Sue Beckham, PhD
Adult Initiatives Program Leader: Personal Training Education
Dr. Sue Beckham earned a doctoral degree in physiology and Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Oklahoma State University. Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Registered Clinical Exercise Physiologist (RCEP) and the National Strength and Conditioning Association as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), she has 25 years of experience in the health/fitness field.
Sue's experience includes three years as Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Noninvasive Cardiology at the Dallas VA Medical Center, 10 years as Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, as well as experience in sports medicine, exercise testing, personal training, and corporate wellness. She has published research articles on nutritional supplements, authored chapters in ACSM’s Resource Manual, and serves on the Editorial Board for ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.
Sue is a former age-group triathlete, competing several times in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championship. Currently, she enjoys recreational cycling, resistance training, and running with her four-legged friends.
Gina Cortese-Shipley, MS
Gina Cortese-Shipley has an Master of Science in Exercise Physiology from Texas A & M University and a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science with a minor in Health and Wellness from Washington State University.
At The Institute, Cortese-Shipley creates innovative ways to deliver education on health and wellness to both professionals in the field and the public. This includes providing instruction in a wide variety of health and wellness areas and developing curriculum for our workshops, designing and leading online learning, and creating behavioral based educational materials and products.
Prior to joining our team, Cortese-Shipley served as Exercise Physiology Department Supervisor for the Baylor Tom Landry Center where she worked with medical professionals conducting physiologic assessments and providing wellness enhancement through lifestyle intervention. Cortese-Shipley has been actively involved in the wellness field serving as a speaker for many educational series, health conferences, and certification courses; authoring articles pertaining to health and exercise published both locally and nationally and advising student interns.
She is an avid exerciser and loves to create tasty, healthy meals, something she hopes to pass on to her two little ones, Luca and Gianna.
Stephen W. Farrell, PhD
Dr. Farrell received his doctorate from Texas Woman’s University in 1996 with a major emphasis in exercise physiology and a secondary emphasis in nutrition. His Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and Bachelor of Physical Education degrees were earned at the University of South Carolina and Springfield College, respectively.
Employed by The Cooper Institute since 1982, his current position is Science Officer for the education division. He is also involved with updating course content for our workshops. Dr. Farrell has teaching responsibilities both here in Dallas and worldwide, and has conducted over 200 workshops for various branches of the U.S. military, federal, state, and municipal law enforcement agencies.
On numerous occasions he served as workshop director for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Exercise Test Technologist and Health Fitness Instructor certification courses. He has been a lead author or co-author on several peer-reviewed research publications. His primary research focus is the relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness, adiposity, and various health outcomes. He has presented at the annual meeting of the ACSM on numerous occasions. Dr. Farrell currently holds the position of chair of The Cooper Institute’s Review Board (IRB), which reviews and approves all proposed research studies. He also served as a consultant for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
A former competitive runner with racing distances and PR’s ranging from 800 meters (1 minute and 58 seconds) to 10 miles (54 minutes and 45 seconds), he is still an avid exerciser, and enjoys cycling and weight training.
Michael Harper, MEd
Strategy Leader: Military and First Responder Programs
As an instructor, Michael Harper provides instruction in a wide variety of health and wellness areas and is a liaison to the military and first responder programs of The Cooper Institute. In working with all branches of the military and first responder communities, Harper helps to ensure that all of the programs, courses, products and services provided are helping to meet the needs of these groups. In this capacity, he also works with groups to bring fitness and health related At-Your-Site courses to locations throughout the U.S. and all around the World
He has a Bachelor of Science from Howard Payne University and a master’s degree in education with a major in health and physical education from Tarleton State University. Prior to joining The Cooper Institute, Harper had been heavily involved with sports performance enhancement in the athletic setting as a Strength & Conditioning Coach at the division I & II levels – most recently Head Strength Coach at Tarleton State University.
Harper also stays active with philanthropic quests with The American Legion and other organizations such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, in addition to his own athletic endeavors both here in Dallas and while on the road teaching. As a triathlete, he has competed in races of all distances, including the full Ironman distance. As an ambassador for fitness, Harper tries to stay connected and share fitness tips with students, the community and others through www.Facebook.com/Harper4Fitness.
