Wake Forest is a community of faculty and staff committed to educating the whole person and transforming students into leaders and citizens of character. The staff for the Program for Leadership and Character focus on advancing this work everyday.
Director of Leadership and Character in Academic, Civic, and Religious Life
Associate Director of Programming and Team Building
Visiting Scholar in the Department of Engineering
Director of Research and Assessment
Postdoctoral Fellow in Character Education
Eunice Jianping Hu
Teacher-Scholar Postdoctoral Fellow in Interdisciplinary Humanities
Postdoctoral Fellow in Pre-Law
Postdoctoral Fellow in Pre-Health
Communications and Events
Program and Events Coordinator
Associate Director for Leadership and Character in the Professional Schools
Elizabeth Whiting Pierce
Director of Interdisciplinary and Engaged Learning in the Professional Schools
Assistant Director of Curriculum and Pedagogy in the Professional Schools
Assistant Director of Leadership and Character in the Law School
Ananthi Al Ramiah
Senior Research Scholar in the Professional Schools
Director of the Center for Personal and Professional Development
Keyma T. Clark
Personal and Professional Development Coach
Personal and Professional Development Coach
Personal and Professional Development Coach
Postdoctoral Fellow and Coordinator for Measurement and Evaluation in the Professional Schools
Eranda Jayawickreme, Senior Research Fellow
Dr. Eranda Jayawickreme
Senior Research Fellow
Eranda Jayawickreme is Senior Research Fellow in the Program for Leadership and Character and Harold W. Tribble Professor of Psychology at Wake Forest University. He earned a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College and a Ph.D. in positive and social/personality psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Alongside Dr. Michael Lamb, he is a Co-Project Leader of a $1.68 million initiative on “Exemplar Interventions to Develop Character” funded by the John Templeton Foundation. He is also Psychology Co-Director of “The Honesty Project” and was Co-Project Leader of the $3.4 million “Pathways to Character Project” funded by the John Templeton Foundation that examined the possibilities for the strengthening of character following adversity, challenge or failure. His research focuses on post-traumatic growth, moral personality, wisdom, and well-being. His awards include the 2018 Faculty Excellence in Research Award from Wake Forest, the 2015 Rising Star award from the Association for Psychological Science, a Mellon Refugee Initiative Fund Fellowship, and grants from the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, Templeton World Charity Foundation, the European Association for Personality Psychology and the Asia Foundation/USAID.
Olga Pierrakos, Department Chair and Professor of Engineering
Dr. Olga Pierrakos
Department Chair and Professor of Engineering
Dr. Olga Pierrakos is Founding Chair and Professor in the Department of Engineering at Wake Forest University. She earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University. She also holds an M.S. in Engineering Mechanics and a B.S. in Engineering Science and Mechanics from Virginia Tech. With Dr. Michael Lamb, she is the Co-Principal Investigator of a grant focused on integrating character into engineering funded by the Kern Family Foundation as part of the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). Before coming to Wake Forest, Dr. Pierrakos served as Program Director of the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation (NSF), where she managed a $100 million portfolio to advance STEM education in colleges and universities. She was also a founding faculty member of the Engineering Department at James Madison University. Her research focuses on engineering education, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering in sustainable energy systems.
Dr. Michael Gross, Associate Professor of Engineering
Dr. Michael Gross
Associate Professor of Engineering
Dr. Michael Gross is Associate Professor of Engineering, a founding faculty member of the undergraduate Department of Engineering, and the David and Leila Farr Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Wake Forest University. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Bucknell University. Gross researches fuel cells, materials processing, and gas adsorption calorimetry, as well as student motivation. His motivation work focuses on activity-level, or situational, student motivation in STEM courses with the goal of directly applying motivation theory and empirical research findings to practical course design. His teaching areas include Materials Science and Engineering, Engineering Thinking and Practice, Engineering Measurement and Analysis, and Capstone. He has received the prestigious National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award, the Wake Forest University Research Award for Excellence, and the Wake Forest University Innovative Teaching Award. He has worked closely with the Program for Leadership and Character to design and integrate character modules into the Engineering curriculum and train faculty on how to teach character to aspiring engineers.
Elise Murray Dykhuis, Research and Assessment Consultant
Elise Murray Dykhuis
Research and Assessment Consultant
Elise Murray Dykhuis is an assistant professor in the character integration advisory group at the United States Military Academy, and a Research and Assessment Consultant in the Program for Leadership and Character. She received her B.A. in Psychology and German Language/Literature at the University of Notre Dame and earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. Her research focuses broadly on individual pathways for character development among college students, and she spent much of her doctoral studies examining the aspects of person-centric, longitudinal models of intellectual humility among United States Military Academy cadets. She has a particular interest in using complex statistical modeling to examine these pathways and further honed these skills as a junior fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. She has published on the topic of character in college in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Positive Psychology and the Journal of Moral Education. Her work integrates the concept of character virtues with developmental theory and metatheory, on which she has written and presented in various forums. Dr. Dykhuis has also served as a statistical and survey-design consultant for various character-related projects and organizations. She strongly believes that college students are uniquely situated for immense character growth given their social, emotional, intellectual, and identity development, integrated with the vast opportunities presented by post-secondary education. As such, she sees the Program as a facilitator for life-long flourishing among future leaders of character and is excited to be part of that effort.
Dylan Brown, Research Affiliate
Dylan Brown is a Research Affiliate for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. He graduated from Wake Forest in May 2020 with a B.A. in Philosophy. He previously worked as an undergraduate research assistant for Leadership and Character and the Department of Engineering. During his junior year, Dylan was a visiting student at the University of Oxford where he focused on normative and applied ethics. Dylan’s undergraduate research in virtue and character culminated in his honors thesis, “Forgiveness and Pardon: Normative Powers to Mitigate Interpersonal Wrongdoing and Self-Harm.” Dylan is grateful to be working for the program that sparked his research interests and developed him personally during his time as a student.
Sara Etz Mendonça, Research Affiliate
Sara Etz Mendonça
Sara Etz Mendonça is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. She earned a B.A. in Romance languages and literature from the University of Chicago, an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her research focuses on the development of character and virtues in youth and the creation of effective character interventions. Her work has been published in edited volumes such as Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents and peer-reviewed academic journals including Current Psychology and Cross-Cultural Research. She has also presented her findings at multiple national and international conferences including the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association for Moral Education. Beyond her scholarly work, she is a dedicated educator who has won teaching awards from multiple middle and high schools from Illinois to Mexico to Sweden, and, most recently, from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. While working in high schools, she founded programs for immigrant parents and their children to inform them about the college admissions process so that the students could continue their education by attending university. A firm believer in the connection between mind and body, she has both founded and coached various track and soccer teams in the educational institutions where she has worked.