Staff Directory

 

Meet the Staff

Melody Werner, Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Werner oversees all investigations taking place under the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Anti-Discrimination policies. She joined MSU in the fall semester 2019. Prior to this role, she served as the senior associate athletics director/ senior woman administrator, and most recently, the title IX coordinator at Eastern Michigan University.

She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in communications and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Eastern Michigan University. She is the Chair of the Michigan Association of State Universities Title IX Group, Member of the NCAA Research Review Board, and an arbitrator for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

In her spare time, she loves to go on long runs with her dog Piper.

Melody Werner

Tracy Leahy, Deputy Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Leahy is currently the deputy director for the Office of Institutional Equity in which she is responsible for all investigations and compliance with the Anti-Discrimination Policy. Prior to joining MSU, she worked in a private practice as a labor and employment attorney. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University and her degree in law from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

Tracy Leahy

Debra Martinez, Deputy Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Martinez leads the RVSM investigation team and strives to improve response to reports of relationship violence, sexual misconduct, and stalking. She emphasizes trauma-informed practices and collaboration with campus and community partners to develop processes that focus on the values of safety, respect, fairness, equity, and accountability.

She joined MSU as a senior investigator in 2015 before rising to deputy director in 2018.  Prior to joining MSU, she worked at the Ingham County Prosecutor's Office where she specialized in prosecuting crimes of sexual assault, relationship violence and crimes against children.  She served as Unit Chief of the Special Victim Unit. Debra also worked in private practice in the areas of education law, criminal defense, and family law.

Martinez earned a bachelor of science degree in sociology from Central Michigan University and has a law degree from Michigan State University.

Debra Martinez

Jenelle Austin, Case manager

Jenelle Austin

Tiara Blair, Service Coordinator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Tiara Blair's role is to take in reports of potential violations of the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct and Anti-Discrimination Policies. She is responsible for gathering information, reviewing it and determining if the conduct falls underneath the jurisdiction/policy. Blair also provides general resources and options for individuals going through the OIE process or providing them with information to choose the best option for them. Her goal is to create a safe environment for individuals to feel comfortable with making a report.

Prior to this, she worked as a student clerical assistant and has a background in student organizations and leadership in integrated learning. Her past experience allows her to serve as a connector for all students, faculty, staff and community members that come from various backgrounds.

She has a bachelor of arts degree from the Michigan State University Eli Broad College and enjoys Zumba in her spare time.

Tiara Blair

Fatima K Konare, Student Clerical Assistant

Pronouns: She/her/hers

As the student clerical assistant, Fatima Konare's responsibilities include assisting in the closure process, filing, scanning, dealing with correspondence, organizing cases, maintaining data, and other general office duties. Her work provides support to the OIE team. Prior to this, she has worked in law offices as a legal administrative assistant where she routinely drafted documents, filed motions, interviewed clients, and prepared retainers. 

Konare is currently a junior at Michigan State University where she is pursuing her bachelor's degree in Philosopy- Pre Law. Her favorite gift is a wood-wick candle.

Fatima Konare

Kelli Malcolm, Civil Rights Investigator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Malcolm primarily investigates reports of violation of the Anti-Discrimination Policy (ADP.) Prior to coming to Michigan State Univerity, Kelli worked in the insurance industry. She earned a bachelor of art degree in political science and sociology from the University of Michigan.

Kelli Malcom

Erin Martin, Civil Rights Investigator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Martin primarily investigates claims under the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy. Prior to this role, she worked in Kent County as the staff attorney at Friend of the Court and as a private practice family law attorney.

She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Michigan State University and a Juris Doctorate degree from Case Western Reserve University. Martin is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan. She has a collection of 36 Starbucks coffee mugs from cities all over the world.

Erin Martin
Lori Mercer, Professional Aide
Lori Mercer

Tiffany Patten, Civil Rights Investigator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Patten is responsible for investigating potential violations of the Relationship Violence Sexual Misconduct Policy. Prior to joining MSU, she 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.

She earned her bachelor of arts degree from Purdue University. Patten also holds a master of arts degree in dispute resolution and a Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University Law School. He is a licensed attorney with the State Bar of Michigan and a member of the Oakland County Bar Association.

 

Tiffany Patten

Nick Royal, Civil Rights Investigator

Pronouns: He/him/his

Nick Royal primarily investigates claims under the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct (RVSM) policy. If you have a meeting with Royal, you can expect the beginning to focus on your rights, responsibilities, and options through our University policies and state and federal law. He comes to OIE from the LBGT Resource Center at Michigan State. Prior to that, he served as a Hall Director at the University of Michigan and the University of Denver.

Royal has earned a bachelor of science degree in law and economics from Central Michigan University and a master's of science degree in higher education administration and policy from Northwestern University. He is a member of the Michigan Association of LGBTQIA+. When he isn't in the office, you might find Royal listening to podcasts, playing Settlers of Catan with his partner and friends, or cuddling with his dog, Regina.

Nick Royal

Nicole J. Schmidtke, Senior Investigator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Schmidtke is currently responsible for investigating allegations of violations of the University's Anti-Discrimination Policy. Before joining MSU's OIE, she held the role as a private practice litigation attorney, with a strong focus in employment and labor law, including civil rights for public employees. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan.

Nikki Schmidtke

Alesha Spooner, Service Coordinator

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Spooner is responsible for accepting reports of potential policy violations, routing notifications to community partners and providing outreach with information about resources and OIE's process to those who may have been impacted by a potential violation of OIE's policies. Previously, she worked with graduate and international students, and athletics at Central Michigan University before joining MSU. She was also worked in hospital compliance at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot.

She earned a bachelor of science degree with a major in Political Science and a concentration in Comparative Politics/international Relations and minors in Leadership and Public Administration from Central Michigan University. It was there that she later completed her Master of Arts in Political Science.  Spooner has earned certifications from ATIXA and D. Stafford and Associates in the fields of ADA/504, Title IX, and Civil Rights. She has also completed training in trauma-informed interviewing and understanding implicit bias. She also has experienced in FOIA, FERPA, and HIPAA.

Alesha Spooner

Kaylie Kinney Straka, Senior Investigator

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Straka investigates sexual violence, sexual harassment, relationship violence, and stalking cases on campus. She also reviews concerns relating to special relationship violence and sexual misconduct matters, such as the experiences students, faculty, and staff have while studying abroad, conducting fieldwork, or participating in other off-campus programs. As Senior Investigator, Kaylie also reviews investigative work.

She previously served as a staff attorney with Legal Services of Eastern Michigan where she focused on fair housing law. She worked throughout law school as a clerk for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, concentrating on education law, the First Amendment, and criminal justice reform.

Kaylie earned a bachelor of arts in political theory and constitutional democracy from MSU and a juris doctorate from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Her favorite building on campus is the Wharton Center because she is a passionate fan of the performing arts. 

Kaylie Kinney Straka

Lauren Woodworth, Executive Staff Assistant

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Lauren Woodworth is responsible for assisting the Office of Institution Equity director and providing administrative support to our team. She previously served as an office administrator for a law firm in East Lansing, Michigan.

Woodworth earned a B.A.A. in Health Administration from Central Michigan University. She enjoys spending family movie night with her children, volunteering at her church and retail therapy.

Lauren Woodworth