Executive & Senior Leadership

The Executive and Senior Leadership Team at Evergreen

The Executive Leadership team is chaired by President John Carmichael and functions as the primary decision-making body of the administration within the authority delegated by the Board of Trustees. 

The Senior Leadership team is chaired by Executive Vice President Dexter Gordon. This team works to ensure that all parts of the college share a collective understanding of institutional priorities and to identify and resolve roadblocks to advancing those priorities. 

Members of both the Executive Leadership & Senior Leadership Teams

Photo of John Carmichael outdoors with trees and buildings behind them.

John Carmichael, President - Ph.D., Colorado State University

John earned his PhD in Education and Human Resource Studies at Colorado State University and is a  graduate of Evergreen (BA and MPA).  He is also an  alumnus of Harvard’s Finance for Senior Executives program.  John has served Evergreen in a variety of roles for over twenty years, most recently as the Vice President for Finance and Operations and prior to that as Chief of Staff & Secretary to the Board of Trustees.

The President is responsible for engaging the campus, community, and key external groups, in the promotion of a liberal arts education and learning community models. He represents the college and helps develop and maintain a comprehensive vision, unique to Evergreen and the students we serve. The President works to build relationships, strengthen partnerships, and collaborate with other college leaders to develop creative solutions.

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Kara Briggs, Vice President for Tribal Relations, Arts, and Cultures (interim) - MPA, The Evergreen State College

Kara Briggs is the Interim Vice President for Tribal Relations, Arts and Culture. She is a citizen of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe and a direct descendant of the Yakama Nation. She is a 2010 graduate of The Evergreen State College’s Tribal Master of Public Administration Program.

Kara began her career as an award-winning journalist, working for The Spokesman-Review and The Oregonian while also serving as president of the Native American Journalists Association and Unity: Journalists of Color. She wrote a groundbreaking national column on healthcare for Indian Country Today. She co-founded a think tank on the influence of the news media on federal Indian policy for the State Universities of New York.

She was recruited to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian where her work focused on strategic communications and fund development in support of the museum's educational mission. She conducted foundational research for the museum's Native Knowledge 360, outreach to the nation's local schools. She developed the foundational framework for conducting fund development in Indian Country. She has led in public affairs, tribal relations for the state government, and government relations for tribes from Alaska to Arizona. She has been a small business owner. She is a leader in women’s organizations, including Seattle’s Center for Women and Democracy which she chaired, and the National Women’s Political Caucus for which she serves on the national board. She is also an author and a poet.

In her role at Evergreen, Kara is a member of the senior leadership team, oversees the Evergreen Longhouse and Indigenous Arts Campus, coordinates the college's government to government relationships with Tribes, Alaska Native Organizations, and First Nations; she stewards a portfolio of foundation and donor relationships. The position is funded through a combination of foundation and state funds.

Dr. Dexter Gordon

Dexter Gordon, Executive Vice President - Ph.D., Indiana University

Dexter Gordon began his role as Executive VP of The Evergreen State College in August 2021. He is directly responsible for Enrollment, Marketing and Communications, and Inclusive Excellence and Student Success. Dexter brings to Evergreen a national reputation for his work on equity and inclusion and his leadership on curriculum reform in higher education and a long record of grounded, transformational, community educational work in the Pacific Northwest. He is the founding director of the Race and Pedagogy Institute at the University of Puget Sound, where he also served as a distinguished professor, a Dolliver Endowed Chair, Professor, director of the African American Studies Program, and professor of communication studies. Colleagues describe him as “a grounded, sharp and impressive teacher, scholar and leader” whose teaching and scholarship are marked by an intrepid critical questioning and integration, care for the textures of peoples’ experiences of learning and other aspects of living, and a penchant for taking on sweeping and ranging social, political, and ethical questions. His scholarship, experience, and expertise are guided by his vision of comprehensive community development grounded in equity and justice for all.

