Presenter Biographies

Find biographies of our seminar and webinar presenters below.

Amy Alamar, Ed.D.; Parenting Teacher and Coach, Peace at Home Parenting Solutions

Amy Alamar has worked in the field of education as a teacher, teacher educator, researcher, parent educator, and education reformer for over fifteen years. She currently teaches graduate level courses in teacher preparation and curriculum design and implementation. Her first book, Parenting for the Genius: Developing Confidence in Your Parenting through Reflective Practice is a comprehensive guide to becoming the most thoughtful and confident parent possible, applying practical strategies based in educational research. She was an invited guest of Michelle Obama at the White House for a conversation about kids’ health in 2016 and was the host of Parenting from the Trenches on She is a contributing author to the Disney parenting website, Babble and Psychology Blog, Hey Sigmund.  Her second book, The Parenting Project: Build Extraordinary Relationships with Your Kids through Daily Conversation​, focuses on communication strategies. She serves on the boards of the Watkinson School and the Avon Education Foundation, dedicated to promoting and enhancing excellence in education. Amy is the married mother of three children whom she learns from and enjoys each and every day. 

Kimberly Asselta, B.A.; Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Kimberly Asselta began her career in admissions as a student tour guide for the admission office at Stonehill College. She started her professional career as an admissions counselor at College of the Holy Cross, where she was a member of the admissions committee, a liaison to the athletics department, coordinator of transfer admissions, and also oversaw the tour guide program. Most recently, Kimberly was the Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Babson College. There, she was responsible for the strategy, implementation and publication of all marketing materials; coordination of recruitment travel; and the selection of Babson’s Presidential and Weissman Scholars—in addition to being a member of the admissions committee. She holds a B.A. in Communication from Stonehill College.

Lora Babb, M.E.L.P.; Sustainable Economies Program Manager, Manomet

Lora Babb manages Manomet’s U360 Business Sustainability Internship Program, which aims to create a more sustainable world through the engagement of both college students and small businesses. Students in the U360 program learn firsthand how sustainability practices may be applied in the real world while simultaneously working to reduce environmental impact by connecting Manomet with hundreds of small businesses. Prior to Manomet, Lora founded and directed an environmental education nonprofit; was the director of marketing and sustainability for a regional, independent restaurant chain; and held other positions that allowed her to work with countless small businesses on sustainability. Her areas of expertise include business sustainability, climate change, toxins, food systems, and environmental communication. She holds a B.A. in human ecology from the College of the Atlantic and an M.E.L.P. from Vermont Law School.

Ina Bachman, L.I.C.S.W., T.I.W.C., C.E.A.P.; Founder and Coach, Bachman Coaching

Ina Bachman is a licensed clinical social worker whose work with individuals and couples focuses on how money impacts relationships. Since launching Bachman Coaching in 2014, Ina has helped couples find their money roadblocks and has supported them in building fun, abundant, and resilient lives together. She also has over 25 years of experience in the field of personal development and transformation, and is a Certified EAP consultant. Ina received a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts and an M.S.W. from Boston University. 

Jimmy Becker, M.B.A.; Founder, Financially Speaking

Jimmy Becker is the founder of Financially Speaking, where he coaches adults of all ages on the different dimensions of financial decision-making. He began his career on Wall Street as an options arbitrageur, and has since used his deep understanding of the financial services industry to advise and present publicly on topics such as healthy budgeting and saving strategies, the college financial aid process and student loan repayment, retirement planning, and financial advisor assessment. He also authors an advice blog on various finance-related topics. Jimmy earned a B.S. in economics from Brown University and an M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.

Alex Bickford, M.A.; Director of  College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Alex Bickford joined College Coach as part of the college financing team after working in the education finance department of Citizens Bank. He had been the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Southern New Hampshire University. Alex has spent most of his professional career working in financial aid, and has assisted undergraduate and graduate students in financing their educations. He holds an M.A. in Business Education from Southern New Hampshire University.

Kelley Bonner, L.C.S.W., M.A.; Founder, Burn Bright

Kelley Bonner is a licensed clinical social worker, burnout expert, and wellness advocate. She launched Burn Bright to help high-achieving professionals prevent burnout through mindfulness and self-care. Over the last 15 years, Kelley has worked with individuals, groups, and organizations to provide tools to reduce stress, enhance wellness, and strengthen workplace culture. Kelley has teaching experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and holds additional certifications in resiliency, mindfulness, and trauma.

