Staff Directory

Robert Kent, Interim Associate Vice President, Office for Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance

Evette Chavez, Executive Staff Assistant to Robert Kent

Cynthia Cotton, Executive Secretary

Kaylie Kinney Straka, Senior Institutional Equity Investigator 

Kaylie Kinney Straka received a Bachelor of Arts degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University and a J.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining MSU, Kaylie worked as a fair housing staff attorney for Legal Services of Eastern Michigan and as a law clerk for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. 

Andrew Kruley, Institutional Equity Investigator

Andrew Kruley received a J.D. in 2008 from the University of Illinois College of Law where he served as Administrative Editor on the Elder Law Journal. Andrew is an attorney licensed by the State Bar of Illinois. Prior to law school, Andrew received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Sociology from the University of Michigan. Andrew previously served as a Supervisory Investigator at HHS – Office for Civil Rights, Midwest Region. In that capacity, Andrew supervised investigations and resolutions of numerous Civil Rights and HIPAA cases and compliance reviews, including high impact cases which resulted in Resolution Agreements with entities, and was Chairperson of the Midwest Region’s Outreach Committee.

Tracy Leahy, Assistant Director and Deputy ADA Coordinator for Grievances

Tracy Leahy received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Prior to joining OIE, Leahy worked as a labor and employment attorney in private practice in Detroit, Michigan.

Debra Martinez, Assistant Director

Debra Martinez received a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from Central Michigan University, and she received a J.D. from the Michigan State University College of Law. Martinez previously served as an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office from 2004 until 2015 where she was Unit Chief of the Special Victim Unit and specialized in reviewing and prosecuting cases of sexual assault and child abuse. Prior to her appointment as an assistant prosecutor, Martinez worked in private practice handling matters of criminal defense, education law, municipal issues, and family law matters. 

Tiffany Patten, Institutional Equity Investigator 

Tiffany Patten earned a J.D. and Master of Arts degree in Dispute Resolution from Wayne State University, and she completed a Bachelor of Arts degree from Purdue University. Prior to joining OIE, Patten was the Deputy Equal Opportunity Coordinator and sole compliance investigator for the University of Toledo. Patten has a background in crisis intervention and management, K-12 education, and mediation. Patten is a licensed attorney, by the State Bar of Michigan, and she is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association.

Nicole Schmidtke, Institutional Equity Investigator 

Nicole Schmidtke earned a J.D. from the Michigan State University College of Law and she received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Central Michigan University. Prior to working for OIE, Nicole worked at a small private firm in Okemos, Michigan, where she practiced labor and employment law, civil rights and criminal defense. Nicole is an Attorney licensed by the State Bar of Michigan. Nicole is a member of the local Ingham County Bar Association, and she is on the board of the Young Lawyer’s section. 

Lauren Spencer, Institutional Equity Investigator

Lauren Spencer earned a J.D. with a certificate in Indigenous Law and Policy from the Michigan State University College of Law, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Her legal experiences include working as a Law Fellow in the Office of Institutional Equity, as a law clerk for Legal Services of South Central Michigan, and as a clinician in both civil rights and Indian law legal clinics. Prior to law school, Lauren worked in MSU’s Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Resource Center.

Alesha Spooner, Service Coordinator 

Alesha Spooner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Central Michigan University. In December 2018, she will graduate with a Master of Arts degree in Political Science from CMU. Alesha has earned certifications from ATIXA and D. Stafford and Associates in the fields of ADA/504, Title IX and Civil Rights. Prior to working for OIE, Alesha worked at CMU in the Office of Civil Rights and Institutional Equity as the Assistant Coordinator. Alesha has worked in the field of equity, discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct since 2016.

Bianca Stepanyan, Training and Accommodation Specialist 

Bianca Stepanyan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from MSU. Prior to joining OIE, Bianca worked with the MSU Sexual Assault Program as an Advocacy Coordinator. 

Jenelle Wildbur, Case Manager 

Lauren Woodworth, Executive Secretary