Makena Neal, Ph.D.

Assistant Director of Educator Development

Makena Neal (she/they) lives in two intersecting worlds- that of educator and that of a lifelong learner. Her goal is to help amplify, elevate, and celebrate the innovative practices of educators in the MSU community. Makena’s projects focus on efforts and initiatives that recenter teaching and learning for Spartans by advancing MSU’s culture toward recognition and support for all educators (anyone who contributes to student success and the teaching and learning mission of the university). She takes a hands-on approach to collaboration, working across a variety of units on campus, and is dedicated to advancing aligned educator development in our decentralized spaces. Prior to her work here, Makena engaged in work at the Graduate School surrounding institutional storytelling, as well as directing Graduate Fellowships with the Liberty Hyde Bailey Scholars Program and the Graduate Leadership Institute. Before she transitioned to her doctoral study, Makena worked as a state-wide youth Leadership and Civic Engagement Educator with MSU Extension.

Makena is a “Spartan-lifer.” First, she earned her BS in Environmental Studies and Agriculture Sciences with a specialization in Connected Learning. Then, she went on to complete her MS in Community, Agriculture, Recreation, and Resource Studies (now known as Community Sustainability Studies) with a focus on community food systems and a certificate in Adult Teaching and Learning.  In 2020, Makena ushered two core parts of her identity into the world, her dissertation (earning her PhD in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) and her first son. Now, Makena lives with her partner, Curtis, their sons, Henry and Oliver, and two dogs in Kalamazoo, MI, and works remotely.

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  • Facilitating Class Discussions
  • Self-Assessment, Reflection, and Inner Feedback
  • #iteachmsu Commons
  • Student Feedback
  • Teaching Center Fellows