Online Learning Staff

Stephen Balfour

Dr. Balfour leads Online Learning in continuing to provide high-quality graduate and undergraduate classes and degree programs for the University of Georgia. He held positions at Texas A&M University for 24 years, with experience in project management, strategic planning, and development services for online courses and programs. He is also an experienced consultant for grants and contracts involving technology to enhance distance learning.

Stephen Bridges

Instructional Designer/Lead Multimedia Developer
Before joining the Office of Online Learning in 2014, Stephen served as a video producer with UGA's Center for Teaching and Learning for 10 years. During his time with CTL, Stephen worked with faculty to produce award-winning educational videos. He also helped produce live event coverage of UGA sporting events with Daktronics for over 7 years. Graduating in 2006 with an ABJ from UGA's Grady College of Journalism, Stephen received a Masters with Distinction in Learning, Design and Technology from UGA's College of Education in 2016.

Rachel Cassity

Instructional Designer
Rachel has over 10 years of experience working as both an educator and an instructional designer in higher education. She values continuous, lifelong learning and views online learning as a platform to extend such opportunities to learners from all backgrounds. Prior to joining the Office of Online Learning, Rachel was employed with the training team on the UGA OneSource Project, worked as a corporate trainer, and taught writing courses for several different institutions. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English from Flagler College, her Master’s degree in English from East Tennessee State University, and her Doctorate in Adult Education from the University of Georgia.

James Castle

Assistant Director for Instructional Design
James has worked in the field of education for 17 years in roles ranging from classroom teacher to instructional technologist & designer. As the assistant director for instructional design at the Office of Online Learning he works to help develop online graduate degree programs, provide strategic direction via data analytics, and maintain high-quality course and program design practices within the instructional design team. He earned his Doctorate in Learning, Design, and Technology from the University of Georgia.

Martha Dennis

Marketing Client Account Manager
Having served 16 years at UGA’s Terry College of Business as the Director of Marketing and Communications, Martha has a thorough grasp of Higher Education marketing and strategy. Experienced in brand consolidation, content development strategies and developing both print and digital marketing campaigns, Martha works closely with the programs, schools and colleges on their marketing strategies and enrollment goals.

Stephanie Gilstrap

Instructional Designer
Stephanie has worked in higher education for over a decade, with roles in enrollment management and student success prior to joining the Office of Online Learning. Stephanie began teaching online in 2016, and decided to pursue a career in instructional design after realizing the exponential impact that a well-designed course has on student success. Stephanie has earned a Master’s degree in Learning, Design and Technology from the University of Georgia, a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of North Georgia.

Tamika Gresham

Administrative Manager
Tamika has provided more than 12 years of financial, administrative, personnel, and HR support for UGA faculty, staff, and students. As the departmental administrative liaison, she partners with HR and Finance professionals in central offices and across campus to adequately staff, plan, organize, and implement administrative procedures. She also oversees the daily support operations of the Office of Online Learning and welcomes every opportunity to assist others.

Deena McKinney

Instructional Designer
Dee has worked in higher education for over twenty years, as a professor of history as well as an academic advisor and education internship coordinator. She holds an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. Dee wants to help both faculty and students find joy through their experiences in the undergraduate and graduate online classroom.

Paul Mittelhammer

Enrollment Coach
Paul is an experienced college admissions counselor, former Director of Admissions and Dean of Enrollment Management at Huntingdon College and most recently worked for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning. At the University of Georgia, Paul assists future online students interested in enrolling in online programs. He serves as a guide and resource for students as they begin their educational journey online.

Amy Ragland

Instructional Designer
Amy is a passionate educator who believes in accessibility and equal access to education for all. A part of the original UGA Online Learning team, Amy has extensive experience in developing, designing, and supporting impactful online courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Outside of her work at UGA, Amy has experience as a library media specialist and technology instructor in K12 classrooms. As an instructor, a course developer, and a human, Amy believes that online-delivered courses remove barriers to education and the pursuit of education is a part of our mission at UGA.

Sharon Shannon

Student Support Services & State Authorization Coordinator
Sharon’s 23-year student services career spans across middle school, the Technical College System of Georgia, and higher education. She has worked as Executive Assistant for the Vice President of Academic Affairs at Central Georgia Technical College, as an Academic Advisor and Coordinator of Advising for the UGA Grady College of Journalism, and she currently manages the state authorization process, ensures student access to online resources, and identifies ways to increase and improve support services for UGA’s online student population. She received recognition for excellence in advising at UGA, and multiple national awards for her work as advisor for the UGA student organization, the National Association of Black Journalists. She earned an ABJ degree from the University of Georgia and is pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration from Georgia College and State University.

Chris Sparks

Instructional Designer
Dr. Sparks received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Texas A&M University. He has conducted over a decade of research in the Republic of Korea focused on identity, education, and development. Prior to joining UGA he was an assistant professor of community and international development during which time he served as a researcher with the New Village Research Institute and volunteered as a director of development for the Korea Ssireum Association, a non-profit national sports management group for Korea’s traditional sport of ssireum. His experience in knowledge sharing and localization lead to the first major English language work on ssireum, as well as several editions of Ssireum: The Living Culture. Chris also draws upon his experience in systems administration, graphic design, and public speaking to improve the production and delivery of online educational experiences here at UGA so that they are more engaging, more relevant, and more successful for everyone involved.