Meet the Authors – Faculty

Thomas Anthony was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up on Long Island. At the age of eleven his family relocated to Pomona, California for a year. After a brief time back in NY the family finally settled in Montgomery County, North Carolina in 1970. Anthony would attend West Montgomery High School and Pfeiffer College. It was here his passion for writing was born. After having some success with writing both in high school and college, he taught high school math and science for four years. He received a Master’s degree in mathematics from Appalachian State University in 1986 and then worked extensively in the computer industry for fifteen years, abandoning both writing and teaching. He began to study with the Intentional Living Institute in 1995 and subsequently reclaimed his passion for writing. Since then he has published the following books of poetry: Release of Dreams and Reality (1997), Grandma called Him Tom (2000), Release of Dreams and Reality (2000), Golden Nuggets (2001), RocksCrashingintotheSea (2002), Messages in Bottles (2003), Lost Love Letters (2004), Transformations through the Storm (2006) and Garden of the Heart (2006). He is currently an instructor of mathematics at Central Piedmont Community College.

Diann P. Back is director of the Center for Leadership and Staff Development at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she develops and delivers customized training programs in leadership development and soft skills for the college and community. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arkansas, an M.A.T. from Harding University, and a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. Diann is a member of the Association for Business Simulation and Experiential Learning (ABSEL), Phi Delta Kappa, and several community service organizations.

James Bazán was a 32-year-old carpenter when he began college as a developmental math student at Indian River Community College in Florida. He graduated from IRCC with highest honors and went on to a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Florida.

He also completed additional studies at the University of Florida. He was the 2002 Instructor of the Year at Central Piedmont Community College, where he is currently a Sociology instructor. James Bazán discovered his love for Laura while working on the 1st edition of College Student Success, and they married two years later. This may be why he always lists College Student Success as one of his three favorite books. The Bazáns enjoy travel, and have participated in study abroad programs in Mexico and Costa Rica.

Laura Bazan is the Director of Collaborative Learning at Central Piedmont Community College.

As a graduate of Kent State University, Bazán began her career teaching deaf students in Kent, Ohio. After completing her master’s degree in education from Queens College (now Queens University at Charlotte), Bazán became an ACA instructor at CPCC in 1997. She currently directs Collaborative Learning at CPCC which delivers ACA courses in student success to 5000 students annually.

Laura also administers Cooperative High School Programs and Learning Communities. In 2011 she received the Administrative Professional Award for Excellence at CPCC.

Linda J. Dunham is the Discipline Chair for ACA student success courses at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC. Dunham has over 15 years of experience teaching ACA student success and study skills courses. In addition, she has extensive experience with curriculum development and faculty training in student success courses.

Dunham received her undergraduate degree in Spanish from Oswego State University in New York, and her master’s degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2010 she was the recipient of the Instructor of Excellence Award at CPCC, and was also selected as one of the top ten instructors in the state of North Carolina in 2011. These awards reflect her commitment to college student success. In addition to her role at the college, Dunham is happily married and is the mother of three daughters.

Rebeca Fernandez, co-creator of Community Campus Online, has been an instructor in the Basic Skills program at CPCC since 2004. In addition to teaching Adult English as a Second Language and Adult Basic Education classes, she has developed several courses for face-to-face and online delivery, co-directed ESL Instructor Fast Track Training’s beta and operational phases, conducted efficacy research on Adult ESL online professional development, and collaborated on federally- and locally-funded initiatives designed to improve the civic participation, workplace skills and career prospects of adult immigrants. Rebeca received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Boston University and went on to pursue training in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and applied linguistics at University of California, Los Angeles. She has a Masters degree in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she is currently completing a doctorate degree.

Pat Hendrickson is director of Faculty Training and Development at Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, N.C. Hendrickson presents faculty workshops at schools, colleges, universities, consortia, and conferences in the United States and internationally. Her interests include gaming and simulation with an emphasis on virtual online worlds and behaviors within those environments that offer new opportunities to explore identity, gender, and civility. In addition to planning and facilitating professional development, she serves on the board of directors for the Association for Business Simulations and Experiential Learning. Hendrickson earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Change with a concentration in Classic Grounded Theory from Fielding Graduate University, CA. She has an M.Ed. with a specialization in Instructional Accommodation from Francis Marion University, S.C., and a B.B.A. in Business from Montreat College, N.C.

Donna Housman, MS is a faculty member at Central Piedmont Community College. She has over 20 years’ experience in teaching and training adults in corporate, academic and public settings, focusing on leadership and management development, facilitation skills, self-awareness and team building.

She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and has a Master’s of Science degree in Adult Education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In her current role she teaches College Study Skills, Career Assessment, College Transfer Success and College Student Success.

