Meet the Digital Learning Team

Our team is here to serve anyone interested in online courses and programs at Mason, including current and prospective students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Whether you are a student looking to enroll online or a faculty member interested in developing online versions of your courses or programs, we are happy to assist you.

Stephen NodineSteve Nodine


As digital teaching and learning initiatives continue to expand and grow at Mason, Steve collaborates with University leadership to coordinate and develop strategic planning efforts. Additionally, Steve leads ODL in pursuing our office goals of increased support and services for online faculty and students.

Steve received his PhD in Forestry from Clemson University. He has served as a faculty training coordinator, distance education specialist, faculty mentor, instructional designer, instructional design manager, and faculty member in both online and face-to-face classrooms. He has advised faculty from all disciplines as they work to incorporate digital tools effectively into blended and online courses.

Key Strengths: Maximizer, Positivity, Arranger, Individualization, Developer

Laura PhelpsLaura Phelps

Assistant Director

As Digital Learning expands its support and services, Laura focuses on the coordination and implementation of a robust and integrated online student services program. She also leads communication planning to unify office messaging regarding recruitment, curriculum development, and institutional support. With over 15 years in higher education administration, Laura has experience in strategic planning, data analysis and reporting, assessment, and organization and leadership development.

Laura received her MS in Organization Development and Knowledge Management from Mason. As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC), she pursues her passion for coaching others in creating positive, lasting change and leading fulfilling personal and professional lives.

Key Strengths: Empathy, Relator, Individualization, Developer, Connectedness

Darlene SmucnyDarlene Smucny

Assistant Director

Darlene oversees the online course peer review process at Mason and assists departments with customized course and program reviews.

Her focus is quality in online courses and programs, with an emphasis on faculty development, services, and support. Offering an experienced instructor’s perspective of online teaching and learning, Darlene can share guidance, tips, and resources for getting started and actionable feedback for course improvement.

Darlene received her PhD in Anthropology from UCLA. Prior to Mason, she worked at University of Maryland University College, where she designed and taught fully online courses and managed online faculty in the social sciences undergraduate program.

Key Strengths: Learner, Ideation, Intellection, Input, Individualization

Larisa Olesova

Larisa Olesova

Senior Instructional Designer

With over 20 years of teaching experience in the U.S. and Russia, Larisa has expertise in the traditional classroom and online. Her professional and research interests focus on distance education, working with faculty on aspects such as online presence, the Community of Inquiry (CoI), instructional strategies, and best practices in online teaching.

Her published works include Feedback in Online Course for Non-Native English-Speaking Students, chapters in Creating Teacher Immediacy in Online Learning Environments and Assessment in Online and Blended Learning Environments, and articles in various online education journals. Larisa received her PhD in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University.

Key Strengths: Strategic, Maximizer, Ideation, Significance, Focus

Katrina JohnsonKatrina Joseph

Instructional Designer

A member of the Mason community for ten years, Katrina has more than 20 years of experience in the eLearning industry, including design and development, videoconference network management, and corporate training video production. Her specialties include: instructional design and development, faculty professional development, interactive multimedia, simulations, synchronous learning tools, IT training and consultation, active learning, instructor presence, game design, web design and accessibility, 3D printing, learning management systems, web conferencing, video production, and project management.

Katrina holds a MS in Telecommunications, and she is currently a PhD candidate specializing in instructional technology with a research focus in educational game design.

Key Strengths: Positivity, Activator, Connectedness, Learner, Arranger

Ying-Ying Kuo

Ying-Ying Kuo

Instructional Designer and Learning Analyst

In her role, Ying-Ying often highlights the importance of integrating technology to support pedagogy and learning outcomes in design. Her designs promise efficient and effective online teaching and learning as well as course management. Her biggest reward comes from instructors and students who become proficient in teaching and learning in the digital world.

Ying-Ying received her EdD in Technology Education from West Virginia University. She is interested in complex educational topics using data derived from surveys, Blackboard, and instructional documents. She has devoted herself to educational research that will assist educators and ensure quality in online courses and programs.

Key Strengths: Learner, Achiever, Relator, Strategic, Responsibility

Rick Reo

Instructional DesignerRick Reo

Rick supports faculty developing and teaching online, hybrid, and ground-based courses. He provides broad-range support for instructional technology at Mason’s Science and Technology Campus, including one-on-one instructional design consultations, faculty and support staff training,

and project management. Rick has taught online and face-to-face for over ten years, and he is a regular instructor of the Online Course Development Institute (OCDI) and other faculty professional development workshops.

Rick holds a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a MEd in Instructional Design and Development. His pedagogic interests include designing global collaborative classroom courses, developing social media learning activities, and designing authentic learning strategies.

Key Strengths: Ideation, Input, Intellection, Adaptability, Futuristic

Susan CampbellSusan Campbell

Learning Technologies Analyst

For over 34 years, Susan has held roles as instructional designer, instructional technologist, training manager, and trainer. With many of these years at Mason, she has provided services to every academic department and has been a guest lecturer across disciplines. Susan collaborates with faculty members and teaching assistants to design and develop successful online courses, technology-integrated components of face-to-face courses, and effective classroom management strategies.

