The President's Cabinet
- Valerie Downing– Vice President of Institutional Advancement
- Leon S. John, Jr.- Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion
- Audra J. Kahr- Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer/Treasure
- Calley Stevens Taylor - Vice President for Student Services and Success and Dean of Students
- Robert A. Wilson - Provost
After a year of leading Cedar Crest’s development team as Executive Director of Development and later assuming the role of Acting Vice President of Institutional Advancement in March 2018, Valerie Downing was promoted to Vice President of Institutional Advancement in December 2018. Downing brings nine years of experience in fundraising leadership to the position, along with 20 years of experience leading strategic marketing and communications initiatives.
Downing came to Cedar Crest from the Weller Health Education Center in Allentown, where she served as the Development and Marketing Consultant. Previously, she was the Vice President of Development at Penn State Health St. Joseph in Reading, and Vice President of Foundation, Marketing and Public Relations at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown. Prior to her time in the healthcare industry, Downing held leadership positions in marketing, communications and public relations in the financial services industry.
She earned a B.S. in business from Elizabethtown College, then continued her education at ABA School of Bank Marketing and Management in Boulder, Colorado and ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking in Philadelphia.
In her role as Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Cedar Crest, Downing leads an expansive advancement program that encompasses annual, major, and planned giving, corporate and foundation giving, and alumnae relations.
Downing’s leadership has unified and motivated the IA team, while advancing the strategic initiatives for the College. She is passionate about Cedar Crest’s mission to educate the next generation of women leaders.
In her personal time, Downing enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. She also enjoys traveling, camping, golfing, volunteering and cheering on her kids’ sports teams.
Leon S. John, Jr., Ph.D., was appointed Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion in March 2021.
John most recently served as the director of alumni engagement at East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, PA. His professional background includes diversity, equity and inclusion training, Title IX training, academic affairs, residence life, student life and enrollment services.
Prior to joining East Stroudsburg, John was the director of alumni development at Marywood University in Scranton, PA, and the assistant director of programs, unions and student activities at Penn State Scranton in Dunmore, PA.
John’s broad experience in the work of diversity, equity and inclusion includes facilitating workshops on topics such as campus microaggressions and implicit bias in the workplace and serving as a presenter or trainer on issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in higher education as well as other industries. John has served as an advisor to multiple student organizations, including the Black Student Union, LGBTQ Ally Group and Non-Traditional Student Organization at Penn State Scranton.
John earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration from Marywood University and conducted his dissertation research on self-efficacy among students of color at predominantly white institutions of higher education. He also holds a Master of Arts in communication arts and a Bachelor of Arts in advertising/public relations, both from Marywood University.
As Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer/Treasure for Cedar Crest College since 2010, Audra J. Kahr has managed the College’s financial health to create four consistent years of budget surpluses, directed $12.5 million for renovation in campus infrastructure, grew net assets over 41%, nearly doubled the College’s endowment, and expanded community outreach to increase philanthropic giving, community service and job placement opportunities through corporations and foundations. In her role, Kahr is responsible for the oversight of daily operations, legal and risk management matters, campus safety and security, stewardship of the College’s financial resources and obligations, and deferred maintenance management.
Kahr has held critical roles in designing and implementing Cedar Crest’s two most recent strategic plans, co-chairing the development of the campus master plan, and working with the provost to implement academic-program and college-office review. She has a deep passion for women’s leadership and the advancement of women to achieve at the highest levels in today’s world.
She is also on the Board of Directors as treasurer for the Wildlands Conservancy, serves as vice president for the Moravian Development Corporation, and is a member of the Forum for Ethics in the Workplace. She chaired the 2017 Lehigh Valley March for Babies walk and continues to serve on the organization’s Executive Leadership Team. She is a girls volleyball coach for Emmaus High School and a member of the Allentown Diocese Finance & Pastoral Councils.
