FPEP is housed in the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida.

Meet our Current Leadership

 

Keri Watson, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Florida Prison Education Project (FPEP) and Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Watson’s research on art and activism has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and the Terra-Fulbright Foundation. Inspired by her experiences teaching for the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, she started FPEP to bring educational opportunities to incarcerated people in her home state.

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Jason Fronczek, MFA, is the Program Coordinator for FPEP and an interdisciplinary artist whose work investigates mass incarceration and mental illness. After spending 4.25 years in prison, Mr. Fronczek continued his education at Valencia College and the University of Central Florida through DirectConnect, where he earned his BFA (2016) and MFA (2020). He teaches art classes for FPEP and manages FPEP’s Books Behind Bars donation program.

 

Meghan Mitchell's Headshot

 

Meghan Mitchell, Ph.D., is the Research Coordinator for FPEP, overseeing research on higher education in prison, rehabilitation, and reentry. She has published on the challenges and experiences of those living and working within prisons as well as the processes and supports necessary to fully integrate upon reentry. An assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida and a trained facilitator for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, Dr. Mitchell creates an interactive environment where students learn and engage in dialogue across profound social differences.

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Rohan Jowallah, Ed.D., is the Coordinator of Online Education for FPEP. Dr. Jowallah has worked in education for over 20 years and has international experience, having taught in the Caribbean, England, and the USA. His teaching experience includes teaching online, face-to-face, and blended modes of course delivery, and he has taught at various levels: elementary school; middle school; high school and university. Dr. Jowallah brings experience and a passion for addressing issues of social justice, inclusion, and diversity to the FPEP team, where he works to ensure quality and consistency in FPEP’s online course offerings.

Steffen Guenzel's Headshot

 

Steffen Guenzel, Ph.D., is the Advocacy Coordinator for FPEP. Dr. Guenzel is a faculty member in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric in UCF’s College of Arts and Humanities where he researches writing in digital environments, writing in the disciplines and professional writing/project management. As the FPEP Advocacy Coordinator, he collaborates with others to raise awareness and garner support for FPEP. A past Fulbright scholar, Dr. Guenzel has worked previously with graduate students at the University of Alabama who taught for the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project.

Nicholas DeArmas Headshot

 

Nicholas DeArmas, PhD., Is the Director of Partnerships for FPEP. He is a full-time member of the English Department at Valencia College where he researches writing that takes place online, focusing specifically on social media discourse, ethics, and rhetoric. His publications include a case study on #OrlandoStrong as a discourse space after the Pulse shooting, and a reflection on the cultural gentrification of a Parramore community. As Director of Partnerships, Dr. DeArmas facilitates collaboration between Florida State Colleges and FPEP.

Tanya Armstrong headshot

 

Tanya Armstrong, Ed.D is the Regional Director for UCF Connect in the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success at the University of Central Florida. Dr. Armstrong has over 20 years of experience at UCF and more than 30 years in higher education. Her experience with students transitioning to university encompasses all areas of the student experience from prospect to graduate. With experience in admissions, student services, and advising as well as developing key pathways with various education partners in Central Florida, Dr. Armstrong sees FPEP as an opportunity to grow and diversify the region’s economy while keeping the accent on the individual.

Allison LaBine is our administrative assistant.


Former Leadership Board Members

Terry Ann Thaxton served as Education Coordinator 2017-2020

Tameca Harris-Jackson served as Research Coordinator 2017-2019

Sean Armstrong served as the Partnership Coordinator 2017-2021


Meet our Advocacy Board

In June 2021, FPEP formed an Advocacy Board to advance FPEP’s advocacy work and mission, Together, the board makes public policy recommendations based on research that centers on the tenets of law and policy,

Sydney Alexander (UCF ’15; Emory Law ’17) is a litigation attorney specializing in complex commercial litigation in Holland & Knight’s Miami office. Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Ms. Alexander served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Mary S. Scriven in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. (2021-present)