Rick Clerici, C.HT., C.S.E.; Director, Clear Mind Systems

Rick Clerici is a therapist, educator, and activist whose background in therapy, change strategies, and sleep medicine makes him uniquely prepared to raise the public understanding of sleep. As the director at Clear Mind Systems since 1987, he has helped thousands of clients with anxiety, panic, and insomnia. Serving as a corporate sleep consultant, he works with four national employee assistance programs and 45 corporations, universities, and hospitals helping employees to improve their sleep. At Sleep Health Centers, Rick spent two years studying sleep in the laboratory and attended more than 500 overnight and daytime sleep studies. Rick is also a certified hypnotherapist, behavioral sleep therapist, and meditation teacher. He holds a B.S. in Education and Psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

Patricia C. D’Agostino, J.D.; Partner, Margolis & Bloom, LLP

Patricia C. D’Agostino is a Partner at Margolis & Bloom, LLP, practicing in the following areas: estate and long-term care planning, MassHealth applications and appeals, planning for children with special needs, settlement planning, guardianship and conservatorship, and probate administration. Patricia has developed a specialized practice in the area of advising clients on how to supplement the cost of care at home or in an assisted living facility through the use of myriad MassHealth, Veterans Administration, and low-income programs.

Jessica DaSilva-Fisher, M.A.; Navigator, EdNavigator

Jessica DaSilva-Fisher joined EdNavigator in January 2018. A lifelong Bostonian, she has held many titles within her career, most notably, "Youth and Family Activist." Jessica has dedicated her career to advocating for the needs of families in urban settings. She holds a B.A. in Social and Political Systems from Pine Manor College and an M.A. in Human Service Management from the University of Massachusetts. In addition, Jessica holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from Boston University, and is fluent in Cape Verdean Creole. She lives in Randolph, MA with her husband and two young children.

Ken Davies, E.A., C.E.B.S., B.S.; Retirement Programs Manager, MIT

Ken Davies, the MIT Retirement Program Manager, manages MIT’s retirement plans and the team that delivers retirement services to members of the MIT community. Prior to joining MIT, Ken was a pension consultant and actuary providing advice about the design, administration, and funding of large corporate pension plans. Ken holds a B.S. in Finance from Babson College, and is an Enrolled Actuary and a Certified Employee Benefit Specialist.

Chandi Deitmer, L.I.C.S.W.; Care Advisor, Care@Work Adult and Senior Care Advising

Chandi Deitmer is a Care Advisor with Care@Work Adult and Senior Care Advising, where she offers guidance and support to families planning care for their loved ones. Prior to joining Care@Work, Chandi was a social worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, where she worked with psychiatric inpatients and their families—providing education on managing psychiatric illness and partnering to develop long-term plans for psychiatric stability. Chandi brings her particular passion for supporting mental health throughout the lifespan to her current work with aging populations. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University and an M.S.W. from Simmons University.

Steven Dimitriou, A.I.F., Q.P.F.C.; Managing Partner, Mayflower Advisors

Steve Dimitriou is a co-founder and managing partner at Mayflower Advisors, with more than 27 years of experience in the retirement plan industry. He has been named Retirement Plan Advisor of the Year by PlanSponsor Magazine, and is the former president of the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA). Steve is currently the president-elect of the American Retirement Association (ARA), the largest retirement plan advocacy group in the nation, and meets regularly with congressional members and various governmental agencies. Steve has earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) and Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) designations, and is a graduate of Colby College, where he earned a B.A. in both honors physics and economics. 

Lauren Dumont, Psy.D.; Clinical Psychologist, Kendall Psychological Associates

Dr. Lauren Dumont is a clinical psychologist at Kendall Psychological Associates based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Through her work in private practice, she engages with individuals, couples, and groups to help them achieve enhanced well-being. Dr. Dumont integrates empirically based techniques with tailored approaches for each of her clients. She also regularly works with companies and organizations in Cambridge to promote employee and organizational well-being through seminars, workshops, and groups. Her knowledge base, expertise in stress management, and sense of humor often put people at ease as they navigate their journeys toward health and wellness. Dr. Dumont holds a doctorate from Loyola University Maryland and has worked at various outpatient settings, including New York University, the University of Delaware, and Drexel University.

Chris Espinoza, M.A.; Navigator, EdNavigator

Chris Espinoza has dedicated his career to expanding educational opportunity for students of all backgrounds, particularly in higher education. He has worked at colleges and universities across the Greater Boston area, including MIT, Bridgewater State University, Boston College, and the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology. Chris now serves as a Navigator for EdNavigator, a nonprofit organization that partners with MIT and other leading employers to connect busy families with expert education advisors who provide ongoing, personalized education support. Chris holds a B.S. in psychology and English from Bridgewater State University and an M.A. in higher education administration from Boston College.

