Scott Niles, PhD | Georgia Institute of Technology
Region III Chair
Scott Niles is a Contracting Officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He previously served as the Director of Research Integrity & Compliance at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. Scott has also worked in proposal development and as a grants and contracts administrator. He recently earned his PhD in Education Sciences with a focus in Research Administration. He is also Region III’s resident troubadour and can be found entertaining the hospitality suite with research administration themed cover songs.
Laura Letbetter | Georgia State University
Region III Immediate Past Chair
Laura Letbetter began her research administration career in 2004 at Kennesaw State University, where she first worked as a proposal development specialist and later served as Director of Proposal Development and Programmatic Research. From 2013 to 2017, she was a contracting officer for the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is now Associate Director for Sponsored Research Development for the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University. Her background includes teaching, editing, and program administration. She is a 2012 graduate of NCURA’s Executive Leadership Program, served as Region III Secretary from 2012-2013, and served as Region III’s regionally elected board member from 2017-2018.
Natasha Williams | Emory University
Region III Chair-Elect
Natasha Williams is a Pre-Award Administrator III in Emory University’s School of Public Health RAS Unit, and has had a long and extensive nearly 30-year career in research administration. She likes to say that she has grown up in the field, having begun her career in 1993 as the administrative assistant on the Ronald E. McNair grant at Morehouse College when grants were still being typed on typewriters, and then put in boxes to be flown to DC. Since that beginning, Natasha has held a variety of both pre- and post-award positions at the department, college, and central office levels, and in a variety of different institutions and agencies to include the State of Georgia, Georgia State University, and Kennesaw State University. A dedicated community activist and volunteer, Natasha is a former parent representative on the Hapeville Charter School Board, and was a charter member of the Hapeville Charter Career Academy PTA. She currently serves as a member of the City of South Fulton’s Parks and Recreation Citizen’s Steering Committee and is a grant reviewer for the Fulton County Department of Community Development. Natasha holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio/TV Broadcast Journalism, a Master of Public Administration degree in Public Management from Georgia State University, and a graduate certificate in Leadership, Ethics, & Character from Kennesaw State University. She is currently a doctoral student in Public Administration at Valdosta State University where she focuses her own research on organizational development and innovation in the public sector.
Kathleen Halley-Octa | Georgia State University
Region III Secretary
Kathleen Halley-Octa is the Director of the Office of Research & Sponsored Projects for the College of Education & Human Development at Georgia State University. She leads a team of research administrators who oversee both pre- and post-award operations for the college, which has an annual portfolio of $23 million. Before joining the CEHD team in 2018, Kathleen worked at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. She has served Region III as Website Coordinator and as a member of the spring meeting program and planning committees in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
David Smelser | University of Tennessee
Regionally-Elected National Board Member
David Smelser, MSM, CRA is the Assistant Director of Sponsored Programs at the University of Tennessee. He joined the University in 2004 and worked at the school/college levels before moving to central administration in 2008. Since joining NCURA, David has volunteered in numerous ways at regional and national levels. Some of his notable activities include: Region III Secretary, Region III Chair Appointed member of the Executive Committee, co-Editor of NCURA Magazine, Executive Leadership Program, Chair of Education Scholarship Fund, member of the Professional Development Committee, Presidential Appointee to the Board of Directors, member of the NCURA Research Program committee, and serving as a R3RAMP mentor. Additionally, David received Region III’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018.
Marc Haon | University of South Carolina
Marc Haon brings 13 years of experience to his role as Assistant Director of Pre-Award Services in the College of Engineering and Computing at the University of South Carolina. His responsibilities include proposal development, proposal submission, research communications and finding strategic funding opportunities. He also finds time to teach the finding funding / pre-award module of the UofSC GRANT program which educates research staff on all aspects of the UofSC research enterprise. When not in the office, Marc serves as a public address announcer for the University of South Carolina Athletics Department, announcing various sports across campus. His 23 years of NCAA Division I experience at two Southeastern Conference Institutions include regular season events, Southeastern Conference Championships, NCAA Regionals and NCAA National Championship events.