Carla O’Connor, Ph.D


Carla is responsible for the development, implementation and ongoing improvement of the Wolverine Pathways initiative. Her team works with targeted school communities to provide enrichment and exposures that aim to increase the likelihood that promising young people apply, attend and graduate from the University of Michigan.
(734) 647-0606



Learn more about the Director

An Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of education, Carla O’Connor, has been a member of the University of Michigan faculty for 21 years. She has also served as the associate dean for academic affairs for the School of Education.

Her disciplinary emphasis is sociology of education with expertise in the areas of African-American achievement, urban education, and ethnographic methods.

O’Connor’s work includes examinations of how black identity is differentially constructed across multiple contexts and influences educational outcomes; how black people’s perceptions of opportunity vary within and across social space and shape academic orientation; how black educational resilience and vulnerability is structured by social, institutional and historical forces; and how the organization and culture of school’s influence students’ social and academic identities and outcomes.

Her work has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, Sociology of Education, Review of Research in Education, Teaching and Teacher Education, and Ethnic and Racial Studies.

She also co-edited the book “Beyond Acting White: Reframing the Debate on Black Student Achievement” and has contributed to multiple handbooks and edited volumes that contend with issues of educational inequality and access.

A founding member of the National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for the Study of Black Youth in Context, O’Connor also has professional affiliations with the American Educational Research Association, American Sociological Association and Association of Black Sociologists.

She has received numerous awards and honors for her work in diversity, mentorship and education, including U-M’s Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award.

O’Connor received a Master of Arts degree and Ph.D. in education from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Wesleyan University.

CaVar D. Palmer Reid, Ph.D

Assistant Director for College Success and Donor Engagement

CaVar serves as the Program Manager for Wolverine Pathways. In this role, he promotes college and career access among students from underserved communities by collaborating with campus and community partners. Prior to joining with Pathways, CaVar worked as an Academic Advisor in the College of LSA at the University of Michigan. CaVar holds a B.A. in African American Studies and English from Wesleyan University, and a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan.
(734) 647-3836


Domonique Weston, M.A.

Assistant Director for College Access and Strategic Initiatives

Domonique Weston is a former Detroiter and graduate of Cass Technical High School. She received a B.A. in secondary education from the University of Michigan, and M.A. in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University. Domonique’s professional interests include diversity and inclusion, academic and college readiness programming, and student affairs. She leverages her skills in these areas in leading programming that focuses on the holistic development of Wolverine Pathways students. Since Wolverine Pathways’ inaugural year, Domonique has been committed to supporting students in exploring their interests and creating a path to college and their future career.
 (734) 647-7233


O’Shai Robinson

Database Administrator

O’Shai, a Baltimore, MD native, received his B.A. in Business Technology Administration from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC).  And he is currently pursuing an MBA and M.A. in Information Systems from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is responsible for the maintenance of the program’s data systems and technological needs.  O’Shai has been working in education since 2006 and is passionate about how technology can improve and inform our work. Prior to his work as database administrator, O’Shai worked as a district facilitator for Wolverine Pathways and a student organizer in Baltimore.
(734) 647-3888


Davee Hunter

Administrative Specialist

Davee is directly responsible for managing the administrative team, supporting the Director, and Program Managers. She is also responsible for human resources and ensuring that Wolverine Pathways remains compliant and fiscally responsible.
(734) 647-3847

Angela Anderson

Administrative Assistant

Angela is responsible for supporting the Wolverine Pathways staff, students and parents.  She has worked in administrative support for PreK-12th grade public school education in Ann Arbor since 2005.

Pete Vandermeer

Assistant Program Manager

Pete serves as the Assistant Program Manager for College Access at Wolverine Pathways. Originally from Ypsilanti, he received his Bachelor of Science in History from Central Michigan University. Pete also worked as a social studies teacher and college counselor for several years in San Antonio, Texas before moving back to Michigan in 2019. His passion for equity and expanding college access to underserved communities led him to Wolverine Pathways, where he now works to drive those efforts in his home state.
(734) 647-3848

Brenda Vasconcelos Ramirez

Program Coordinator

Brenda received her Bachelors of Arts in Latino/a Studies and Bachelors of Arts in Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan. She moved from Mexico at the age of six and was raised in Detroit. Her experiences as a first-generation college graduate and residential advisor fuel her passion for serving youth on their path to a college degree.

Brenda recibió su Bachillerato en Artes en Estudios Latinos y su Bachillerato en Artes en Estudios Organizacionales de la Universidad de Michigan. Se mudó de México a la edad de seis años y se crió en Detroit. Sus experiencias como la primera persona en su familia con un título universitario y como asesora residencial alimentan su pasión para servir a jóvenes en su camino hacia un título universitario.

(734) 763-5807


Jordyn Morgan

Program Coordinator

Jordyn, a Detroit native, received a Bachelors of General Studies with a concentration in Early Childhood Education from the University of Michigan. She is a first-generation college graduate, and a product of Detroit Public Schools. Her passion for educational outreach has lead her to serve as a community resource for youth of all ages and advocate for educational access.
(734) 936-9875

Zari E. Mahoney – Johnson

Program Coordinator

Zari, a Jackson, Michigan native received her BA in Psychology with a Minor in Community Action and Social Change from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2016. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Eastern Michigan University, and currently works as the District Facilitator for the Detroit site. Her extensive work with social justice issues, her passion for college access, and student development have led her to serve students and ensure their successful transition to and through college.
(734) 763-8825

Lauren Richardson, M.A.

Assistant Program Manager

Lauren grew up in South Haven, a small beach town on Lake Michigan. She moved to Ann Arbor in 2005 to attend the University of Michigan, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education. Lauren also holds a master’s degree in Social Foundations of Education from Eastern Michigan University. After graduating from U of M, she began managing after-school enrichment and college readiness programs in southeast Michigan. When Lauren joined Wolverine Pathways in 2018, she was quickly and deeply inspired by the thoughtful and inquiring young scholars in the program. Lauren finds great purpose in contributing to college access, and she is grateful for the opportunity to engage with so many motivated and creative young people.
(734) 647-3839