The Team

Meet people who make all this happened

Jeff Brown

Jeff Brown   /   Director

As a student-centered leader, Jeff Brown has accumulated nearly 17 years of experience in retention and persistence work for students of color, low income and first generation students. Jeff earned both his B. A. in Political Science and a M. S. in Higher Education Administration from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He then went on to begin his career at the University of Illinois at Chicago where he developed a passion for retention work and sought to dedicate his life to impacting the successful transition and graduation of underserved college students in the city that he loves. As a first-generation college student and a native of the South Shore community in Chicago, Jeff sees student affairs work as a powerful way to give back to his home community while pursuing his passions for social change.

Carlotta Johnson/ Sr. Associate Director

Carlotta Johnson is the Senior Associate Director of the African American Academic Network (AAAN), at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Master’s of Education with a concentration in Counseling and Student Development. Both degrees were earned at Tuskegee University. Her passion for student development and education have been allowed to soar at UIC. Carlotta has served in a number of leadership roles within AAAN over the years while teaching a success strategies course as an Academic Advisor/Counselor, Assistant Director and Interim Director. She has over 15 years of experience with retention programs and has presented at conferences on various topics, such as retention and student success. Carlotta has always taken great pride in assisting others while leading and supporting as an administrator, guided by the principles of servant leadership.

Carlotta Johnson-McGowan
Joseph Fields

Joseph Fields   /   Associate Director

Joseph Fields is the Associate Director of the African American Academic Network and oversees the Leadership and Post College Success Unit. Joseph is a proud graduate of Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Masters in Social Service Administration (SSA) from the University of Chicago. As Associate Director, his responsibilities include developing and implementing a full range of programmatic initiatives and support services to upperclassmen regarding career and graduate/professional school opportunities. Joseph also has expertise in college readiness programming and has worked with admissions related services for individuals, organizations, and groups serving the African American community throughout, but not limited to the Chicagoland area. In addition, Joseph is the advisor for the UIC Collegiate 100 student organization, co-facilitates the Black Male Initiative (BMI) for the department, and co-chairs the African American Recruitment and Enrollment Initiative for the university.

Juanita McCary / Assistant Director

Juanita McCary has been employed by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs for the last 17 years in various positions. She attended Alverno College and received her Bachelors of Arts in Business. During her employment at UIC she also earned her Master’s in Policy Studies from the College of Education. As a non-traditional, first generation college student she knows academic success is obtainable but feels that most succeed when given support added with a level of determination.

Juanita McCarry
Paula Pierce

Paula Benton-Pierce / Manager

Paula is a STEM and Education major with more than 30 years of experience in Engineering, Curriculum and Instruction and Education policies, practices and procedures. Paula started her career as an Electronic Engineer Technician and received her Associates Degree in Engineering at Harper College. She worked for Motorola, RCA and Zenith before completing a Bachelor’s Degree from Chicago State University, which is where her passion for teaching technology began. While working as a Computer Hardware Engineering Instructor, Paula completed her M.A. in Education and Leadership from Concordia University and continued to teach and train a full range of learners. She has worked with learners of all ages and capacities in courses pertaining to STEM, career development, Curriculum and Instruction, Classroom Management and Database Operations. Paula believes that the key to economic autonomy for students will depend on their ability to learn and apply STEM.

Ashley Stone   / Advisor

Ashley Stone is an Academic Counselor and the Coordinator of the Woman 2 Woman Initiative. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In addition, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from DePaul University with Honors Distinction. She has a professional background in service-learning, after school enrichment programming and non-violence education. As an alumna, she is excited to join the team at AAAN and support students in their personal, professional and academic endeavors.

Ashley Stone
Alex Sainvilier

 Alex Sainviller / Advisor

Alex Sainvilier knew he wanted to work with young people and especially underrepresented students while still a student pursuing his BA in psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and that same passion has only been nurtured while in pursuit of his MEd. Alex developed a passion for working with students while a student himself studying at UIC through his student worker position in the African American Academic Network. As a student worker, he saw the impact on students that advisors and other university professionals who invested time, energy, and wisdom into their students could have. He understands the importance of having a support system as a first generation, low income student of color. If you ask Alex, he will tell you that he truly enjoys what he does every day because he is afforded the opportunity to work with a population near and dear to him in the institution that helped to shape him into the person he is now.

Joel W. Shinault  / Advisor  

Joel W. Shinault currently advises AAAN seniors preparing for employment, graduate school and professional school admission. Mr. Shinault has worked in higher education for more than twenty years. He has earned a Bachelor’s degree at Northern Illinois University in History and English, a Master’s degree at Atlanta University in African America Studies, and has additional graduate course work in U S History and American Literature at Illinois State University. In addition to counseling responsibilities, he is the advisor for the African Students Council. He has also taught African American History at Illinois State and Eastern Illinois Universities and Bloomington High School. “Rest at pale evening, a tall, slim tree . . . .”

Joel Shinault

Fuad Raji / Advisor

Fuad received both his B.S in Public Health and a M.S. Ed in Counseling, Adult and Higher Education from Northern Illinois University (NIU) at DeKalb. He has a professional background in student programming and advocacy. Fuad is extremely passionate about working with African American students and assisting them in their journey towards academic success and leadership; a desire that originated through his campus involvement as a student at NIU. While at NIU, Fuad experienced the impact of participating, developing, and implementing student-centered initiatives for African American student success and retention. Fuad understood, early on, the importance of utilizing campus resources and building relationships with faculty/staff. Since then, he has been committed to serving the holistic needs of students. Fuad is very excited to be a part of the team at AAAN and its mission to support students academically, personally, and professionally!