Division of Academic Affairs – Office of the Provost
Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost
As the Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Guttman Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), Dr. Nicola Blake is charged with building the academic reputation, increasing the impact, and expanding the reach of the College in order to fulfill the missions of the College and CUNY. Through guidance on strategic planning, innovative thinking, intra- and cross-divisional collaboration, and continuous assessment, Dr. Blake’s visionary leadership is key to Guttman’s institutional success.
Previously to this role, Dr. Blake served as the Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, Dr. Blake directed a broad range of academic matters within the College’s unique organizational structure: all academic programs and curricular processes; academic technology; workload and scheduling; faculty development and mentorship; and the digital Center for Practice, Technology, and Innovation. Dr. Blake also had oversight of the implementation of all faculty personnel processes, including but not limited to recruitment, hiring, appointment, reappointment, tenure, promotion, as well as scholarly and research activities. In addition to her position as Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs, Dr. Blake is a Tenured Associate Professor of English at Guttman. Among other senior roles, she has served the College as Faculty Advisor to the Provost; Special Advisor to the Provost for Faculty Development and Mentoring; Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Coordinator; and Chair of the Faculty Personnel, College Personnel, and Curriculum Committees, respectively.
Dr. Blake has received extensive leadership training and was awarded the prestigious, highly competitive American Council on Education (ACE) Fellowship for 2016-2017. As an ACE Fellow, she focused on student success initiatives, strategic planning, communication, and community partnerships at Westchester Community College of the State University of New York (SUNY). Dr. Blake is an alumna of the Higher Education Leadership Programs for Women (HERS), the Harvard Institute for Higher Education, and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Future Presidents Institute. Her expertise in curriculum and program development, assessment, and strategic planning is internationally recognized by the US Fulbright Specialist Program (2015-2020).
Dr. Blake earned her B.A. with honors in English and psychology from the City College of New York, CUNY, and her Ph.D. in medieval literature from Rutgers University. She is the author of multiple articles in her field and on the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Acting Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs
Daniel Collins received his B.A. from SUNY Buffalo; M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and Ph.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Recently, Daniel received his Masters in Public Health, and he is currently interested in the relationship between the act of writing and the creation and maintenance of student well-being.
Acting Dean of Academic Innovation and Career Success
Dean Dann-Messier is one of New York City’s leading workforce experts. From 2012 to 2020, he worked at the City University of New York Central Office as the University Director for Workforce Programs. In this role, Dean Dann-Messier oversaw over 1,000 paid internships for students as a part of the CUNY Service Corps, Service Corps Puerto Rico, and CUNY Cultural Corps. Most recently, Dean Dann-Messier was the Director of the NYC Health + Hospitals Peer Academy. The Peer Academy trains former patients who have experienced mental health or substance use challenges to work as peer counselors in a large hospital system. During the pandemic, Dean Dann-Messier launched the NYC Justice Peer Initiative, which is creating two Medicaid-reimbursable state certifications for Justice Peers. Justice Peers use their lived experience with criminal legal system involvement to support others ensnared in the system. Dean Dann-Messier holds a Master of Education from Hunter College of CUNY. He spent three years teaching in New York City classrooms. He started his career in the non-profit sector, running an after-school center in Providence, Rhode Island, education programs in New York City Central Park, and programs for homeless youth in Madison, Wisconsin. He holds a bachelor’s degree in ecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Directors and Administrators
Director of Curriculum and First-Year Experience
In April 2021, Dr. Allyson Bregman assumed the position of Director of Curriculum and First-Year Experience, after serving as Interim Director since July 2020. In this role, she oversees curriculum processes at the College, supporting the development of new proposals and managing the preparation and submission of proposals for University and NYSED approval. She also provides administrative leadership for the First-Year Experience program, including oversight of pre-matriculation programs. Dr. Bregman has an extensive history with the College, having served as a member of the New Community College planning team from 2010-2011, and as the Project Manager for the College’s Learning Analytics Initiative within the Center for College Effectiveness during the 2012-2013 academic year. Read More
Associate Director of Pre-College Programs and Academic Success
Laura Fritz is the Associate Director of Pre-College Programs & Academic Success within the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost at Guttman Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY). Reporting to the Director of Curriculum and First-Year Experience, Laura introduces prospective students to the College by managing pre-college programs such as Bridge, College Now, and CUNY/Math Start. Additionally, she strives to increase students’ academic preparation and success by developing and monitoring academic tutoring services on campus.
Laura joined Guttman Community College in 2015 as the founding Advisor and Program Coordinator of CUNY Start/Math Start. Later, she moved into the position of Student Success Advocate (SSA). As an advisor, Laura was instrumental in supporting students’ transitions to and through the First-Year Experience at Guttman. She prioritized the retention and success of students through one-on-one and group advising sessions while also advocating for institutional changes that would enhance students’ overall experiences. On the advising team, Laura specialized in curriculum development for the First-Year Seminar and was influential in adapting the course as students’ needs evolved, including modifications for various instructional modalities (in-person, hybrid, online). She also provided support with onboarding and professional development of new staff. In addition to her role, Laura has been extremely active in College-wide efforts and initiatives, serving the College through continuous involvement on the First-Year Experience Steering Committee, Curriculum Committee, Bridge Committee, Enrollment Health & Retention Task Force, and College Council to name a few. She has also engaged in University projects like Academic Momentum 1.0 and 2.0, Articulation of Credit Transfer (ACT), and the Developmental Education Initiative.
