The Cooper Institute
 

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH

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Education Staff

Adult Initiatives

Sue Beckham, PhD

Sue Beckham, PhD
Director
Adult Initiatives Program Leader: Personal Training Education

Dr. Sue Beckham earned a doctoral degree in physiology and Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Oklahoma State University. Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), she has 25 years of experience in the health/fitness field.

Sue's experience includes three years as Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Noninvasive Cardiology at the Dallas VA Medical Center, 10 years as Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as experience in sports medicine, exercise testing, personal training, and corporate wellness. She has published research articles on nutritional supplements, authored chapters in ACSM's Resource Manual, and serves on the Editorial Board for ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal.

Sue is a former age-group triathlete, competing several times in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Currently, she enjoys recreational cycling, resistance training, and running with her four-legged friends.

Gina Cortese-Shipley, MS

Gina Cortese-Shipley, MS
Associate Director

Gina Cortese-Shipley has an Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from Texas A & M University and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a minor in Health and Wellness from Washington State University.

At The Institute, Cortese-Shipley creates innovative ways to deliver education on health and wellness to both professionals in the field and the public. This includes providing instruction in a wide variety of health and wellness areas and developing curriculum for our workshops, designing and leading online learning, and creating behavioral based educational materials and products.

Prior to joining our team, Cortese-Shipley served as Exercise Physiology Department Supervisor for the Baylor Tom Landry Center where she worked with medical professionals conducting physiologic assessments and providing wellness enhancement through lifestyle intervention. Cortese-Shipley has been actively involved in the wellness field serving as a speaker for many educational series, health conferences, and certification courses; authoring articles pertaining to health and exercise published both locally and nationally and advising student interns.

She is an avid exerciser and loves to create tasty, healthy meals, something she hopes to pass on to her two little ones, Luca and Gianna.

Stephen W. Farrell, PhD

Stephen W. Farrell, PhD
Science Officer

Dr. Farrell received his doctorate from Texas Woman's University in 1996 with a major emphasis in exercise physiology and a secondary emphasis in nutrition. His Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Bachelor of Physical Education degrees were earned at the University of South Carolina and Springfield College, respectively.

Employed by The Cooper Institute since 1982, his current position is Science Officer for the education division. He is also involved with updating course content for our workshops. Dr. Farrell has teaching responsibilities both here in Dallas and worldwide, and has conducted over 200 workshops for various branches of the U.S. military, federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies.

On numerous occasions he served as workshop director for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Exercise Test Technologist and Health Fitness Instructor certification courses. He has been a lead author or co-author on several peer-reviewed research publications. His primary research focus is the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness, adiposity, and various health outcomes. He has presented at the annual meeting of the ACSM on numerous occasions. Dr. Farrell currently holds the position of chair of The Cooper Institute's Review Board (IRB), which reviews and approves all proposed research studies. He also served as a consultant for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

A former competitive runner with racing distances and PR's ranging from 800 meters (1 minute and 58 seconds) to 10 miles (54 minutes and 45 seconds), he is still an avid exerciser, and enjoys cycling and weight training.

Michael Harper, MEd

Michael Harper, MEd
Associate Director
Strategy Leader: Military and First Responder Programs

As an instructor, Michael Harper provides instruction in a wide variety of health and wellness areas and is a liaison to the military and first responder programs of The Cooper Institute. In working with all branches of the military and first responder communities, Harper helps to ensure that all of the programs, courses, products and services provided are helping to meet the needs of these groups. In this capacity, he also works with groups to bring fitness and health related At-Your-Site courses to locations throughout the U.S. and all around the World

He has a Bachelor of Science from Howard Payne University and a master's degree in education with a major in health and physical education from Tarleton State University. Prior to joining The Cooper Institute, Harper had been heavily involved with sports performance enhancement in the athletic setting as a Strength & Conditioning Coach at the division I & II levels – most recently Head Strength Coach at Tarleton State University.

