Contact Us

For Membership, billing or scholarship questions, please contact:

Michael T. Tasto, PhD

Southern New Hampshire University
Treasurer – Northeast Regional Honors Council

For information about the 2021 NRHC Annual Conference contact the Conference Chair:

Chris Brittain

Rutgers University - Camden


For information about NRHC contact the 2020-21 president:

Irina Ellison, PhD

Mercy College


For suggestions, submissions, or questions regarding this website, please contact the web coordinator:

Ann Bomberger, PhD

Gannon University

About NRHC

The Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) is an organization of students, faculty, and administrators dedicated to the encouragement and support of undergraduate honors learning. The NRHC provides its members with opportunities for the exchange of information, ideas, and assistance through its annual conference, its newsletter, and its scholarships. The NRHC encompasses Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.


Currently almost 200 different colleges and universities are members. NRHC is a regional affiliate of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC).


President and 2021 Conference Co-Chair
Dr. Irina Ellison, Mercy College

Irina Ellison (B.A., Biology, Vassar College; Ph.D., Pathology, New York Medical College) is an Associate Professor and Program Head of Health Science and CoDirector of the Honors Program at Mercy College. She is passionate about improving science literacy by guiding her students toward making meaningful connections between science and other disciplines. She co-founded and co-directs the Art in the Lab Workshops (, which give scientists and artists the opportunity to collaborate to create art based on active laboratory experiences. Her interdisciplinary research interests focus on public health of cigarette smoking as well as the intersection of hunger, education and violence against women. Dr. Ellison is thrilled to bring her passion about and experience with interdisciplinary education, service learning and building human connections to the Northeast Regional Honors Council as President Elect of the Executive Board. She may be contacted at

President Elect and 2021 Conference Co-Chair
Chris Brittain, Rutgers University - Camden

Chris Brittain is an Admissions Officer at the University of Rutgers-Camden. He graduated from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communication Media and in 2012 with a Master’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Higher Education Administration. He has been working with Honors Programs in the Northeast Region for twelve years, and served as the NRHC Web Coordinator from 2016-2019. He founded the Lock Haven University Honors Coalition and co-created the Pennsylvania Honors Development Conference in 2012. In addition to his involvement with the Northeast Regional Honors Council, he spends much of his time pursuing interests in photography and event-planning. Chris’s email address is

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Vice President
Dr. Darryl Peterkin, Morgan State University

Darryl L. Peterkin, Ph.D. is Director of the Clara I. Adams Honors College at Morgan State University (Baltimore, Maryland).  Dr. Peterkin has a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University (1988) and a Ph.D. in American history from Princeton University (1995).   A specialist in the history of higher education in the Early Republic, Dr. Peterkin began his career in Honors as Assistant Dean of Honors at Dillard University (New Orleans, Louisiana) in 1998; and he has led the Honors College at Morgan since 2010.  He co-founded the Greater Baltimore Collegiate Honors Council (GBCHC), an initiative to promote collaboration between the Honors programs and colleges at several universities in the Baltimore area.   


Dr. Peterkin also serves as Vice President of the Maryland Collegiate Honors Council (MCHC), and is a member of the Advocacy Committee of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC).  He is also an active member of the National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP).  Dr. Peterkin is profoundly excited to bring his passion for diversity and inclusion and student engagement to the NRHC Executive Board


A proud Southerner, Dr. Peterkin has devoted much of the last thirty years to learning the intricacies of his grandmother’s biscuit recipe and the pursuit of Carolina-style barbecue.  He is also an enthusiastic baseball fan -- especially of the Atlanta Braves -- and a devoted student of science fiction (particularly Star Trek) and its influence on literature, history, technology, and American popular culture. 


Dr. Peterkin can be reached at

Immediate Past President
Professor Kathryn MacDonald, Monroe College

Kat MacDonald is the Coordinator of the Honors Program and a faculty member in the English Department at Monroe College. She holds a Master’s degree in Mass Media and Communication from Fordham University and bachelor’s degrees in English, Communication Arts, and Women’s Studies from the College of New Rochelle. Before coming to Monroe College as a full-time faculty member (she was an adjunct first) in 2010, she served on the editorial team of Reader’s Digest.


Serving the students in her college’s Honors Program has been most rewarding. She believes NRHC gives students the opportunity to present their research, collaborate with their peers, and become exposed to new ideas and places. She has had the pleasure of mentoring the Student Reps since 2013, when her first student served in Niagara Falls. Subsequently, two students from her institution served at Cambridge in 2015. Her students also served as Student Representative in Pittsburgh in 2017 and Baltimore in 2019. Watching the students grow and learn is extremely satisfying.


As Immediate Past President, Kat hopes to continue to strengthen the NRHC Journal, Illuminate. She also wants to ensure that NRHC is in a position to become the leader of regional honors. This is the final year of Kat's four-year term, and she has enjoyed serving NRHC and its members immensely. Kat believes that honors is all about the students, and NRHC is here to help make that experience unforgettable. Kat can be reached at

Dr. Richard Cohen, Nassau Community College

Richard Cohen, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Sciences at Nassau Community College in Long Island, N.Y. where he specializes in teaching courses in weather and climate. He has served as the Co-Coordinator of the Honors Program since 2015 and is the advisor for the Honors Club. Prof. Cohen holds a bachelor’s degree in Meteorology from Penn State University, a master’s degree in Secondary Education from Adelphi University, and his Ph.D. in Science Education from Stony Brook University. His research is focused on the connection between science and mathematics coursework and the graduation and transfer rates of Community College students. Prior to working at Nassau, Richard was a high school teacher in Long Island and New York City for eight years.