Ruth Ettenberg Freeman, L.C.S.W.; Founder and Lead Teacher, Peace at Home

Ruth Ettenberg Freeman is a licensed clinical social worker who has taught parenting education to hundreds of parents annually over the past 35 years. She is co-founder of the Connecticut Parenting Education Network and lead author of Building Family Futures, a University of Connecticut train-the-trainer parenting education curriculum. She has also served as the Family Services Director for The Cove Center for Grieving Children. Ruth’s approach to parenting education incorporates her clinical experience with children and families in crisis, as well as key concepts synthesized from a wide range of sources. Ruth freely and humorously shares the real-life blunders, challenges, and successes that she has experienced applying positive parenting as a mom, stepmom, foster mom, and “Nana.”

Paul Fulton, Ed.D.; Founding Member, Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy

Paul Fulton is a clinical psychologist, psychotherapist, and founding member and former president of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. He is currently a Lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Psychiatry, and directs the Certificate Program in Mindfulness and Psychotherapy offered to mental health and other healthcare professionals. Paul is co-editor and co-author of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy (Guilford Press), and has authored many articles and book chapters on mindfulness and Western psychology. He has lectured nationally and internationally. Paul is in private practice in Newton, MA, and holds an Ed.D. from Harvard University.

Sally Ganga, M.A.; Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons Education and College Advising

Sally Ganga is the Director of Educational Counseling at Bright Horizons Education and College Advising. Prior to joining Bright Horizons, Sally was the Associate Director of Admissions at the University of Chicago and before that at Whittier College. Sally has also served as the Director of College Counseling at both the Archer School for Girls and Chadwick School in the Los Angeles area, where she counseled students and taught classes on preparing for the college application process. She holds a B.A. in History from Reed College and an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Fairfield University.

Dionne Garcia, S.H.R.M.-C.P., B.A.; Faculty Retirement Plan Counselor, MIT

Dionne Garcia is the Faculty Retirement Plan Counselor at MIT, where she assists faculty as they transition into retirement. Prior to joining MIT, Dionne acquired over 15 years of experience as an Enrolled Actuary with the DB Pension Administration and other actuarial work. Dionne holds an Honors B.A. in Actuarial Science from Western University, and an S.H.R.M.-C.P. designation. 

DeAnna Glass, M.Ed., B.C.B.A.; Clinical Supervisor, The Speech Pathology Group

DeAnna Glass is a board-certified behavior analyst with more than 10 years of experience assisting children on the autism spectrum. She has overseen behavioral programming in non-public schools, provided extensive training and consultation to large groups of special educators, and has supported intensive in-home programs. DeAnna holds a B.A. in environmental education from the University of Vermont and an M.Ed. in applied behavior analysis and children’s mental health from Johnson State College. 

Jennifer Goettl, L.M.S.W., M.P.H.; Mental Health First Aid Instructor

Jennifer Goettl is a licensed social worker and certified Mental Health First Aid instructor with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. She began her career in mental- and public health practicing psychotherapy with families residing within Chicago's public housing system and authoring several publications focused on the experience of youth living in public housing in America. Jennifer’s prior clinical experience also includes work with individuals and families experiencing the emotional impact of systemic injustice and issues related to chronic illness and aging. Currently, she volunteers with the Make-A-Wish organization as a wish granter. Jennifer holds a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

Elizabeth Guttenberg, L.C.S.W.; Program Manager, MIT Center for WorkLife and WellBeing 

Liz Guttenberg is the Program Manager at the MIT Center for WorkLife and WellBeing, where she develops and oversees programs that support the mental health and wellbeing of MIT faculty, staff, and postdocs. She also manages urgent and complex issues faced by employees, and serves as a consultative resource to supervisors and HR practitioners handling triage. Prior to MIT, Liz provided counseling, assessment, and case management for individuals and families in various clinical settings. She is a licensed social worker and a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing. Liz holds a B.S. in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University, and an M.S.W. in clinical social work from the University of Georgia. 

Angela Hanscom, M.O.T., O.T.R./L.; Pediatric Occupational Therapist and Founder, TimberNook

Angela Hanscom is a pediatric occupational therapist and founder of TimberNook, an award-winning developmental and nature-based program that has gained international popularity. She is also the author of Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children. Awarded a “Hometown Hero” by Glamour magazine for her innovative work with TimberNook, Angela has also been a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, and was featured on the NPR education blog, Children & Nature Network, Edutopia, and Johnson & Johnson TEDx Talks. She holds a B.S. in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of Maine and an M.O.T. from the University of Southern Maine.

