Early Career Orientation Leaders
Dr. Margarita Benítez
Margarita Benítez’s lifelong involvement with higher education began at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where she was born and raised. At UPR, she was a professor of Spanish Literature and Humanities, as well as Chancellor of UPR’s Cayey Campus, and Acting Chancellor of UPR’s Humacao Campus. After moving to Washington, DC in 1997, she held a number of senior positions in higher education organizations, such as the Office of Postsecondary Education in the U.S. Dept. of Education, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, Excelencia in Education, The Education Trust, and the American Council on Education. In 2013, Dr. Benítez was one of four educators in the United States selected by Lumina Foundation for Education as a Lumina Fellow, in recognition of her work for access and success for underrepresented students. In September 2018, Benítez returned to Puerto Rico to serve as executive director of the Puerto Rico Endowment for the Humanities.
Dr. Benítez holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy, and graduate degrees in Hispanic Studies from Vassar College (BA), Middlebury College (MA), and Columbia University (PhD).
Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier
In July of 2018, Dr. Conde-Frazier began her work in AETH as the Coordinator of Relations with Entities of Theological Education and she is in charge of the creation and development of a network of Hispanic Bible Institutes. Before coming to AETH, she served as Vice-President of Education and Dean of Esperanza College. With three decades of experience in education, Dr. Conde-Frazier set the vision and strategic direction for Esperanza College, and provides leadership and management for the faculty and staff. Previously, she was a professor of religious education at the Claremont School of Theology and taught Hispanic theology at the Latin American Bible Institute in California.
She is the author of many publications in areas of multicultural education, Latin feminist theology, academic spirituality, and education for justice. Elizabeth was the first director of the Latin American Ministries Program Orlando E. Costas at Andover Newton Theological Seminary. She has developed leadership training programs for pastors, lay leaders and youth. She holds a Ph.D. in theology and religious education from Boston University, and a master’s degree in Divinity from the Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Mary Labrada is a Senior Instructional Designer at Rutgers University’s Teaching and Learning with Technology unit, a central resource for instructional design and technology at the university, serving over 20,000 faculty and staff across three campuses.
In her role, Mary is team lead for all academic course development and oversees the full production cycle of online, hybrid, and face-to-face courses for over 80 courses per year. She provides leadership, project management, and guidance, ensuring all course design projects uphold the quality standards expected of a research institution and align with widely implemented design rubrics and general best pedagogical practices.
She also develops and facilitates workshops on technical topics for instructional technologies at the university, as well as pedagogical trainings on universal design for learning, accessibility, and best practices for synchronous and asynchronous learning. In addition, she co-developed and facilitates a course in the Rutgers Online Teaching Certificate program, which has reached over 200 participants.
Mary has co-presented at large national conferences surpassing 150 attendees on timely topics such as student-centered course development, best practices for DIY video lecture production, and the use of active learning in faculty training initiatives.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Rutgers University and a Master of Education in Instructional Design from the University of Massachusetts. This fall, she will begin her pursuit of a Doctor of Education concentrating on Education, Culture, Society at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University.
Early Career Orientation Participants
Director of the Center for Whole Person Care: Integrating Faith and Healing; Assistant Professor School of Religion, Loma Linda University
Assistant Professor of History and World Christianity, Northwest Christian University
Faculty Associate in Theology, Spirituality, and Arts, Pacific School of Religion
Stephanie Mota Thurston
Visiting Professor, Wake Forest University
Director of Information Literacy and Library Services Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, New York Theological Seminary
Assistant Professor of Practical Theology, Azusa Pacific University
Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and Pastoral Care, Pacific School of Religion