Our Staff

Candice McQueenDr. Candice McQueen, Founding Director

Dr. Candice McQueen is the Dean of the College of Education at Lipscomb University. In her four years as dean, she has led 72% 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.


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.


Christine Holda, Common Core Specialist

Christine joined the Ayers staff in February 2014 as a Common Core Specialist.  She has experience in curriculum design and implementation, standard's based grading, and college and career preparation. Prior to coming to Lipscomb, Christine was a High School Chemistry and Physics teacher for 14 years.  She received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a major in Education and Chemistry and a minor in Physics.  Christine also completed her Master's Degree in Teacher Leadership at Roosevelt 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, and user training and support.  Forrest previously worked 5 years in higher-education instruction (digital media communication) and 10 year 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.

Allison Woods

Allison Woods, Programs and Outreach Assistant 

Allison started as the programs assistant supporting day to day operations of the institute. Allison graduated from Lipscomb in 2011 with a degree in Multimedia Production and Theatre, where she was a costume designer. After that, she worked as the wardrobe supervisor for Creede Repertory Theater in Colorado and then as a sales associate at Anthropologie upon her return to Nashville.