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Institute Leadership


Dr. Jennifer A. Clements is a Professor of Social Work at Shippensburg University and a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Pennsylvania with over 15 years of practice experience working with children and families. She has facilitated numerous mutual aid groups with children through older adults on topics such as anger management, grief and loss, parenting and dealing with trauma. A strong advocate for creative arts, she has incorporated art, poetry and theater into her practice. In 2013 and 2014, she spent her sabbatical learning and working with teachers in Rwanda at a small school in Muhanga using creative arts.

Steering Committee:

Dr. Samuel Benbow, an Associate Professor of Social Work, throughout the past 25 years of his professional life, has worked consistently and diligently to educate on a local, regional, state, national and international level on topics relevant to social work practice. His primary focus has been in areas such as multiculturalism, advocacy for mental health consumers and their families, team building, retention of African American high school students, mentorship, effective communication, crisis management, maximizing success in higher education, and student development in higher education.


Dr. Marita Nika Flagler, founder and co-director of INSINC until 2022, is an Emeritus Professor of Social Work. Through her teaching, consultancies, research, training, policy work and advocacy, she has promoted the social inclusion of people with disabilities in all areas of life as a manifestation of the realization of their human rights both domestically and internationally.




Sahara McGrath, MSW, is the coordinator of the Pride and Gender Equity Center (PAGE Center). She is a recent graduate of Shippensburg University and newly appointed into this position. She hopes to get more involved within the community of Shippensburg and educate others on the LGBTQ+ community.




Dr. Luis A. Melara, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Shippensburg University. Dr. Melara has taught in the mathematical sciences at undergraduate and research institutions. He has a B.S in Applied Mathematics with a Specialization in Computing from the University of California, Los Angeles and a M.A./Ph.D. in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University. His research is in optimization, numerical analysis, differential equations and mathematical biology. He completed a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at the National Institute of Standards & Technology. He has been the recipient of grants from the National Security Agency, National Science Foundation and Mathematical Association of America. Dr. Melara is active in increasing and retaining the number of members from underrepresented groups in STEM. In addition, he has been a faculty advisor in the Research Experience for Undergraduates Summer Program hosted by the Mathematical & Theoretical Biology Institute at Arizona State University from 2011-2013. He is an active member of the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and a Life Member of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. He co-founded and is the faculty advisor for the Ship SIAM Student Chapter. Since 2014, Dr. Melara has been a Chair of the Scholarship Committee for the ACM Tapia Conferences. Starting January 2015, Dr. Melara was named the Editor-in-Chief of the SIAM Undergraduate Research Online. Dr. Melara is a 2015-2016 Fulbright-Nehru Scholar at the Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar.


Dr. Manuel Ruiz currently serves as the Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Ship. He has worked in higher education for 20 years and has expertise in assessment, budget planning, residence life, judicial affairs, social justice, orientation, entrepreneurship, career development, internships, and event planning. His scholarship places emphasis on critical race theory and most recently completed a study on the retention rates of students of color. Last, he is an active member of ACPA - College Students Educator and NASPA.


Dr. Nicole Santalucia is an Associate Professor of English, Director of First-Year Writing, Co-Chair of the LGBTQ+ Advisory Council, and Advisor for the student-led literary arts journal, The Reflector. Her poetry books and creative writing publications illuminate social justice and advocacy for queer communities. She develops writing workshops that foster inclusion, art awareness, and literacy through poetry. She’s the founder The Binghamton Poetry Project, a literary outreach program, and she has led poetry workshops in the Cumberland County Prison, nursing homes, YWCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as Public Libraries and after-school programs in central Pennsylvania and upstate New York.


Dr. Brian Wentz, a Professor in Management Information Systems, is frequently involved with applied research that focuses on the implications that Web accessibility and usability can have on business, education, employment, public policy and law, and societal inclusion. For more than 15 years, he has been involved in a variety of projects related to Web accessibility and usability for people with disabilities. Dr. Wentz has published over 30 refereed articles in journals, books, and conference proceedings. In 2013, he received the 2013 Honorary Service award from the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, and he is currently a Research Advisor to another non-profit, My Blind Spot, located in New York City.

Contact the INSINC 382 Shippen Hall 1871 Old Main Drive Shippensburg, PA 17257 Phone: 717-477-1717 Fax: (717) 477-4051