Dr. Michele Forte is an Associate Professor and Mentor at the Center for Distance Learning at SUNY Empire State College. She teaches courses in Community and Human Services and was co-creator of a new online space that supports the success of first year students. She has been involved in the development of SUNY REAL as a member of a Lumina funded project, serving on the faculty team that developed the Global Learning Qualifications Framework. She was also invited to join the Open SUNY student supports team in a SUNY wide reassignment. She was co-PI in the first Metaliteracy IITG, was co-developer of the expanded Metaliteracy Learning Objectives, and co-presented and participated in the first metaliteracy connectivist MOOC. Her teaching background includes 12 years at SUNY Albany in Project Renaissance, an innovative freshman-year experience program. She is a licensed social worker and was a counselor at the Epilepsy Foundation of NENY (Northeastern New York) from 1999 – 2011. Her doctoral degree from the University at Albany is interdisciplinary, with a focus on social welfare and women’s studies. Her range of interests are equally interdisciplinary from investigating the intersections between feminist theory and power dynamics in group settings and creating student-centered and innovative strategies to engage, mentor, and retain first-year adult learners, to drawing connections between social media and processing various stages in the grief/loss cycles.