Meet the Staff

Tom Merrell

Assistant Dean and Director

Photo of a Caucasian man with his hair tied back and black rimmed glasses. He is wearing a black USF hoodie and sits in front of a wall of vines.Tom Merrell is a graduate of Santa Clara University where he received his Master's degree in Special Education. Prior to coming to USF, he worked as a special educator and teacher trainer for the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose, CA., and Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA. Tom's teaching and research interests include educating at-risk and gang-identified youth; accommodations, documentation, transition, and assessment of adults with LD & ADHD; and program evaluation, including retention of students with disabilities.




Jessica Kench

Associate Director and Disability Specialist

Jessica Kench is wearing a black and white striped sweater and a denim jacket. She is smiling in front of a leafy brick wallOriginally a native of northern Virginia, Jessica has lived in San Francisco since 2006. She earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont and her Master's degree in Family Studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her experience in working in education includes tutoring, working in residence life, academic advising, and disability services. Prior to working at the University of San Francisco, she advised students on academic probation and coordinated services for students with disabilities at the Art Institute of California, San Francisco. When she is not at USF, you'll find her spending time with her 2 young daughters and husband, cooking, and taking advantage of all that San Francisco has to offer! 


Susana Pineda

Assistant Director and Disability Specialist

Susana Pineda is wearing a neutral beige blazer over a white shirt and is smiling in front of a leafy brick wall.Susana Pineda is originally from Guatemala and moved to Los Angeles, California at the age of three. With the support of her family, Susana completed her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, and her Master’s in Educational Counseling from the University of Southern California, where she received exposure in helping students at a higher education setting primarily in disability services. Now, she begins her new role as a Disability Specialist for Student Disability Services (SDS) at USF. Her hope is to promote educational equity, emphasize students’ strengths and empower them to recognize their resilience and ability to thrive. During her free time, Susana enjoys eating Mickey-shaped treats at Disneyland (and getting on a ride or two), going on outdoor adventures/traveling, and spending quality time with family and friends.


Antonia DeMichiel

Disability Specialist

Antonia DeMichiel is wearing a black and white striped long sleeve shirt and standing in front of a concrete wall.Antonia is a proud Bay Area native, University of Oregon alumni, and graduate of USF’s Higher Education and Student Affairs Master’s program. After completing her undergraduate degree, Antonia served as a volunteer with Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Santiago, Chile before returning to her Northern California roots. Her professional practice is deeply informed by her lived experience as a woman with a physical disability and the principles of the social model of disability. Antonia uses her passion for student development theory and identity exploration to build rapport with her students. Outside of work, she enjoys adaptive CrossFit, rock climbing, and exploring new restaurants.


Rocelyn Dacre

Disability Specialist

Rocelyn Dacre headshot

Rocelyn is a recent alumna of USF, receiving her Master’s in Counseling Psychology and PPS Credential in 2021 after working as a Graduate Assistant at SDS. Prior to her return to SDS, Rocelyn spent the 2021-22 school year working as an elementary school counselor at Coleman Elementary School in San Rafael. She has returned to SDS as a Disability Specialist, utilizing her love for interactive work, helping students succeed, and focusing on making the office of Student Disability Services a helpful and cheerful environment for all. When she’s not at USF, Rocelyn loves going to San Francisco parks and beaches with her dog, Tracy, watching Law & Order: SVU and eating burritos on 24th street.



Colby Burns

Office Coordinator

Photo of a caucasian man with curly hair and a blue button upColby is an East Bay native that completed his BA in Sociology at USF with minors in Public Service/Community Engagement and Criminal Justice Studies. During his time at USF, Colby interned for District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and at City Youth Now, a non-profit organization in youth support services. Colby is committed to providing equitable education spaces and is excited to be starting his career in higher education. He is passionate about Bay Area sports, supporting the Warriors, 49ers, and Athletics, and loves to play basketball and baseball in his free time.






Office Coordinator

Photo of a Filipino woman with long dark hair and a collared shirt. She sits in front of a wall of vines. Monica was born in San Francisco but spent most of her life in South City. After receiving her bachelor's degree from San Francisco State University, she worked as a middle school paraeducator for San Francisco Unified School District and as an administrative assistant for the Visual Impairments program at SFSU for four years. In 2022, she joined the Student Disability Services team at USF, which has sparked her interest in digital accessibility. She loves word games, park benches, and flower arranging.