Full-Time Faculty

Jane Bleasdale

Department Chair

Dr. Bleasdale's research focused on equity and inclusion in Catholic Jesuit high schools and specifically the experience of Black, Latino, and LGBTQ students. Dr. Bleasdale's career has been primarily in K-12 education serving as a high school administrator focusing on faculty development and mission and identity. Her professional experience also includes teaching graduate courses in organizational leadership, strategic planning, and preparing leaders for diverse educational settings. Dr....


PhD, Fordham University's Center for Catholic School Leadership


Creating communities of inclusion, LGBTQ experience and Catholic Education

Ursula Aldana

Associate Professor, Catholic Educational Leadership
(415) 422-5891

Ursula S. Aldana is an Associate Professor in the Catholic Educational Leadership (CEL) Program at the University of San Francisco. Her research focuses on K-12 teaching and leadership with regard to issues of equity and access for racially/ethnically and linguistically diverse students. She has conducted a range of studies focusing on language policy and practice; innovations in Catholic schools (elementary and high school); and the sociocultural competencies of teachers and students....


PhD, Education, Specialization: Urban Schooling, University of California, Los Angeles, MA, Elementary Education, Loyola Marymount University, California, BS, International Politics, Certificate: Latin American Studies, Georgetown University, DC

Walter Gmelch

Professor, Leadership Studies
(415) 422-5434

Walter H. Gmelch joined the faculty of the Department of Leadership Studies after having served as the School of Education Dean for nine years. Before coming to USF, he was Dean of the College of Education at Iowa State University. He also served in the roles of dean, associate dean, department chair and professor at Washington State University. As educator, management consultant, university administrator, and former business executive, Dr. Gmelch has conducted research and written extensively...


PhD, Educational Executive Program, University of California, Santa Barbara

Danfeng Koon

Co-Director, Transformative School Leadership Program, Assistant Professor, Leadership Studies
(415) 422-4346

Danfeng Soto-Vigil Koon is an Assistant Professor in the Leadership Studies department in the School of Education. Her research focuses on educational law and policy as a site of contestation, and explores the ways that education law and policy further or impede efforts to create a more just society. Her passion for, and commitment to, public education is informed by her work as an educator, lawyer, and organizer. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education, a JD from the...


PhD, University of California, Berkeley, JD, University of Maryland School of Law, EdM, Harvard Graduate School of Education, BA, Economics and Biology, University of California, Berkeley

Darrick Smith

Co-Director, Transformative School Leadership Program, Associate Professor, Leadership Studies
(415) 422-5802

Dr. Darrick Smith is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of San Francisco and Co-Director of the School of Education’s new Transformative School Leadership (TSL) program. His research interests are culturally responsive discipline practices; critical pedagogy; transformative school leadership, and social justice schooling. Dr. Smith is the founder and former Director of the TryUMF (pronounced "triumph") program in Oakland, CA and formerly served as the Co-Director...


EdD, Educational Leadership, San Francisco State University, CA

Desiree Zerquera

Associate Professor, Leadership Studies
(415) 422-4535

Desiree Zerquera is an Assistant Professor for Higher Education and Student Affairs in the Department of Leadership Studies. Born and raised in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents, she pursued her bachelor's degree in Mathematics and master's degree in Educational Leadership at the University of Florida before attending Indiana University to pursue her PhD in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Desiree Zerquera has worked as a researcher, student affairs practitioner, and higher education...


PhD, Higher Education and Student Affairs, Indiana University-Bloomington

Emeriti Faculty

Patricia Mitchell

Associate Professor, Leadership Studies; Department Chair
(415) 422-2079

Professor Patricia Mitchell’s scholarly work focuses on gender inequity in higher education, including the disparity in women’s representation in higher education leadership. She has over three decades of experience working with school districts, major corporations, industry, religious organizations, training of teachers, designing curricula, conducting leadership workshops, and designing instructional materials. She has had experience across all levels of public education, ranging from...


PhD, Education, concentration: Educational Administration, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., MS, Education, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, BS, Elementary Education, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD