Executive Council

Executive Council

Paul Allvin, Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing

Paul Allvin has more than 30 years of experience brand stewardship, communications,
marketing, and journalism, having led strategic communications and brand stewardship
teams at The University of Arizona, Make-A-Wish America, the USO, and America’s Promise
Alliance.

Allvin is president of his own consulting company, Cloud-2-Ground, Inc., which offers
strategic communications and branding services to nonprofit and higher education
organizations.

As Associate Vice Present of Communications at The University of Arizona from 2004 to
2010, he led all communications at a time that included the transition of university presidents
and a university-led mission to Mars. He was tapped to serve a year and a half as interim Vice
President of External Relations, leading all university communications, marketing,
government relations and executive events efforts. Allvin joined the university team after
serving as director of communications and chief speechwriter for then-Arizona Gov. Janet
Napolitano.

As the chief brand strategist for Make-A-Wish, Allvin led the organization’s complete rebrand
in 1999-2000, and returned in 2010 to oversee a worldwide brand refresh that put the 36-
nation network of Make-A-Wish chapters and affiliates under a single, unified brand identity
and strategy for the first time in its history. Under his leadership, Make-A-Wish enjoyed
status as one of America’s five most beloved charity brands.

At the USO, he led a brand refresh from 2015 to 2018 that positioned the USO as America’s
leading military- and veteran-serving organization as it celebrated its 75th anniversary. The
public rewarded the USO with lead military/veteran support brand status in 2017.

Allvin is a graduate of The University of Arizona School of Journalism. He lives and works in
Falls Church, Virginia with his wife, Rhian; and their three children, Austin, Eli, and
Isabel.

Lester L. Arnold Sr., Vice President, Human Resources and Payroll

Lester L. Arnold Sr. was appointed the Chief Human Resources Officer and Vice President for Human Resources & Payroll for George Mason University in July 2019. In this role he is responsible for working collaboratively across the university with key stakeholders to engage in a people-focused mission-driven organization that is in alignment with the strategic goals and objectives of the university. Lester also provides oversite for HR functional areas to include Benefits, Employee Relations, Life/Work Connections, Organizational Development, Learning, and Coaching, Payroll, Reward and Recognition, Talent Acquisition, and Workforce Planning and Compensation.

Previously, he served as the Chief Human Resources Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for Winston-Salem State University in Winston-Salem, NC where he also served as an Adjunct Faculty member providing instruction for a course in Human Resources Management and Employee Law.

A career human resources professional, Lester has been in the field since 1991.  Prior to higher education, Lester has served in multiple senior human resources leadership positions for several national corporations such as FOCUS Brands Inc. (franchisor and operator of over 6,300 ice cream shoppes, bakeries, restaurants, and cafés in 54 foreign countries and U.S. territories under the brand names Carvel®, Cinnabon®, Schlotzsky’s®, Jamba Juice®, Moe’s Southwest Grill®, Auntie Anne’s®, McAlister’s Deli®, and Seattle’s Best Coffee®), ARAMARK, Lowe's, and Wells Fargo.

Lester earned a bachelor's degree in Accounting from Norfolk State University and a MBA degree with a Human Resources Management concentration from the University of Hartford. He is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Society for Human Resources Management-Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Trishana Bowden, Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations, President of George Mason University Foundation

Trishana Bowden joined George Mason University in March 2019 as the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations and President of the George Mason University Foundation.

As the Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Relations and President of the Foundation, Trishana reports jointly to the President of the university and the Foundation Board of Trustees, working harmoniously with a multitude of highly engaged and energetic university and foundation partners. She is responsible for developing, executing, and evaluating all aspects of the university’s comprehensive fundraising program, including annual giving, major and leadership giving, corporate and foundation relations, planned giving, alumni relations, research and prospect management, development services, and donor cultivation and stewardship.

Trishana will provide vision and direction for University Advancement with a clear focus on future fundraising after the completion of the record-setting Faster Farther campaign, which concluded in December 2018. She will provide strategic leadership and direction for post-campaign analytics, reporting, and followup, while working with key leadership to develop clear priorities and a plan for future support through pipeline development, alumni engagement, and participation strategies.

