WiSE Staff

​Chelle Lehman - Co-Director for Recruitment and Outreach
301 Communications Center

My name is Chelle Lehman and I joined the University of Iowa in the summer of 2014 in the role of Outreach Director for Project Lead The Way (PLTW), which is a state affiliate institution for the national PLTW program. In 2016, I accepted a dual appointment with the College of Engineering. I was named as the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Co-Director for Recruitment and Outreach in addition to my role as Outreach Director for UIowa PLTW. I work with schools and community colleges across the state to help them implement new PLTW programs or sustain existing programs. I also work with schools to develop a strong partnership team that engages community leaders and industry partners. I also work directly with teachers to help them recruit girls and underrepresented minority students to their PLTW classrooms. I am passionate about exposing K-12 students to engineering and the design process. I am excited to volunteer for organizations that serve women. I am a member of the Grants Committee of the Iowa Women’s Foundation. I am the Co-Vice Chair of the UIowa Council on the Status of Women where I also co-chair the Events and PR Committee. I have also been asked to serve on the Celebration and Excellence and Achievement Among Women Planning Committee this year. I am involved in equity work at the state level where I serve on the STEM Equity Workgroup of the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council.

My primary professional background is as an educator. I have taught elementary, junior high, high school, and community college classes, and hold a current Iowa K-12 teacher certification. I am an Iowa alumna and earned a B.A. degree in Biology and Education from the University of Iowa. I obtained my M.S. degree in Biology from the University of Nebraska.

My husband, Michael, and I moved to Iowa City in 1990 for me to return to school. We fell in love with the area and decided it was the perfect place to raise a family. We never left!

I am looking forward to working with our WiSE women this year as we develop our new focus on recruitment and outreach across the state. I look forward to growing this program together! 


Linda Varvel - Co-Director for On Campus Programs
3016 Seamans Center

My name is Linda Varvel. I serve as one of the Co-Directors for the WiSE Program. I’m new to my role and excited to work with the women in WiSE because of the wonderful women who are part of this program, and the great reputation we have for supporting women majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

I have a bachelor’s degree in Interpersonal and Public Communication and a Master of Science in Counseling and Student Development. I spent the first ten years of my career working in university housing where I served as a live-in staff member, a coordinator for living-learning communities and leadership programs, and also served as the director of housing at a small private women’s college in Omaha, NE. I have a passion for supporting undergraduate students as they navigate their collegiate journey and this passion is a large reason I was drawn to WiSE.

Outside of the office I spend time with my husband of seven years, Jacob, and our two small children; daughter Quinn and son Isaac. We love board games and can often be found playing one of the 70 board games we own. Please know that my door is always open to you, and I want to be a support as well as one of your biggest cheerleaders while you’re at the University of Iowa. If you have questions for me or would like to reach out for any reason, you can email me at linda-varvel@uiowa.edu. On Iowa! Go Hawks! 


Samantha Vancel - Peer Mentoring and Ambassadors Coordinator

Hi! My name is Samantha Vancel and I am the Peer Mentoring and Ambassadors Coordinator!  I am originally from Arizona. I graduated from Arizona State University in 2009 with a BAE in Math Education and taught middle school and high school math for three years. In 2012 I joined the WiSE staff when I moved to Iowa to begin my PhD in School Psychology.

In my free time I enjoy cooking, reading, seeing movies, playing board games, and watching sports. I enjoy doing active things like playing sports, hiking, rock climbing, etc.  My partner and I also have a dog named Sadie who keeps us very busy!

I love working for WiSE and I am excited for another great year! My goal is to help you have the best possible experience, so don’t hesitate to e-mail me or swing by 3326 SC during my office hours. I’m always here to help and answer questions! I look forward to meeting you all soon!


Anne Ghinazzi - Be-WiSE LLC Coordinator

Hello! My name is Anne Ghinazzi and I am so excited to join the WiSE team as the Graduate Assistant coordinating the Be-WiSE Living-Learning Community. I have worked for the University of Iowa for about four years now and have enjoyed working with students so much that I am back in school earning a Master’s degree in Higher Education following the Administration and Policy Making track.

My partner and I were thrilled to welcome our first child, Sammy, this spring. In my free time I like to work in my vegetable and flower gardens, work out in exercise classes at CRWC, and play with my golden retriever Ginger.  I also help with UI Paws, a student org dedicated to helping animals, so if you love animals and are interested in volunteering at shelters, helping with therapy dogs on campus, or just like to talk about critters, come join us.

I can’t wait to meet all of you this fall and look forward to helping you feel welcomed and ready to succeed at Iowa. We are so happy that you are here!


Rojahn Kakavandi - WiSE Undergraduate Assistant

Hi! My name is Rojahn Kakavandi, and I am the Peer Mentoring Assistant and Student Ambassadors Liaison. I work very closely with WiSE Ambassadors as the President, as well, and I am excited for our community outreach and member development plans for the year! You will see me at Ambassadors, Mentoring, and majority of LLC events this year. I am from Decorah, Iowa, and this is my forth year as a Human Physiology major and a French minor. Apart from the WiSE Community, I am involved in Dance Marathon and the Persian Student Organization. Outside of school, I love to hike (I blame Decorah's gorgeous bluffs and hills), yoga, frozen yogurt, and going on unexpected adventures with my friends!

I’m very excited for the year to come and to be able to work with all of the new and returning WiSE Women! Again, this is my forth time around, so feel free to send me an email (rojahn-kakavandi@uiowa.edu) with any questions, if you want to join our community, or if you want some good froyo recommendations :). We are so happy to have you!”


Gabby Kershaw - Be-WiSE LLC Student Programmer

안녕하세요 (hello)! My name is Gabrielle Kershaw, I am a sophomore in Chemical Engineering from Sicklerville, New Jersey (30 minutes from Philadelphia). I was a mentee and participated in events with WiSE over the past school year. As a result, I gained knowledge of college life and what it takes to be an engineer early on from my mentor. She encouraged me to get involved on campus so I really focused on branching out my freshman year. Within my first semester at Iowa I joined NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers) and became a frequent visitor of the NEXUS office in the Engineering building. I also take Korean Language classes so that I can eventually study abroad in Korea during my time as an undergraduate. Here is my email if you want to contact me: gabrielle-kershaw@uiowa.edu. Welcome to Iowa!