Whitney Henderson, M.Ed.; Navigator, EdNavigator

Whitney Henderson, a native of East St. Louis, IL, brings to her work 10 years of experience as an award-winning teacher, school principal and instructional expert. Her career in education began in New Orleans, where she moved after Hurricane Katrina to become a founding teacher, and eventually 7th-9th grade principal at KIPP Central City Academy. Her extraordinary success with students earned her the 2011 Fishman Prize, a $25,000 award given annually to only four teachers nationwide. Whitney holds a B.A. in English and Modern Foreign Languages from Jackson State University, an M.A. in Organizational Leadership from Teacher’s College at Columbia University, and an M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in New Orleans, LA.

Linda Jason, J.D., M.Ed.; Real Estate Lawyer and Educator

Linda Jason, a real estate lawyer and educator for more than 20 years, sees her mission as educating buyers and renters to evaluate and effectively advocate for their needs in the purchase or rental of a home, condo, or apartment. She has represented buyers, sellers, and real estate developers, and has taught real estate seminars for adult education and corporate human resource programs. Linda holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and an M.Ed. from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Jason Jay, M.Ed., Ph.D.; Senior Lecturer and Director, MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative

Jason Jay is a senior lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative, where he has helped secure the school’s leadership position in the field of sustainability through its teaching, research, and industry engagement. Through his work and research, he helps people manage the tensions among personal, organizational, and societal objectives as they navigate the rocky terrain of sustainable business. Jason lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children who keep him honest and remind him of the future we all share. He holds an undergraduate degree and an M.Ed., both from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the MIT Sloan School of Management.  

Kathy Kasabula, B.A.; Program Specialist, MIT Center for WorkLife and WellBeing

Kathy Kasabula oversees the many services that support MIT’s Technology Childcare Centers (TCC) and works closely with MIT’s child care management vendor, Bright Horizons, to ensure that TCC centers are able to meet the needs of the families they serve. Kathy oversees campus lactation rooms, and is a contributor to many MIT HR Center for WorkLife and WellBeing projects offering support to MIT children and families. Kathy holds a B.A. from Rhode Island College.

Christine Kenyon, M.A.; Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Christine Kenyon is the Director of Educational Counseling with Bright Horizons College Advising, where she strives to help each and every student find the right fit for life after high school. Prior to joining Bright Horizons, Christine served as an application reviewer and interviewer for highly selective scholarships affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. She has also worked in the Office of Undergraduate Admission at Babson College where she focused on scholarship review, transfer admission, and multicultural recruitment. Christine holds a B.A. in Secondary Education and History and an M.A. in Developmental Psychology, both from Boston College.  

Allie Kirchner; Senior Academic Advisor, Revolution Prep

Allie Kirchner, with more than 15 years of experience in the field of education, takes great pride in having helped thousands of students define and then achieve their educational goals. As a mother of three, she has a keen understanding of the pressure students face as they contemplate their academic futures. Allie is a compassionate advisor who first started her career in education as an instructor teaching courses in adult education. Prior to joining Revolution Prep, she worked as an academic advisor at one of the country’s largest online universities, Walden University.

Joan Klagsbrun, Ph.D.; Certifying Coordinator, Focusing-Oriented Psychotherapist and Focusing Trainer, The International Focusing Institute

Joan Klagsbrun is a practicing psychologist and certifying coordinator in Focusing, a mindfulness practice. She currently lectures at Lesley University, and has taught Focusing internationally for over three decades. Joan has written articles on Focusing for professional journals, and in 2010 received the Alice Ladas award for her research on Focusing with women with breast cancer. She holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, an M.A.T. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.

Francine Kollias, B.A.; Social Security Consultant and Educator

Francine Kollias brings over 42 years of experience working with the United States Social Security Administration, where she conducted educational seminars and outreach as the Public Affairs Specialist and liaison for Massachusetts. Francine has presented on Social Security to MIT employees for over 35 years, and since 2014 has consulted on Social Security programs and services with state, local, and private employers. Francine holds a B.A. in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Rahul Kulkarni, M.P.H., M.B.A.; CEO and Co-Founder, Sukhi

Rahul Kulkarni is the CEO and co-founder of Sukhi, which aims to build the bridge between mental wellness and cultural understanding through the use of technology, modern analytics, and proven therapeutic practices. Prior to founding Sukhi, Rahul consulted at McKinsey, worked in global health around the world, and spent six months conducting group therapy sessions in Boston. He studied clinical psychology at Tufts Medical School and abnormal psychology at Cornell University, and holds an MBA from MIT Sloan. He also completed silence and meditation training in India, and recently led workshops for over 30 corporate clients, including teams at Amazon, The World Bank, and Verizon.