Bowden came to Mason from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland, where she was the Vice President for Advancement, responsible for providing strategy, leadership and direction for fundraising, alumni and parent relations, campaign planning, and implementation. Her accomplishments there included diversifying and strengthening Goucher’s donor base and pipeline to build a culture of philanthropy, which led to a doubling of overall giving to the institution in less than three years.

Prior to her work at Goucher, Trishana was the Associate Dean for External Relations at the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law. She also served as Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement at American University Washington College of Law and has held development positions at the American Lung Association of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center. She received a B.S. in Mass Communication/Media Studies from Towson University in 1991.

Sharon Cullen, Director, Presidential Administration

Sharon Cullen manages all aspects of the president’s activities and commitments, engages in university-related initiatives and oversees the President’s Office operations, along with the members of the presidential administrative team. She works closely with the president, senior administration, and across a broad spectrum of the university.

Ms. Cullen is a member of Executive and President’s Councils.  She is an alum of the Leadership Legacy program (Cohort 2) and is also engaged in the university’s wellbeing initiative. 

In June 2007, she received a Certificate of Achievement for her accomplishments and contributions to the president and Mason.  In December 2011, she was presented with a Presidential Citation for assisting in the apprehension of a campus perpetrator.

Ms. Cullen joined Mason’s Office of the Provost in January 2000 and transitioned to the President’s Office in 2001.  Prior to joining Mason, she was involved in academic administration at Georgia Tech, Augusta College, the University of North Dakota and Northern Virginia Community College.

She is a graduate of Duluth Business University with a concentration in legal administration and holds a paralegal certificate with 10 years of related experience in various areas of the law.  She is also a member of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (NAPAHE).

Aurali Dade, Interim Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact

Aurali Dade is the Interim Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Impact at George Mason University and President of the George Mason Research Foundation.  In this role, she serves as the university’s senior research officer, providing overall vision for and execution of the university’s research, innovation and economic development programs.

Previously, also at George Mason University, as Associate Vice President for Research and Innovation, Dade has been responsible for developing and implementing university strategy for fostering a dynamic, supportive and growing research ecosystem. Dade provides leadership for the Research and Innovation Initiatives team which includes programs, offices, centers and institutes that are focused on supporting, connecting, communicating about, and convening researchers internally and with external partners. Earlier in her career at Mason, Dade served as the inaugural Executive Director of the Institute for a Sustainable Earth where she worked collaboratively with the Mason research community and external partners to develop strategy and design operational structures that elevated and supported research focused on sustainability and resilience. She also served as Associate Vice President Research Development, Integrity and Assurance and Assistant Vice President for Research Compliance. Prior to joining Mason, Dade previously served in various leadership roles at large public universities.

Dade has a PhD in environmental science, an MS in biology, and a BS in environmental biology. She has taught university classes focused on ethics, risk, environmental science, and biology. Dade has served as PI and co-PI on grants focused on enhancing the research enterprise from the Department of Health and Human Services and private foundations. She has published articles related to research administration and integrity, sustainability, and biology. She also served as the lead editor of the book Implementing a Comprehensive Research Compliance Program: A Handbook for Research Officers.

Brad Edwards, Assistant Vice President, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics

Brad Edwards became the fifth athletic director in George Mason University's history on July 1, 2014. Prior to Mason, he served as athletic director at Jacksonville University and at Newberry College. He began his work in intercollegiate athletics in 1999 after a successful nine-year career in the NFL, joining his alma mater, the University of South Carolina.

In just three years at Mason, Mr. Edwards has led a departmental effort that secured more than $17 million in new revenue and product through fundraising and corporate sponsorship agreements, including a $13.7 million 20-year naming rights partnership with EagleBank. In March 2017, Mason athletics recently completed the $1.3 million phase 1 of the baseball stadium renovation. Additionally, the department has begun Phase 1 of the Patriots Basketball Improvement Plan primarily focused on providing a dedicated practice facility for the Patriots basketball teams and a complete overhaul of the basketball locker rooms in EagleBank Arena.

At Jacksonville, Mr. Edwards raised a department record of approximately $3 million in new capital gifts for athletic facilities. At South Carolina, Mr. Edwards played a primary role in the development of more than $170 million in revenue, construction projects and project financing. Mr. Edwards also played a critical part in new facility design, development and construction; most notably assistance with day-to-day oversight of design and construction of the 18,000-seat Colonial Life Arena, and primary oversight of the 34,000-square-foot Charles Crews Football Facility. Mr. Edwards was responsible for all venue concessions and food service, department advertising and multimedia rights, executive suites and assisting in securing major financial gifts.