Harper also stays active with philanthropic quests with The American Legion and other organizations such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in addition to his own athletic endeavors both here in Dallas and while on the road teaching. As a triathlete, he has competed in races of all distances, including the full Ironman distance. As an ambassador for fitness, Harper tries to stay connected and share fitness tips with students, the community and others through www.Facebook.com/Harper4Fitness.

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Youth Initiatives

Don Disney, MS, MA

Don Disney, MS, MA
Director, Youth Initiatives

Don serves as the Director of Youth Initiatives at The Cooper Institute. He provides visionary leadership for FITNESSGRAM worldwide, FITNESSGRAM NFL Play 60, Nutrigram, and the Healthy Zones School Recognition Program and research relevant to those programs. He is an internationally recognized leader and administrator in the field of health and physical education. In September 2012, Don was instrumental in the creation of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.

Prior to coming to The Cooper Institute, Mr. Disney served as Director of Health and Wellness for The El Paso Texas Independent School District. El Paso is the largest Border city in the United States. Under Don's leadership, The El Paso ISD received over $9 million in grants for health and wellness. Mr. Disney received the Congressional Recognition Award for his leadership in health initiatives for the city of El Paso in 2009.

Prior to his tenure in El Paso, Don served in various teaching and educational administrative positions in the state of Maryland. In 2009 Don was inducted into Howard County Sport and Community Hall of Fame, for founding the international jump rope team called the "Kangaroo Kids," which is still in existence today. Mr. Disney received The Founders Award from the American Heart Association for his work with the Jump Rope for Heart Program.

On a personal note, Don is married and has four children and four grandchildren. He likes training for old age with lots of cross training, hiking, and outdoor sports.

Catherine Vowell, MBA

Catherine Vowell, MBA
Director, FITNESSGRAM

Catherine directs and supervises the operations and management of the FITNESSGRAM/ACTIVITYGRAM Program. This includes the current and future versions of FITNESSGRAM/ACTIVITYGRAM and The Cooper International Youth Fitness Test. Catherine coordinates the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board, an esteemed group of experts specializing in tests and measurements, kinesiology, behavioral science, and other pediatric disciplines, to ensure a solid scientific foundation for all aspects of programming.

Prior to coming to The Cooper Institute, Catherine worked for the El Paso Independent School District as the Coordinator of Health and Physical Education. During her tenure with EPISD, Catherine developed and implemented an array of health and wellness initiatives to improve the health of her school communities. Catherine holds several physical education and health certifications and has presented at numerous health and physical education conferences. She has an MBA in International Business and a BS in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Catherine is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAPHERD), American School Health Association (ASHA) - Future Leaders Academy Cohort 2011, and a Leadership Texas Alumna.

Marilu D. Meredith, EdD

Marilu D. Meredith, EdD
Director, Perot International Youth Data Center (PYDC)

At the Institute since 1982, Dr. Meredith has served in numerous capacities including Director of Operations and Director of Information Technology. Her primary responsibility has always been the direction of the national FITNESSGRAM project.

Prior to joining the staff at the Institute, Dr. Meredith was employed as a physical educator. She was in the Richardson I.S.D., Richardson, Texas for a 10-year period serving in various capacities, including Director of Health and Physical Education. She also taught at the Austin State School for the Mentally Retarded and the Lockhart I.S.D.

She is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD), having served TAHPERD as vice-president of the Physical Education Division, chairperson of various sections, and chairperson of the TAHPERD Board of Trustees.

Dr. Meredith has been an integral member of the FITNESSGRAM staff since the program began in 1982. She has been involved in every aspect of the FITNESSGRAM program including designing software, authoring manuals, developing awards systems and publishing materials. She has presented FITNESSGRAM to groups at national, district, and state conferences plus worked with thousands of teachers conducting teacher in-service meetings. Dr. Meredith has been a member of the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board since its inception in 1987.

During leisure time, she enjoys cycling, walking, sewing, needlework, and working two of her four Labrador Retrievers in Animal Assisted Therapy.

