Meet the Team


David Mahan, Ph.D.

  • Founding Executive Director
  • Research Institute

David is the founding executive director of the Dallas College Research Institute. He has served as the associate vice president, data and advanced analytics at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), as well as the assistant provost of institutional effectiveness at Manhattan College (Bronx, N.Y.) and director of institutional research/effectiveness at Bellarmine University. David has worked for almost 20 years as an executive leader in higher education, in areas of public policy research, academic assessment/accreditation, strategic planning, institutional research and student recruitment. In 2010, he earned a doctorate in educational leadership and organizational development from the University of Louisville College of Education and Human Development. While attending UofL, he served as a fellow in graduate studies for the Association of Institution Research (AIR), successfully completing the 2009 National Summer Data Policy Institute (NCES/NSF) in Washington, D.C. David's research focus is student equity in terms of higher education access and outcomes for return on investment, state-level attainment goals, first-generation student academic performance, the relationship between student engagement and retention/graduation, and student career outcomes by academic program. He has served as an adjunct professor, teaching program evaluation curricula at the University of Louisville and Bellarmine University.

Navi Dhaliwal, M.Sc.

  • Economic Analyst
  • Research Institute

Navi Dhaliwal is an economic analyst at the Research Institute at Dallas College whose work focuses on understanding the financial returns to and the costs of higher education from a student perspective. Navi previously worked as an academic data analyst at Uplift Education, a K-12 school district in North Texas. He also previously served as a research analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, with a focus on regional economics. Navi holds a Master of Science in economics from the Barcelona School of Economics and a Bachelor of Arts in mathematical economic analysis and policy studies from Rice University.

McKenna Griffin, M.Ed.

  • Data Visualization Specialist
  • Research Institute

McKenna is a recent graduate from Vanderbilt University’s quantitative methods Master of Education program. She believes that quality education is required to solve the world’s largest problems and hopes that her work will support future problem-solvers. She is, therefore, thrilled to be part of a team that emphasizes actionable research for student success. McKenna has previously worked as a course and curriculum analyst and as an intern for the Office of Planning and Institutional Effectiveness, both at Vanderbilt University. At the Research Institute, she is responsible for designing interactive reports and creating and validating datasets. Her skillsets include Tableau and SQL, and her goal at the Research Institute is to convey complex information in an easily digestible format.

Sayeeda Jamilah, Ph.D.

  • Survey Research Analyst
  • Research Institute

Sayeeda designs survey instruments and supports the implementation and analysis of surveys to understand the needs of Dallas College students. Previously, she was a research assistant at the Office of Programs, Accreditation and Assessment at UT Dallas, where she assisted with the assessment and improvement of academic and administrative programs and SACSCOC accreditation. She served as a program analyst for the Student Advancement and Leadership Initiative at LINC North Texas, conducting survey analyses and program evaluations, and has also taught English at Dallas College.

She holds a Master of Arts in humanities with a focus in literature and a doctorate in public policy and political economy with concentrations in development and social policy from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Dillon Lu, MS

  • Data Science Analyst
  • Research Institute

Dillon is passionate about data science and enjoys working with large datasets. His focus is primarily on data preprocessing, analytics, and visualization. He is interested in building machine learning models--both supervised and unsupervised--such as predictive modeling, forecasting, and cluster analysis. His research supports leadership in making data-driven decisions to improve the outcomes of Dallas College. Prior to his current role, Dillon worked as a Data Analyst in Strategic Research and Analytics at Dallas College to support student success and help the organization build a data-literate culture. He holds an MS in mathematics with a focus on data science from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Emily Sharma, Ed.D.

  • Technical Writer
  • Research Institute

Emily focuses on the creation and review of the Research Insitute’s written content, both internal and public-facing. She especially enjoys being part of a team dedicated to helping Dallas College best serve its students, faculty, staff and community. Prior to joining the Research Institute, Emily taught in the Writing and Reasoning Program at Southern Methodist University, where she also served as coordinator of English as a Second Language (ESL). She has taught a variety of courses in ESL, French and Spanish at Dallas College and Columbia University’s Community Language Program. Outside of higher education, she has worked as a writer and project manager in business planning. Emily holds a doctorate of education in higher education from Southern Methodist University, where she also earned undergraduate degrees in French/Spanish and business. She holds a Master of Arts in applied linguistics from Columbia University.

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