Karyn Hughes, MEd
Karyn Hughes, MEd has devoted her life to the promotion of fitness and wellness. As an Associate Director of Education, She delivers fitness and health course instruction worldwide to aspiring personal trainers and military personnel, plus numerous federal, municipal, and state law enforcement agencies and academies across the United States.
Karyn earned her Bachelors in Kinesiology from the University of Texas and Masters in Education, with a Major in Physical Education, from the University of North Texas. With 35 years of experience in the field of fitness, exercise, and health promotion, she has taught and coached in public schools, led corporate wellness programs, and was the first female personal trainer in Dallas.
Karyn is also the founder and CEO of Better Body Systems, Inc., and has invented the WOW Stretch and WOW Sequential Stretching System.
Don Disney, MS, MA
Don serves as the Director of Youth Initiatives at The Cooper Institute. He provides visionary leadership for FITNESSGRAM worldwide, FITNESSGRAM NFL Play 60, Nutrigram, and the Healthy Zones School Recognition Program and research relevant to those programs. He is an internationally recognized leader and administrator in the field of health and physical education. In September 2012, Don was instrumental in the creation of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program.
Prior to coming to The Cooper Institute, Mr. Disney served as Director of Health and Wellness for The El Paso Texas Independent School District. El Paso is the largest Border city in the United States. Under Don's leadership, The El Paso ISD received over $9 million in grants for health and wellness. Mr. Disney received the Congressional Recognition Award for his leadership in health initiatives for the city of El Paso in 2009.
Prior to his tenure in El Paso, Don served in various teaching and educational administrative positions in the state of Maryland. In 2009 Don was inducted into Howard County Sport and Community Hall of Fame, for founding the international jump rope team called the "Kangaroo Kids," which is still in existence today. Mr. Disney received The Founders Award from the American Heart Association for his work with the Jump Rope for Heart Program.
On a personal note, Don is married and has four children and four grandchildren. He likes training for old age with lots of cross training, hiking, and outdoor sports.
Catherine Vowell, MBA
Catherine directs and supervises the operations and management of the FitnessGram/ActivityGram Program. This includes the current and future versions of FitnessGram/ActivityGram and The Cooper International Youth Fitness Test. Catherine coordinates the FitnessGram Scientific Advisory Board, an esteemed group of experts specializing in tests and measurements, kinesiology, behavioral science, and other pediatric disciplines, to ensure a solid scientific foundation for all aspects of programming.
Prior to coming to The Cooper Institute, Catherine worked for the El Paso Independent School District as the Coordinator of Health and Physical Education. During her tenure with EPISD, Catherine developed and implemented an array of health and wellness initiatives to improve the health of her school communities. Catherine holds several physical education and health certifications and has presented at numerous health and physical education conferences. She has an MBA in International Business and a BS in Kinesiology from the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). Catherine is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (AAPHERD), American School Health Association (ASHA) - Future Leaders Academy Cohort 2011, and a Leadership Texas Alumna.
Marilu D. Meredith, EdD
Perot International Youth Data Center (PYDC)
At the Institute since 1982, Dr. Meredith has served in numerous capacities including Director of Operations and Director of Information Technology. Her primary responsibility has always been the direction of the national FITNESSGRAM project.
Prior to joining the staff at the Institute, Dr. Meredith was employed as a physical educator. She was in the Richardson I.S.D., Richardson, Texas for a 10-year period serving in various capacities, including Director of Health and Physical Education. She also taught at the Austin State School for the Mentally Retarded and the Lockhart I.S.D.
She is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (TAHPERD), having served TAHPERD as vice-president of the Physical Education Division, chairperson of various sections, and chairperson of the TAHPERD Board of Trustees.
Dr. Meredith has been an integral member of the FITNESSGRAM staff since the program began in 1982. She has been involved in every aspect of the FITNESSGRAM program including designing software, authoring manuals, developing awards systems and publishing materials. She has presented FITNESSGRAM to groups at national, district, and state conferences plus worked with thousands of teachers conducting teacher in-service meetings. Dr. Meredith has been a member of the FITNESSGRAM Scientific Advisory Board since its inception in 1987.
During leisure time, she enjoys cycling, walking, sewing, needlework, and working two of her four Labrador Retrievers in Animal Assisted Therapy.