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Susan Harris, Executive Associate to the President and Secretary to the Board of Trustees - MPA, The Evergreen State College

Susan Harris earned her Master of Public Administration in 2018 and bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in business, human resources and non-profit management in 2007, both from Evergreen. She has worked in the Office of the President at The Evergreen State College since June 2007, serving in multiple roles.

In Susan's current role she serves as an advisor to the President, advising on policy, procedural, and operational issues of the college. She coordinates the work of the Board of Trustees, Executive Leadership Team, and the Senior Leadership Team. Susan manages the President’s Office operations and supervises and directs the work of administrative staff in the office. She serves in a visible leadership role for the institution on behalf of the President and represents the President and the college to internal and external constituencies. Susan plans, coordinates and conducts complex projects at the direction of the President; develops and manages the President’s Office operating and discretionary budgets; and executes special assignments. In this role, Susan coordinates staff work to support decision-making by the President, the Board of Trustees, and the College’s Executive Leadership Team. In addition, she currently leads the work of the Employee Recognition and Appreciation Workgroup and serves on the Operational Leadership Team Planning Committee.

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Farra Layne Hayes, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications - BA, The Evergreen State College

Farra Layne Hayes was born and raised in Olympia as the fourth generation of her family to call this area home. She is a graduate of Evergreen, completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in 2004 as an adult learner attending evening and weekend classes while working for the state of Washington. As the first in her family to graduate from college, she learned first-hand what it takes for a student to overcome educational obstacles.

As an expert in communications, stakeholder relations, community outreach, and partnership development, Farra’s career has centered on bringing diverse voices to the table to build trust, seek common ground, and find solutions on contentious issues. She joined Evergreen in 2019 after working in the public and private sectors for over twenty years at the Department of Natural Resources and Puget Sound Energy.

As Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Farra is responsible for directing Evergreen’s marketing and communication strategies and activities. She leads a staff of marketers, designers, and communications professionals (many of whom are also Greeners) in the creation of content advancing the college’s mission and goals for student recruitment, marketing, fundraising, reputation enhancement, public relations, community outreach, and internal communications.

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Holly Joseph, Dean of Students (interim), M.Ed, University of Washington


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Abby Kelso, Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of The Evergreen State College Foundation - MPA, The Evergreen State College

Abby Kelso (she/her) is a graduate of Evergreen, earning her Bachelor of Arts & Science degree in 2001. After graduation, Abby worked in California as a high school physics teacher, soccer coach and college counselor. She returned to Evergreen as an admissions counselor in 2008 and completed her Master of Public Administration from Evergreen in 2011.   

During Evergreen's 40th anniversary year (2011-12), she joined the Advancement team to deliver the first Return to Evergreen alumni event. Abby has continued to serve in Advancement, gradually assuming greater responsibility both within the division and across campus. She was appointed Vice President for Advancement and Executive Director of The Evergreen State College Foundation in 2021. In these roles, she leads and oversees Evergreen’s efforts to raise private funds, seek grants, engage alumni, and steward support for the College’s students and mission.

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David Kohler, Chief Financial Officer (interim) - BA, Washington State University

Dave joined Evergreen in 2013 as the Associate Vice President for Business Services and remained in that role until he became the Chief Financial Officer in 2021.  Prior to serving at Evergreen, Dave spent 13 years as the Dean of Financial Services at South Puget Sound Community College after working for several years as an auditor for the Washington State Auditor’s Office and a couple of regional CPA firms.  Dave holds a BA in accounting from Washington State University and is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the state of Washington. 

Dave is responsible for leading a team that oversees the college budget, human resources, and business services along with the Evergreen bookstore, conference services and parking operations.  Dave also serves as the college internal control officer and risk manager.

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David McAvity, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs (interim) - Ph.D, Cambridge University

Dr. McAvity joined the Evergreen community as a Member of the Faculty in 2000, teaching mathematics and physics. Since 2012, David has served as a part of the leadership team, first as an Academic Dean for budget and international programs and then as Vice Provost.
Dr. McAvity received his Bachelor of Science in mathematical physics from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, and his MASt and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in England. 

