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ASPA 2020 Plenary Speakers

Sharon Aka, Higher Education, Leadership, and Innovation Consultant



Sharon is a product of Adventist education. She is currently working as a Higher Education, Leadership, and Innovation Consultant while she completes her PhD in Leadership at Andrews University. She is working on several projects with the North American Division Office of Education (NADOE) including the higher education initiative and Title IX training for Adventist colleges and universities.

Sharon has experience as an administrator in the U.S. Adventist healthcare sector at Kettering Health Network, and in disruptive digital innovation, as the Associate Director for the Adventist Learning Community.

She is a Registered Nurse, licensed in both Canada and the US, and has learned that nursing principles are transferable to numerous professional environments. For over a decade she was a full-time Professor of Nursing in Toronto, Ontario. During her academic tenure, she also worked supporting college and university faculty as a Professional Development Specialist, helping faculty grow their teaching and learning theory and practice, and curriculum development skills.


She treasures her 16-years of foundational nursing experience as a Surgical Nurse and Nurse Educator at The Scarborough & Rouge Valley Hospital in Toronto, Ontario. 

Kevin Hines, Brain Health Advocate & Storyteller

Kevin Hines

Kevin Hines is an award-winning brain/mental health and suicide prevention activist, entrepreneur, multiple award-winning filmmaker, best-selling author, international educator and speaker who reaches audiences with his story of an unlikely survival and his strong will to live. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (19 years of age), he attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four to survive the fall, and the only one to regain full physical mobility. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall and he is the only Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor who is actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy internationally.


Through his tireless advocacy and policy efforts of over fifteen years, Kevin has been a leading champion for constructing a suicide prevention net on the Golden Gate Bridge and was instrumental in success of the approved funding on June 2014.


In the summer of 2013, Kevin released his bestselling memoir titled Cracked Not Broken, Surviving and Thriving After a Suicide Attempt.


In 2016, Mental Health America awarded Kevin their highest honor, The Clifford W. Beers Award for his efforts to improve the lives of and attitudes toward people with mental illnesses. Previously, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Council of Behavioral Health in partnership with Eli Lilly. Kevin has also been awarded by SAMSHA as a Voice Awards Fellow and Award Winner, an Achievement Winner by the US Veterans Affairs and received over 50 U.S. military excellence medals as a civilian.


In 2018, Kevin executive produced and directed his multiple award-winning documentary film, Suicide: The Ripple Effect, about the impact of suicides on families and loved ones.


He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Council of Behavioral Health.  Kevin has also been awarded by SAMSHA as a Voice Awards Fellow and Award Winner, an Achievement Winner by the US Veterans Affairs and is a recipient of over 50 military Medals. 


Kevin sits on the advisory boards of The International Bipolar Foundation, The Crisis Text Line, The Bridge Rail Foundation (BRF), and The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Consumer Survivors Sub-Committee. Kevin has spoken and testified in congressional hearings alongside Patrick Kennedy in support of the Mental Health Parity Bill. He has been a powerful voice for the lived experience movement for over 15 years. 


Kevin's will to live and stay mentally well has inspired people worldwide. His compelling story has touched diverse, global audiences within colleges and universities, high schools, corporations, clergy, military, clinicians, health and medical communities, law enforcement organizations, and various conferences. Thousands have communicated to Hines that his story helped save their lives.


His story was featured in the 2006 critically-acclaimed film “The Bridge” by the film director and producer Eric Steel. He has been featured on CNN, Fox, Time Magazine, New York Times, NBC’s The Today Show, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, The Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC’s PrimeTime Live, BBC World, among several other international media outlets.


Kevin believes in the power of the human spirit and in the fact that you can find the ability to live mentally well. His mantra: “Life is a gift, that is why they call it the present. Cherish it always.”

Jennifer McCluskey, Vice President for Student Success, Maryville University



A higher education professional for more than 25 years, Jennifer McCluskey serves as Maryville’s vice president for student success. She leads Maryville’s Division of Student Success using a life-coaching model that takes a holistic approach to student success. Dr. McCluskey has led student retention initiatives at Maryville that resulted in a more than 15 percent retention increase. She conducts annual student satisfaction assessments at Maryville, which reveal above-average results in nearly all categories. She also serves as chairperson for Maryville’s successful Digital World initiative, providing technology that levels the playing field for students and faculty while preparing students for success beyond graduation. Additionally, she is passionate about facilitating Maryville’s commitment to partnering with parents in the journey to achieving optimal student outcomes and success.

Before joining Maryville, Dr. McCluskey served as director of student programs and Greek life at the University of Denver and assistant dean of campus programs at Arkansas State University.