Becky Leichtling, M.A.; Senior Manager of Educational Consulting, Bright Horizons College Advising

Becky Leichtling found her passion for college admissions early on and has made it her life’s work. During her undergraduate years at Carleton College, she held a variety of positions with the admissions office, first as a tour guide and ultimately as a senior intern and alumni interviewer. Her admissions career continued at Tufts University, where she was responsible for the recruitment, applications, and enrollment of students from the Southwest, Midwest, and northern New England. She also coordinated the tour guide and student outreach programs and managed the accepted student open houses. Becky worked closely with coaches as an athletic liaison at Tufts, has consulted with multiple college-access non-profit organizations to improve their curriculum and training practices, and has volunteered as a college counselor for schools and summer programs around the country. Becky holds a B.A. in American studies from Carleton College and an M.A. in education, policy, organization, and leadership studies from Stanford University.

Lance Linke, Ph.D., Psy.D.; Clinical Psychologist, Director of Child and Adolescent Services, Kendall Psychological Associates

Dr. Lance Linke is a clinical psychologist with expertise in self-regulation and behavior change, and is currently the Director of Child & Adolescent Services at Kendall Psychological Associates. He has worked nationally and internationally with departments and ministries of health and education to create mental health frameworks that focus on the importance of emotional development across cultures. Dr. Linke has held faculty positions at Hawaii Pacific University, Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. His research publications are in the fields of cultural, educational, and clinical psychology. Dr. Linke graduated from Colgate University and holds a Master’s degree from Marquette University. His doctoral degree in Educational Psychology is from the University of Hawaiʻi, and his doctorate in Clinical Psychology is from the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

Stacey MacPhetres, M.A.; Director of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Stacey MacPhetres is a former senior financial aid officer at Emerson College and Elms College, and a former financial aid consultant at Mount Holyoke College. She also spent over a decade working in education finance at JPMorgan Chase, where she was responsible for managing loans for both federal and private loan portfolios. Stacey is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. She holds a B.A. in political science from Marist College and an M.A. in Political Communication and Marketing from Emerson College.

Jeanne Mahan, M.A.; Senior Manager of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Jeanne Mahan served as a Financial Aid Coordinator at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and as a Senior Financial Aid Counselor at Quinsigamond Community College before joining College Coach. She also has served as an ambassador for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), visiting high schools and meeting with parents and students to discuss how to fund a college education, and has presented to various groups involved in college awareness and readiness. Jeanne graduated from Emmanuel College with a B.A., earned a Certificate of French Language from the Sorbonne, and earned an M.S. in Non-Profit Management at Worcester State University.

Michael Marquez, Psy.D.; Psychologist

Dr. Michael Marquez is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Bmore Liberated, a group practice of queer-identified therapists whose passion lies in providing affirming care for marginalized communities. Michael has experience providing outreach and consultation with several organizations and clinics, with a focus on optimizing relationships and happiness during the pandemic and organizational policies to be more inclusive. 

Cora Megan, M.A.; Parenting Teacher and Coach, Peace at Home Parenting Solutions

Cora Megan is an early childhood specialist and parent educator who has worked with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their families for over a decade. She is currently the director of The Nest Shoreline Campus, an early learning center located in Branford, CT. Cora is a trained Circle of Security Facilitator, a member of the Connecticut Association of Infant Mental Health, and teaches Early Childhood Development at the University of Connecticut. She views her work with families through an attachment lens, and provides support and guidance that promotes secure and positive parent-child relationships. Cora is especially passionate about infant and toddler social and emotional development.

Victoria Paulino, M.A.; Navigator, EdNavigator

Victoria Paulino brings to EdNavigator a wide range of experience with students and families across Massachusetts. She has served as a camp counselor and youth group leader in Worcester, MA; and a 7th grade English and Social Studies teacher at Veritas Prep Charter School in Springfield, MA. Victoria holds a B.A. in Political Science from College of the Holy Cross, and an M.A. in Education from Boston University. She lives in Boston, MA and is fluent in Spanish.

Laurie Peltier, M.B.A.; Director of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Laurie Peltier brings over 20 years of financial aid experience at the college and university level. Her professional and personal interest in helping families understand the financial aid process has resulted in particular expertise around saving for college, which she has applied to assist thousands of families. Prior to joining College Coach, Laurie served as financial aid director at Anna Maria College and prior to that as assistant director of financial aid at Becker College. She also has worked as a financial aid consultant with several other colleges in Massachusetts and with the Massachusetts Education Finance Authority (MEFA) as a workshop presenter at area high schools, and has volunteered at several Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) day events. Laurie holds a B.S. in marketing from Bentley University and an M.B.A. from Anna Maria College.