Arielle Bardzell (UCF ’13; Georgetown Law ’16) is a corporate associate at Latham & Watkins, London.(2021-present)

Norynne Caleja (UCF ’22) is an undergraduate student at UCF in the Department of Legal Studies.(2021-2022)

Jean-Pierre Gilbert (UCF ’11; Stetson Law ’14) is Assistant Public Defender for Florida’s Eighteenth Judicial Circuit. Currently assigned to the Felony Trial Court division. (2021-present)

Steffen Guenzel is an associate lecturer at UCF in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric and FPEP’s Advocacy Coordinator. (2021-present)

Victoria Manglardi (UCF ’08; Florida A&M Law ’11) is a personal injury lawyer at Martinez Manglardi and a former public defender in both Orange and Osceola Counties, where she handled juvenile, county, and felony cases. (2021-present)

Angel Sanchez (UCF 2017; Miami Law ’21) is a policy coordinator for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. (2021-2022)

Cortez Whatley (UCF ’13; Washington University Law ’17) is the Chief of Staff and Senior Aide to Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe, District 3. (2021-present)


Meet our student interns and faculty volunteers (past and present)

Ahlam Al-Rawi is an associate lecturer and the outreach coordinator for the Physics Department in UCF’s College of Sciences. She received her BS in Physics from Al-Mustansariya University, Baghdad, Iraq, her MS from the University of Aston in Birmingham, UK, and her Ph.D. from Kansas State University, She has been with UCF since 2010.

Dave Austin is a graduate student in the UCF Physics Department. In fall 2019, Dave taught a physics course at CFRC and presented at the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Michael Chini is an assistant professor of physics in UCF’s College of Sciences. Dr. Chini received his B.Sc. in Physics from McGill University in 2007 and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Central Florida in 2012.  He began as Assistant Professor at UCF in 2015, and leads the Laboratory for Ultrafast Metrology and Attoscience in Solids (LUMAS).

Ariel Collier is a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida and former president of Black Man’s Candor, Ariel previously worked as an FPEP intern. Ariel managed the FPEP office, scheduled classes in area prisons, and helped manage enrollment.

Annabelle Conroy is a lecturer in the Department of Politics, Security, and International Affairs at UCF. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nicholas Cox is a graduate student in the UCF Physics Department.

Kaitlyn Crawford is an assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Nicholas DeArmas is an instructor at Valencia College. He received his Ph.D. in Texts and Technology at the University of Central Florida and his MA in English from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

Wendy Dye is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Terri Susan Fine is professor of political science in the School of Politics, Security and International Affairs at the University of Central Florida.  She also serves as the content specialist for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship. In each of these roles she has enjoyed the opportunity to teach about United States founding document to both students and teachers. She is currently teaching U.S. Founding Documents I at Polk CI.

Chelsea Hilding is a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida. She researches the benefits of art-based education programs for incarcerated students.

Sarah Hubert is an MFA student in the University of Central Florida’s School of Performing Arts majoring in acting. An experienced teacher and caregiver with a demonstrated history of working in the primary/secondary education industry. Sarah researches the benefits of higher education in prison programs and helps develop curriculum.

Meghan Hummer is a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts and Design at the University of Central Florida. Meghan previously interned at the Mennello Museum of American Art and plans to pursue a career in public education. She manages our social media presence and researches the benefits of art-based education programs for incarcerated students.

Stephanie Jarmak is a graduate student in the UCF Physics Department.

William Kaden is an assistant professor of physics in UCF’s College of Sciences. Dr. Kaden received his B.S. in Chemistry from the State University of New York at Oswego and his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Utah before working as an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow in the Chemical-Physics department at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society. He joined UCS is Spring 2015.

Wadad Kantor is a senior at the University of Central Florida, majoring in Psychology, and also is a Teacher Assistant. Wadad is passionate about education and plans to teach with OCPS Public Schools after graduation. Currently, she serves as an FPEP intern and assists in updating our social media pages, managing our book donations, and writing articles for our blog.

