Full-Time Faculty

Desiree Zerquera

Department Chair
(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

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

Jane Bleasdale

Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator, Catholic Educational Leadership

Professor Bleasdale is an assistant professor and department chair of leadership studies in the School of Education. Born and raised in England by parents who were both educators, she knew at an early age that teaching was her vocation. She has lived and taught in the UK, the Bahamas, and now the US, and her career has been primarily in K-12 education, serving as a high school administrator focusing on equity and inclusion through personnel and student development. Professor Bleasdale started...


Fordham University, PhD Education Leadership and Policy, 2014, Seton Hall University, MA Administration and Supervision, 2003, Exeter University, P.G.C.E.,1993, St. Mary's College, University of Surrey, BA in English and Theology/Religious Studies 1992


Equity and Inclusion K - 12 Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Leadership Theories ( focus on Critical Feminism), Catholic Educational Leadership ( focus on equity and inclusion BIPOC , LGBTQIA+ )

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 and the Faculty Co-Director of the Transformative School Leadership Program. 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 and commitment to public education are informed by her work as an educator, lawyer, and organizer. Her courses...


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

Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Associate Professor, Leadership Studies
(415) 422-5741

Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales is an interdisciplinary scholar of immigration and education. Her academic, activist and community work focuses on the ways undocumented young people are changing the political and legislative terrain around “illegality” and belonging in this country. Her work lies at the intersection of education, immigration, and social movements. She is the co-author of Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World (2016, University of California Press) and co-...


M.A. & Ph.D. in Social and Cultural Studies in Education, University of California at Berkeley

Darrick Smith

Associate Professor
(415) 422-5802

Dr. Smith is the founder and former Director of the TryUMF (pronounced "triumph") program in his hometown of Oakland, CA and formerly served as the Co-Director/Principal of the June Jordan School for Equity in San Francisco. He has served as a trainer and administrative coach in local school districts as well as a Center Director under the Foundation for California Community Colleges — the system for which he still consults as a trainer for the statewide Professional Learning Network....


San Francisco State University, Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, 2012, New College of California, MA in Humanities 2006, UC Santa Cruz , BA in Sociology, 1996

Emeriti Faculty

Alma Ada

Alma Flor Ada has devoted her life to advocacy for peace by promoting a pedagogy oriented to personal realization and social jus­tice. She is a former Radcliffe Scholar at Harvard University, a Fulbright Research Scholar, and an internationally known speaker. She authored numerous children’s books of poetry, narrative, folklore, and non-fiction that have received prestigious awards. In 2012 she received the Virginia Hamilton Award in recognition of her body of work for children. In 2014 the...

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