Tara Piantanida-Kelly, B.A.; Director of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Tara Piantanida-Kelly joined Bright Horizons with over 20 years of experience working in the field of college financial aid. She worked her way up from a financial aid counselor to the director of financial aid at Menlo College. From there, she launched a successful financial aid consulting business, Financial Aid Solutions. From 1995 until 2005, Tara consulted at more than 20 colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has since worked as the director of financial aid at Northwest College, the associate director of financial aid at Rochester Institute of Technology, and as a financial aid training specialist, training other financial aid administrators throughout the country. Tara holds a B.A. from Winthrop University and is a member of the New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association (NYSFAAA).

Jim Porter, M.A.L.S.; CEO, StressStop

Jim Porter is the CEO of StressStop and has authored dozens of books, workbooks, audios, and videos on managing stress. These include The Stress Profiler, Stop Stress This Minute, and The Employee Stress Reduction and Resilience Handbook, which together have sold over 400,000 copies. Jim has lectured on stress management at universities, at major corporations, and for government agencies, and has presented at numerous professional conferences. He has also appeared on CBS This Morning, and his work has been reported on by Good Morning America, Ladies Home Journal, the Associated Press, and the New York Daily News. His articles on stress have been published online by Forbes, HuffPost, Apple News, and Inc. Jim holds a B.A. and an M.A.L.S., both from Wesleyan University.

Michelle Richardson, M.B.A.; Senior Manager of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Michelle Richardson has focused her professional career in the education finance industry. With extensive experience at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Sallie Mae, USA Funds, and Chase Student Loans, she has spent over two decades counseling students and families on the value and return of a post-secondary degree. Prior to joining College Coach, Michelle served as a senior manager at USA Funds, and developed education loan repayment and student success strategies for colleges in the Midwest and West. She holds a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance from Buena Vista University, and a master’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University. Michelle is a member of several state financial aid associations and the National Association of Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). She holds an M.B.A from Cardinal Stritch University.

JoAnn Robinson, Ph.D.; Parenting Teacher and Coach, Peace at Home Parenting Solutions

JoAnn Robinson is an internationally recognized researcher on parent-child relations and young children’s emotional development. She is a retired university professor and continues to serve as director of early childhood education in her department. JoAnn has authored and co-authored more than 80 papers published in scientific journals on supportive interventions for vulnerable families (including kangaroo care for preterm infants and home visiting for low income mothers, young children’s empathy development, and children’s early narratives about family life). She is a member of the Board of Directors of the CT Association for Infant Mental Health. She is also a mother and grandmother. Most recently, JoAnn is consulting with international organizations about supporting parents of infants and toddlers caught up in the world refugee crisis.

Heidi Roth, R.D., L.D.N., B.S.; Owner, Heidi Roth Nutrition

Heidi Roth is a Registered Dietitian, a Massachusetts State Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist, and a Certified Holistic Health Coach. Heidi owns her own corporate wellness consulting business. She teaches nutrition and wellness through seminars, individual counseling, and healthy food demonstrations, and brings her passion for an active and healthy lifestyle to her clients. Earlier in her career, she worked as a critical care neonatal dietician. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and holds a certificate of training in Adult Weight Management. In her spare time, she enjoys creating healthy new recipes, skiing, hiking, and tennis. She earned a B.S. in Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Vienna Rothberg, M.S.W., M.P.H.; Program Manager, Pleasure @ MIT

Vienna Rothberg joined MIT in 2015 to start the Pleasure @ MIT program, in which she partners with students and groups seeking to interrupt culture on campus and create positive change. She is passionate about feminism, social justice, sexual health, pleasure, and empowerment among so many other things. Vienna enjoys leading group discussions about taboo topics and all of the things few folks are thrilled to talk about. She holds a B.A. in English and Philosophy from University of Massachusetts Boston as well as an M.P.H. and an M.S.W., both from the University of Minnesota. 

Lynelle Schneeberg, Psy.D; Director, Behavioral Sleep Program, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Lynelle Schneeberg is a pediatric sleep psychologist, an assistant professor at the Yale School of Medicine, and the director of the behavioral sleep program at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. As a fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, she is one of only about 200 board-certified sleep psychologists in the country. While most sleep books are aimed at parents of babies and toddlers, Lynelle's book, Become Your Child’s Sleep Coach: The Bedtime Doctor’s 5-Step Guide, Ages 3-10, was written for parents of school-age children. A striking 80% of preschooler parents say that their children’s sleep needs improvement, but these parents can’t use the sleep methods that work for babies. Their children can walk and talk, and this can make the process much more complicated. Lynelle enjoys helping parents teach their kids how to fall asleep easily and independently in their own beds, and stay there throughout the night.. She is also a mom of three, so she knows both professionally and personally how important it is to help kids become great sleepers.

