M i t c h e l l  # S W A G  R e s e a r c h  G r o u p


Lead by Donald "DJ" Mitchell, Jr., PhD, the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group is a scholarly community that explores topics concerning diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice in higher education contexts, primarily using qualitative research designs. More specifically, the Group engages in scholarship related to gender, race, identity intersections, and intersectionality in higher education settings.

Donald "DJ" Mitchell, Jr., PhD, Director and Chief Research Officer

Click here for bio





Natasha Begin, Graduate Research Associate

Natasha Begin has over nine years of experience in higher education and is currently serving as assistant dean of students at Bellarmine University.  Natasha’s research interests include an asset-based lens to the intersection of low-income and first-generation college students, as well as best practices of predominantly White institutions in supporting the success of students of Color and students with undocumented status. Natasha is a PhD student in the Education and Social Change program at Bellarmine University.


Phyllis Clark, Graduate Research Associate

Phyllis L. Clark is vice president for Enrollment Management at Simmons College of Kentucky and the founder of The EMERGE Institute for Women & Girls where she strives to help high achieving women and girls “brand their brilliance” by growing authentic personal brands through attraction-practice methodologies. She is also pursuing a PhD in Leadership in Higher Education at Bellarmine University,  where her research focuses on eradicating the barriers women and girls face as a result of the phenomenon known as impostorism, a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their successes by harboring a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud."

Bryan Hamann, Graduate Research Associate

Bryan is assistant director of Campus Traditions at Bellarmine University. Bryan earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Evansville, a Master of Arts in Education from Western Kentucky University, and is a PhD student in the Leadership and Higher Education program at Bellarmine University.


OJ Oleka, Graduate Research Associate

OJ Oleka is chief of staff and deputy treasurer to Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball. OJ graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in political science and has an MBA from Bellarmine University. He is currently a PhD student at Bellarmine, focusing on higher education policy and student career interest alignment. OJ is currently the president-elect of the Kentucky Jump$tart Coalition, an organization committed to educating and training teachers on financial literacy. OJ lives in Louisville, Kentucky with his wife, Jamie Beth, and their cockapoo, Ashe.

Kathleen Overlin, Graduate Research Associate

Kathleen Wooldridge Overlin oversees training and development for a publicly traded insurance company.  In addition, she works closely with internal employee resource groups on leadership and professional development.  Prior to this position, Kathleen managed one of the company’s field offices, was a regional marketing manager, and an agent. Kathleen holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Centre College, a Master of Education in higher education administration from The College of William and Mary and a certificate in leadership excellence from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.  She is currently a PhD student in the Education and Social Change program at Bellarmine University.

Carolyn Waters, Graduate Research Associate

Carolyn Waters teaches Environmental Studies and is a PhD student in the Education and Social Change program, both at Bellarmine University. She facilitates outdoor and conservation-themed workshops for nonprofit organizations and is caretaker for a 130-acre private property. Her academic interests include exploring ways that underrepresented people can play more equitable roles in democracy and the scientific process to achieve environmental justice. Although a native of Louisville, Kentucky, she earned a MEd in environmental education from Western Washington University and worked several years in North Cascades National Park. She also holds a BA in anthropology and Studio Art from Macalester College.

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L a t e s t  N e w s



October 8, 2019

Hamann Pens Op-Ed

Bryan Hamann, graduate research associate for the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group, authored an op-ed titled, "Creating an LGBTQ+ Friendly Campus." The article is published in Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. Click here to read.


August 3, 2019

Begin Co-authors Article

Congratulations to Natasha Begin, graduate research associate for the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group, who co-authored an article titled, "Difficult Topics: Cultivating Community within the Classroom." The article is published in the Journal of Faculty Development.


April 30, 2019

Oleka Elected to Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Congratulations to OJ Oleka, graduate research associate for the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group, who was elected as a member of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Click here to learn more.


April 7, 2019

Mitchell Publishes Edited Volume

Donald "DJ" Mitchell, Jr., who serves as  director and chief research officer of the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group recently published the second edition of his co-edited volume, Intersectionality & Higher Education: Theory, Research, & Praxis (Peter Lang). Click here to preview the text.


January 29, 2019

Hamann Wins State Honor

Congratulations to Bryan Hamann, graduate research associate for the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group, who received the 2019 Outstanding New Professional Award for ACPA Kentucky!


January 24, 2019

Oleka Publishes Article

Congratulations to OJ Oleka, graduate research associate for the Mitchell #SWAG Research Group,who published, “College Affordability: A Case Study on Regional Higher Education State Agencies,”  in the eJournal of Education Policy! Click here for the article.