Before joining the Guttman community, Laura served as CUNY Start Advisor at the College of Staten Island. Laura holds a B.A. in Economics from Virginia Tech and a M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. Laura’s passion for working to increase access and success in higher education stems from a core belief that a quality education should be a right for all and not a privilege for some. Laura aspires to make a positive, long-lasting impact in higher education that not only benefits the students she serves, but their families and the greater New York City community.
Associate Director of Academic Innovation and Career Success
Errol Olton is a mission-driver leader with a track record of actualizing organizational vision statements into transformative systems and programs to support marginalized communities. He leverages his background in program development, strategic partnerships, and building high-performing teams, to produce outcomes. Highlighted work and recognition include:
- Workforce Development: founded a NYC adult education program (financial literacy, high school diploma, wellness, career coaching, and computer literacy programming); instituted a 90-day career readiness model and approach to industry-based employer partnerships at CUNY Guttman Community College; consulted for institutions to provide career and workforce strategy
- Entrepreneurism: founded and owns a career-development company that embraces a holistic, strengths-based, and professional storytelling approach to career development; co-founded an education-based nonprofit to support nationwide educators with best practices in pedagogy and school culture
- Community Development: Education Chair of the NAACP (Co-op City Branch), NYC Community Board 12 Member, and Advisory Board Member of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
- Recognition: TEDx Speaker 2020 “SOULutions: Getting to the Heart of Data”, United States Congressional Award, HSBC Bank CARES Award: Educational Impact , NAACP Community Service Award, and United States Senate Award
- Favorite Quote: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” — African Proverb
Associate Director of Assessment and Academic Affairs
Dr. Sasha Ortiz serves as the Associate Director of Assessment and Academic Affairs, collaborating closely with faculty and other members of the Academic Assessment and Learning Committee to develop, coordinate, and implement assessment processes for all curricular programming. Dr. Ortiz joined the Guttman community in 2021 as a Research Associate supporting work within Bridge and FYE while serving as the Associate Director for the Educational Opportunity Fund Program at Montclair State University. Prior to these roles, she spent seven years working in the CUNY system, first as the Graduation and Data Specialist at Hostos Community College and then as the Campuses Director of the Pathways to Student STEM Success Program (PTS3) at Lehman College.
Dr. Ortiz received her B.S. in Psychology from Swarthmore College, M.S. in Higher Education Administration, and Ed.D in Educational Leadership and Management from Drexel University. Her research explores leveraging non-cognitive skills to foster the academic and professional success of minority first-generation STEM students.
Director of Academic Operations
Mrs. Ayechia (pronounced: I-e-sha) Perez-Cruz is the Director of Academic Operations for the Division of Academic Affairs at Guttman Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY). She oversees the operating dynamics for the Office of the Provost, collaborates with internal and external constituents to execute special projects, serves as a liaison on faculty personnel processes, as well as procurement and budget matters. Ayechia is dedicated in providing superb support services to faculty, staff, and students as well as promoting the College’s mission and goals. Prior to working at Guttman, Ms. Perez-Cruz held administrative roles within the Executive Offices of Academic and Student Success and Institutional Development at Bronx Community College, CUNY. A proud CUNY alumna, she holds a Master of Arts degree in urban affairs from Queens College, a B.A. in political science/public administration, with a minor concentration in health administration, from Herbert H. Lehman College, and an Associate in Applied Sciences degree in secretarial studies (medical) from Bronx Community College. In her spare time, Ms. Perez-Cruz enjoys mentoring and working with causes close to her heart.
Associate Director of Academic Technology
Christopher Roth is the Associate Director of Academic Technology at Guttman Community College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where he has also served as the Program Coordinator for iPASS and Academic Technology Coordinator. In his current role, Chris provides support for technology platforms such as Starfish and Blackboard in addition to leading professional development for faculty and staff and spearheading various educational technology projects at the College. He serves as the College’s representative on the CUNY LGBTQI+ Council and coordinates programming on campus as a member of the CUNY LGBTQI+ Consortium. Prior to joining Guttman, Chris has worked as the Director of Technology for an event planning organization and the Office Manager for Special Events and Event Planning at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a Master of Science degree in information design and technology, with a concentration in educational and instructional design, from SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality management with a minor in business from St. John’s University. Chris is a member of Alpha Kappa Psi, the professional co-ed business fraternity.
Administrative Specialist to Dean (HEa)
An invaluable member of the Division of Academic Affairs administrative staff. Ms. Jazmin Lopez specializes in faculty workload and collaborates on directing academic procedures, onboarding part-time faculty. She engages in data analysis to build capacity by streamlining processes and exploring collaborative, automated solutions. In addition, she serves as Administrative Coordinator for Guttman’s summer Math Start program. Committed to advancing educational equity, her previous work for a national nonprofit organization in the Washington, DC, metro area focused on evidence-based institutional improvement. Ms. Lopez is an alumna of the New York City-based Prep for Prep program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in sociology from Duke University and is in pursuit of a Master of public administration degree with a focus on policy analysis and evaluation.
Nadine Bennett has experience working as Program Assistant/Coordinator with the CUNY-wide Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) at City College of CUNY. With more than seven years of experience in administrative roles, Ms. Bennett is community-focused and dedicated to helping the department achieve its core objectives. Ms. Bennett is passionate about helping find solutions to any challenges, and she has more than fifteen years of experience working in a diverse and inclusive environment. Ms. Bennett graduated with a Master of Public Administration in Public Policy and Administration from John Jay College of CUNY, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Computer Information Systems from Baruch College of CUNY.