Richard believes the NRHC provides an incredible opportunity for students who are just beginning their academic careers to get experience presenting at conferences and he is excited by the opportunity to serve the organization.  Richard can be reached at

Dr. Michael Tasto, Southern New Hampshire University

Dr. Michael Tasto is a Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department of Finance and Economics at Southern New Hampshire University. His primary research fields of interest is urban and regional economics and has been an Excellence in Teaching Nominee at SNHU in 2009 and 2010.

He received his B.S. in Economics from St. John’s University in 2001, his M.A in Economics in 2006 and his Ph.D. in Economics in 2007 from Georgia State University.

He has given numerous presentations at academic conferences, published peer-reviewed journal articles, and co-edited 2 books on entrepreneurship.

He currently serves as Treasurer for the SNHU Professional Employees Association and was one of the lead negotiators for the Association’s 5-year faculty and staff contract (representing over 1,600 employees). He can be reached at

Web Coordinator
Dr. Ann Bomberger, Gannon University

Ann Bomberger has been the director of Honors at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania since 2014.  She also teaches writing, African American literature, and honors seminars which focus on global inquiry. She earned her PhD in English from SUNY Stony Brook and her BA in English from Allegheny College.

She loves big ideas and reading books as much as most academics, but also has a strong practical streak.  She combines those dueling passions through a love of service-learning and travel.  Both of those strategies get students thinking about big issues while giving them very tangible communication skills. .

She has learned a lot about honors administration through NCHC and NRHC and enjoys giving back to the honors community. She can be reached at

Faculty Representative
Dr. AnnMarie DelliPizzi, Dominican College

AnnMarie DelliPizzi is an Associate Professor of Biology and the Director of the Honors Program at Dominican College.  She also holds adjunct positions in the Department of Pharmacology at New York Medical College and the Department of Nursing at Lehman College, where she teaches pharmacology to both undergraduate and graduate nursing students.

Dr. DelliPizzi earned a B.S. in Biology from Manhattan College and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmacology from New York Medical College.  She has co-authored two anatomy and physiology lab manuals and has published many peer-reviewed articles.  At Dominican College, she is the Health Professions Advisor, Faculty Advisor for the Nu Psi Chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the National Honor Society for Biology, and mentors undergraduate research for biology students.

Dr. DelliPizzi first became involved in honors education in 2007 when she joined the Honors Committee at Dominican College.  She was appointed as Honors Program Director in 2016 and has made many changes to actively engage students and faculty and increase student retention.  Many of these changes were based on ideas from the NRHC conferences.  In 2019, Dominican College graduated the largest cohort of students from the Honors Program in the history of the college.  In recognition of her work with the Honors Program, Dr. DelliPizzi was the recipient of the 2019 Academic Dean’s Award for Faculty Service.

For the past three years, Dr. DelliPizzi has been taking students to the NRHC conferences, and she presented at the Idea Exchange in Baltimore.  She is one of the Faculty Advisors for the  NRHC Journal and is on the Steering Committee for a new organization called the International Nursing Consortium of Honors Educators and Scholars (INCHES).  She is pleased to have the opportunity to serve as a member of the NRHC Executive Board.  She can be reached at

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Faculty Representative
Professor Zachary Aidala, Bloomfield College

Zachary Aidala, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Bloomfield College, and has served as Honors Program Director since 2018. He earned a B.S. in Psychobiology from Binghamton University (SUNY), an M.A. in Psychology from Hunter College (CUNY), and a Ph.D. in Biopsychology and Behavioral Neuroscience from The Graduate Center (CUNY). Trained as a neuroethologist, his research focuses on the sensory ecology of avian brood parasites and their hosts, with a specific interest in the functional role of color vision. At Bloomfield College, he regularly teaches Statistics, Research Methods, and courses centered around the biology of behavior such as Biopsychology, Sensation and Perception, and Animal Behavior. The NRHC has served as a formative and invaluable resource for both Dr. Aidala and his students. Many changes to the Bloomfield College Honors Program have been initiated by conversations with NRHC colleagues. In joining the NRHC Executive Board as Faculty Representative, Dr. Aidala hopes to continue learning about best-practices in Honors administration while simultaneously paying it forward students and colleagues alike.

Student Representative
Taylor Bennett, Gannon University

Taylor Bennett is a current student at Gannon University in Erie, Pennsylvania. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree of science in Psychology on the Pre-Medicine track. At Gannon, Taylor has had many opportunities to serve in different leadership positions in the Gannon University Honors Program, including Committee Chair of the Excalibur Newsletter, Vice Chair, and Chair of the Honors Program.

The Honors Program has taught Taylor many new things and she is excited to bring and share new ideas with her program through the NRHC. Although the 2019 NRHC Conference in Baltimore, Maryland was the first she attended, she presented at NCHC in New Orleans. She hopes to use this position in the NRHC to further her experiences in leadership.

Taylor is so enthusiastic about her new position as Student Representative for the 2021 NRHC. Honors is so important to Taylor, through the many opportunities she has participated in at Gannon, her love for honors only continues to grow. She hopes to use her enthusiasm and love for honors to help create engaging and exciting events for the 2021 conference. New experiences create new memories. Taylor hopes to help other students have and create new experiences while at the 2021 NRHC Conference. She can be reached at

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Student Representative
Sanskar Marahata

Sanskar Marahata is a current student at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah. He is pursuing a Bacherlor's Degree in Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics and Information Systems. Sanskar has been an active student leader at Ramapo through his position as the Senator representing the school of Theoretical and Applied Sciences in the Student Government, a co-leader of an Honors Developmental Group, and a member of the Honors Admissions Team. He considers the Honors Program to be an integral part of his college experience and is thrilled to serve as a Student Representative in the NRHC.