Stage, the Hackmatack Playhouse, Seacoast Repertory and the Second Stage Theater Company.
In 2004 Sanders was awarded an National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant to study Shakespeare’s Playhouses: Inside and Out at the Blackfriar’s Theater in Staunton, VA and at Shakespeare’s Globe in London. ;She is also a recipient of the NISOD Award (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) for teaching excellence and a Massachusetts Pride in Performance Award.
Dr. Jorge Santiago
Professor, Behavioral Sciences
Director, Institute for Community Workforce Development
Dr. Jorge Santiago teaches sociology and social welfare on both the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses of Northern Essex. In addition, he is involved with several studies and programmatic initiatives.
He has focused much of his research activities on the Latino community of Lawrence. He directed a Latino human services organization in Lawrence for many years prior to joining the faculty of Northern Essex.
He received his doctorate from Boston University.
Professor, Computer, Technology and Engineering
Colombian native, Ethel Schuster, is a professor in the Computer, Technology and Engineering department. Schuster holds a master and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence.
She has taught at Northern Essex Community College since 2000. Prior to that she taught at UMass Lowell, and Regis, Merrimack and Simmons colleges. Her interests are wide and include work on scientific writing for non-native English speakers, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and encouraging and enhancing the technology learning process in all age ranges, especially among women and young girls.
She speaks Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese and can communicate in French, has a ServSafe certification, and enjoys running and Zumba.
Dr. Kenneth Thomas
Dr. Kenneth Thomas, has been at Northern Essex for the past eleven years. He earned his Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts from Northern Essex, a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UMass Lowell, and a Master of Science in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Rhode Island.
Prior to teaching at Northern Essex he taught for eight years at Hillsborough Community College in Florida.
His special interests include marine biology, student travel, science literacy, sailing, kayaking, and canoeing.
Suzanne Van Wert
Coordinator, Liberal Arts Program
Suzanne Van Wert has taught for 25 years. She has her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo, with a specialization in teaching rhetoric and composition.
Current professional interests include pedagogy and technology, inter-disciplinary studies, and the implications of gender in education.
International Studies Coordinator
Associate Professor of Natural Sciences
Marcy joined the college’s Natural Sciences Department in 2003 and soon after was named chair of the department, a position she held until 2010.
Working with employers from across the Merrimack Valley and faculty within her department, she created an associate degree program in lab science which leads to immediate employment in one of three emerging fields—biotechnology, environmental sciences, and chemical analysis. This program was offered for the first time in September of 2009.
Believing that community service is an important part of student learning, she has spearheaded volunteer community projects including an assessment of trees in downtown Newburyport for the Newburyport Tree Commission and an energy audit of Lawrence city buildings.
She serves as co-chair of the college’s Environmental Impact & Sustainability Committee which was formed to integrate the economic, social, and environmental principles of sustainability through the curriculum and operations of the college and is coordinator of the college’s international studies program.
Her love of the South American rainforest (she teaches an NECC course there every other year with one of her colleagues) led to a month spent in the summer of 2009 volunteering on a small farm/eco tourism center in Ecuador.
Marcy is a graduate of Northeastern University (B.S.) and the University of New Hampshire (M.S.).