Division of Strategy and Policy

The Division of Strategy and Policy enhances and furthers the UNC System’s strategic goals. To this end, Strategy and Policy has developed a robust performance measurement system to track progress toward System goals and proactively identifies new initiatives that will help advance those goals.

The division leads several projects and programs, including:

Implementation of Higher Expectations: The Strategic Plan for the UNC System

Student Success Innovation Lab

The North Carolina Student Aid Study Group, a joint effort of the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Community College Systems

UNC Laboratory Schools

GEAR UP North Carolina

The 2018 Survey of UNC System Alumni

Division of Strategy and Policy Staff

Andrew P. Kelly, Ph.D
Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy | 919-962-6082

Dr. Andrew Kelly serves as the senior vice president for Strategy and Policy. In addition to leading the division, Dr. Kelly serves as a higher-education policy expert to the president and the Board of Governors.

Prior to joining the UNC System, Kelly was a resident scholar in education policy studies and the founding director of the Center on Higher Education Reform at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In his roles, Dr. Kelly conducted research on college affordability innovation in higher education and federal and state policy. He advised members of congress, state policy makers, and presidential candidates. Kelly has published work in academic journals and in popular outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, The Atlantic, and National Review.

Dr. Kelly is a summa cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College, where he earned a degree in history.  He holds a master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

Shun Robertson, Ph.D
Assistant Vice President for Policy Development and Analysis | 919-962-5663

Dr. Shun Robertson serves as a state policy expert for the Strategy and Policy Division, researching key higher education issues to advance the System’s strategic goals.

Prior to joining the UNC System, Robertson was a program director at MDC and Jobs for the Future, providing senior-level policy and research support to education and community-based projects. She also served as a policy analyst for the South Carolina Technical College System (SCTCS). In her role with SCTCS, Robertson provided ongoing analysis of education and economic trends affecting community colleges. She also has several years of experience working in admissions offices at colleges in Georgia and South Carolina.

Dr. Robertson received her bachelor of science in business administration and doctorate in educational administration from the University of South Carolina; and her master of business administration from Augusta State University. She earned a certificate in nonprofit administration from Duke University.

Lauren Schoenheit, M.S.
Director of Data Analysis and Research | 919-962-4549

Lauren Schoenheit leads data analysis and research efforts for the division, providing data-driven decision support to the senior vice president for Strategy and Policy and overseeing updates to the UNC System Strategic Plan.

Prior to joining the UNC System Office, Schoenheit was the associate director for resource analysis at NC State University, providing leadership and support in areas of resource analysis and planning. She also served as senior statistician and data analyst at the College of Charleston, where she conducted research and developed statistical models to support institutional planning. She has worked in a variety of offices in higher education, including institutional research, academic advising, and a dean’s office.

Schoenheit received a bachelor of science in pure mathematics, a master of science in mathematics, and graduate certificates in statistics and operations research from the College of Charleston. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in educational leadership, policy, and human development from NC State University.

Tonya Walton
Access and Success Initiatives Manager | 919-962-5217

Tonya Walton serves as the access and success initiatives manager in the division. She helps implement grant-funded initiatives that support the UNC System’s Strategic Plan, including the Student Success and Innovation Lab.

Walton has served in business operations and program administration roles within multiple sectors. Most recently, she fostered innovation efforts, including the creation of a citywide training academy for strategic planning and performance analytics, as a budget and management analyst with the City of Raleigh. In a similar role within Orange County Government (NC), she coordinated the grant administration and assessment process for over 40 nonprofit agencies. She has also held program administration roles in higher education and nonprofit organizations.

Walton received bachelor’s degrees in sociology and communication from NC State University. She earned her master of public administration degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Monique Keyes
Executive Assistant to Dr. Andrew Kelly | 919-962-6082

Monique Keyes has a background in the legal field, serving as a family law paralegal in the Triangle Area for three years. Ms. Keyes holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Hampton University and a paralegal certificate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Paralegal Certificate Program. As an executive assistant in Strategy and Policy, Keyes helps with administrative office needs and helps coordinate projects and events.

PreK-12 Strategy and Policy

Sara C. Ulm
Director of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, Director of Teacher Recruitment | 919-843-0176

Sara Ulm serves as the director of the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program and Teacher Recruitment Initiatives for the P12 Division at the UNC System Office. In her role, Ulm manages the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program, a forgivable loans for service program that recruits high-achieving candidates into STEM and special education teaching areas, along with a variety of other teacher recruitment initiatives.

Prior to joining the System Office, Ulm worked as the senior education policy advisor for the North Carolina Senate.

Tiffany Watts, Ph.D.
Director of Strategic Research Initiatives | 919-843-9587

Dr. Tiffany Watts oversees a portfolio of System-wide research, reporting, and evaluation efforts designed to inform educator preparation program improvement, influence education policy, enhance statewide understanding of critical workforce needs, and support evidence-based reform in P12 education.

Prior to joining the UNC System, Watts served as a research scientist with the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, a psychologist at Duke University Medical Center, and a research fellow with the Carolina Interdisciplinary Large Scale Policy Research Training Program at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She also currently holds an appointment as an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Watts received her bachelor’s degree, with honors, in psychology from North Carolina State University and completed her doctorate in school psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Director of NC Principal Fellows Program

A native of NC, Dr. Price has been an educator in North Carolina’s public schools for twenty-seven years. He served as an English and history teacher, has coached track and football, served as a public school administrator for thirteen years at both middle and high school levels, served as an area superintendent, a chief academic office, and the deputy superintendent of Johnston County Public Schools. He earned his BA from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and his M.S.A. and Ed.D. from North Carolina State University.

Administrative Assistant | 919-843-1253

Charisse Holloway serves as the Administrative Assistant for the P12 Division at the UNC System Office.

Prior to joining the UNC System, Charisse served over 8 years in P12 education school systems in North Carolina and New Jersey. In her roles, Charisse has served as a teacher assistant, substitute teacher and elementary reading volunteer; and was awarded volunteer of the month. Charisse also served as an administrative specialist at the UNC School of Social Work.

Charisse is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, NC, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business management. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Hood Theological Seminary in Salisbury, NC.


GEAR UP stands for “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs” and is a national college access initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of this initiative is to significantly increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Over the past seven years, more than 22,000 students and their families in sixteen North Carolina school districts have been supported through academic support services, financial aid and career counseling, college tours, and mentoring services.  GEAR UP also provides professional development to school leadership, emphasizing the importance of data-driven decision making when developing programs to address student need.

Nikki A. Liles
Interim Director, GEAR UP  | 919-445-0492

Nikki Liles has worked with the GEAR UP grant in different capacities for over four years and currently serves as the interim director. She provides administrative leadership and supervision for the GEAR UP state grant, including management of program resources. Liles collaborates with educational consultants, evaluators, school leaders and other partners to implement GEAR UP district services. She also engages in statewide outreach and programming to increase access to and preparation for postsecondary education.

Betty Pearson
Administrative Assistant | 919-843-6790

David Hunt
Accounting Technician | 919-843-5845