Meet the Team

OTL Team Photo


As individuals and a collective, OTL supports many initiatives and programs throughout the Smith School and the University of Maryland. Under the fearless leadership of our Director, Dr. Sandra Loughlin, and the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Rebecca Ratner, we are seen as leaders and innovators within the instructional design and higher education communities.


Sandra LoughlinSandra Loughlin
Director, Office of Transformational Learning

Ph.D., Human Development and Quantitative Methodology with a specialization in Education Psychology, University of Maryland
M.Ed., Harvard University
BA, Elementary Education, Washington Adventist University

As an educational psychologist, Sandra’s focus is designing environments that facilitate durable, actionable learning for students. To that end, she works collaboratively with administration, faculty and student groups to ensure an environment that fosters and transforms learning. In addition to her administrative tasks, Sandra is passionate about working directly with current and future instructors. She coaches faculty and graduate students to design and deliver effective instruction, and teaches courses in achievement motivation, educational psychology, cognition, and pedagogy. When she’s not working (ha!), Sandra spends time singing 80s songs into kitchen spoons, centering herself on a yoga mat, picking up Legos, and saying ridiculous things like, “There’s a Japanese beetle on my Crape Myrtle!”

Megan BenefielMegan Benefiel
Assistant Director, Office of Transformational Learning

MBA, University of Maryland University College
BA, Sociology, Thomas Edison State University

Megan oversees several initiatives for the OTL and Smith School including, the school's Assurance of Learning (AoL) initiative. She specializes in project management, program evaluation and process improvement, with a niche for improving organizational effectiveness. Although Megan’s strengths are in the details, she really has a passion for understanding how students learn and leveraging business strategies to optimize student success. When she's not working, she enjoys rescuing dogs, playing kickball, golfing, and watching football (Go Broncos!) with her husband, daughter, and two rescue mutts.

Candance BinuyoCandice Binuyo
Instructional Designer and E-Learning Developer

MA, Instructional Systems Development, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
BA, Communications and Media Studies, Goucher College

Candice collaborates with faculty and staff to develop high-quality learning experiences for students. She supports faculty by recommending active learning strategies for face-to-face, online and blended courses. Prior to joining UMD, she designed and developed interactive educational resources and developed scenario- and project-based educational courses for University of Maryland, University College (UMUC). She brings a wealth of knowledge about online instruction as she previously worked for Laureate Online Education and UMUC. Candice lives in Baltimore, Md., and enjoys taking Kickboxing and Body Combat classes.

Marni BlachowiczMarni Blachowicz
Instructional Designer and E-Learning Developer

M.Ed., Johns Hopkins University
Instructional Systems Design Certification, UMBC

Marni is an Instructional designer with over 10 years experience in writing, researching and developing courses for both corporate learning and higher education. After a successful career in the arts she received her masters in education from Johns Hopkins University and a postgraduate certificate in instructional design from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She currently lives in Catonsville, Md., and is raising two wild and fun boys with her husband.

Melanee BryantMelanee Bryant
Program Specialist

BS, Journalism, University of Maryland

Melanee supports the team of OTL designers and innovators with department scheduling, budget reconciliation and project coordination. She also serves as the liaison to other Smith administrative departments to ensure program efficiencies are met. Having worked in administrative project management roles in the consulting, education and health care sectors, Melanee has a wealth of experience organizing both individuals and tasks. A mother of three active boys, she spends much of free her time attending their sports and music events with her husband. Melanee is an advocate for equity in education and enjoys reading craft blogs and designing with paper.

Natalie JaniszewskiNatalie Janiszewski
Instructional Designer

M.Ed., Loyola University Maryland
BS, Biology, Loyola College

Natalie brings over 20 years of experience to her instructional designer role. She began as a science teacher in Howard County, Md., where she also advocated for low-income citizens by serving as a board member and chairperson for the Howard County Community Action Council. After earning a masters in education from Loyola University Maryland, she transitioned to instructional design and still teaches classes in the graduate program for educational technology at Loyola. Natalie loves to swim in open water and resides in Severna Park, Md., where she can often be found swimming in the Magothy River.

Leslie LindseyLeslie Lindsey
Instructional Designer

BS, History, Texas Woman's University

As an instructional designer, Leslie supports the OTL in Smith’s experiential learning initiatives. She joined the team with more than a decade of experience in faculty development, instructional design, and community outreach in higher education and the nonprofit sector, including her alma mater, Texas Woman’s University, where she also worked in the Pioneers Oral History Project and taught United States history. A committed advocate for public education, her research interests include critical pedagogies, disenfranchised populations, and the history of technology. Leslie currently lives in Washington DC, where you can usually find her roaming the local bookstores and libraries.

Allison NederveldAllison Nederveld
Assistant Director, Experiential Learning

MS, Instructional Systems Development, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
BS, Mathematics and Secondary Education, University of Miami

Allison oversees several initiatives that require students to assess complex business problems and deliver innovative solutions. Allison came to Smith with over 15 years of experience helping others learn more effectively by creating engaging and relevant learning experiences. In her spare time, she blogs about e-learning and instructional design, competes in triathlons and travels the world with her wife, Wendy. Allison lives just up the road in Hyattsville, Md., with her cat,  dog and foster kids.

Elizabeth RicheyElizabeth Richey
Instructional Consultant

Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology, University of Pittsburgh

As an instructional consultant, Elizabeth works with new and seasoned instructors to identify their teaching goals and provides research-based tools and techniques for achieving them. Elizabeth received her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology at the University of Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center and previously served as an assistant professor of educational psychology at Miami University of Ohio. Her research investigates the cognitive and motivational processes responsible for learning, with the aim of identifying instructional practices that improve students' strategies, outcomes and motivation to learn. She has published research on learning, metacognition, motivation, transfer, and collaboration in journals including Learning and Instruction, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Educational Psychology Review.

Joshua Shannon-ChastainJoshua Shannon-Chastain
Instructional Designer and E-Learning Developer

MA, History, Istanbul Bilgi University
BA, History, Portland State University

Joshua is an instructional designer working with the MOOC development team under the guidance of Mary Warneka. Joshua has spent the past seven years designing, managing and teaching courses in Istanbul, Turkey. He published research on student interaction and engagement with e-learning materials and presented at international conferences and workshops in the United States, Germany, and Turkey. He enjoys cooking and spending time with his wife and daughter.

Jonathan SouthgateJonathan Southgate
Program Manager, Experiential Learning

MS, Instructional Systems Design with a focus on Instructional Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
BA, International Relations, American University

Jonathan is an instructional designer working with the experiential learning team under the guidance of Allison Nederveld. For more than six years, he has worked to develop innovative and solutions-driven instructional deliverables that meet the needs of his clients. Before joining Smith, Jonathan worked for various bureaus at the State Department including Passport Services and the Foreign Service Institute designing in-person and e-learning based courses. Outside of work, Jonathan volunteers for several organizations including the Association for Talent Development and Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. He enjoys honing his photography and cooking skills, fostering animals of all sizes, and planning a wedding with his wonderful fiance, Lauren.

Mary WarnekaMary Warneka
Assistant Director, Course Development

MA, International Peace and Conflict Resolution, American University
BA, International Studies, University of Dayton

Mary oversees the instructional design team that coaches and supports faculty through course creation and enhancements. She develops curricula for faculty, and leads trainings on competency-based learning, diversity and infusion of communication skills into core classes. She has done extensive work in not-for-profit management, helping organizations adopt new processes and shift cultural norms. Her personal passions include oil painting, community organizing and facilitating on strategic visioning. After two years in a Women’s Leadership Lab program, her tagline became Painting the Way to Your Bright New Future.