She also previously taught English as a Second Language classes providing civics based ESL instruction for intermediate and advanced ESL students and served as an instructor for ESL Fast Track Teacher Training.

Amanda Ingrassia has a background in language and culture acquisition. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Linguistics and a Master’s Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Trinity Western University in British Columbia, Canada. For her student practicum, she began teaching ESL in the refugee community. She discovered a passion for equipping resettled refugees in the United States with the “real life” and English language skills necessary to be successful, self-sufficient community members. From 2010 to 2014, she taught at Central Piedmont Community College where she helped develop low-level ESL curriculum. She lives in Charlotte, N.C.

Dr. Honoré Jean Missihoun received a combined Romance Languages doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina and the Institute of Latin American Studies at Chapel Hill and Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Coimbra in Portugal. He was awarded M. Ed in pedagogy with a concentration in language acquisition and curriculum design from Kent State University, Kent, Ohio and M. A in English and Romance Linguistics, African Literature and general pedagogy from Universités Nationales de Côte d’Ivoire and Bénin in Africa, La Pontifícia Universidad Católica de Salamanca in Spain. Dr. Missihoun has taught in Côte d’Ivoire where he held a headmaster position from 1976 to 1993, the University of South Carolina and Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina, at Central Piedmont Community College and University of North Carolina in Charlotte, North Carolina.

An intellectual gentleman of mainstream thinking, Dr. Missihoun is fond of the Academe, critically engaged in rereading and researching the epistemological foundation of Western thought and praxis through learning, teaching, dialogical pedagogy and publishing with an added interest in academic research on the Humanities and innovative pedagogy.

Elvira Johnson is the Coordinator for Learning Communities at Central Piedmont Community College. She is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology and has a master’s degree in adult education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technological State University. She teaches several ACA courses, such as College Study Skills, Career Assessment, and College Student Success.

A longtime advocate of college orientation programs, Johnson helped develop this course and piloted it during the summer of 2003. She continues to promote college success by serving on the advisory boards of the Summer Bridge program, the Minority Male Mentoring program, and Service Learning.

Dennis Leak grew up on a Michigan dairy farm, where he learned the early lessons of mechanics, electricity and hard work. Denny graduated from Michigan State and spent 37 years with IBM. He earned his MSEE from Syracuse University. Since that time, Denny has created three patents. He joined Central Piedmont Community College as a full time
instructor, where he fulfilled the saying, “if you want to learn a subject, teach it!” Denny instructs classes like, Electronic Devices and Circuit Theory, Digital Electronics, Introduction to Microprocessor and Microprocessor Systems; he feels learning is continuing and rewarding.

Having too many hobbies seems to be the norm for Denny. He enjoys being an Apiarist (beekeeper), ham radio operator (KI4JCU), woodworker, car mechanic (restoring a ’72 Triumph Stag), and metal worker (has lathe and mill). Electronics give him the most kick; having completed his first 3D printer, the next circuit is just around the corner. You might even find him at a local ballroom where swing, rumba or cha-cha is king.

Frances H P Nazloo “Francie” was born as a Deaf person in Chicago. She grew up in Ohio, and then as a teenager, she and her family moved to Charlotte, NC. She graduated with honors from the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton. Also, she graduated with honors and an A.A.S. degree in Media Technology from National Technical Institute of the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is presently studying in American Sign Language and Interpreting at CPCC. Since 2000, she has been employed at CPCC as American Sign Language/Interpreter Education Program Instructional Laboratory Facilitator/Coordinator. She is very active with different organizations such as North Carolina Baptist Conference of the Deaf as its president for a term from 2010 to 2012, Charlotte Deaf Mission at First Baptist Church of Charlotte, North Carolina American Sign Language Teachers Association, National Association of the Deaf, and Deaf Women United. She loves to spend time with Geladin “Kadi” Nazloo, her husband of 21 years, and two teenage children aged 18 and 16. She loves to read novels and cook Persian food.


Jennifer Haase Perkins is a faculty member at Central Piedmont Community College. She is originally from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Perkins graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and earned a Master’s degree in Education from Queen’s University.

After starting her teaching career at the elementary school level, she became a faculty member at Central Piedmont Community College in 2004 teaching in the ACA Department. She has a passion for teaching and enjoys instructing at the collegiate level. She believes everybody has the possibility of achieving their goals through hard work and determination.

Currently, she resides outside of Charlotte with her husband and three sons. She is actively involved in her church, community, and neighborhood. Her best advice that she gives to her own children and her students is to reach for the stars because you never know how far you will get!

Ron Robinson has served as an Insurance instructor for Central Piedmont Community College since 2001, focusing on pre-licensing and continuing education. Prior to teaching, Ron spent 14 years providing personal and commercial lines ofinsurance as an agent with Allstate. His background also includes employment as a Finance Office Manager for a car dealership and three years in the US Air Force.