Mr. Edwards earned second-team All-American honors after the 1987 season for the Gamecocks. He went on to play free safety in the NFL after being drafted in the second round of the 1988 draft by the Minnesota Vikings. He was a defensive co-captain and runner-up MVP with the Redskins Super Bowl XXVI championship team. Mr. Edwards is a member of South Carolina (statewide) athletic Hall of Fame.

Mr. Edwards earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of South Carolina and a master of arts in education from Michigan State University. He is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Marketing Management Executive Education Program, as well as the Executive Management and Leadership Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Additionally, Edwards is a graduate of the Sports Management Institute, an academic alliance between the business schools and athletic departments of the Universities of Southern California, Notre Dame, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Texas-Austin, Michigan and Georgia. For more about Mason athletics, go here.

Mark Ginsberg, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

Mark Ginsberg serves as the Interim Provost and Executive Vice President of George Mason University. He joined the University in 2010 as the dean of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University. Mason, with over 38,000 students, is a Carnegie Tier 1 university that is the largest public research university in Virginia. Dr. Ginsberg's career spans more than a 35-year period as a professor, psychologist and skilled administrator. He has published extensively in the areas of education, psychology, human development and human services. In addition, he has lectured and presented at over 200 conferences, seminars and other educational meetings and professional development events, both within the United States and internationally.

Dr. Ginsberg served as the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) from January 1999 until June 2010. Prior to joining NAEYC, Dr. Ginsberg was chair of the Department of Counseling and Human Services in the Graduate Division of Education at The Johns Hopkins University and a member of the faculty of both the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the Department of Medicine in the School of Medicine. He had served as a member of the Hopkins full-time and part-time faculty for more than 25 years. Before joining Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ginsberg held the position of Executive Director of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) from 1986-93. From 1981-86 he was a senior member of the management staff of the American Psychological Association (APA), after having been a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Rochester.

Dr. Ginsberg serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the respected international organization, Parents as Teachers (PAT). He also serves on the Board of Directors of Hopecam, a non-profit organization that supports children with cancer and their families and as an appointed member of the Fairfax County (VA) Successful Children and Youth Policy Team. He is a Past-Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) and had served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Council of Academic Deans of Research Education Institutions (CADREI) and the Board of Directors of the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation (VECF). He also is a past-president of both the International Step by Step Association (ISSA), a nongovernmental organization of education and child/youth development focused NGOs in Europe and Central Asia, and the Society of Psychologists in Management (SPIM).

Dr. Ginsberg is a Fellow of both the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Maryland Psychological Association (MPA), a Clinical Member and Fellow of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), American Educational Research Association (AERA), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) of which he was elected to serve on the national Board of Directors.

Dr. Ginsberg completed his master's degree in 1978 and his doctoral degree in 1981 at The Pennsylvania State University, after having been awarded a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Cortland in 1975. He also completed a Fellowship in Clinical Psychology at the Yale University School of Medicine. In 2006, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by the State University of New York.

He is married to Elaine A. Anderson, the former Chair and a Professor in the Department of Family Science in the School of Public Health at the University of Maryland. They have two adult children, Andrew, a faculty member in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Maryland, and Robert, an Executive at Fundrise, a Washington, DC based financial technology company.

Carol Dillon Kissal, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

Carol Dillon Kissal serves as the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance for George Mason University. Prior to George Mason, Mrs. Kissal served as the Vice President of Finance/Chief Financial Officer for Emory University. In her role, she led the financial operations of a $5.5 billion enterprise. The portfolio included responsibility for financial and accounting operations; treasury and debt portfolios; capital and corporate finance which include acquisitions, financial reporting; grant and research sponsored programs; procurement and contracts management.

A proponent for innovation and insights, Mrs. Kissal created a Systems and Data Analytics discipline within the Finance Division in an effort to standardize data-driven decision-making and accountability across the University. Additionally, growth in the allocation of investment for strategic plan initiatives grew over the last three years due primarily to financial structures developed which have created optimization in liquidity and debt portfolio management.