Susan Schwartz, M.A.Ed.; Lower School Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary

Susan Schwartz is a lower school learning specialist at Friends Seminary, with an extensive background in child development and special education. She was previously the senior director of the Learning and Diagnostics Center at the Child Mind Institute. Susan holds a B.A. in psychology from Binghamton University and an M.A.Ed. in early childhood special education from George Washington University.

Elysa Severinghaus, B.A.; Executive Director and Navigator, EdNavigator

Elysa Severinghaus has a decade of experience in schools and education organizations across Boston, including at KIPP Academy Boston Middle School, where she was a founding fifth and sixth grade teacher, and built the English Language Program. She now serves as Executive Director and Navigator for EdNavigator, a nonprofit organization that partners with MIT and other leading employers to connect busy families with expert education advisors who provide ongoing, personalized education support. Elysa holds a B.A. from Dartmouth College and speaks Spanish and French.

Geoff Sittler, O.T.R./L.; Occupational Therapist

Geoff Sittler is an occupational therapist specializing in utilizing Mind-Body modalities with both individuals and groups. He has worked for the Portland VA Medical Center and Central City Concern at their Old Town Clinic site with a focus on holistic interventions to address trauma and chronic pain. Certified in both Neurofeedback (BCIA) and Mind-Body Medicine (Center for Mind-Body Medicine), Geoff has practiced Mind-Body modalities personally since 2001 and has worked with all ages teaching these techniques in multiple settings, including home health, primary care, K–8th grade, skilled nursing facilities, and outpatient clinics. He has also presented these concepts at professional conferences, in-services, and as part of the Pacific University Occupational Therapy program. Geoff holds a B.B.A. in management information systems from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A.T. from the University of South Australia.

Maungsai (Sai) Somboon, M.A.; Senior Manager of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Sai Somboon joined Bright Horizons with a unique background in Ivy League, international, and arts admissions. He began his career as a regional director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Pennsylvania, where he read applications for the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Nursing, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Wharton School of Business. After Penn, Sai worked as the admissions coordinator of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance program during graduate school at The Ohio State University. More recently, Sai was an auxiliary reader for NYU Abu Dhabi and an independent college counselor for domestic and international students. Sai holds a B.A. from Franklin & Marshall College, and an M.A. from The Ohio State University.

Karen Spencer, M.Ed.; Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Karen Spencer has worked in education for over 16 years. Her love of education began when she was a tour guide at Valparaiso University and working in the Admissions Office of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She began her professional work in residence life at Hope College and in admissions at Franklin & Marshall College. Most recently, Karen worked as the assistant director of undergraduate admissions at Georgetown University (DC) where she was responsible for recruitment and transfer admissions, and sat on the Admissions Committee for the McDonough School of Business. Karen holds a B.A. from Valparaiso University and an M.Ed. from the University of Virginia.

Megan Stubbendeck, M.A., Ph.D.; Managing Director of Operations, ArborBridge

Megan Stubbendeck has more than 13 years of teaching experience. She has privately tutored students of all backgrounds for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, ISEE, SSAT, SHSAT, IGCSE, GCSE, TOEFL, IB, AP, and Subject Tests. Her students have been admitted to all of the top 20 universities in the United States, including the Ivy League schools. She has also counseled students on research essays published in The Concord Review and Columbia Undergraduate Law Review. Megan has headed multiple teams of tutors, overseeing tutor training and management. She has written curricula and workbooks for the SAT, ACT, PSAT, ISEE, AP, and Subject Tests used by a number of companies in the United States. In addition to tutoring for ArborBridge, she oversees curriculum and professional development of a 70-person tutoring team. She also serves as the company’s subject specialist in U.S. history, designing the history curriculum and serving as a resource for history tutors. Megan holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. from Binghamton University.

Tova Tolman, M.A.; Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Tova Tolman’s introduction to college admissions was as a student tour guide and interviewer for her alma mater, Barnard College. She began her professional career at Barnard as well, working as a senior admissions officer. In that capacity, she was a member of the admissions committee and a liaison to the athletic department, and provided oversight of campus programs. Following her time at Barnard, Tova moved across the street to Columbia University to complete her master’s degree and served as an application reader and selection committee presenter. She then worked as an associate director of admissions at both Fordham and Montclair State Universities. She has managed the athletic recruitment process of a Division I, Patriot League school; directed alumni recruitment efforts; implemented online application review; and reviewed more than 10,000 applications. Tova holds a B.A. in sociology from Barnard College and an M.A. in higher education administration from Columbia University. 

