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Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Alumni Accomplishments

Dr. Nadia De Leon

Dr. Nadia De Leon is a member of the National Research System of the Republic of Panama, currently directing CIEdu (Center for Educational Research) at INDICASAT (Instituto de Investigaciones y Servicios de Alta Tecnología). She is also a successful entrepreneur: As president of Praxis Educational Consultants, she conducts teacher training, supports curriculum and school development, program design and evaluation, data analysis, and provides other related services. For a time, she served as Director of Service-Learning and instructor at the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. 
Now residing In Panama, she serves as adjunct faculty at several universities, including Universidad de Panamá and Quality Leadership University, and collaborates with schools, universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies to support and improve education. She has serves as an advisor and consultant for such agencies as the National Secretary of Science, Technology and Innovation, local foundations, University of South Florida, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, among others. Her achievements have been widely recognized through such honors as fellowships at the Smithsonian Latino Center and Imagining America, local and international research grants, as well as awards in teaching, research, and public service.


Dr. Daryl C. Hagan


The Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at Western Kentucky University propelled me beyond the goals I had set prior to starting the program. As the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Evansville, the education, research, and field experiences I garnered from the program and from members of my cohort (Cohort VII) expanded my capabilities to effectively lead our 26 Catholic schools in southwest Indiana.  

Following graduation, Dr. Gary Houchens (my Dissertation Chair) set a goal for me to have my dissertation research published. I am pleased that with his continued guidance that goal was achieved when the Journal of Catholic Education (Volume 20, Issue 1) published my research. I continue to share my research at local, state and national conferences. 

I currently serve as Vice President for the Indiana Non-Public Education Association and I am the Chair/President for the Indiana Catholic School Consortium.


Dr. Eric Keeling

The doctoral program has been a true life changer for me.  The inspirational professors, rigorous curriculum, research opportunities, writing, study abroad experiences, and oh yeah---writing,  have opened my mind and my eyes to a new way of thinking, creating, and approaching life.  After graduation, Brian Dunican and I partnered to establish The Center of Innovation and Influence.  It is a consulting business where we provided leadership development and training to business and industry.  Currently we work for WKU DELO department to offer training to local businesses.  I have developed a training program that is utilized by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce training consortium and other companies.  In addition, I am currently working with companies in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Alabama to develop training programs. 

I am also still employed full time as the principal at the Warren County Technology Center and plan to work here a few more years before doing CI&I full time.  I will be attending John Maxwell Consulting Certification training in March, DISC Trainer Certification in March, Lean Manufacturing Greenbelt Certification in April, and OSHA Trainer certification in June 2017. 

I am so proud to be an WKU alum and I am honored to be a graduate of the Doctoral Program at WKU!  Dr. Norman is an amazing professor, mentor, and person.  I can only hope that I can impact my students in the way that he has inspired me. 


Dr. Jace T. Lux

Without a doubt, my experience in the doctoral program played a substantial role in my career path.  When I started the program in 2008, I had never served in a leadership role.  In 2010, about halfway through my time in the doctoral program, I took over the highly successful WKU Forensics program.  The timing of this transition was interesting, as it afforded me the opportunity to immediately apply what I was learning in the classroom to my new leadership role.  In the Forensics program, I lead not only a group of 40 high achieving students, but also a staff of coaches and support personnel, and as such, different leadership styles had to be applied to those different groups of people.  The doctoral program equipped me with the skills to be able to simultaneously lead different populations effectively.

In 2014, I assumed the role of WKU’s Director of Recruitment and Admissions.  That immediately meant a lot more responsibility within the university and a much bigger team to lead.  Without the preparation I received in the doctoral program, I would not have been ready for this new challenge.  

To me, one of the most beneficial aspects of the doctoral program was the cohort system (go Cohort 1!).  Having a group of 20 peers going through the same thing I was at the same time meant there was always someone around to encourage me and help me with particularly difficult assignments (I’m looking at you, quantitative research methods).  Through that program, I made friends that I still keep in touch with today.  It has been great to watch the careers of so many of my fellow students take off since they earned their degrees.

I can definitively say that without my experiences earning my doctoral degree at WKU, I would not be nearly as prepared for the various leadership roles I have held since graduating.  I was honored to be a part of the first cohort, and I still enjoy connecting with current and former doctoral students.


Dr. Martha Sales

Dr. Martha Sales a native from Franklin, Kentucky born to the late Mr. and Mrs. Hezekiah (Georgia) Robey. She overcame the barrier of being a low-income and first generation student herself, in which has become her career long passion.  Dr. Sales credits her faith in Christ, her wise parents, supportive family and friends as well as the Western Kentucky University’s Educational Leadership with reasons for her continued success. 

Upon completing and obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Sales continued her responsibilities with the WKU TRIO programs and was promoted to Executive Director of the University’s Intercultural Student Engagement Center.  Dr. Martha Sales is both diligent and committed to the success of students. Her passion is evident in the programs that she directs first being the TRIO programs, that are federally funded through the Department of Education and are designed to assist low-income and first generation individuals with enter in, succeeding, and graduating from postsecondary education. The Intercultural Student Engagement Center promotes a culturally inclusive campus environment, cultural awareness, and competence. Martha is also a grant writing and she has been awarded over 12 million dollars for the success of students. Aside from her administrative roles, Martha also teaches and facilitates courses and trains students and her colleagues in her various areas of expertise.

Martha not only serves as an Executive Director but sets priorities and creates the balance of home life and work, she is married to Pastor Shawn Sales and they have two children Seth and Kiah, they reside in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Martha is a member of the Loving Springs Baptist Church where she serves as one of the musicians, youth advisor, Sunday school teacher, and last but not least “the pastor’s wife.”  She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.


Dr. Chris Schmidt

July 1, 2017 marked my 21st year working full time in higher education. I have served all 21 years at Lindsey Wilson College. I credit my undergraduate work as a Resident Assistant at WKU for leading me to working with students in Student Affairs. My undergraduate education in physical education eventually had me seeking a Master's in Education. Once I moved to a senior administrators position I realized that a terminal degree offered me many opportunities as I continue in my career. There are the obvious opportunities for a senior VP position and possibly a Presidency one day, but ultimately my degree allows me to lead people. I love to teach, coach, and lead....I think we all have amazing stories to share and I get to listen, learn and share with students, faculty, staff and community partners every day. The doctoral program taught me to really listen and learn, synthesize information and share it in a meaningful way with audiences.

Today in addition to my administrative duties as the Dean of Students, I teach introduction to leadership studies to freshmen. I speak to countless groups from Rogers Explorers, Academic Scholars, FFA, FBLA, School Boards, various leadership teams and other visiting groups. Since graduating I have been booked as a motivational speaker or keynote for business executives, higher education platforms, school systems, and various other industry groups.

At the end of the day, I just enjoy meeting new people, listening and sharing stories about how we are all so different but at the same time so alike. I am proud to be a graduate of the WKU Educational Leadership Doctoral Program. It was one of the best personal and professional decisions I ever made.




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 Last Modified 9/8/20