United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Elects Leadership

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Seasoned Industry Veteran Dr. Rhonda Blackburn Becomes USDLA President and Dr. Arletha McSwain Becomes President-Elect.

The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) recently elected Dr. Rhonda Blackburn as President of the association. The association is the first non-profit distance learning association founded 1987 in the United States to support distance learning research, development and praxis across the complete arena of education, training and communications.

Dr. Blackburn has been working in academia for the pasts 20+ years as a teacher, administrator, trainer, and consultant. Before serving as VP and Chief Academic Officer for LoudCloud Systems, she was the Senior Advisory Consultant and Strategic Account Manager for Higher Education for Desire2Learn, where she provided guidance and planning for state-wide consortiums and large institutions.

Prior to Desire2Learn, Dr. Blackburn was the Associate Provost of Educational Enhancement at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her office covered faculty development, instructional technology, distance education, media/video services, and classroom experience. Within this capacity, she supported faculty while helping them develop well designed courses, both traditional and online. She also guided her staff in understanding the technology and how it can be used effectively in a classroom setting. She spearheaded the redesign and integration of technology into the classrooms throughout the campus. Dr. Blackburn received her B.S. in psychology at Texas A&M University and M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Career Development Education and a specialty in Human Resource Development at Texas A&M University.

“We welcome Dr. Blackburn as our new president. She brings exceptional knowledge and a level of acumen that will assist the association in its continued efforts to promote the development and application of distance learning,” said Reggie Smith III, Ph.D., USDLA CEO / Executive Director.

In addition, this transition included the election of Dr. Arletha McSwain as President-Elect and the first African-American woman in the role. Dr. Arletha McSwain currently serves as HR Senior Trainer Specialist-Education Technology and Title IX Coordinator at Bethune Cookman University. Dr. McSwain is the 2017 recipient of the USDLA Hall of Fame Award. She serves as the Chair of the USDLA Certification Committee. She previously held the position as the Dean of Extended Learning and Professor of Education at Norfolk State University. Her exemplary leadership in online administration and faculty development has resulted in both Bethune Cookman University and Norfolk State University’s online degree programs receiving Quality Standards Certification awarded by USDLA.

“Dr. McSwain brings a wealth of experience and especially when it comes to the USDLA Quality Standards Certification program and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Together with Dr. Blackburn and Mrs. Janet Major as Board Chair, USDLA stands strong during these challenging pandemic times to lead the world in the application of distance learning best practices for the benefit of society,” said Reggie Smith III, Ph.D., USDLA CEO / Executive Director.

This transition included the following newly elected board members:

  • Dr. Judith Bayliss, Chief Education Advisor & Center Director, Defense Acquisition University
  • Dr. Trina Coleman, CEO & President, Coleman Comprehensive Solutions, LLC
  • Ms. Kristin Deprospero, CEO and President, Funding Solutions, Inc.
  • Mr. Eric Jones, CEO, Oiada International
  • Dr. Beverly Knox-Pipes, Founder/Lead Consultant at BKP Solutions/Adjunct Professor, Nova Southeastern University
  • Ms. Kjierstin Layton, Global Sales, Vyopta
  • Dr. Jodi Marshall, Senior Vice President, K12, Inc.
  • Mr. Michael Mathews, VP Technology and Innovation, Oral Roberts University
  • Dr. Kenneth Nanni, Executive Director, Florida Society for Health Care Risk Management and Patient Safety
  • Ms. Valary Oleinik, Gamification of Learning Speaker & Coach, Valary with a Why

Finally, “We look forward to working with our new board members as we execute our mission and to bring together our new and returning members at the National Conference (July 21-24), National Distance Learning Week (NDLW - November 9-13), and the International Forum for Women in eLearning (IFWE - December 2-4),” said Rhonda Blackburn, Ph.D., USDLA President.

About United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is a non-profit association formed in 1987 and is located in Washington, DC. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government and telehealth markets. The USDLA trademarked logo is the recognized worldwide symbol of dedicated professionals committed to the distance learning industry. To learn more about USDLA, visit http://www.usdla.org.

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