Kahr is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), as well as a member of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). She earned her bachelor's degrees in management and accounting from DeSales University. She was an inaugural member of the 2013 Lehigh Valley Business “Forty under 40” class and was named Lehigh Valley Business CFO of the Year, large non-profit, in 2014. Before joining Cedar Crest, she was senior auditor at Deloitte & Touche, LLP, and a senior financial analyst at Tyco International.
As Vice President for Student Services and Success and Dean of Students, Calley Stevens Taylor provides leadership for student affairs and academic services at Cedar Crest, including Academic Advising, Accessibility Services, the Act 101 FALCONERS program, basic needs resources, Career Planning, First and Second Year Experience, Health and Counseling Services, International Student Services, the Lutz Center for Community Service, Residence Life and Community Standards, Student Engagement, and tutoring services.
In her previous roles as Dean of Student Success and Director of Student Success and Retention at Cedar Crest, Dr. Stevens Taylor implemented the Finish Line retention management program, coordinated the development of the Student Success Center and the Center for Diversity and Global Engagement, and lead student success initiatives that resulted in significant increases in retention and graduation rates.
Dr. Stevens Taylor serves as the chair of the Retention and Persistence Committee, on the Care Team, and as a Title IX Deputy Coordinator. Dr. Stevens Taylor has been recognized as an Outstanding First Year Student Advocate by Cengage and the National Resource Center for First-Year Experience and Students in Transition. She has served as a mentor in the NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising Emerging Leader Program and has presented and published extensively on a wide range topics related to education and student success. Dr. Stevens Taylor currently serves on the editorial boards of the NACADA Review and the Journal of Access, Inclusion, and Retention in Higher Education.
She earned her Ph.D in International and Comparative Education at Lehigh University, where her dissertation research examined the impact of international engagement on the US regional accrediting agencies. She earned her M.S. in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of North Carolina – Asheville.
Prior to joining Cedar Crest, Dr. Stevens Taylor served as the Director of Advising and Enrollment Services at Reading Area Community College and the Director of Advising and Learning Support at the University of North Carolina – Asheville.
Robert A. Wilson is Provost for Cedar Crest College. As Chief Academic Officer, he provides leadership for the Academic Affairs division, including all academic departments and instructional programs, academic services, the registrar’s office, information technology, Cressman Library, institutional effectiveness and research, and global initiatives and international programs.
With a commitment to inclusive excellence, equity, and expanded access to higher education, Dr. Wilson has a passion for ensuring that college enables all students to achieve at their highest levels.
Dr. Wilson serves as co-chair of Cedar Crest’s 2017-2021 strategic plan, “The Aspiration of Others.” He also oversees the periodic review and planning process for all academic programs and college offices, the college internationalization process, the bias response team, and all academic judicial cases.
Dr. Wilson cooperatively leads the Diversity and Inclusion Council. He furthermore coordinates specialized accreditation for the college’s degree programs, directs compliance with federal and state regulations for higher education.
As Associate Provost, Dr. Wilson has led faculty workshops on topics such as diversity and inclusion, integrative curriculum development and revision, the assessment of academic programs, classroom engagement, and general-education knowledge and skills. A practiced teacher of online courses, he is a Quality Matters certified course reviewer.
Dr. Wilson was the co-founder of Cedar Crest’s Pan-European MFA in Creative Writing, a low-residency writing program with students enrolled across seven different time zones who come together for residencies in Dublin, Barcelona, and Vienna. He has been President of Faculty Council, Chair of the Curriculum and Academic Policy Committee, Chair of the Department of Humanities, Director of Writing, and a leader for institution-wide Academic Program Review. A faculty member since 2002, he teaches courses in literature, writing, and film studies.
Dr. Wilson is Treasurer for the Pennsylvania College English Association, where he has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2010. He maintains active membership in scholarly and academic organizations that include the Association of American Colleges & Universities, the Modern Language Association, and the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society.
Wilson earned his doctorate of philosophy in English from Lehigh University, receiving the 2006 Stout distinguished dissertation prize. He holds a master of arts in literature (2000) and a bachelor of arts in English, history, and pre-law (1998) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he has a certificate in Education Policy and Program Evaluation from Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (2015).