Meet Our Staff



Gar Kellom
Program Director

Gar comes back to Winona where he began his career in Student Support Services and as Dean of Students at Saint Mary’s University. He went on to serve as the Vice President for Student Development at Carroll College and Saint John’s University.
I received a Bachelor’s degree from Lawrence University in English and American Literature, a Master’s Degree in Higher Education/Religious Studies, a Master’s degree in Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion, and a Ph.D. in History and Phenomenology of Religion from the University of California, Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union.
I began my career in Higher Education at Saint Mary’s College as the Dean of Students (one of my first achievements was to write a Tri-College TRIO SSS grant for WSU, Saint Mary’s and Saint Theresa’s Colleges.) After serving as the chief student affairs officer at Carroll College and Saint John’s University I returned to Winona at the end of my career to become the Director of Student Support Services - the grant I wrote had been continued all those years.
Many people talk about the amazing days when TRIO programs (Upward Bound and SSS) were born. I was there in the 60’s and 70’s when the Free Speech Movement was roaring at UC Berkeley and the Civil Rights Movement was capturing the hearts and minds of my generation. It defined us and inspired us to find careers that would make a difference. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to continue the work at WSU and provide support for first generation students like I was. As the Director of Student Support Services and also Director of the MN Student Parent Support Initiative, I strive to improve academic success of disadvantaged students.
I have edited three books and a journal on engaging college men as well as numerous articles in other books and publications having to do with men’s development. I founded the first men’s center on a liberal arts college campus and continue as a board member of the American Men’s Studies Association and as a member of the peer review corps of the Higher Learning Commission of Accreditation.
I am a husband, father of three, grandfather of four and an avid kayaker as well as hand powered bike enthusiast.

Gar can be reached at 507.457.2467 or email  


Kate Parsi
Academic Advisor/Tutor Coordinator

I received a BA in Communication Studies in 1993 and a MS in Educational Leadership in 2007, both from Winona State University.  I have been employed at WSU since October of 1995.  I have held Counselor positions in the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid, and the Assistant Tutor Coordinator at WSU.  I was an Admissions Counselor at Iowa Wesleyan University and the Admissions Director at Riverland Technical College in Rochester, MN beforehand.
    I am an Academic Advisor/Tutor Coordinator for the TRIO SSS program at WSU.  I utilize my knowledge and skills with appreciative advising to help students be more successful at WSU and persist towards graduation.  I am responsible for and committed to working with the WSU Tutoring Center Director and our 60 plus Peer Tutors to provide unlimited tutoring to our TRIO students; where we can provide the help they need, while encouraging independent learning. I am also one of the originators of the First Generation Warriors program where we are trying to change the culture and climate at WSU so more faculty, staff and students celebrate that nearly 50 percent of WSU’s students are first generation college students.
I am a happy and lucky wife and mother. I have 2 high school-aged children who keep me very busy through their school and after school activities. I enjoy traveling with my family and we love beach vacations!  When the weather is good, I love to be outside doing yard work or just enjoying the day. Other favorite activities include fun nights with my girlfriends, exercising and undertaking small home-improvement projects.   

“I take great pride in helping student’s find their path; be it their career path, or the path they will take for a semester.  To watch a student grow from a unsure, overwhelmed first year student into a confident, well-prepared senior is an enormous professional triumph for me.”

Kate can be reached at 507.457.5156 or email



Kim Dehlin Zeiher
Academic Advisor/Student Leadership Coordinator

Kim holds both a Bachelors of Art and a Master of Science degree from WSU and brings a diverse set of professional skills and experiences to her work with SSS students. Prior to joining the WSU SSS staff in 2007, Kim served as Director of Alumni Relations at Winona State University and in university administration as Director of Benefactor Relations at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. She has also spent time working as a private designer. With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education Kim feels passionate about helping students reach their goal of graduation.

As an Academic Advisor, Kim works to help students navigate the higher education system by providing them with personal and academic support.  She also coordinates the SSS Leadership program, which is designed to assist students in learning about leadership and provide opportunities for students to develop the knowledge and skill necessary to fulfill their individual leadership potential.  Kim says “Being in a position where I can work with students to help them develop their unique qualities and strengths is a real privilege.  I feel fortunate to be a part of the TRiO SSS program and to work with the students who represent the future of our society.”

Kim is available to meet with student year round and can be reached by calling 507.457.5465 or 507.457.5025, or email



Valerie Williams
Program Assistant

Valerie is new to the university and TRIO.  The last 7 years she served as the Winona Area Public Schools Grant Writer.  Valerie also works with the Great River Shakespeare Festival as Education Coordinator and Grants Writer.  In her evenings, Valerie directs the drama performances at Winona Senior High School and coaches the Speech Team. Most significantly, I have held the positions of Office Manager/Volunteer Coordinator at Women’s Resource Center of Winona, Grant Writer at Winona Area Public Schools, Drama and Speech Advisor at Winona Senior High School, Education Coordinator/Grants Writer at Great River Shakespeare Festival.
As Program Assistant for Student Support Services, I support the advisors in their work with students. A large part of the position is data collection and compliance for the federal grant that funds the program. Additionally, I am fortunate to work with a talented and charming group of student workers.
Sharing my love for theatre is a great passion. I spend many hours directing and educating high school students about acting, design, and all other aspects of live theatre. My quiet time is spent with my husband and my cat, often sitting by the fireplace reading.

“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Valerie can be reached at 507.457.5465 or email