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.
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.
Domonique Weston, M.A.
Program Manager for Operations
Domonique Weston, Program Manager for Operations, has been with Wolverine Pathways since its inaugural year. She 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.
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.
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.
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.
Main Reception: (734) 647-3848
Brenda Vasconcelos Ramirez
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.
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.
Zari E. Mahoney – Johnson
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.
Lauren Richardson, M.A.
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.
Program Coordinator Assistant
Gabrielle is from Detroit, Michigan, where she graduated from Cass Technical High School in 2015. She is currently in her last semester at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Gabrielle is currently an Assistant District Facilitator and has worked for the program since her freshman year of college.
Program Coordinator Assistant
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.
Program Coordinator Assistant
Hailing from Brownstown, Michigan, Jon is a Central Michigan University Graduate, receiving his Bachelors Degree in the study of Biomedical Sciences in 2015. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Biology at Eastern Michigan University. His passion for connection with youth and promoting their growth though education has lead him to Wolverine Pathways where he currently serves as the Assistant District Facilitator at the Ypsilanti site.