Norma Candeleria, MS

Norma Candeleria, MS
Associate Director, Youth Initiatives

Norma Candelaria, M.S., began her career at the Cooper Institute in 2008 as a Lab Tech/Research Coordinator in the Exercise Lab. She moved into the Youth Initiatives division in 2009 as the Youth Fitness Project Coordinator, where her primary responsibility was to help physical educators implement health and activity promotions in 19 schools throughout the Dallas–Fort Worth area. She was promoted to Associate Director of Youth Initiatives in 2012 and currently manages the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program and the NFL Play 60 FITNESSGRAM Project. The Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, a 6-year, two-tier, 70 school program in which she works with schools throughout the Dallas Metropolitan area as they strive to create healthier campuses. The NFL Play 60 FITNESSGRAM Project is a partnership between The Cooper Institute and the NFL Foundation, which provides programming and support for over 1,000 schools nationwide as they promote physical activity and combat the obesity epidemic that is challenging our youth.

Norma received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees from The University of Texas at El Paso, where she served as a Teaching Assistant for Biomechanics and a Research Assistant in the biomechanics lab. During her graduate studies, she coauthored four publications regarding running mechanics and strength training.

During her leisure time, she enjoys running, exercise, watching sports, shopping, and spending time with her family.

Emily Bowles, MPH, CHES

Emily Bowles, MPH, CHES
Coordinator, Healthy Zone School Program

Emily Bowles joined The Cooper Institute in the summer of 2013 and works on the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program as the Coordinator.

Emily received a Master of Public Health and Physical Activity degree from the University of South Carolina, and an undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University in Health Promotion. Throughout her graduate studies, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Exercise Science Department working on a study looking at the effects of exercise on veterans with combat PTSD. She also worked as a Graduate Supervisor for the GoodBodies Program, a weight management program for children.

She currently holds the CHES (Certified Health Educator Specialist) certification and is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAPHERD) and Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She enjoys group fitness classes, cycling and shopping.

Kelly Allums Featherston, PhD

Kelly Allums Featherston, PhD
Youth Initiatives Project Coordinator, NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project

Prior to working at The Cooper Institute, Dr. Allums Featherston was an adjunct professor at Texas Woman's University (TWU) and Texas Christian University teaching courses in Kinesiology and Health and Wellness. While pursuing her doctoral degree from TWU and during her tenure there, she had numerous roles within the Kinesiology Department including, teaching assistant, research assistant, and graduate assistant for the NCAA Division II women's volleyball team. She was also the Coordinator for the TWU Dr. Carol Huettig Swim Program for Children with Disabilities.

Dr. Allums Featherston brings a unique blend of teaching experiences to the Institute, as she has taught adapted physical education (Denton, TX) and physical activity and sports classes to children of all abilities in the private, public, and non-profit sectors (Miami, FL). She has a MS in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Barry University and a BA in General Psychology from Arkansas Tech University. During her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, playing volleyball, and running with her dogs.

Katelin Anderson, MS, CHES

Katelin Anderson, MS
Youth Initiatives Project Coordinator, NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project

Katelin Anderson joined The Cooper Institute in the fall of 2012. Her primary responsibility is to assist with the NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM Project which provides programming and support for over 1,000 schools nationwide.

Katelin received her Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Kinesiology from Iowa State University in Ames, IA. While there she served as a Teaching Assistant for the Department of Kinesiology and a Research Assistant for numerous projects. Her passion is to promote and encourage physical activity in youth through the development and implementation of health promotion programs.

She currently holds the Certified Health Educator Specialist (CHES) certification and earned the Health Fitness Specialist (HFS) certification through ACSM. She is also a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAPHERD), Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAPHERD), and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

Amy Rembert

Amy Rembert
FITNESSGRAM Outreach Specialist

Amy Rembert is the Youth Initiatives' FITNESSGRAM Outreach Specialist. She joined The Cooper Institute's Marketing Department in the fall of 2012 and moved to the Youth Initiatives team in the fall of 2013. Before joining The Cooper Institute, Amy managed wide-ranging accounts like The Home Depot, Southwest Airlines, and Fort Worth's West 7th development at The Richards Group, AvreaFoster and Cypress Equities.

