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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) 763-9497



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

Program Manager for Campus and Community Relations

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) 647-3847


Domonique Weston

Interim Project Coordinator

Domonique Weston, Interim Project Coordinator, is a graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. 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 educational programming, college readiness, multicultural education, and student affairs. She leverages her skills in these areas to increase diversity and inclusion in higher education.

(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


Ashley Johnson, Ph.D

Campus and Community Liaison

Ashley Johnson has more than 10 years of K-12 and higher education experience. She currently serves as the Community Campus Liaison for the University of Michigan’s Wolverine Pathways program. She is responsible for supporting scholars with the college readiness and application process, summer programs, internships, and Capstone experiences. A first-generation college graduate, Ashley truly believes in the power of higher education as a mechanism for economic mobility and vehicle for community empowerment and improvement. For these reasons, Ashley has dedicated her career to education and helping others complete college, and achieve their educational dreams. Ashley earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology and a Master of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Mississippi where she was also a four-year scholarship student-athlete. Ashley earned a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in K-12 Education Administration with a specialization in Urban Education.

(734) 647-3847

Davee Hunter

Administrative Specialist

Davee is directly responsible for supporting the Associate Director and Program Manager. She is also responsible for the scholar recruitment process and initiating school and community recruiting partnerships.

(734) 647-3847

Katherine Simpson

Administrative Assistant

Katherine received her Bachelors of Science in Healthcare Administration from Eastern Michigan University. As an administrative assistant with Wolverine Pathways, Katherine provides critical behind-the-scenes support that is vital to the program’s success. Katherine’s own collegiate journey and experience working in higher education institutions have helped her recognize a passion to assist first generation and students of color transition and navigate life at postsecondary institutions.

(734) 647-3847

Nathaly Ramirez

Detroit District Facilitator

Nathaly graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Latin American/Latino Studies, and a masters in Higher Education from the University of Michigan. Nathaly has worked with Wolverine Pathways since 2015 and has supported both Ypsilanti and Detroit sites. Prior to working for Wolverine Pathways, Nathaly spent her undergraduate and graduate years conducting research on how to better support Latinx students in their transition and completion of higher education. She is passionate about college and language access, diversity, and mangos with chili sauce.   

(734) 647-3847


Zari E. Mahoney – Johnson

Southfield District Facilitator

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 Southfield 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) 647-3847

Jordyn Morgan

Southfield District Facilitator

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) 647 – 3847

Lauren Richardson

Ypsilanti District Facilitator

Lauren grew up in South Haven, a small port town on Lake Michigan.  Although she’s lived in Ann Arbor for thirteen years, part of her identity will forever reside within the waves and sunsets of southwest Michigan. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Social Foundations of Education from Eastern Michigan University. Prior to joining Wolverine Pathways in 2018, Lauren managed various high-quality after-school programs in Washtenaw and Wayne counties.  Lauren is passionate about equity and inclusion, educational access, trauma-informed care, and youth-driven spaces.

(734) 647-3847

Wendy Galvan

Ypsilanti Assistant District Facilitator

Wendy was born and raised in El Monte, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Chicana/o Studies, and a minor in Educational Studies from UCLA in 2018. Prior to Wolverine Pathways, Wendy worked for the Harvey Mudd College Upward Bound program where she tutored and instructed first-generation and low-income high school students with the goal of helping them attend and succeed in (and after) college. She also has volunteer experience in extensive educational and community-based organizations. Wendy finds her passion in serving Communities of Color and in ameliorating the leaks in the Educational Pipeline.

(734) 647-3847