The Provost and Vice President for Student and Academic Life is the chief academic officer of the college. Dr. McAvity, selected for this role on an interim basis in August 2020, oversees a leadership team with responsibility for Evergreen's curriculum, academic mission and student engagement. 

Further information on areas reporting to the Provost can be found in the Org. Chart for the Student and Academic Life Division.

Portrait of Therese Saliba

Therese Saliba, Vice President for Inclusive Excellence and Student Success (interim) - Ph.D. University of Washington

Therese’s work in racial equity, social justice, and liberatory education is informed by over 20 years as faculty in the fields of International and Women of Color Feminisms, Postcolonial Studies, and Literature and Writing. As Dean of Faculty Hiring and Development (2016-20), she instituted racial equity training for Faculty Hiring, led New Faculty Orientation training in Evergreen’s interdisciplinary model and equity-minded pedagogies, and coordinated Evergreen’s Summer Institutes for Faculty Development. Her current projects include collaborative leadership in supporting college-wide equity initiatives, developing Holistic Advising services as part of New Academic Directions, and launching Evergreen’s Social Justice Center.  

As Vice President, Therese oversees Inclusive Excellence and Student Success (IESS) in their mission to support the success of all students, particularly those underserved by higher education. IESS includes  Academic and Career Advising, First Peoples, Multicultural, Trans and Queer Services, Climate & Belonging Education, Access Services, International Studies, the ReEntry Scholars program for formerly incarcerated students, and Evergreen’s federally funded grant programs, TRiO Student Success and Upward Bound.

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Trevor Speller, Vice-Provost (interim) - Ph.D., University at Buffalo

Trevor Speller joined The Evergreen State College in 2010, where he currently serves as Interim Vice-Provost. Trevor has also held positions as an Academic Dean and a member of the faculty in Anglophone Literature. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in English and Psychology from University of Calgary, an MA in English from York University in Toronto, Canada, and a PhD in English from the University at Buffalo.

Working closely with the Provost, Academic Deans and Directors, Area Managers, and others, the Vice-Provost oversees contracts and leaves, faculty labor relations, and budget for the Academic division. The Vice-Provost also leads the college’s curriculum team and directs arts and science support operations.

Photo of William Ward, Chief Administrative Operations Officer

William Ward, Chief Administrative Officer (interim) - MBA, Indiana Wesleyan University

William earned his Master of Business Administration from Indiana Wesleyan University and has served in multiple senior leadership roles in operations including The White House for three U.S. Presidents.  William joined Evergreen in October 2018 as the Associate Vice President for Facilities Services and promoted to his current role as Chief Administrative Officer responsible for Police Services, Computing & Communications, Facilities Services, and lead for the COVID 19 team ensuring these important services meet the needs of the college.

With 30 years of operations experience William provides a demonstrated pattern of leadership streamlining executive and operational functions improving customer satisfaction, staff productivity, quality-outcomes, asset life-cycle optimization, strategic partnerships, and financial performance.  Collaborates across all college divisions to meet the needs of students and stakeholders. Utilizes a process-driven approach leaning heavily on model of transparency around organizational priorities and accountability delivering outcomes to strengthen the Mission of Evergreen State College.  Mentoring servant leadership style fosters staff empowerment and collaborative partnerships while improving diversity, inclusion, and equality in all college activities and functions.

Senior Leadership Team Members

(in addition to those listed above)

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Tony Alfonso, Associate Vice President for Technology - MS-CIS, Florida Gulf Coast University

Antonio (Tony) Alfonso grew up in the Cuban immigrant community of South Florida where his family had successful small businesses and a strong work ethic. After working in these family businesses throughout high school, he became a first-generation college graduate earning his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida with a major in finance. Tony then spent almost 10 years in public service as a Financial Analyst at the City of Miami Beach where he had the opportunity to work with dumb terminals, mainframes and the computer programming used in the utility billing and accounting systems. This sparked a deep interest in computing and software that could be used to run the administrative functions of organizations. Completing his Master of Science in Computer Information Systems at Florida Gulf Coast University, he focused on data analysis, software development, business and process improvement, project management and enterprise resource planning systems. He has worked at Evergreen since 2002 and has held several positions in higher education over the last 23 years, including Associate Director of Administrative Computing, Sr. Systems Analyst/Programmer, Accounting Manager, Business Analyst and Associate Controller/Bursar (at Florida Gulf Coast University).  

