Alison Akant

& Chief Content Officer

Alison Akant is the Founder and Director of Content at DiversityEdu. An experienced attorney, learning specialist, and diversity consultant, she determined in 2010 to bring more effective and engaging diversity learning to colleges and universities. She assembled a first-rate team, including preeminent scholars and advisors, to develop a suite of cutting-edge online courses based on research and sound pedagogical principles. In 2015, Alison partnered with DiversityEdu’s CEO, Kate Chovanetz, to further develop DiversityEdu content for academia and plan expansion into the corporate sector.

Prior to establishing DiversityEdu, Alison provided diversity program content and authored briefing papers for law firms. She worked as a K-12 learning and reading specialist and is a former Assistant District Attorney for New York County.

Alison holds a BA from Wellesley College, an M.Ed. from New York University, and a JD from the Columbus School of Law at Catholic University of America.

Guest Writer

DiversityEdu Team

Judith Owens

Instructional Design

Dr. Judith H. Owens is a curriculum and learning specialist and instructional designer with experience developing courses and teaching at the k-12 and university levels in face-to-face, hybrid and online environments. Her research interests and teaching foci include examining the influence of diversity and inclusion on improving instructional methods and student academic outcomes, creating dynamic content that increases learner engagement, promoting teacher advocacy and agency, and helping educators integrate and leverage principles of social justice and multiculturalism.

Dan Raiani

Marketing Manager

Dan Raiani is the Marketing Manager for DiversityEdu. He builds DiversityEdu’s digital campaigns, optimizes existing assets and processes, and manages the delivery of our D&I courses and tools to market.

Before joining DiversityEdu, Dan worked as Director of Marketing for a global PDF software organization, where he and his team managed all digital and traditional marketing channels for the enterprise solutions business unit. He is also a street performing musician who plays around the New York City subway system under the artist name, “X of Wands.”

Dan graduated from the University at Albany with a B.S. in Business Administration, a B.S. in Music, and a minor in Mathematics.

Marissa Ackerman

Sales Representative

Marissa Ackerman assists the DiversityEdu team in building relationships with potential partners. She works closely with the Business Development Manager to help universities and businesses build inclusion and diversity initiatives with the help of DiversityEdu courses and tools.

Prior to DiversityEdu, Marissa worked as a Regional Marketing Specialist at STEMscopes, a leader in PreK-12 STEM curriculum in the EdTech/SaaS/STEM industry. At STEMscopes, Marissa worked on building branding, promotional materials, and campaigns from the ground-up. Additionally, she managed and developed professional relationships as a freelance content developer working with small to medium sized businesses in retail, technology, and sales.

Marissa is a graduate of Texas State University – San Marcos and earned a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2012.

Johnny Perkins

Front-end Developer and Technology Coordinator

Johnny Perkins has worked in various capacities at DiversityEdu since 2014, building and maintaining DiversityEdu’s front-end marketing site. He is also the project manager and co-developer of the DiversityEdu Learning Management System.

Prior to working with DiversityEdu, Johnny worked as a freelance front-end developer.


Mary Rodriguez

Business Development Manager

Mary Rodriguez joined DiversityEdu in 2018 to help universities and colleges build inclusion. She introduces them to our courses and methodology, and works with directors of diversity and other key decision makers to implement DiversityEdu.  

Prior to DiversityEdu, Mary worked as the Director of Learning Innovation at Baker-Ripley, Texas’s largest community development non-profit. Prior to that, Mary held fundraising and operation roles at the University of Houston Downtown. Mary stays connected to her alma mater by serving as an adjunct and corporate fellow at the University of Houston Downtown.

Mary graduated from the University of Houston with a BS in Sociology and earned an MBA from Texas Woman’s University.

Angelica Frausto

Research and Assessment

Angelica Frausto conducts and updates research for DiversityEdu courses and facilitator’s guides and develops instruments to assess the outcomes of our courses.

Prior to DiversityEdu, Angelica was a research and teaching assistant at the University of Notre Dame, where she led a research project examining predictors of positive parenting and child socioemotional development in African-American and Latinx families. She has worked as a research assistant at a center for developmental and behavioral pediatrics on effective behavioral interventions for parents of children with developmental disorders.

Angelica graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a MA in Developmental Psychology and the University of Rochester with a BA in Psychology. 

Larissa Pienkowski

Senior Editor

Larissa Pienkowski is DiversityEdu’s senior editor. As part of the Content Development team, she edits and develops DiversityEdu’s research-based courses, long-form content, and blog series.

Prior to joining DiversityEdu in 2017, she worked as the managing editor of BRM Institute, where she oversaw all digital content, and as a social worker with survivors of intimate partner abuse, tenants in mixed-income housing, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

Larissa holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Simmons University and a Master’s degree in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College.

Olivia McGill

Research and Writing

Olivia McGill is DiversityEdu’s Senior Content Developer. She revises and writes our courses and oversees our weekly News Highlights blog. She also works with the E-Learning Production Team on storyboarding and other aspects of course development.

Prior to joining DiversityEdu, Olivia was the digital producer for an international software agency, where she managed development and deployment of mapping software used by governments in West Africa and the Pacific Islands for municipal infrastructure projects.  She has also developed and led a literacy intervention for underserved fourth-graders.

Olivia graduated from Clark University with a BA in Psychology and an MA in Public Administration.

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