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Washington State University
College of Education

WSU ROAR Staff and Faculty

The glue that holds it together.

Our WSU ROAR staff and faculty mentors are a vital component of the program’s success and ultimately, student success. They work tirelessly to create engaging educational experiences… the kind of life-altering positive experiences that our students will remember forever, as well as prepare them for the future.

Interim Director

Kristi Tippett



About the interim director

Kristi was born and raised in Washington state and is exceptionally fond of WSU Pullman’s Cleveland Hall, home of WSU ROAR. Over the past 27 years, she has spent countless hours there: First as an undergraduate student earning a teaching degree; next as a graduate student seeking a master’s degree in educational psychology; and recently, teaching for the College of Education.

Kristi has enjoyed teaching and learning through a variety of different roles within the K12 environment, including assignments in inclusive classrooms, resource rooms, life skills centers, teacher professional development, and advocacy work. For the past few years, she has been providing instruction for preservice teachers at WSU.

Kristi’s husband, Ryan, is also a WSU alumnus. Their oldest son, Ryker, is a sophomore at WSU and their two daughters, Emerson and Piper, attend Pullman Public Schools. Together they enjoy hiking, camping, and snow and water sports.

Email Kristi

Administrative Staff

Employment Services Coordinator
Genna Kieper

Genna is a doctoral candidate in the college’s Educational Psychology program. She joined the university in the fall of 2019 after earning her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Kentucky. She has a background in behavioral therapy and research regarding social justice and equity in educational settings. Her passion for diversity and advocacy make programs like ROAR very near and dear to her! She joined the ROAR program in 2019 as a peer ally volunteer, and joined the ROAR staff during the 2020-2021 school year. During her time on staff, she focuses on supporting employment services for the program, developing community employment partnerships, and helping students explore their career interests and passions. In her free time, Genna enjoys playing with her dog, Romi, hiking, cooking, and kayaking!

Program Coordinator
Kathryn Sheridan Stiefel

Kathryn is a doctoral candidate in Special Education, whose research focuses on evidence-based practices for increasing and optimizing the inclusion of students with emotional, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities at the K-12 and postsecondary levels. More specific interests include the continuum of special education services and alternative placements, the impacts of restrictive and exclusionary placements, supporting executive function and thinking or “soft” skill development, and the centering the voices of people with disabilities in the research process.

Kathryn is a graduate of the Special Education M.Ed. Program at Lesley University. In her home state of Massachusetts, she worked as a preschool teacher, middle-school paraprofessional, and special educator in the MetroWest area for seven years. In her leisure time, Kathryn enjoys reading mystery novels, exploring different genres of music, and spending time outdoors.

Independent Living and Outreach Coordinator
Kelley Wilds

Kelley moved to Pullman from Knoxville, TN to attend graduate school. She received her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from WSU in 2022. Before moving to Washington, she worked for over four and a half years as a Public Health Educator. She is currently working on her PhD in Special Education, and her research focus is around comprehensive sexuality education for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In her free time, Kelley enjoys spending time with friends and family and exploring the PNW.

Faculty Mentors

Don McMahon

Program implementation, audit classes, & digital literacy

In addition to his normal duties as an associate professor of Special Education, Don McMahon has played an integral part of WSU ROAR, which he helped co-found. Don’s work is focused on Universal Design for Learning, Assistive Technology, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Wearable devices, Mobile Devices, Mobile Learning, and Instructional technology. At WSU Don McMahon coordinates the VR2GO Lab, which specializes in assistive technology research.

He graduated from the Special Education Ph.D. program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. While at the University of Tennessee, Don was on the program staff of a postsecondary education program similar to ROAR where he designed and taught courses in digital citizenship for students with disabilities.

Kira Carbonneau

Kira Carbonneau smiling at camera.

Assistive Living Advisors (ALAs) and Peer Ally activities

Kira Carbonneau is an associate professor of Educational Psychology of and a graduate from the University of New Mexico. Her research examines issues at the intersection of cognitive theory and classroom application and includes interests associated with: cognitive principles of instructional methods, instructional manipulatives in early childhood education, mathematics education, executive functioning, self-regulation, and embodiment.

Kira’s most recent research assesses the efficacy of manipulative-based instructional strategies within elementary classrooms.

Marcus Poppen


Employment services; career and professional planning class

Marcus Poppen’s research and scholarship is broadly focused on supporting career development and transition outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. His interests include understanding the unique paths of career development for youth and young adults with disabilities, including those involved in the juvenile justice system, foster care system, and/or living with mental health concerns; collaborative school-based transition programs that are designed to facilitate the coordination and delivery of pre-employment transition services; and, program evaluation and capacity building efforts that support data-based decision making.

