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Walden Magazine // Jul 20, 2020

Walden’s Board

The Last 50 Years

Intro by Alan Carl

When Bernie and Rita Turner founded Walden University in 1970, they moved forward with hope and a sense of purpose. They wanted to give working professionals a new—and more convenient—way to earn a degree. But success was never a given.

No university like Walden had ever existed before. And some doubted that a school that provided distance learning and promoted social change could survive.

Fortunately, there were others who did believe in Walden. In 1972, the most committed of them formed the university’s inaugural Board of Directors.

Those first board members devoted themselves to Walden’s mission. And they set the standard with their passion, positivity, and dedication to providing students with the opportunities they needed to do more with their lives and in the world around them.

In the years and decades since, every board member who’s served has followed the same standard. It’s why Walden has thrived, formalizing its social change mission, earning national accreditations, pioneering online learning, and empowering social change across the world—all while staying focused on the needs of students and working professionals.

Bernie and Rita Turner began Walden with hope and purpose. That same spirit has fueled our leadership for 50 years—and it’s what will guide us in the years to come.

Paula R. Singer 2001–Present

Paula R. Singer is the CEO and chair of the Board of Directors of Walden University, which provides quality higher education to working professionals worldwide. She focuses her leadership on three overarching goals: enhancing the end-to-end student experience, expanding access to flexible degree program options, and ensuring student success. Early in her career she was a K–12 teacher and reading specialist focused on struggling students in inner-city U.S. schools. She has long been an advocate for improving quality of life and educational opportunities in local communities. She co-founded the Nurturing Nest Montessori School and has been a lifelong advocate for the United Way.

Sean R. Creamer 2006–Present

Sean R. Creamer is executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) at Merkle. He has extensive experience with mergers and acquisitions and with maintaining high performance while leading teams through transformative change. Before joining Merkle, he spent nine years with Arbitron Inc., ultimately becoming chief executive officer. Prior to that, he was senior vice president and CFO at Laureate International Universities. He has also held a number of financial positions at ExxonMobil and Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). A certified public accountant, he received a BS in Accounting from Saint Joseph’s University and an MS in Taxation from Georgetown University.

Donna M. Dorsey 2009–Present

Donna M. Dorsey is a consultant specializing in nursing regulatory and policy development and leadership. She has served as the executive director of the Maryland Board of Nursing and president of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). She has been instrumental in the development of computerized adaptive testing for the National Council Licensure Examination; the establishment of a national, unduplicated licensee database; the implementation of the Nurse Licensure Compact; and the initiation of the Commitment to Excellence project. In recognition of her work, the NCSBN presented her with the R. Louise McManus Award.

Luis Duran 2016–Present  

Luis Duran is CEO of Strategy Primus, a boutique consulting firm. He is also the president of the Education Commission for the National Employers Association (COPARMEX) in Mexico and was previously CEO and president of Laureate Mexico and Universidad del Valle de Mexico, where he oversaw the strategy and operations for the country’s largest private university system with 44 campuses, 210,000 students, and over 22,000 employees. He is a regular columnist in some of Mexico’s largest newspapers, including Reforma, Milenio, El Universal, and El Sol de México, and frequently participates as a lecturer and panelist in diverse business and education forums.

Dr. William G. Durden 2002–Present

Dr. William G. Durden is president emeritus of Dickinson College and is currently president of the International University Alliance. He received his PhD in German Language and Literature from Johns Hopkins University and was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Army and chaired the Middle States accreditation process for the United States Military Academy (West Point). He has published and spoken on topics including German literature, gifted and talented education, international education policy, and the distinctiveness of U.S. higher education.

Toni Freeman 2016–Present

Toni Freeman most recently served as the executive vice president of the Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, North Carolina. She also served as the chief operating officer of The Mint Museum, which has one of the largest art collections in the Southeast U.S. With more than 20 years of executive management experience, Freeman has served on numerous boards for mission-driven organizations, including the Women Executives for Community Service, the YWCA Central Carolinas, Teen Health Connection, and Habitat for Humanity. She is also a former president of The Association of Junior Leagues International.

Dr. Charles Ota Heller 2006–Present  

Dr. Charles Ota Heller is president of Annapolis Capital Group, a management consulting and investment firm, and an author. Born in Prague, Czech Republic, he has earned multiple engineering degrees and led a distinguished career that has also included turns in enterprise software and venture capital. He is the author of three memoirs: Prague: My Long Journey Home; Name-Droppings: Close Encounters With the Famous and Near-Famous; and Ready, Fire, Aim: An Immigrant’s Tales of Entrepreneurial Terror. He was the recipient of the Maryland Entrepreneur of the Year Award and has been inducted into the Oklahoma State University Engineering Hall of Fame.

