Faculty & Staff

Candice McQueenCandice McQueen, Founding Director

Candice is the Dean of the College of Education at Lipscomb University. In her four years as dean, she has led 72 percent growth in her college. McQueen has started a new Ed.D. program, brought in millions of dollars to the college in the form of both grants and gifts, started off-campus and online programs, and has partnered with the community in a variety of school improvement projects, Hispanic initiatives, and innovative professional development partnerships including the Cameron Transformation Partnership with MNPS and LEAD Charter Academy. In addition, the programs in McQueen’s college have been consistently highlighted for quality and effectiveness based on the Tennessee Report Card on the Effectiveness of Teacher Training Programs.  

McQueen serves on a variety of boards, including the PENCIL Foundation, STARS, the Mayor's Youth Master Plan Leadership Council, and the First to the Top Advisory Council for the Commissioner of Education.  She is also on the executive committee of the Tennessee Association of Colleges of Teacher Education.  She speaks widely on transformational partnerships, leadership and redesigning professional development.  Before coming to Lipscomb and serving as a department chair, Dr. McQueen taught in both private and public elementary and middle schools where she was awarded multiple awards for both her teaching and the curriculum design of new magnet schools. Dr. McQueen has a bachelor's degree from Lipscomb, a master's degree from Vanderbilt, and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas.


Trace HerbertTrace Hebert, Interim Managing Director

Prior to coming to Lipscomb, Hebert served as Academic Dean of Rochester College in Michigan.  He has experience working in a variety of administrative and academic positions in higher education at the director, dean, and vice president level at four different colleges and universities. His primary interest is in educational leadership. He holds a B.S. from Abilene Christian University, M.A. from the University of Alabama and a Ph.D. from Oakland University. Trace and his wife Holly have two sons: Christopher and Jack.


Karen MarkleinKaren Marklein, Program Director

Karen serves as a Program Director with a focus on instructional coaching. Karen worked with Sumner County Schools this past year as a PACE facilitator where she completed over 300 teacher observations and evaluations using the TEAM evaluation system. She also served as an instructional coach for Sumner County and was an English teacher at Beech High School. Karen has an M. Ed. in Ed Leadership from Bethel University, a M.A. from MTSU and a B.A. from the University of Tennessee at Martin.


Rachael Milligan, Program Director

Rachael joined the Ayers Institute in August and serves as a Program Director.  She taught at the middle school level for nine years, both in Arkansas and in Tennessee.  For the past two years, Rachael served as an assistant principal at Heritage Middle School in Williamson County, Tennessee.  Additionally, Rachael has been Director of 21st Century Community Learning Centers (an after-school program for at-risk students), and a house parent at the Tennessee Children’s Home.  Rachael has her administrative endorsement from Trevecca Nazarene University, her M. Ed. from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, and her B.A. from Harding University.


Julia Osteen, Technology Integration Specialist

Julia joined the Ayers Staff in August, 2013 with a focus in Online Learning. She has worked in both private and public K-12 education for 25 years. From classroom teacher to Technology Integration Chair, Julia has had experience not only in the classroom as a teacher but also with supporting teachers as they plan learning activities that utilize available technologies for student learning goals. She has an Ed. S. in Instructional Design and Technology from The University of Georgia, an M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University, and a B.S. in Elementary Education from Lipscomb University.


Forrest Doddington, Content Technology Specialist

Forrest joined the Ayers staff in January 2014 with a focus on the deployment of online courses and development of digital learning materials. He brings experience in media production, web design and programming, multimedia authoring, database design and administration, system administration, user training and support. Forrest previously worked five years in higher-education instruction (digital media communication) and 10 years as a technical communicator and system administrator for a Fortune 500 company. He has a M.S. in Interactive and New Communication Technology with a Graduate Certificate in Online Instructional Development from Florida State University and a B.A. in Radio/Television Communication from Harding University.


Christine Holda, Academic Content Specialist

Christine joined the Ayers staff in February 2014 with a focus on the academic content for the MOOC project and curriculum development. She brings experience in standards-aligned curriculum design, science academic content, and assessment development. Christine previously worked fourteen years in the secondary public school system. With her strengths being in chemistry and physics, Christine played a key role in creating and integrating standards-aligned content and assessments. She has a M.A. in Teacher Leadership from Roosevelt University and a B.S. in Secondary Education with a concentration in chemistry and physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Kristin BlankenshipKristin Blankenship, Administrative Assistant

Kristin started as the administrative assistant supporting day to day operations of the institute in August 2014. Kristin graduated from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2007 with a degree in Sports and Exercise Science and Health and went on to earn a Master's degree in Education from Lipscomb University in 2011. Kristin has worked in the Lipscomb community in various roles over the last six years.