Susan holds a BS in Community Services from Virginia Commonwealth University with expertise in establishing and implementing service-oriented programs in the public sector. She is certified as a Blended Learning Designer and Sloan-C Online Teacher.

Key Strengths: Strategic, Intellection, Adaptability, Input, Empathy

Ala Showers

Instructional Designer

Ala Showers

Ala started her career as an ESL faculty and, after a short segue to the corporate world, fell in love with instructional design while working at Mason. Her 15+ year career in higher education equipped her with skills in project management, web and media design, e-learning development, and a variety of tools and software that help online courses become alive, effective and engaging.

Her instructional design practice is driven by passion and best practices in online learning grounded in research. Ala holds a MEd in Instructional Design and Technology and an e-learning graduate certificate from Mason.  Prior to her position at Mason, she was a member of NOVA’s instructional design team, supporting over 23,000 students in 550 unique courses.  Ala is a Quality Matters (QM) certified peer reviewer of online courses.  Her research interests include media design, technology for second language acquisition, brain-based learning and student engagement in online environments.

Key Strengths: Learner, Achiever, Activator, Relator

Monisha TripathyMonisha Tripathy

Instructional Designer

Monisha brings over fifteen years of work experience in instructional design, training, and quality assurance, with application in both higher education and corporate settings. In her role, she provides design support to Mason faculty members who are teaching classes online. She also assists with curriculum planning, provides ongoing support to ensure learner-centric instruction, and engages in the online course review process, working with faculty members on continuous course improvement efforts.

Monisha received her MEd in Instructional Design and Technology from Mason. Her specialties and professional interests include curriculum development, adult learning theory, online class development, online instruction, and quality assurance.

Key Strengths: Communication, Arranger, Relator, Positivity, Harmony

Laura J. Todd

Laura J. Todd
New Online Projects Coordinator

Formerly a high school teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools, Laura coordinates and manages the development of new fully online programs and courses. Laura also serves as a key member of the Director for Digital Learning’s support team.

Laura earned her BA in Spanish from James Madison University, and her MA in Education (Curriculum & Instructions) from the University of Phoenix Online. She has also been accepted into Mason’s PhD program for Special Education.

Key Strengths: Organization, Connectedness, Problem-solving,  Adaptability

Lisa Sedlock

Research AnalystLisa Sedlock

Lisa provides direction and support to the authorization and compliance of Mason’s online programs. She oversees the creation and implementation of organizational systems that serve to both efficiently and effectively manage Mason’s activity levels in relation to compliance standards. Lisa’s research focus stems from an interest in assessment, strategic planning, and educating others about policy and practice.

Prior to her position at Mason, she worked in multiple roles at higher education institutions in areas such as academic administration, teaching, career services, residence life, student life, financial aid, enrollment management, and student affairs administration. Lisa received her MAE in Student Personnel in Higher Education from the University of Florida and is completing her Certificate in Institutional Research from Florida State University online.

Key Strengths: Context, Strategic, Achiever

Gennady Babankov

Operations Manager

Gennady oversees the administrative support, operations, and financial management in the Office of Digital Learning. He manages the Center’s procurement, scheduling, and services, acts as the liaison with internal and external stakeholders, supervises student workers, and makes sure that all Center’s activities run  smoothly.

Gennady brings to Mason eighteen years of experience in academic project management, program development, and partnership building. His prior roles include managing language and culture immersion programs in Russia, Central Asia, Turkey, and the Caucasus, and coordinating participant training and support for the Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program. Gennady is a Mason alum, holding a J.D. degree from Antonin Scalia Law School. He had also earned an MA in History from Johns Hopkins University as well as degrees in Medieval Studies and Art History from universities in Hungary and Russia.

Key Strengths: Individualization, Achiever, Analytical, Context, Strategic

Charlotte Petsche 

Office Assistant

Charlotte provides assistance and support to the Office of Digital Learning through a diverse range of administrative responsibilities. Her role includes managing the Mason Online website, acting as a general liaison to students through phone and email communication, providing support for events and special projects, purchasing for the office, and working in collaboration with all staff in the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. Charlotte has experience working in a variety of internships in marketing, entertainment, and sport management.

Charlotte graduated from the University of South Carolina in May 2018 with a BS in Sport and Entertainment Management. She is currently pursuing her MS in Data Analytics Engineering at George Mason.

Key Strengths: Input, Individualization, Empathy, Developer, Learner

Anaïs Ortiz

Office Manager

Anaïs provides operational and planning support to both Teaching Excellence and Digital Learning leadership, as well as Stearns Center staff. She also assists current and prospective Mason students beginning their Mason Online journeys by serving as liaison to respective academic departments. Additionally, Anaïs collaborates with Mason administrative units and external partners to ensure an informational and user-friendly online experience for all Mason Online visitors. Anaïs earned her BA in History of Art and Hispanic Studies from The University of Pennsylvania.

Key Strengths: Maximizer, Connectedness, Intellection, Learner, Relator