Norma Candeleria, MS
Healthy Zone School Program
Norma Candelaria, M.S., began her career at the Cooper Institute in 2008 as a Lab Tech/Research Coordinator in the Exercise Lab. She moved into the Youth Initiatives division in 2009 as the Youth Fitness Project Coordinator, where her primary responsibility was to help physical educators implement health and activity promotions in 19 schools throughout the Dallas–Fort Worth area. She was promoted to Associate Director of Youth Initiatives in 2012 and currently manages the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program, a 6-year, two-tier, 70 school program in which she works with schools throughout the Dallas Metropolitan area as they strive to create healthier campuses.
Norma received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees from The University of Texas at El Paso, where she served as a Teaching Assistant for Biomechanics and a Research Assistant in the biomechanics lab. During her graduate studies, she coauthored four publications regarding running mechanics and strength training.
During her leisure time, she enjoys running, exercise, watching sports, shopping, and spending time with her family.
Emily Bowles, MPH, CHES
Healthy Zone School Program Coordinator
Healthy Zone School Program
Emily Bowles joined The Cooper Institute in the summer of 2013 and works on the Healthy Zone School Recognition Program as the Coordinator.
Emily received a Master of Public Health and Physical Activity degree from the University of South Carolina, and an undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University in Health Promotion. Throughout her graduate studies, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Exercise Science Department working on a study looking at the effects of exercise on veterans with combat PTSD. She also worked as a Graduate Supervisor for the GoodBodies Program, a weight management program for children.
She currently holds the CHES (Certified Health Educator Specialist) certification and is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAPHERD) and Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. She enjoys group fitness classes, cycling and shopping.
Monika Faltiss, BA
Monika is the newest member in Youth Initiatives and works with the team on various projects including NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM and NUTRIGRAM. Prior to joining the staff at the Institute, Monika worked at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, GA in the Health Promotions department. She worked with the journals group on their flagship journal, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. She has also worked for McGraw-Hill as a project editor in their computer books division. In her spare time, she enjoys tennis, cycling, and traveling within and outside the US.
Julie Stefko, MS
NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project
Julie Stefko has been the Youth Fitness Project Manager for The Cooper Institute since 2007. Her main responsibility has been to manage the NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM partnership that began in the fall of 2009. Educating communities, schools, parents, teachers, and students about the Healthy Fitness Zone and the importance of “playing” 60 minutes are key components to this partnership. This partnership will also allow more schools to benefit from FITNESSGRAM, launch new research efforts, and support continued developments of FITNESSGRAM. Before this role, she oversaw the development and implementation of a youth physical activity research project called the FITNESSGRAM “Centers of Excellence” project.
Prior to coming to The Cooper Institute, Julie was employed by the McKinney Independent School District where she taught physical education and health and took on a variety of coaching roles that included serving six years as head volleyball coach for the McKinney High School Lionette Volleyball program. In 2003, she was honored by the City of McKinney with the Commissioner’s Award for her valuable contributions toward the betterment of McKinney’s youth. Before her move to Texas, she worked for the University of Minnesota Volleyball program under the direction of the head coach, Dr. Mike Hebert.
Julie received her Master of Science degree with an emphasis in adapted physical education from Texas Women’s University and she completed her undergraduate work in physical education at the University of Wyoming. She is a member of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and Texas Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance.
She enjoys taking long walks her husband, Michael and their goldendoodle, Cabby, playing golf, volunteering, traveling, and staying in touch with friends and family.
Kelly Allums Featherston, PhD
Youth Initiatives Project Coordinator
NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project
Prior to working at The Cooper Institute, Dr. Allums Featherston was an adjunct professor at Texas Woman’s University (TWU) and Texas Christian University teaching courses in Kinesiology and Health and Wellness. While pursuing her doctoral degree from TWU and during her tenure there, she had numerous roles within the Kinesiology Department including, teaching assistant, research assistant, and graduate assistant for the NCAA Division II women’s volleyball team. She was also the Coordinator for the TWU Dr. Carol Huettig Swim Program for Children with Disabilities.