Kyra Tyler, M.A.; Senior Director of Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Advising

Kyra Tyler has worked in a variety of roles in higher education. She began her career in admissions at Brandeis University, where she spearheaded the school’s student of color recruitment effort. She also chaired a committee dedicated to offering scholarships and performance opportunities to talented chamber musicians. Prior to joining College Coach, Kyra was awarded a Presidential Fellowship from Harvard University, where she worked in development at the Harvard College Fund. She also worked at the Harvard Alumni Association while pursuing a Master of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Kyra holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from Harvard University.

Shannon Vasconcelos, M.A.; Senior Manager of College Finance, Bright Horizons College Advising

Shannon Vasconcelos has worked in student financial assistance at Boston University and Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she served as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid. At Tufts, she was responsible for reviewing financial aid applications, determining financial aid awards, and helping families through the college financing process. In addition, Shannon has served as an active member of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators Early Awareness and Outreach Committee, as a trainer for the Department of Education’s National Training for Counselors and Mentors, and as a volunteer for FAFSA Day Massachusetts. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.

Rob Walsh, B.F.A., M.S. Candidate; Mindfulness Practitioner and Instructor

Rob Walsh has practiced and trained in the field of mindfulness for over nine years. During this time, he has worked internationally in the sectors of healthcare and education to organize and facilitate mindfulness workshops and retreats in multiple countries, including Bhutan, Canada, India, and the United States. This work and training have primarily been conducted with the internationally recognized Plum Village Community of Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Currently pursuing a Master’s degree in physical therapy at the University of Toronto, Rob is passionate about bringing together the disciplines of physical therapy and mindfulness as a way to support well-being.

Aaron Weintraub, M.S.; Parenting Teacher and Coach, Peace at Home Parenting Solutions

Aaron Weintraub is the director of Kids Cooperate in Tolland, CT and the behavior specialist at Holiday Hill Day Camp in Mansfield, CT. With almost twenty years of experience in supporting families of children with special needs, Aaron's approach is focused on recognizing strengths in the child and in the family system. Aaron is the author of several papers and books on Autism and ADHD. His perspective on working with families draws from an integration of practical therapies and philosophies that share a strengths-based approach, and a focus on practical, evidence-based techniques tailored to the individual needs of the child and family.

Elli Weisbaum, M.E.S., Ph.D. Candidate; Mindfulness Practitioner, Instructor, and Researcher

Elli Weisbaum has worked internationally facilitating mindfulness workshops and retreats within the sectors of education, healthcare, and business. This has included work in Bhutan, Canada, France, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A certified teacher in the Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program, which was developed at Google headquarters, Elli brings together mindfulness, emotional intelligence, and neuroscience. She attended her first retreat with Zen Master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thich Nhat Hanh at the age of ten. Elli’s novel background in both academic research and traditional mindfulness practice provides a distinct approach to her ongoing work teaching and researching in the field. She is currently based at the University of Toronto as an instructor for the Applied Mindfulness and Meditation Certificate Program, and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Faculty of Medicine researching the integration of mindfulness into healthcare settings.

Bradford Wiles, Ph.D.; Teacher, Peace at Home

Bradford Wiles grew up on a small farm in Indiana where he was a ten-year 4-H member. He holds a doctorate from Virginia Tech and worked in Silicon Valley developing emerging technologies at a genomics/biotechnology company. He is currently an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist at Kansas State University School of Family Studies and Human Services. Bradford focuses his research on building resilience and health in vulnerable families by providing rural, low-income parents with knowledge, skills, and decision-making strategies to make a positive difference in their children’s lives. He is a Peace at Home Teacher who has taught parenting education for over a decade. His vision is to reach all families with children and assist them in applying research-based practices in the domains of brain development, physical health and activity, and social-emotional health. Bradford enjoys all manner of outdoor activities, especially playing with his two young children and wife. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Bradford enjoys playing just about any kind of music and is proficient in guitar, bass, drums, harmonica, ukulele, and all sorts of percussion instruments. He has a small recording studio where he serves as recording engineer, mixer, tech, and even the talent.

Yi Yang, Ph.D.; Clinical Psychologist and Private Practice Therapist

Dr. Yi Yang is a clinical psychologist and private practice therapist, and provides therapy and consultation for individuals, couples, and groups in English and Mandarin Chinese. Dr. Yang specializes in mental health for international students and families, and aspires to serve as a bridge between students, parents, schools and health services. She has worked with high schools and universities across the U.S., providing interventions to Chinese international students and helping faculty and staff better understand and work with international students and families. Dr. Yang received her master’s degree from Oxford University, doctorate from Cornell University, and completed her postdoc at Harvard Medical School.

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