Charlie Klenk is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Julia Listengarten is a professor of theatre, the coordinator of graduate studies, and the Artistic Director for the UCF School of Performing Arts. Dr. Listengarten earned her Ph.D. in Theatre Studies from the University of Michigan and has worked professionally in New York City with various experimental theatre companies.

Jazmine Major is an undergraduate student majoring in Forensic Psychology.

Holly McDonald is an Associate Lecturer in the School of Performing Arts.

Laura Monroe is a Post-doctoral scholar in UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education.

Constance Owens is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Justin Reyes is a graduate student in the UCF Physics Department.

Jada Reyes is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Carissa Richetti is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Melissa Ringfield is a a graduate student in UCF’s Texts and Technology Ph.D. program and an instructor in UCF’s Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Thalia Torres is a graduate student in Educational Leadership at UCF.

Kassandra Cordero Treston, M.S. is a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida.

Laurie Uttich is an associate lecturer in UCF’s Department of English. Her essays, poems, and fiction have been published in various literary journals. Laurie teaches poetry and memoir writing to students incarcerated at the Central Florida Reception Center.

Mihai Vaida is an assistant professor of physics in UCF’s College of Sciences. Dr. Vaida received his B.Sc. in Physics from West University of Timişoara. He obtained an ERASMUS scholarship to perform research at Free University of Berlin during his master degree program. After receiving the MS. in Physics, Dr. Vaida obtained a DAAD fellowship for doctoral studies at the Institute of Surface Chemistry and Catalysis at Ulm University, where he earned his PhD degree.

Heather Vazquez is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric at the University of Central Florida. She teaches Professional Writing and English Composition at Polk CI.

Demond Washington is a senior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Human Communication and specializing in Social Activism and Innovation. Demond is passionate about and involved in LGBTQ activism on the UCF campus and in the Orlando Community. He manages our FPEP office, acts as a liaison between our interns and board members, and researches the benefits of higher education in prison programs.

Joshua Watson is a senior majoring in art history. He is the Mental Health Chair for Black Men’s Candor and a past president of Collegiate 100, a subsidiary of 100 Black Men America, which works to provide opportunities for young people of color. He has worked as the Social Media director of Phi Theta Kappa and has mentored young Black men in the Alexandria Public School System. Josh helps with FPEP book sales and special events.

Maggie Wolff is a graduate student in the department of English at the University of Central Florida.

Sharon Woodill is a lecturer in Interdisciplinary Studies in UCF College of Undergraduate Studies. Dr. Woodill is an interdisciplinary scholar with an eclectic academic background. She holds a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and an MA in Gender and Women’s Studies and a BA (honors) in Music (jazz piano). Her research interests include religion, gender and sexuality, science and religion, feminist theory, atheism and secularism, and interdisciplinary methodologies.


UCF Participants

FPEP Participants Organizational Chart-Shows the Interdisciplinary Involvement with FPEP at UCF

FPEP is a member of the Florida Coalition for Higher Education in Prison.

The Florida Coalition for Higher Education in Prison (FCHEP) is a statewide network of programs that provides educational opportunities to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. Members include the Entrepreneurial Business in Prison Program at the University of South Florida, the Institute for Educational Empowerment at Miami Dade College, the Philosophy in Prison Program at the University of North Florida, and Exchange for Change, a Miami-based non-profit that partners with faculty at the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University.

FPEP partners with the Reentry Center of Brevard to provide returning citizens access to vital post-release services, and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to help returning citizens become full members of society.

Are you interested in teaching in an area prison or volunteering for FPEP?

If you would like to teach or volunteer, just email [email protected] or [email protected]. We are currently looking for faculty interested in teaching GEP courses and students who would like to facilitate our social media efforts.

Are you a currently enrolled UCF student who is system impacted?

FPEP offers a $1,000 scholarship each spring. Click here for details and to apply.