Dr. Allums Featherston brings a unique blend of teaching experiences to the Institute, as she has taught adapted physical education (Denton, TX) and physical activity and sports classes to children of all abilities in the private, public, and non-profit sectors (Miami, FL). She has a MS in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Barry University and a BA in General Psychology from Arkansas Tech University. During her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, playing volleyball, and running with her dogs.
Katelin Anderson, MS
Youth Initiatives Project Coordinator
NFL PLAY 60 / FITNESSGRAM Project
Katelin Anderson joined The Cooper Institute in the fall of 2012. Her primary responsibility is to assist with the NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM Project which provides programming and support for over 1,000 schools nationwide. In particular, Katelin leads the coordination of the NFL PLAY 60 FG exhibit booth that travels the nation promoting the importance of providing quality physical education and physical activity opportunities in schools.
Katelin received her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Kinesiology from Iowa State University in Ames, IA. While there she served as a Teaching Assistant for the Department of Kinesiology and a Research Assistant for numerous projects including the NFL PLAY 60 FITNESSGRAM Project and Iowa Verb Summer Scorecard Project. Her passion is to promote and encourage physical activity in youth through the development and implementation of health promotion programs. During her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, being outdoors, and shopping.
Irene joined the Cooper Institute in July 1996. Her roles over the years have consisted of Program Coordinator, ELITE Certification Program Manager and Products Manager, Admin Team Supervisor, Credentialing Certification Manager, Educations Operations Manager, Associate Director of Education Operations and Director of Education Operations. Currently her focus is on business operations, overseeing and employing systematic processes within the education division.
Irene is passionate and dedicated to providing quality service to her colleagues and customers. During her time at CI she has been honored to receive the Spot, Bohannon, S. Sterling Team, and Kenneth H. Cooper awards.
Prior to joining the Cooper Institute Irene worked for an independent professional baseball league based in Dallas. She served as an Administrative Assistant and was the Director of Merchandising when the league office moved to Abilene. She still enjoys baseball but prefers to watch her daughter play softball. Irene, her husband Craig, daughter Brooke, and cavapoo Ace, live in the Frisco/McKinney area.
Margo Simmons, MS
Learning Technologies Specialist
Margo has served in a multitude of managerial capacities and directorships since joining The Cooper Institute in April, 2000. She currently works with Learning Technologies staff in the Education Division.
Margo holds an Associate of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree, a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree in two concentrations: Psychology and Business Administration, and a Master of Science degree in Education, with a focus on Instructional Design.
Patty Rogers coordinates all efforts in The Cooper Institute Bookstore and Warehouse. Patty has been a valuable asset since she joined the Education team in February 2003. Her multi tasking and organizational skills support her ability to meet job responsibilities in both roles; however, customer service is her primary focus. She has been in the sales field for over 33 years and enjoys working with people.
Julie Reed began her work at The Cooper Institute in January 2006 with the Administration team. The Education team was lucky to acquire her customer service talents in 2008. Julie’s focus is on the coordination of offsite courses. She also provides support to her team by providing excellent customer service to all course participants.
Julie earned a Business Administration degree from El Centro College. She has over 25 years of customer service experience and has received numerous customer service awards.
GeGail J. Warren, BS
GeGail J. Warren oversees course coordination, provides customer service for participants of both onsite and online courses and manages the Susan Sterling Scholarship. Her energy makes her an exceptional team member.
GeGail earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Dallas Baptist University in June of 2002 and joined The Cooper Institute October 2005.
Laura Fast, MBA
Laura Fast is responsible for all aspects of credentialing certifications offered at CI which includes overseeing developmental and operational processes for the certification program and working with CI management and the independent certification Board. She was instrumental in achieving national accreditation for The Cooper Institute Certified Personal Trainer (CI-CPT) program and is responsible for maintaining compliance with accreditation standards.
Additionally, Laura provides project leadership for managing the development processes for CI’s online continuing education courses. She received her Bachelor of Science from North Texas State University and her MBA from the University of North Texas.
Juli Doyal, BBA
Juli Doyal is the Certification Manager for The Cooper Institute. Juli graduated with a BBA in Marketing from Baylor University. Juli helps certification candidates learn about the credentialing certification and exam processes and assists current certificants in understanding and meeting renewal requirements to maintain their certification.