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The ED Collabitat is a habitat for intentional collaborating. Our programming is driven by an interplay between perspectives informed by the learning sciences, art and design, and education innovators.

The ED Collabitat is located in mid-century modern glass and metal building that was originally constructed as the Barnes Library in the 1950’s. Once a place to seek and consume existing knowledge, it has now evolved into the ED Collabitat, a space to invent new ideas and new ways of thinking.


OUR PERSPECTIVE: Professional creativity is the solution. When ideas from diverse disciplines and sectors collide, unforeseen and innovative solutions emerge. Together, we can transform our everyday places into extraordinary spaces that nurture solution-seeking habits of mind. We aim to ignite professional creativity and change practices, cultures, and systems.

Guided by this purpose, we:

  • Prepare educators to be intentional collaborators and doers
  • Harness wisdom from the learning sciences + art & design to develop an empirical base for design-based research
  • Nurture intentional collaborating among students, practitioners, scholars, and innovators within and beyond the university
  • Take on local-to-global grand challenges



Kathleen Fink, PhD

Kathleen Fink, PhD

Executive Director Kathleen is the College of Education Assistant Dean for Professional Learning and Innovation. Her expertise leading in urban school systems and higher education venues provides extensive breadth and depth to the mission of the ED Collabitat. A hallmark of Dr. Fink’s work is leading positive transformation devoted to improved student learning within a collaborative context. Hence, Kathleen is vitalized for the future of the ED Collabitat as a habitat to explore, build, create and design bold solutions to education’s big challenges.
Ralph Córdova, PhD

Ralph Córdova, PhD

Executive Creative Director and Lead Researcher

Ralph is an assistant professor on the faculty in the Department of Educator Preparation, Innovation and Research. A California native, he is a former 3rd grade bilingual teacher-researcher who in 2004 founded the Cultural Landscapes Collaboratory ( ). Spanning the US and Finland, the CoLab is a creativity-centric Networked Interdisciplinary and Innovating Community of K-University practitioners. Ralph draws on complementary perspectives from the fields of anthropology, literacy, art and design in order to collaboratively build, and study, how we co-construct vibrant learning and teaching cultures. He brings this collective and transdisciplinary perspective to the ED Collabitat.

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Program Development

Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD

Phyllis Balcerzak, PhD

Senior Program Producer Phyllis brings to the ED Collabitat two decades of experience designing, directing, and teaching professional learning experiences for teachers in all stages of their professional careers. Balcerzak’s background in applied ecological research and teacher preparation forms the foundation for a myriad of programs, short-term and sustained, that have responded to specific and targeted needs of educators, in local and national setting. In concert with the leadership team, Balcerzak looks forward to exploring, envisioning, and enacting the ED Collabitat’s infusion of professional creativity into the cultural landscape of our education systems.
Amber Bell-Christian

Amber Bell-Christian

Program Producer
Amber’s passion for student success is driven by her personal story. Helping to encourage minority students in informal educational settings has been both eye-opening and rewarding. Understanding the impact that can be made in students’ lives outside of the classroom makes her job worthwhile. As the event coordinator of the ED Collabitat she encourages all educators and innovators to come and share their experiences to make learning fit all students in all places.
Chanua Ross, M.Ed.

Chanua Ross, M.Ed.

Senior Program Producer
Senior Program Producer Chanua brings to the ED Collabitat 16 years of experience in public school education, many of which were served in the role of building principal. Her knowledge and expertise rely in the areas of school leadership, instructional strategies, curriculum writing, effective collaboration and data driven decision making. As a school leader, she remained instrumental in setting high standards of achievement and catapulted her team to earn Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education distinction as a high performing reward school. Additionally, she has worked with university teacher preparation programs providing pre-service teachers the support, supervision, and professional development needed to lead transformational classrooms. She is passionate about her services as an educator and takes pride in helping others positively impact youth. In concert with the leadership team, Chanua looks forward to exploring, envisioning, and enacting the ED Collabitat’s infusion of professional creativity into the cultural landscape of our education systems.

Logistics and Communications

Michael Butler

Michael Butler

Technology and Operations Manager
Michael K. Butler Sr. currently serves as the Ed Collabitat Operations Manager, Director of the E. Desmond Lee Technology and Learning Center and as the Web Manager for the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St.. Louis. He has more than 20 years of technology experience which includes management and educational growth activities at all levels for teachers, students, parents, and administrators.

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