Ron holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Computer Science from the University of North Dakota. He possesses licenses in Property, Casualty, Life, Health, and Long Term Care/Medicare Supplement and is designated as LUTCF (1990), CPCU (1995),and CLU(1997). He is a member of the Charlotte Association of Life Underwriters, Charlotte Chapter of CPCU, and Charlotte Chapter of CLU/CHFC.

Gilda Rubio-Festa, Associate Dean in Community Development at CPCC, has worked with adult English language learners (ELL) for over 28 years. She has worked internationally and in the United Sates developing and implementing ESL programs. She has also worked extensively with developing ESL programs at a distance for Adult ELL. Currently she is working expanding online professional development opportunities for Adult educational programs. She is a frequent presenter at international and national conferences as it relates to community college program development for ELL and distance learning. She holds a MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, NY and a BS from University of Md.

Anna Sanczyk was born and raised in Bialystok, Poland, and graduated from the University of Bialystok where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. She traveled throughout Europe and the U.S. to gain valuable intercultural experience, then earned a Master’s degree in English Linguistics from the University of Oslo in Norway. Since 2011, she has worked at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C., where she instructs refugee students. Since 2013, Anna has been a Program Coordinator developing curriculum that focuses on citizenship, life, and work skills. By including concepts of American culture and traditions in the lessons, she helps students increase their literacy skills while they learn to understand their new surroundings and become successful members of their new communities.

Dr. Debra Sherrill brings many years of academic and professional knowledge to Central Piedmont Community College. She began teaching in 1996 as adjunct faculty in business administration at another community college. In 2000 she joined Central Piedmont Community College as a part-time instructor and in 2005 she accepted a full-time position with the Financial Services Institute in Corporate and Continuing Education.

Since 2005 she has received two Teaching Excellence Awards and in 2009 she earned the title of Assistant Professor. In January 2010, she received the Fall 2009 Instructor Excellence Award and the 2010 NISOD Excellence Award (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development). She is instrumental in developing new courses and during her academic career has taught more than 395 continuing education, contract training, and curriculum courses.

Debra has many years of professional experience in the mortgage banking industry. Because of her extensive knowledge in this field she has published two books on mortgage lending: Loan Origination Essentials and North Carolina Origination Essentials. Debra is also a consultant/expert witness for the United States Department of Justice for cases involving mortgage fraud.

Debra holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Management. Her dissertation was titled: An Exploratory Study of Ethical Climate Perceptions of the Mortgage Banking Industry in the Charlotte, North Carolina Region.

Debra also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from Wingate University.

Alyssa Bethel Williams, MA is a faculty member at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, NC. She has more than 17 years of experience as an instructor, advisor and trainer of adults in the public, private and community college sectors of higher education.

Her areas of collegiate experience include leadership development, career counseling, new student orientation, academic advising, residence life, Greek affairs, judicial affairs, services for differently abled students and programming.

She is a graduate of Tusculum College and received a Master’s of Arts degree in Student Development for Higher Education from Trinity University. In her current role, she is an instructor and Discipline Chair for Career Assessment and Transfer Student Success courses as well as teaches College Student Success and College Study Skills courses.

Alyssa has also trained adults in the corporate arena on effective leadership, team building, group facilitation, diversity and conflict mediation and resolution.

P. Anthony Zeiss, Ed.D
President of Central Piedmont Community College, North Carolina

Dr. Zeiss holds a doctorate in community college administration from Nova University and a master’s degree in speech (radio and television) and a bachelor’s degree in speech education from Indiana State University. In 1992, Dr. Zeiss became the third president of Central Piedmont Community College, the largest college in North Carolina serving approximately 70,000 students per year. During his tenure, the college has grown from one campus to six and has become recognized as a national leader in Workforce Development. Dr. Zeiss has authored or co- authored several books on economic development, adult literacy and national workforce development and the Civil War. His most recent publications include four books on creating high performance employees, a book on Community College Leadership, a tribute to John Montgomery Belk, and a novel on the Revolutionary War.

Dr. Zeiss is a professional speaker and a frequent keynoter for companies and colleges on recruiting, developing, and retaining peak performers at the workplace. He regularly consults on workforce development and resource development.

Dr. Zeiss is past chair of the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges, past Board Chair for the League for Innovation, and was the Association of Community College Trustees’ National CEO of the year for 2004-2005. CPCC was selected as the 2002 Community College of the Year by the National Alliance of Business in 2002-2003.

Dr. Zeiss serves on several local, regional and national boards, including Leadership N.C. and the Institute for Emerging Issues. He frequently serves as a workgroup member for the U. S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor. Dr. Zeiss and his wife, Beth, have two sons and two grandchildren.

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