SAIL Institute Fellows

Dr. Ronald A. Milon “Ron”

Leadership Fellow

Ron Milon has long appreciated the power of education to transform lives. Born and raised in Buffalo, New York, he was the first member of his family to graduate from high school and then college. Armed with a Pell Grant and student loans, and working full-time, he attended SUNY Brockport, where he served as president of Brockport Student Government and graduated with a degree in Political Science and History. It was in college where he developed a passion for human rights and educational empowerment.

He brought this drive to his studies as a graduate student and his first teaching and administrative jobs at Boricua College, Drake Business School, and DeVry University. During his time at these institutions, he understood how he could work with students who might not normally pursue education and that he could help them to graduate and become productive and active citizens in their respective communities.

Dr. Milon has always loved engaging with students, in the classroom as an educator and in workshops as leadership trainer. He has taught American Government, American Presidency, Introduction to Politics, International Relations, and other courses since 1989. His recent training and research focus on diversity and inclusion training and civil rights allows him to create real world application for his students.

When he moved to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, he saw a need and an opportunity to promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom. He was appointed Chief Diversity Officer, providing leadership and vision for diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the campus, ensuring that they align with the principals and goals of the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. He currently serves as co-chair of FIT’s Diversity Council and actively participated in the development of its strategic plan. In 2019, Dr. Milon journeyed to Incheon, South Korea, to facilitate a series of workshops for faculty, staff, and students on Diversity and Inclusion. Currently, Dr. Milon, was a co-facilitator for the SUNY Sail Inclusive Citizen Leadership series for 2020–2021.Before joining FIT, Milon was vice president of administrative services at Bergen Community College, and served as dean of business and technology programs at DeVry University.

Dr. Milon has a PhD in Adult Education from Capella University, an MA in Political Science from the New School for Social Research, an MA in History from the University of Buffalo, and a BS in Political Science and in History from SUNY/Brockport. For three years, he was a Ralph Bunche Fellow as part of a City University Graduate School and University Center program. He earned certificates in leadership from Cornell University, Penn State and Leadership New Jersey, and Diversity certification on the professional standards provided by NADOHE and SUNY for Chief Diversity Officers.

Dr. Giacomo “Jack” Oliva
Leadership Fellow

Giacomo (Jack) Oliva is currently Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, having undertaken this role in July of 2011, after serving as Professor of Music and Endowed Dean of the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 2001 to 2011. Prior to coming to Nebraska, Dr. Oliva served as Professor of Music and Director of the School of Music at the University of Florida from 1992 to 2001, and as Head of the Department of Music at Mississippi State University from 1985 to 1992. Before moving to Mississippi, Dr. Oliva worked for twelve years in the New Jersey Public Schools as a K-12 vocal and instrumental music teacher and as a district-wide music administrator. While teaching in New Jersey, Dr. Oliva also held the position of Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University. He holds the BA cum laude in Music Education and the MA in Applied Music from Montclair State College (now University), the EdD in Music Education and Administration from New York University, and a certificate from the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University. He also holds certifications as a Curriculum Supervisor and Principal from the State of New Jersey.

Oliva’s leadership and service in professional organizations includes serving as President of the International Society for Music Education (2002-2004), as President-Elect of the Mississippi Music Educators Association (1991-1992) and as Chair of the College Music Society’s Committee on International Initiatives (2008-2011).  He recently completed a six-year term as a member of the Executive Committee for the International Federation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI), and has continued to serve as an accreditation reviewer for The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

In addition to his work in education, Dr. Oliva has remained active as a pianist and conductor in both the classical and popular music traditions for the past 45 years. He maintains a special interest in Ragtime and other forms of American popular music, and presents recitals and lectures on piano rags on a regular basis.

