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Deirdre Budzyna

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.

Education Topics

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Amy Callahan

Professor,Journalism/Communication, Coordinator of Journalism/Communications Program

Amy Callahan is a professor in the English Department and the coordinator of the Journalism/Communication Program at Northern Essex Community College. Before joining the NECC faculty in 2000, she worked for more than ten years as a journalist and editor, including writing for the Boston Globe, the Holyoke Transcript-telegram, and the Vineyard Gazette, where she received honors from the New England Press Association. She is also the former managing editor of the Columbia University record, published by Columbia University’s Office of Public Affairs in New York City. She holds an M.F.A. in writing from Columbia University and a B.A. in journalism from Northeastern University.

Communications Topics

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Lizzie Linn Casanave

Adjunct faculty, Philosophy

Lizzie Linn Casanave has been teaching Philosophy for over 10 years. She received her BA in Philosophy/Religion and World Perspectives and her MA in Critical and Creative Thinking. She is also the Study Abroad Short Course Coordinator at NECC. She currently teaches Practical Logic, Introduction to Philosophy, Introduction to Ethics and First Year Seminar. Her curriculum also includes a workshop on “The Science of Happiness” which looks at happiness through the lens of positive psychology.

Science Topics

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Paul Cavan

Coordinator, Criminal Justice Program

Paul Cavan has 26 years of experience with the Farmington Hills (Michigan) Police Department, having served as a patrol officer, an evidence Technician, an investigator and a supervisor. Paul was also assigned to a Michigan State Police Narcotics Unit during his police career. Paul has been teaching at community colleges for 24 years, nine years in a full-time capacity.

Cavan has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Michigan State University.

Criminal Justice Topics

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Mike Cross

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Mike is department chair of Natural Sciences at NECC where he teaches chemistry and forensic science. 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.

Science Topics

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Noemi Custodia-Lora

Executive Director, Lawrence Campus and Community Relations

A native of Puerto Rico and a scientist with a Ph.D. from Boston University, Dr. Custodia-Lora was named executive director of Northern Essex Community College’s Lawrence campus and community relations in July of 2014.

She joined Northern Essex in 2003 as a faculty member of the Natural Sciences Department. She taught Nutrition, Human Biology, and Anatomy & Physiology 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.

In 2011, she was appointed assistant dean of Foundational Studies and Liberal Arts & Sciences.

In addition, 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 STEM.

Before joining the Northern Essex faculty in 2003, Noemi was a post-doctoral fellow at Tufts Medical School in Boston. She holds a bachelor’s in biology from the Universidad de Puerto Rico and a PhD in physiology-endocrinology from Boston University. She was raised in Puerto Rico but both her parents are from the Dominican Republic.

She has special interest in science and math literacy, creative cooking (for those with food allergies), and nature walks.

Science & Travel Topics

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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 under-prepared 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

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 PhD 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.
Education Topics

Business & the Workplace Topics

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Tom Greene

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.

Theater, Music, Art & Literature Topics

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Lance Hidy

Professor of Art & Design, 1999-2017, Retired

Lance Hidy studied art and design at Yale University. He was co-founder and art director of David R. Godine, Publisher before starting his own design firm. He expanded his practice to include posters, illustration, and photography, incorporating his love of printmaking with his training in letter forms. He was a typographic consultant to Adobe Systems, for whom he designed the typeface Penumbra, a family of sixteen fonts. Hidy was the art director of Harvard Business Review, has designed three U. S. postage stamps, and specializes in corporate identity and logo design. In addition to running his design and illustration studio, Hidy’s writing on design history has been widely published. For 18 years he served as a professor of Art and Design at Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he continues to work part-time as an accessibility specialist.

Theater, Music, Art & Literature Topics

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Melissa Juchniewicz

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.


Theatre, Music, Art & Literature

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Diana Mele

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).

Deaf Culture Topics

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John Murray

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 and a Master’s in Public Health from Independence University.

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.

Health Topics

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Michael Penta

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”

Technology Topics

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Ethel Schuster

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.

Technology Topics

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Dr. Kenneth Thomas

Professor, Biology

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.

Science & Travel Topics


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