As the Associate Vice President for Technology, Tony leads the central technology team responsible for networking, telecommunications, administrative technologies, user support, academic technologies, device management, cybersecurity and data protection and privacy. Tony is responsible for directing Evergreen’s technology and systems strategies towards continuous improvement, digital transformation, and student success in an open, inclusive, and secure manner. 

Photo of David Brunckhurst, Chief of Police

David Brunckhurst, Chief of Police/Director of Police Services - J.D., Thomas M. Cooley Law School

David is our Chief of Police at The Evergreen State College. David’s law enforcement career began in 1973 with the Los Angeles Police Department, and subsequently he has consulted and worked with both municipal and higher education departments in multiple states. David’s thirst for learning and research led him to a B.S. in Religion, B.A. in Psychology, M.A. in Management and an M.A. in Legal Studies, with a Graduate Paralegal Certificate prior to earning his J.D. and Bar Admission in Michigan.

David has been with Evergreen since June of 2019 and is currently responsible for Police Services and Emergency Management on campus; with a focus on the safety, security and quality of life of our students, faculty, staff and visitors. As Chief of Police David works closely with college leadership to support the vision and mission of The Evergreen State College; and, encourages the department to engage in partnerships that embrace collaboration, communication and transparency. David’s focus is on mentoring and developing others, engaging in an eclectic approach to life - and having an open door to all.

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John McLain, Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Grants, and Foundation Relations - MA, Graduate Theological Union

John convenes and catalyzes cross-college teams to address Evergreen’s strategic priorities and fulfill its education and public service mission. As a member of senior and operational leadership teams, he collaborates in college-wide planning and in steering Evergreen’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign. John leads Evergreen’s Grants and Foundation Relations office, which works across the college to raise external financial support for initiatives that include Native arts, cultures, and education; faculty and student research; student support programs such as TRIO Student Support Services; scholarships; faculty and staff development; corrections education; community-based learning; TRIO Upward Bound college outreach and readiness programs; capital projects; and technology infrastructure.

Prior to this position, John worked for 10 years at the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, where he directed federal college readiness programs and developed policy in the areas of student financial aid and K-16 alignment. Before that, he held two positions at Evergreen, as a financial aid counselor and an institutional research associate. He is completing Ph.D. studies in leadership and organizational theory.

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Sandy Kaiser, Director of Government Relations

Now serving as the college's Director of Government Relations, Sandy has served in multiple roles at Evergreen, most recently as the Vice President for College Relations overseeing the college’s first-ever re-brand and leading the college back to in-person operations in fall 2021. A fourth-generation Washingtonian and proud parent of an Evergreen graduate, Sandy has served in leadership positions in state and federal government including communications director for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. She was a candidate for the Washington State House in 2022. As a career diplomat from 1986 to 2011, she directed international communications and outreach on behalf of the U.S, leaving the Foreign Service with the equivalent rank of a two-star general.

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Laurel Uznanski, Associate Vice President for Human Resource Services - BA, Valley City State University

Laurel R. Uznanski joined Evergreen in 1995 and has been the Associate Vice President for Human Resources since 2010.  Laurel holds a BA in Business Administration with a minor in Human Resource Management from the Valley City State University.  In 2001, she attained her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM); and in 2008, attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education Management Development Program.    

Laurel is responsible for directing the college’s human resource management functions for staff, including labor relations and contract negotiations, staff recruitment, affirmative action and equal opportunity, human resource payroll functions and systems, classification, compensation, leave administration, reasonable accommodation, workers compensation, organizational development, and policy development.  In addition, Laurel serves as the college’s designated Ethics Officer.