Robert D. James

Mr. Robert D. James presently serves as an owner of a management consultant firm and speaker service. Most recently he served as Vice-President for Student Affairs at Victory University, a small Christian College in Memphis, Tennessee. He was responsible for all retention activities, Residence Life, Career services, Advisement, Counseling, Student Life and Athletics. Mr. James joined the Victory staff after retiring from the SUNY System Administration team in May, 2012, where he served as Associate Provost for Opportunity Programs for 22 years.

As Associate Provost for Opportunity Programs, Mr. James was responsible for the administrative oversight of the University’s undergraduate and graduate access programs for New York State’s underprivileged population. The Office of Opportunity Programs is responsible for providing funding to 43 participating campuses for program operation, provides training for campus directors, and enforces policy guidelines to ensure compliance with the legislative intent of the program. Each year, approximately 11, 000 students are served.

Prior to that position Mr James served as Associate Vice Chancellor for Special Programs where, in addition to being responsible for the undergraduate and graduate programs on SUNY campuses, he managed and provided funding and oversight to SUNY’s Educational Opportunity Centers, Counseling and Outreach Centers and the Bridge program. Annual Budgets for these programs ranged from 50 to 70 million dollars.

While the last 22 years have been spent as Associate Provost for Opportunity Programs, Robert James served the opportunity programs community, across New York State, for the last 34 years. Mr. James was formerly Director of the Educational Opportunity Program at SUNY College at Brockport in 1976 and Director of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in 1979. During his service as Senior Director of the Office of Special Programs in 1989, Robert served as Interim Executive Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Institute of Non-Violence.

He has served on many boards during his career and has received numerous awards for outstanding service to the profession and community including the New York State Governor’s Award. After serving as President for ten-years, Mr. James currently serves as the Tri-State Administrator for the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education, which joins opportunity programs across the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

Mr. James academic endeavors resulted in a Bachelor Degree in Science and Master of Science Degree from SUNY Brockport in 1972 and 1975 respectively. He has completed all coursework for his doctorate in Education Administration at SUNY Albany and will soon complete his dissertation. He is married to Cheryl Holley- James and has three children and five grandchildren.

Areas of expertise: Managing and funding of Access programs for At-Risk students in Higher Education, Retention Strategies for at-risk students in higher education, Public speaking, Enhancing Black Male persistence in Education, Mediation and conflict resolution and Counseling, self and wealth development.


Dr. Durand

Henry J. Durand, PhD

Dr. Durand is a member of the Graduate Faculty of the University at Buffalo, a Senator on the SUNY wide Faculty Senate and member of the UB Faculty Senate Executive Committee. His course offerings include the quantitative research core courses Statistical Methods for Educational Research, Survey Research Methods and Statistical Analysis Using SPSS. His discipline is Educational Sociology and he also teaches classes in American Pluralism, Education and Social Class, African American Students In Higher Education, Race and Ethnic Relations and related subjects. He has received manyawards, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Professional Excellence, the Milton Plesur Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and the Grassroots’ Cora P. Maloney award for service to community. He is a cited alumnus of Denison University and holds a B.A. from Denison University, M.Ed. from Xavier University of Cincinnati, a Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati, and is a graduate of both the Harvard Management Development Institute and the American Management Association Executive Programs.

Areas of Expertise:
Program Assessment and Evaluation Low-Income, First Generation, Educationally and Financially Disadvantaged Students in Higher Education Academic and College Success Skills Quantitative Research Design and Analysis


Mike DeJesus III

Mr. DeJesus is a program officer for Higher Education Opportunity Programs (HEOP) at the New York State Education Department (NYSED). There, he serves as a coordinator for HEOP and as a liaison to the HEOP institutions throughout the state. Prior to Mr. DeJesus’ role at NYSED, he worked as an analyst with Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development where he was instrumental in assisting New York State agencies in procuring with minority and women owned business enterprises (MWBEs) as well as certifying hundreds of small businesses as state-certified MWBEs. He also has a long history of working in education having held roles as an adjunct history professor, director of an intercultural diversity program at a private liberal arts college, and several roles in Residence Life. His passion for serving disadvantaged communities is not only evident in the career fields he has chosen but also through his volunteer service to his community and the furthering of his studies. While working full time and NYSED, Mr. DeJesus is also a fourth year doctoral student pursing a degree in education policy at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. There he is focusing on K-16 education policies as they relate to opportunity programs and black male academic achievement.

Areas of expertise: higher education opportunity programs, minority and women-owned business development, intercultural diversity programs, education policy, black male academic achievement


Phyllis A. H. Breland, M.Ed.

Phyllis A. H. Breland, M.Ed. is an 1980 Opportunity Program (HEOP) graduate of Hamilton College, and currently holds a Masters of Education in Instructional Design. Her work experience includes program development, marketing, empowerment/assertiveness training, volunteer recruitment, health education, quality assurance, motivational speaking and policy development. She is currently the Director of Opportunity Programs at Hamilton College, which focuses on providing an opportunity for students whose socioeconomic circumstance has limited access to higher education. She begins her journey with students at the middle school level working on violence prevention, academic preparedness and the art of “dreaming big”. She works closely with junior high schools, high schools, churches, community groups and organizations throughout the State of New York. She is also the President for the New York State Higher Education Opportunity Program Professional Organization, and is affiliated with organizations such as Girls, Inc., Mohawk Valley Junior Frontiers, Boys and Girls Club of Mohawk Valley, Underground Café, Hamilton College Justice Project Initiative, Young Scholars, and works closely with colleges in the upstate New York region.

Areas of expertise: Program Development, Training, Effective Learning Strategies, Strategic Planning and Presentation


Hasani Carter, PhD, MPH

Dr. Carter is currently the New Jersey EOF Statewide Director. He has served as President of the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey (EOFPANJ, Inc.).

Prior to his appointment within the OSHE, Dr. Carter served as the Associate Dean/Director of the Educational Opportunity Fund Programs at Seton Hall University where he managed Directorship over the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and the Pre-Medical/Pre-Dental Plus Program (PMPDPP). From 2009-2011, Dr. Carter served as the President of the Educational Opportunity Fund Professional Association of New Jersey (EOFPANJ) and now currently serves as the Immediate Past President and Advocacy Co-Chair.

Additionally, in 2009 he began serving as a member of the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs Executive Board and now serves as its President. He completed his doctoral studies in Higher Education Administration from New York University and is a proud graduate of a HBCU (Historically Black College and University) where he obtained a B.S. from Virginia Union University. Additionally, he holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from the Medical College of Virginia-Virginia Commonwealth University.

Areas of expertise: An examination in the disparities in healthcare, federal and state policy development, leadership issues, factors that influence student engagement and performance, as well as looking at issues of equity, access and opportunity in higher education.