Holly Whittenburg

Holly Whittenburg standing with hands in pockets

Independent living class

Holly Whittenburg’s research focuses on improving employment outcomes for transition-aged students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. Work is an important part of growing up for most young adults, but students with disabilities often face significant barriers to employment. In her work, Dr. Whittenburg examines interventions to teach employment-related skills, investigates approaches to creating more opportunities for inclusive work experiences, and considers how special education and vocational rehabilitation law and policies affect the transition experiences of students with disabilities.

Lauren Bruno

Lauren Bruno standing in front of the Education Addition, hands on hips.

Health, wellness, and sexual education class

Dr. Bruno teaches courses in special education and creates engaging learning environments by using the principles of UDL across all of her courses – giving students opportunities to apply what they learn to their future professions. She is dedicated to the development of pre-service teachers to use evidence-based practices and create inclusive learning environments. Dr. Bruno has experience teaching students with low-incidence disabilities at the high school level, which has influenced her interest in providing all students the greatest opportunities for transition.

Graduate Assistants/Instructors

Bailey Gauthier

Bailey is currently pursuing her M.A. in Special Education. Following the completion of their B.A. in English Education at WSU in 2023 and her experience as a program coach for ROAR, they made the decision to further their education by serving as a graduate assistant and instructor for Career Planning and Professional Development within the ROAR program. Bailey’s academic focus centers on the intersection of gender disparity, disability, and self-perception as a conduit for learning in secondary classrooms. Having the privilege of working for ROAR has profoundly influenced how she approaches her education, and they could not be happier to be a part of this program. Outside of her academic pursuits, Bailey spends time with her kitten, Fitzwilliam. She is also an avid reader, a film photography enthusiast, and a major consumer of media from their favorite bands.

Malachi Chukwu

Malachi is a doctoral student pursuing a degree in Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education. His research focuses on inclusivity in the postsecondary learning environment, educational policy-cultural practices that foster a sense of belonging for minority and underrepresented students in educational settings, and educational policy-cultural practices that promote inclusion in the postsecondary learning environment. He is also fascinated by the connection between social knowledge and civic engagement. His McNair scholarship experience fueled his determination to advocate for inclusion and assist all students in their educational pursuits. He is thrilled to be a part of the ROAR program and to be able to mentor the students. Malachi enjoys traveling with his family, spending time with them, playing and watching soccer.

Maria Garcia

Maria is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies and Social Thought in Education where she focuses on the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Education. She is a proud Coug who has graduated from Washington State University twice. Once in 2020 with a B.A. in Elementary Education and the second time in 2022 with her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. She has experience working with and teaching in the Pullman area and abroad. In 2017 she went to Nishinomiya, Japan to teach English to middle school students. Maria is very excited to be a part of the WSU ROAR team and looks forward to supporting ROAR students in meeting their goals.

Assistive Living Advisors (ALAs)

Hayden Buchanan

Before becoming an ALA for ROAR, Hayden was a WSU ROAR student for 2 years. He comes from a small town in Washington, Coulee City. He is excited for the new adventure of helping ROAR students with independent living tasks and social events. Hayden always looks for the opportunity to build connections with students within his community. Hayden is working on a bachelors degree in Digital Technology & Culture and one-day hopes to build website. His hobbies include playing Xbox games, creating and editing videos, and going to Resonate church on the WSU campus.

Xingyao Chen

Xingyao is an Educational Psychology master’s student and comes from a small city in the center of China. Being a ROAR ALA is not only a professional challenge but also an opportunity for him. He wants to apply his academic knowledge and volunteer experience with students with ASD in the real world. Xingyao has been a school counselor in his local junior high school. In his free time, he likes to spend time swimming, watching movies, and listening to music. His goal one day is to take a road trip to California by himself.

Alex Keeley

Alex is a third-year undergraduate pursuing a Major in History with a minor in Anthropology. His emphasis in history is on East Asian Studies, as well as analyzing worldwide patterns of inequity, focusing specifically on race. He plans on enrolling in the College of Education post-bachelors and graduating with a Masters in Teaching. He comes from a smaller town in Western Washington, where he worked with Elementary Education resource room teachers and middle school ELL students through the local community college. In his free time, Alex hangs out in the AAPI Student Center and travels with friends on hikes and adventures around Pullman and Moscow. His goal is to one day teach in low-income school districts with heavy multicultural populations to help students who might not have traditional support.

Kirin Smith
Kirin is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Zoology with a focus in animal care. She hopes to use her degree to help bring more rehabilitated wildlife into Washington zoos. This is her first year working with the WSU ROAR program and is thrilled for the opportunity to assist fellow students navigate life at WSU. When not studying in Pullman, she spends most of her time in her hometown of Tacoma, Washington.