John E. Kobara 2005–Present  

John E. Kobara is the founding CEO of, a pioneering startup that created a number of proprietary systems and processes that were acquired by Sylvan Ventures and ultimately made part of Sylvan Online Higher Education. The grandson of immigrants who came to the United States with nothing and the son of parents who lost everything as a result of being detained in the Japanese-American internment camps of World War II, he earned degrees from UCLA, Occidental College, and USC and has spent his career working in the nonprofit arena, which he calls the “for-purpose” field.

Dr. Anita McDonald 2003–Present 

Dr. Anita McDonald is chancellor emerita at Penn State DuBois and has been a member of the Walden board since 2003. She consults and speaks about issues related to adult learning services and programs, and women’s leadership and career opportunities. With more than 40 years of higher education experience, including teaching mathematics, she has served as a dean at the University of Arizona and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. In her community, she is active with Rotary International at the district level and serves on the board of the ALS Association Arizona Chapter.

Lee McGee 2001–Present  

Lee McGee is an expert in acquisitions and has worked in the higher education industry for much of his career. After serving as the CFO of Sylvan Learning Systems, he became the senior vice president of new business development for Laureate Education and oversaw the company’s acquisition of Walden University, and was also responsible for several acquisitions for Laureate’s international network of universities. In addition to his role on the board and as the chair of the Governance Committee, McGee served on the boards for Language Stars and Kendall College. Currently, he provides consultation for business owners looking to take advantage of a new ownership structure. Specifically, he focuses on helping small-business owners.

Richard J. Patro 2017–Present

Richard (Rick) J. Patro is a retired Laureate Education Inc. executive. During his 24 years there, he held many senior positions, including chief financial officer, chief operating officer, and CEO of the Global Products and Services Division. He was also a director on four university boards, both internationally and domestically. Prior to Laureate, he spent eight years at Ernst & Young, primarily in its emerging business group, providing tax audit, tax, and consulting services.

Dr. Estanislado Y. Paz 2004–Present  

Dr. Estanislado (Stan) Y. Paz’s career spans more than 45 years in public education. Beginning as a teacher, he rose to become superintendent of the Tucson and El Paso public school districts and associate superintendent of Dallas Independent School District. He is a former president of the Texas Association of School Administrators; was selected by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, as a Top 100 Executive Educator; and was honored as the Texas Superintendent of the Year. Additionally, he is the founding president of the Association for Latino Administrators and Superintendents and serves as the executive director of the Texas Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents.

Dr. Barbara Solomon 1991–Present  

Dr. Barbara Solomon is former dean of the USC Graduate School and vice provost emerita, University of Southern California. She has published extensively on the delivery of social and mental health services in underrepresented populations. Her book Black Empowerment: Social Work in Oppressed Communities, published in 1976, introduced the concept of empowerment as a framework for social work practice. She has been a guest lecturer or visiting scholar at multiple universities in the U.S. and abroad. She has also received multiple awards for community service and advocacy for civil and human rights.

Walden’s Board Past & Present

  • Neal Berte

  • Joseph Carol

  • Dr. Frank B. Dilley
    1972–1973; 1977–1982; 1987–2000

  • Anthony Ferraro

  • Dr. Harold L. Hodgkinson
    1972–2002; 1974–1991; 1993–2000

  • Herbert Katz

  • Ronald McNeur

  • James Parejko

  • Charles Raebeck

  • Edward Schulze

  • Bernard Turner

  • Ronald Barnes

  • Joseph Kariotis

  • Milton Schwebel

  • Thomas Woods

  • Gladys Morano

  • Dr. Charles M. Odorizzi

  • Rita Turner

  • Wilfred D. MacDonnell

  • Diane Morrison

  • Thomas A. Coppens

  • Dr. Harold Abel

  • Dr. Glendon F. Drake

  • Burt L. Sanders

  • Dr. Barbara Solomon

  • Don E. Ackerman
  • Kathleen Cote
  • Lt. Gen. Dave R. Palmer
  • Lawrence L. Landry
  • Dr. Roberto Ibarra
  • A. Bart Holaday
  • Caesar J. Naples
  • Jan Balzer
  • Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales
  • Lee McGee
  • Paula R. Singer
  • Dr. William G. Durden
  • Dr. Rochelle C. Ingram
  • Dr. Anita McDonald
  • Dr. Estanislado Y. Paz
  • John E. Kobara
  • Sean R. Creamer
  • Dr. Charles Ota Heller
  • Dr. Paula Peinovich
  • Dr. Nivine Megahed
  • Dr. David P. Lopez
  • Jonathan Kaplan
  • Luis Doran
  • Toni Freeman
  • Richard J. Patro