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Meet the San Ramon Faculty and Staff

Feb 3, 2021

Nancy Brown – Sociology (PT)

Nancy BrownI teach Sociology courses at the San Ramon and Pleasant Hill campuses of Diablo Valley College and criminal justice sources at a local university. I am passionate about teaching and applying a scholarly approach to current social issues. I focus on creating safe spaces in class so students can “stand in their truth” in a non-judgmental environment while taking on difficult social issues. I have a BA in Sociology/Criminology, MS in the Administration of Justice, and PhD in Criminal Justice. I am also a Commissioner with the Solano County Juvenile Justice Commission whose mission is to inquire into the administration of juvenile court law in Solano County and advocate for minors in the juvenile justice system. My areas of expertise are criminal justice reform, juvenile justice reform, and restorative justice. 

Rick Godinez – Art (FT)

Rick GodinezAs a Fremont native, I began my college career at Ohlone college before transferring to San Jose State University to major in fine art with an emphasis in painting. After graduating, I spent several years building my portfolio before being accepted to Stanford’s graduate program, where I earned my Master of Fine Arts degree in 1998.

In 1999, I began teaching at several bay area community colleges, Stanford, and the Palo Alto Art Center, before coming to DVC, where I have taught painting and drawing since 2006. Due to my own mixed-ethnicity, and because my art work deals with aspects of history and identity, I enjoy working with students of different backgrounds and experiences, and believe their diversity makes for a richer and more meaningful learning experience for all of us.

Art provides a space for free thought and self-expression that is rare in our busy culture and is an important element of both life and education; the study and practice art provides us with a holistic way to understand ourselves and our world.

John Kropf – Political Science (PT)

John KropfI have been teaching politics at both College Park High School and Diablo Valley College since 1999. I started working at the San Ramon Valley campus in 2017. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Florida State University’s Panama Canal Branch in 1994 while serving in the U.S. Army’s Southern Command. I later earned my master’s degree in International Relations from San Francisco State University and a Teaching Credential from Chapman University. I love discussing, arguing, and reflecting on politics with my students at every opportunity. When not teaching, my hobbies are hiking and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada mountains and reading…lots and lots of reading! Here I am in (one) of my natural elements (wearing a gift that students gave me in the fall of 2017!).

Debbie Hebert Lee – History (PT)

Debbie Hebert LeeAs an adjunct professor of history at the San Ramon Campus of DVC, I teach U.S., California, and Women’s History. In my courses I include the experiences of Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, Latinx and, of course, women! I love to bring guest speakers to the campus for a more engaging student learning experience.  My undergraduate degree is in Word History and Cultures from Kennesaw State University (Georgia). Go Owls! My master's degree is in Public History with an emphasis in Archives from California State University, Sacramento. Go Hornets! In addition to teaching history at DVC, I am the Archives Assistant at American Zoetrope. When I am not reading about history, I love to bake, ski, and hike. 

Noelle Lopez – Psychology (PT)

Noelle LopezMy name is Noelle Lopez and I am a psychology adjunct at Diablo Valley College. I teach a variety of psychology courses including Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Research Methods and Abnormal Psychology. Some of my favorite psychology courses are Critical Thinking, Psychology of Latinos and Psychology in Modern Life, which was the very first course I took at Diablo Valley College when I was a student here. After transferring from Diablo Valley College, I attended Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Upon graduation, I returned to the Bay Area to attend graduate school at San Francisco State. I enjoyed attending DVC so much that I began teaching here after graduating from my master’s program. One of my favorite things about my job is having conversations with students about psychology and I really enjoy the small campus feel at the San Ramon campus. When I am not teaching, I love exploring the different National Parks that the United States has to offer. My favorite park currently is Yellowstone in Wyoming, which I got to visit last year, along with Glacier in Montana. I also enjoy reading murder mysteries by Ruth Ware. In my picture, I am in front of the London Eye in England.

Taylor Oliver – Psychology (FT)

Taylor OliverI grew up in Sacramento, CA and started my academic journey at the local community college. From there I transferred to UCLA, a school I never dreamed I could attend before getting the mentorship at my community college. After, I got my master's at CSU Northridge and my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology at University Nevada, Las Vegas. My areas of interest are human sexuality, gender, and intimate relationships.

I teach a number of courses at DVC, namely: Introduction to Psychology, Psychology of Modern Life, Critical Thinking in Psychology, Psychology of Women, Introduction to Statistics in Psychology, Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology, and Social Psychology.

On a personal note, I have visited over a dozen countries mostly in Europe and Latin America. I also enjoy cooking (many times trying to replicate the dishes I learn about from my travels), exercising, and I’m a lifelong learner of the Spanish language. I am passionate about promoting social justice and equity, and I use that focus to improve my teaching and work at DVC.

Kelsey Paiz – Communication Studies (PT)

Kelsey PaizMy name is Kelsey Paiz (KEL-see Pie-EASE; she/her). I teach Communication Studies at DVC and hold a Master's Degree in Communication Studies from CSU Long Beach and a Bachelor's Degree in the field from Sacramento State. I started my studies at a community college. With the support of my instructors and the mentors that I met there, I found my passion for teaching and my love of Communication Studies. Ever since then, I have made it my goal to support my students in the same way and I have been teaching at community colleges for the entirety of my career. In my public speaking and interpersonal communication classes, I encourage students to tell their stories. I emphasize to them throughout the semester that each of them has a unique perspective to share and that communication gives them the tools to understand and express their experiences. My goal is to create a safe, inclusive space where every student has a platform.

Caitlin Phalen - Communication Studies (PT)

Caitlin PhalenI’m a Communication Studies Professor at the San Ramon Campus. I teach Public Speaking, Argumentation and Debate, Small Group and Communication Theory. I started my college career at Santa Barbara City College, where I fell in love with the community college experience. I went on to graduate from the University of Santa Barbara, with a BA in Communications.

My love of the bay area brought me back home where I attended Cal State East Bay and received my Masters in Speech Communications.

Outside of teaching, my passion for travel and exploring different cultures has taken me around the globe. My picture is of my last adventure, a 3-day hike on the Inca trail that led me into Machu Picchu.

Bridgitte Schaffer – History (FT)

Bridgitte SchafferAs the full-time historian at the San Ramon Campus of DVC, I teach a bit of everything – from U.S. and California History to World History and Critical Reasoning in History. My first love in history, however, is the medieval history of Britain and Ireland, which I discovered as an undergraduate at UC Berkeley. (Go Bears!) After working for a few years to save up money for graduate school, I attended the University of Cambridge where I earned a Ph.D. in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic.

I have been teaching at the San Ramon Campus of DVC since 2014. I love having conversations with students about history, something that the small-campus atmosphere at SRC really facilitates. When not in the classroom, my hobby is … history! In particular, I love exploring historical sites – the more out-of-the-way, the better. (In my picture, I am crawling out of the 5,000-year-old Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney, in the far north of Scotland.)

Carolyn Warren – Counseling (FT)

I have a B.A. (double major) in Psychology and Mass Communications from York University in Toronto, Canada where I grew up. I was really interested in Occupational Therapy and the idea of working with children with disabilities but academic opportunities in Canada were highly competitive, so I took a few years to work, including teaching in Japan, before getting my Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at San Diego State University. I worked in the private sector in disability management for many years before getting the opportunity to work in higher education. Fun facts: I have been salsa dancing for 20 years which is the same period I’ve practicing martial arts like muay thai, boxing, karate. I’m a mom of twin girls and a doggie mom of two dogs!

I have been a counselor at DVC since 2009 and I love that San Ramon campus size allows me to get to know students very well.