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Center for Faculty Excellence

About OTLE

Deepa Shriram, Associate Director of New Faculty Experience and Tempo Support

Deepa Shriram has been teaching for over twenty years at the college level and has been a Contributing Faculty Member with Walden University since 2009. She has taught Composition courses, has served as a Senior Colleague for CGE, and teaches the New Faculty Orientation course for OTLE. She has served on several committees including CFE’s Advisory Council and the CBE Council. In 2016, she began working with Tempo Learning, Walden’s Competency Based Education program, and helped design the Tempo Faculty Orientation. She currently co-facilitates the Tempo Faculty Orientation (TFO), is the Lead faculty for New Faculty Orientation (NFO), and works with the OTLE Instructional Design team on curriculum initiatives and delivers faculty webinars. In her fulltime role, Deepa will expand her work as Faculty Development Specialist for New Faculty Orientation, Tempo, center faculty, general education, and undergraduate education.

Melissa Houston, Faculty Support Agent

Melissa Houston is a Faculty Support Agent (FSA) with the Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence. In her role, she supports faculty digital fluency needs through live sessions and webinars as well as by developing job aids, video tutorials, and other faculty resources. Melissa began supporting Walden faculty as a Graduate Assistant before transitioning to the FSA role.

Melissa is pursuing her PhD in Forensic Psychology. She completed her M.S. in Forensic Psychology at Walden University and B.S. in Human Services at SUNY Empire State College.

Melissa works remotely from her home and spends her free time with her family and dog. She also enjoys reading, music, and crafting.


Kristy Wake, Associate Director of Instructional Design

Kristy Wake is the supervising instructional designer within the Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence at Walden University. In her role, she oversees the other full time designers and graduate assistants.

Kristy also designs, develops, and delivers faculty training in a variety of formats including self-paced modules, live webinars, guides, and assists in Blackboard course revisions. She has a background in elementary education and started working for Walden in 2010 as an Enrollment Advisor in Tempe Arizona. She earned her Bachelors in Elementary Education from Arizona State University and earned her Masters in Psychology at Walden University. She began working for OTLE in 2012.

Kristy works remotely from her home office in South Dakota. She is married and has two young children, a dog, and a cat. She enjoys spending her free time outdoors in the Black Hills.

Matt Rupp, Senior Instructional Designer

Matt Rupp is a senior instructional designer within the Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence at Walden University. In his role, he supports OTLE by designing, developing, and delivering faculty training in a variety of formats including self-paced modules, live webinars, guides, and assisting in Blackboard course revisions.

Matt began supporting Walden as an enrollment advisor and then as a training and design specialist before transitioning to OTLE.

Matt graduated with a MS in Instructional Design and Technology from Walden University and a BS in Health Science from Towson University. He is currently working on his PhD in Education, specializing in Educational Technology and Design.

Matt is married and works remotely from his home office in Maryland alongside his trusty dog. He enjoys exploring the outdoors, photography, and music.

Katie Pfarr, Associate Director of Operations, Communications & Faculty Support

Katie (Berg) Pfarr joined the Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence in September 2016. In her role in OTLE, she works closely with Walden faculty to ensure their needs are met from the moment they are hired and throughout their tenure with the University.

Previously she had worked in Academic Operations for the College of Health Professions since 2008. 

Katie received her B.S. in Applied Psychology, with a minor in Child and Family Studies, from St Cloud State University (MN).

In her spare time, Katie loves to spend time with family – new and old. Recently married, she has a daughter and two stepsons. She also enjoys reading, everything Dolly Parton, keeping the peace, and saving the world.

Lyda Downs, Associate Director of Teaching and Learning

Image of Lyda Downs

Lyda Downs is the Associate Director of Faculty Development in the Office of Teaching and Learning Excellence. In her role supporting faculty development needs she delivers webinars and collaborates on professional development initiatives at Walden University. She also oversees the faculty coaching program, which includes training faculty coaches and meeting with faculty in private and group coaching sessions. Please check out her monthly Coaching Corner article in the monthly OTLE newsletter! In addition to her professional development offerings at Walden she presents on pedagogical topics at professional conferences throughout the year. Lyda has been with OTLE since 2012. Prior to that she was a contributing faculty member in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences where she started in 2006 and remains active today.


Social change is one of Lyda’s passions and she engages in projects both locally and internationally. She is a Mental Health Facilitator Master Trainer for the National Board of Certified Counselors International (NBCC-I). NBCC-I partnered with the World Health Organization to provide trainings in underserved communities. Lyda has travelled to Uganda, Rwanda, and Vietnam providing these trainings and supporting social change initiatives.

Prior experiences included working for the Maricopa County Community College system as a faculty member and counselor and running her private practice in mental health counseling. She still maintains her state and national certifications in mental health counseling. Lyda is also a nationally board certified coach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology, a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling, and a doctorate degree in Human Services with a specialization in Professional Counseling.

Lyda resides in Paradise Valley, Arizona.  In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two sons. 

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