Amy's thirst for knowledge and helping others has led her to also become a Board Certified Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher; two additional positions that provide her with a platform to positively impact adult and youth health. Her community involvement does not stop there - through Amy’s membership in the Junior League of Dallas she has volunteered with Cancer Support Community of North Texas (formerly Gilda's Club) and Kids in the Kitchen as the Public Relations Chair.

After graduating from Ursuline Academy of Dallas, Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with an emphasis in communications, from The University of Kansas. She is a member of International Association of Business Communicators, Think Ahead Group with the Center for BrainHealth, Young Texans Against Cancer, and Young Friends of Ronald McDonald House. Her knowledge in communications, health, and youth education combine perfectly for her role on the Youth Initiatives team.

Georgina Vint

Georgina Vint
Administrative Assistant, NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project

Georgina Vint joined the Cooper Institute as the Administrative Coordinator in the fall of 2013 to assist the NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM team with new and existing schools in the project.

Georgina received a Bachelor's of Science degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion from the University of North Texas in Denton. During her undergraduate program, she volunteered at the Institute in the fall of 2012 and completed an Independent Study with the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program.

Georgina is a member of the Texas Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD), and is passionate about increasing youth physical activity. Her leisure activities include running, strength training, outdoor activities, and reading.


Education Operations

Irene Leverette

Irene Leverette
Director, Education Operations

Irene joined the Cooper Institute in July 1996. Her roles over the years have consisted of Program Coordinator, ELITE Certification Program Manager and Products Manager, Admin Team Supervisor, Credentialing Certification Manager, Educations Operations Manager, Associate Director of Education Operations and Director of Education Operations. Currently her focus is on business operations, overseeing and employing systematic processes within the education division.

Irene is passionate and dedicated to providing quality service to her colleagues and customers. During her time at CI she has been honored to receive the Spot, Bohannon, S. Sterling Team, and Kenneth H. Cooper awards.

Prior to joining the Cooper Institute Irene worked for an independent professional baseball league based in Dallas. She served as an Administrative Assistant and was the Director of Merchandising when the league office moved to Abilene.

Margo Simmons, MS

Margo Simmons, MS
Learning Technologies Specialist

Margo has served in a multitude of managerial capacities and directorships since joining The Cooper Institute in April, 2000. She currently works with Learning Technologies staff in the Education Division.

Margo holds an Associate of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree, a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in two concentrations: Psychology and Business Administration, and a Master of Science degree in Education, with a focus on Instructional Design.

Patty Rogers

Patty Rogers
Bookstore/Warehouse Manager

Patty Rogers coordinates all efforts in The Cooper Institute Bookstore and Warehouse. Patty has been a valuable asset since she joined the Education team in February 2003. Her multi tasking and organizational skills support her ability to meet job responsibilities in both roles; however, customer service is her primary focus. She has been in the sales field for over 33 years and enjoys working with people.

Julie Reed

Julie Reed
Program Coordinator

Julie Reed began her work at The Cooper Institute in January 2006 with the Administration team. The Education team was lucky to acquire her customer service talents in 2008. Julie's focus is on the coordination of offsite courses. She also provides support to her team by providing excellent customer service to all course participants.

Julie earned a Business Administration degree from El Centro College. She has over 25 years of customer service experience and has received numerous customer service awards.


Certification

Laura Fast, MBA

Laura Fast, MBA
Director, Certification

Laura Fast is responsible for all aspects of credentialing certifications offered at CI which includes overseeing developmental and operational processes for the certification program and working with CI management and the independent certification Board. She was instrumental in achieving national accreditation for The Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer (CI-CPT) program and is responsible for maintaining compliance with accreditation standards.

Additionally, Laura provides project leadership for managing the development processes for CI's online continuing education courses. She received her Bachelor of Science from North Texas State University and her MBA from the University of North Texas.

Juli Doyal, BBA

Juli Doyal, BBA
Manager, Certification

Juli Doyal is the Certification Manager for The Cooper Institute. Juli graduated with a BBA in Marketing from Baylor University. Juli helps certification candidates learn about the credentialing certification and exam processes and assists current certificants in understanding and meeting renewal requirements to maintain their certification.