The Institutional Review Board (IRB) consists of a chair and at least five additional members, representing each of the four colleges, including the Forbes School of Business®; the College of Education; the College of Health, Human Services, and Science; and the College of Liberal Arts, with varying backgrounds to promote complete and adequate review of research activities. The IRB also includes at least one member who is not affiliated with Ashford University.

The current membership of the Ashford IRB includes:

Dr. Gregory Goussak, Chair
Assistant Professor
Forbes School of Business

Dr. Gregory Goussak is a native of Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a Doctor of Business Administration (2009) from the University of Phoenix. He also holds a Bachelor of Science (1984) and Master of Science (1994) degrees in Hotel Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Goussak has been teaching at the collegiate level since 1989 starting as an adjunct in the UNLV William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration and becoming full-time faculty starting in 2010 at the University of Southern Nevada (now known as Roseman University of Health Sciences). In January, 2012, Dr. Goussak joined the full-time faculty at Ashford University in San Diego, California. He was promoted to Academic Department Chair of the Quantitative Methods- Accounting, Finance, and Economics Department in May, 2012 and served in that role until April, 2013 when he joined the remote faculty so he could move his family back to the Las Vegas area. Dr. Goussak was appointed Chair of the Institutional Review Board in September, 2014 after serving almost two years as the Forbes School of Business representative on the IRB.

Dr. Dianne Lefly, Unaffiliated Member
Dean, School of Social, Human, and Educational Development & Research
University of the Rockies


Dr. Dianne Lefly holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and Quantitative Research Methods from the University of Denver, an MA in Developmental Psychology from the University of Colorado, and a BA in Social Science Education from the University of Northern Colorado.
Before coming to University of the Rockies, Dianne was Director of Research and Evaluation at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) (2008-2013), the researcher/psychometrician at CDE (2003-2008), and the Research Manager for the Denver Public Schools (1998-2003). Prior to 1998, Dianne was at the University of Denver and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center engaged in research on the genetics and neurology of learning disorders.

Dr. Barbara Hall
Assistant Professor & Chair of Instructional Design
College of Education

Dr. Barbara M. Hall is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the instructional design program in the College of Education. Dr. Hall earned a PhD in instructional design and has 22 years of experience designing and facilitating training and instruction. She is a member of Online Learning Consortium, a certified peer reviewer with Quality Matters, and a reviewer for multiple journals and conferences. She frequently presents and publishes her research focused on designing for discussion-based learning, particularly around the topic of intersubjectivity within peer participation in online discussions. This passion led to her service to the wider university community as Co-Chair of the Discussion Board Task Force. Dr. Hall’s experience with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods research supports her work as a member of the Institutional Review Board. She also serves as a consultant for a private firm specializing in designing courses for online delivery and evaluating online learning programs.

Dr. Maura Pilotti
Assistant Professor & Chair of Applied Behavioral Sciences
College of Health, Human Services, and Science

Dr. Maura Pilotti teaches classes in the College of Health, Human Services, and Science at Ashford University. Her current position is chair of the Applied Behavioral Science program. She obtained a Doctor of Philosophy in Experimental Cognition from the Graduate Center of CUNY, and a Laurea in Clinical Psychology from l’Universita’ degli Studi di Padova in Italy. She researches topics involving memory and attention.

Dr. Irina Weisblat
Assistant Professor
Forbes School of Business

Dr. Irina Weisblat is an Assistant Professor in the Forbes School of Business at Ashford University. Her educational background, business expertise, and leadership roles have influenced her research interests that focus on educational effectiveness. She explored the question of whether the skills that the colleges teach actually meet the needs of the global economy. She believes in innovative teaching, as jobs in the 21st century require advanced competencies, leadership, and critical thinking. Dr. Weisblat was named Outstanding Business Educator and presented with the Scholarship Achievement Awards. She is a contributing author to the National Standards for Business Education (2013). She published research-based articles in refereed journals, book reviews in professional journals, and two textbook supplements on Entrepreneurship. Dr. Weisblat is past President of California Business Education Association and President-Elect of the International Society of Business Education.

Dr. Janni Pedersen
Assistant Professor and Chair of Cultural Anthropology
College of Liberal Arts

Dr. Janni Pedersen is the Chair of Ashford University’s Cultural Anthropology program. She earned her doctoral degree from the Department of Anthropology at Iowa State University, where she taught courses in both biological and cultural anthropology as well as in philosophy. Her research interests focused on primatology as it relates to human evolution. She conducts research with the nonhuman primates in San Diego Zoo to learn more about human-ape relationships. While in Iowa, she conducted research with language-trained bonobos (a form of chimpanzee) at the Great Ape Trust of Iowa. She has published research on using analytical methods normally reserved for human-human conversations to bonobo-human conversations, and has studied the differences between bonobos that are language-trained and those that are not. She also earned an MA from the Department of Philosophy and History of Ideas at University of Aarhus in Denmark.

Jodi Feikema, Secretary
Associate Vice President, Academic Services

Jodi Feikema holds an MA in Organizational Leadership from St. Ambrose University and a BS in Political Science from Iowa State University. Her research interests include academic program review and experiential learning for adult students.