Prior to joining Emory in September 2014, Mrs. Kissal served as Deputy General Manager of Administration and Chief Financial Officer of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for eight years. She was responsible for developing, managing and implementing a financial operating and capital plan totaling $2.6 billion annually.

Mrs. Kissal’s experience prior to WMATA includes leadership roles with the DC Department of Transportation, Amtrak and IBM. She received a nomination by President George W. Bush to be the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration.

She holds a Masters in Business Administration from Pace University. Mrs. Kissal currently serves as a Board Director for Dining for Women in Greenville, SC. She is also a board member for The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and a Strategic Advisor for the Junior Achievement Board in Atlanta, GA. She is married and has one daughter studying civil engineering at Clemson University.

Carol Dillon Kissal serves as the Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance for George Mason University. Prior to George Mason, Mrs. Kissal served as the Vice President of Finance/Chief Financial Officer for Emory University. In her role, she l

Paul Liberty was appointed Vice President for Government and Community Relations in 2012, reporting directly to the President of George Mason University. He oversees a team working with federal, state and local governments as well as business and civic communities. He leads several major university-wide initiatives and is a member of the university's Executive Council and President's Council. Prior to this appointment, Mr. Liberty served as Interim Vice President for University Relations, responsible for managing community relations, creative services, events management, media and public relations, University information and web communications.

Before joining Mason, Mr. Liberty was an executive for two publicly traded companies and a merger and acquisition advisory firm overseeing internal and external communications, corporate affairs, investor relations, legislative affairs, marketing and public relations. In addition to his corporate activities, Mr. Liberty has worked in the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government at the federal, state and local levels.  During his time in public service he worked on Capitol Hill, served in the White House and was chief of staff for a member of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. He also has managed policy and legislative functions for a large business trade association.

Mr. Liberty is a native to Northern Virginia and is active in a number of business, civic, and charitable organizations and was recognized by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors with its annual award for outstanding volunteer services.

Mr. Liberty received his BA in English from George Mason University.

For more about the Office of Government and Community Relations, go here.

Rene Stewart O'Neal, Associate Vice President for Strategic Planning & Budgeting

Rene Stewart O’Neal joined the Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration’s leadership team at George Mason University as the Associate Vice President for Strategic Budgeting and Planning in August 2019.  She is excited about the opportunity to promote a transparent, accountable and responsive financial management culture with evidence-based planning as a foundation for investment. 

Before coming to Mason, Rene was the Vice Provost for Budget and Finance at the George Washington University since 2013, where she had responsibility for developing multi-year financial goals and budgetary strategies for the academic operations of the university, including all ten schools, ensuring alignment of academic financial goals with the financial goals and mission of the University. Rene served as a strategic partner in guiding the allocation of resources to support academic priorities and the university’s strategic plan.  

Prior to joining GW, she was the Director of Planning and Assistant Director of the Office of Planning & Budgets at Michigan State University for ten years.   A career higher education finance professional, she has held senior administrative positions in finance, budgeting, treasury, academic planning and operations at Wellesley College, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Michigan State University.  Her particular areas of expertise are higher education finance and analysis, budgeting and strategic planning, strategy and change management, institutional effectiveness and inclusive excellence.  She holds AB and Master of Public Policy degrees from Harvard University.

Professional organizations and affiliations include the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO); Eastern Association of College and University Business Officers (EACUBO); Society for College and University Planning (SCUP); People to People Ambassador Program; Phi Kappa Phi (Academic National Honor Society).  Rene was a 2009-10 American Council on Education fellow at New York University with a fellowship focus on strategic global engagement for universities and sustainable financial models for higher education. 

Rene resides in Alexandria, VA, with her husband and teenage son.

Rose Pascarell, Vice President, University Life

Rose Pascarell is Vice President for University Life at George Mason University. She has held several leadership positions in the University as Associate Vice President for University Life, Associate Dean for Campus Life and Associate Director of the Women's Studies Research and Resource Center. Ms. Pascarell's leadership work in University Life has focused on increasing student engagement and academic success, and the building of just communities.

Ms. Pascarell has worked on campus climate and multicultural/diversity issues for the last fifteen years. Her teaching and workshops focus on race, class, gender, sexuality, and the formation of just community through the examination of difference.

