About Us


Jennifer Waddell, Ph.D.

IUE Director and Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor for Urban Education

Jennifer Waddell currently serves as the Director of the Institute for Urban Education (IUE) and Sprint Foundation Endowed Professor in Urban Education at the University of Missouri Kansas City. In this role, she works collaboratively with Kansas City partner school districts and the community to prepare educators who are committed to social justice and educational equity.

Dr. Waddell has been with the IUE since its inception, first serving on the IUE Program Design Team and Executive Committee during the initial planning phases of the IUE. In 2005, when IUE launched, Dr. Waddell served as the IUE Associate Director and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the IUE including IUE recruitment, curricular programming, IUE internships and school partnerships, and student support and mentoring. Dr. Waddell served in the role of IUE Associate Director until 2017, when she was named Director.

Dr. Waddell teaches courses in diversity, working with communities and families, curriculum design, effective instruction and teacher leadership. Both nationally and internationally, Dr. Waddell has presented her work around teacher preparation and educational equity in a variety of forums, including a session at the US Department of Education on preparing culturally competent teachers and professional presentations at conferences such as American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Educational Research Association and Association for Educational Studies.

Dr. Waddell is active in research and scholarship pertaining to teacher preparation for diverse communities, social justice education, and diversity and educational equity. Dr. Waddell also serves the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences as the Director of Teacher Education, with a focus on leading programs that prepare culturally relevant and responsive teachers for Kansas City schools. Dr. Waddell’s faculty webpage contains more information about her role as a faculty member and leader within the School of Education and UMKC, including information about select publications.

Brad Poos, Ph.D.

IUE Associate Director and Coordinator of IUE Curriculum and Pipeline Programming

A career educator, Dr. Poos is currently the Associate Director in the Institute for Urban Education (IUE). As Associate Director, Dr. Poos is responsible for teacher pathway programs, community partnerships and engagement, and student support. Dr. Poos has experience in both k-12 and higher education. Having started his career in education as a middle and high school social studies teacher, Dr. Poos then moved into school counseling before going into academia and higher education.

Dr. Poos has particular expertise in high school pipeline programming and teacher recruitment having spent the last 5 years involved in GYO design and implementation. As well, Dr. Poos’s research focuses on issues related to the historical and social context of schooling. In particular, Dr. Poos is interested in the history of urban education, urban teacher preparation, social justice education, and diversity and educational equity. Dr. Poos has written and published broadly in these areas and has presented his work around the country.

Dr. Poos has long been committed to work around equity and justice in education and the community at large. Most notably, Dr. Poos has been involved in Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (National SEED Project: https://nationalseedproject.org/about-us/about-seed) programming and has served on the board of directors for the AdHoc Group Against Crime and currently sits on the board of directors for the Center for Conflict Resolution.

Carolyn Barber, Ph.D.

Interim Dean, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and Missouri Endowed Faculty Chair, and Professor in UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences

Carolyn Barber joined the School of Education as an Assistant Professor in 2007 and, as of 2019, is a Professor in the Division of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Foundations. As a faculty member specializing in educational research and psychology, she has taught coursework in developmental psychology, educational psychology, research methodology, and statistics to students across the School of Education and the UMKC campus. She has also worked as an advisor in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. and Interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs. From 2017 to 2020 she served as Associate Dean of the School of Education, with responsibilities centered on faculty affairs, graduate affairs, and assessment and accreditation.

Dr. Barber has overseen the coalescence of the School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences (SESWPS) as Interim Dean. SESWPS combines education, psychological sciences and social work programs into a newly reimagined academic unit that will create new education and research synergies for students and faculty.

Leo Morton

Co-Chair, IUE Urban Education Council
President & COO, DeBruce Companies
Chancellor Emeritus, UMKC

Jerry Reece

Co-Chair, IUE Urban Education Council
Chairman Emeritus, ReeceNichols

Nathan Shields

Director of Philanthropic Giving, UMKC School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences

Nathan Shields has worked in higher education for more than 11 years, serving in student recruitment, marketing and development leadership roles. He has worked in schools and nonprofit organizations in England and Finland, in addition to the United States. Living in Europe for 9 years and traveling extensively throughout Europe, Asia and North America for professional purposes has broadened both his perspective of, and passion for improving educational equity. More specifically, observing how Finland became a world leader in education by prioritizing equity was a seminal experience in his life.

Nathan brings over 7 years of progressive fundraising experience to UMKC’s School of Education, Social Work and Psychological Sciences and is excited to empower others while leading the capital campaign of the Institute for Urban Education. He sees this position as a melding of meaningful purpose with profession and is honored to support the IUE in its mission to prepare and support local teachers to make profound differences in the lives of Kansas City’s urban students. Nathan holds a Master of Science in Administration degree from Andrews University, with research foci in nonprofit fundraising and marketing.