Dr. Susan Philips
Leadership Fellow

Susan D. Phillips, Ph.D. is currently Professor of Educational Policy and Leadership as well as of Counseling Psychology at the University at Albany, and Leadership Fellow at the SUNY SAIL Institute.  Previously, she served as the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the University at Albany/SUNY, and the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the SUNY Health Science Center at Brooklyn.  She holds degrees from Stanford University (BA, Human Biology), Teachers College (MA, Psychology), and Columbia University (MPhil and PhD, Counseling Psychology).  She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a licensed psychologist.  Her work in education, training, and research has been recognized by the State University of New York, the Psychological Association of Northeastern New York, the National School Development Council the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs, and the Society of Counseling Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

Active in promoting excellence in academic programs and professional practice, she is a member and past chair of the National Advisory Council for Institutional Quality and Integrity, developing recommendations to the United States Secretary of Education on matters of higher education institutional accreditation and quality assurance. Previously, she led the American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation – one of the largest accrediting agencies in the nation. She has also worked with certification, accreditation, and licensing issues in her leadership of the Joint Designation Committee of the National Register/American Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards, and was appointed by the New York State Board of Regents to their policy advisory group, the Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching.

Garry Sanders
Leadership Fellow

Garry Sanders, MPA, PCC is a Leadership Fellow with the SAIL Institute and an executive coach serving both individual leaders and teams in all industries, with a focus in higher education. He is Principal of AssistLeadership, LLC, a leadership coaching and consulting firm, and sees his mission as a coach as being a ladder–a steady presence to help clients as they discover their strengths and courage, and to serve them as they transform themselves and their organizations.

He was trained as an executive coach at Georgetown University, and is a professionally certified coach (PCC ™) with the International Coaching Federation. Garry is a Leadership Coach for the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership, a collaboration between Georgetown University and Arizona State University, and he coaches higher education leaders across the country. He is an adjunct, graduate school instructor at The Johns Hopkins University.

Garry served as the executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Research Foundation for SUNY, leading cross functional teams and large project and program implementations for the SUNY research enterprise. He began his career as a United States Presidential Management Fellow. He has served as a faculty member for the National Council of University Research Administrators’ Executive Leadership Program and focused training for NCURA on leadership style and influence.

His coaching practice is national in scope, and includes clients at major university centers, insurance companies, law firms, state agencies, and not-for-profit agencies.

He is a product of the State University of New York, having received his baccalaureate from the University at Buffalo and his Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University at Albany. He is a certified practitioner of The Leadership Circle Profile™ Certification for Individual Leaders and Teams, a 360 degree assessment tool. He is a trained facilitator of the Professional Strengths, Values and Story Survey™ designed to help people understand what is most meaningful and motivating to them in their work lives and how to leverage these strengths for the good of their institutions and teams.

Dr. Kirk Young
Leadership Fellow

Kirk Young is the Vice President of Student Affairs at Jamestown Community College, a position he has held since 2014. Prior to joining JCC, Kirk worked for ten years at Utah Valley University, a large regional university in Utah. Throughout his years working in higher education, he has worked in enrollment and marketing, as well as serving for several years as the director of the Center for the Advancement of Leadership at UVU. Prior to his career in higher education, Kirk worked in sales and management in private industry where much of his work focused on employee development and engagement.

Kirk holds a BA in psychology from Utah Valley University, an MS in sociology from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in leadership studies from Gonzaga University. His master’s studies focused on the social impacts of large-scale mega events, particularly the 2002 Winter Olympics. His doctoral studies focused on the 360-degree assessment as a leadership development tool. His other areas of expertise include transformational leadership, appreciative inquiry, servant-leadership, leadership and creativity, and strengths-based leadership. Kirk is a certified strengths coach with the Gallup organization, and spends some of his time consulting with individuals and teams on strengths-based performance and leadership solutions.

Kirk served as one of a team of four to develop and implement a 360 assessment tool for the Utah Valley Senior Executive Leadership Forum (UVSELF), an annual leadership development program at the university. In this role, he was instrumental in the development of curricula as well as the production of the annual retreat and monthly programming for the program.

Kirk is the founder of 221b Performance Solutions, a leadership and organizational development firm that works closely with organizations across the country to assess performance and design solutions for a variety of challenges. In this capacity, Kirk is responsible for helping individuals, teams, and organizations identify and achieve their potential.