Ms. Pascarell earned a BA in Sociology, Criminology, and Conflict Analysis at the State University of New York at Albany. Her MA in Sociology is from George Mason University.

For more about University Life, go here.​

Dietra Trent, Interim Vice President, Compliance, Diversity, and Ethics

Dietra Y. Trent, Ph.D. is a strong advocate and true champion of public education. She has over twenty-years of experience working hard to advance equity for Virginia’s most disadvantaged populations.  On August 25, 2019, she joined the Mason family as Chief of Staff to Interim President Anne Holton.  Previously, she served as Sr. Director for Equity Research and Training within the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.  In this capacity, she led an effort to support state and local governments, nonprofits, and interested citizens in advancing equity and inclusion through an integrated approach including policy evaluation, targeted training, and research.  In July 2016, Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Dr. Trent as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Prior to her appointment, she served as Deputy Secretary of Education, a position she also held during the administration of then-Governor Tim Kaine.  She joined Governor McAuliffe’s administration in January 2014.  

As Secretary of Education, Dr. Trent’s primary responsibility was to promote the Governor’s agenda to eradicate the Achievement Gap, promote great teaching and learning, and strengthen educational pathways to the new Virginia Economy.  In this capacity, Dr. Trent provided guidance and oversight to three coordinating agencies, including the Virginia Department of Education, the Virginia Community College System, and the State Council of Higher Education, as well as Virginia’s 16 public colleges and universities, 23 community colleges, and five higher education and research centers.

Prior to joining the McAuliffe administration, Dr. Trent served as Deputy State Director for Senator Mark Warner.  Having served in former Governors Tim Kaine and Mark Warner’s offices, as well as the Office of Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, she has a wealth of federal, state, and higher education experience. 

During her time in Governor Warner’s office, Dr. Trent’s proudest moment was establishing and obtaining state funding for the Minority Political Leadership Institute (MPLI), housed at Virginia Commonwealth University.  MPLI is a six-week intensive program designed to promote leadership for aspiring individuals interested in running for elected office or assuming leadership roles in minority communities. She currently serves on the MPLI advisory board and as Interim Director of International Education and Special Assistant to the Provost at Radford University.

Dr. Trent’s career in higher education began over twenty-years ago when she served as Director of Federal Relations for Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU).  Representing a comprehensive, urban, research university, she spent much of her time in Washington, DC, advocating on behalf of VCU’s medical school and hospital.  It was at VCU when she realized she would pursue a career in higher education.

Now, two decades later, Dr. Trent’s philosophy about leadership is: “power does not lie in one’s title or position, rather power lies in one’s posture.  And it is only in assuming a posture to serve others that enables us to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”    

A native of Halifax County, Virginia, Dr. Trent earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Criminal Justice from Hampton University and completed her master’s and doctoral degrees in Public Administration and Policy from VCU.

Kenneth Walsh, Chief of Staff and Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Ken Walsh serves as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief of Staff in the President’s Office at George Mason University, a position he accepted in 2020. In this role, he supports the President in realizing Mason's bold vision.  

He previously served as Senior Assistant Dean and Chief of Staff in the Samueli School of Engineering at the University of California, Irvine. In this capacity, he was responsible for the entire scope of planning, operations, and resource management for the School. He directed financial operations, oversaw IT support, human resources management, and capital asset management. Building on his experience in industry and at many levels in higher education, he marshalled the skill and dedication of the staff to fuel the excellence of the faculty and students.

From 2002 to 2018, Dr. Walsh served in a number of roles at San Diego State University. Here he founded the J.R. Filanc Construction Engineering and Management program and later served as chair of the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering. He also served as the founding Dean for SDSU-Georgia. This innovative program funded through the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Government of Georgia to provides US-accredited science and engineering degrees in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he lived and worked for four years.

He started his academic career in the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University, after several years in consulting engineering practice in the Phoenix area. Ken holds BSE, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Civil Engineering from Arizona State University. With over $30 million in research activity, his research interests lie in production systems design in a construction setting, He has published over 100 papers in journals and conferences and served as editor of conferences sponsored by the International Group for Lean Construction and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Ken is married, with 3 grown children, the youngest a student at Arizona State leaving the cats as the only remaining denizens of the nest.  In his spare time, he enjoys woodworking, travel, and international films.