Presenter Biographies

Find biographies of our seminar presenters below.

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

Jimmy Becker is the founder of Financially Speaking where he provides one-on-one financial planning services that are unbiased and actionable. He also creates and presents customized workshops on many dimensions of financial decision-making to employee groups, adult education learners, and graduate students. Jimmy began his career on Wall Street as an options trader and understands the financial services industry from the inside out. He earned a B.A. in economics from Brown University and an M.B.A from the Yale School of Management. 

Alex Bickford, M.B.E.; Director, College Finance, Bright Horizons College Coach

Alex Bickford joined Bright Horizons College Coach as part of the college financing team from the education finance department of Citizens Bank. Before his stint with Citizens, he worked as an 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 traditional undergraduate, adult learners and master's degree students in financing their educations. He has a master’s degree in business education, a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management, and an associate's degree in culinary arts.

Kristen CascioKristen Cascio, M.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.; Program Manager, MIT Work-Life

Kristen Cascio is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. Kristen is a program manager for Work-Life, where she oversees MIT MyLife Services and backup care benefits, coordinates programming via the Seminar Series, and works on a variety of resources and projects to support the overall wellbeing of MIT’s community. Prior to joining MIT, Kristen was a behavioral health care manager at Tufts Health Plan, where she worked directly with individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses to coordinate the resources needed to achieve safety and wellness in the community. Kristen has extensive experience in crisis intervention, including conducting emergency mental health assessments and staffing 24-hour crisis hotlines related to mental illness, domestic violence, and sexual assault. Kristen received her B.A. in psychology from Clark University and her M.S.W. from Simmons University.

Michelle CliftonMichelle Clifton, B.S.; College Finance Consultant, Bright Horizons College Advising

Michelle Clifton has spent the majority of her professional career in higher education. She began her career at the Rhode Island School of Design, working with student accounts and student loans. At Babson College, she worked in a variety of roles within Student Financial Services, including financial aid, student loans, and student accounts. She most recently served as Babson’s associate director of financial aid, providing financial aid counseling for undergraduate and graduate students, reviewing and awarding applications, processing appeals, and overseeing all loan processes. Michelle is an active member of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, and volunteers for FAFSA Day Massachusetts, where she guides students in completing their online financial aid applications. She holds a B.S. in management from Northeastern University.

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

Patricia C. D’Agostino is a partner at Margolis Bloom & D'Agostino, 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. She 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.

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

Steve Dimitriou is a co-founder and managing partner at Mayflower Advisors, with more than 30 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 both the American Retirement Association and the National Association of Plan Advisors (NAPA), the largest retirement-plan advocacy group in the nation and the preeminent sponsor of professional development and continuing education in the industry. As such, he meets regularly with congressional members and various governmental agencies, and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences. Steve has earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (A.I.F.) and Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (C.P.F.A.) designations, and is a graduate of Colby College, where he earned an Honors B.A. in both physics and economics.

Nicole DiPentimaNicole DiPentima, L.M.H.C.; KGA

Nicole DiPentima (she/her) is a licensed mental health counselor with more than eight years of professional experience in the fields of psychotherapy and mediation, respectively. As a consultant with MIT MyLife Services, Nicole supports employees, managers, and HR practitioners around a variety of issues, including burnout, stress, depression, and anxiety. Nicole holds an M.S. in mental health counseling and an M.A. in conflict resolution, both from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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

Dr. Lauren Dumont is a clinical psychologist and the Clinical Director 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 wellbeing. 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 wellbeing 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 in various outpatient settings, including New York University, the University of Delaware, and Drexel University.

Suzanne FlynnSuzanne Flynn, Ph.D.; Professor of Linguistics and Language Acquisition, MIT

Dr. Suzanne Flynn is a professor of linguistics and language acquisition at MIT. Professor Flynn is a leading researcher on syntax acquisition of children and adults in bilingual, second, and third language contexts. More recently, her work has also focused on the neural representation of the multilingual brain, language disorders, as well as language at the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Flynn holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from Cornell University.

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

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.”

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 a S.H.R.M.-C.P. designation.

Zachery GriesZachery Gries, M.B.A.; Senior Manager, College Finance, Bright Horizons College Coach

Zachery Gries began his professional career in a financial aid office. He started at Loras College as a project coordinator, helping the financial aid department implement new technology. He later became the assistant director of financial aid and admissions, where he helped implement and assess the first-year merit scholarship model, and counseled students and families through loans, financial aid applications, study abroad, and loan debt. After a promotion to director of financial aid, he continued to work with the first-year and returning student aid programs, and reviewed appeals and negotiations. Zachery holds an M.B.A. from Loras College.

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.

Kathy Kasabula, B.A.; Program Manager, Work-Life

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 visits all TCC locations regularly and works closely with parents and a host of MIT departments in order to coordinate projects, establish systems, monitor activities, and resolve problems. Kathy also manages the MIT Childcare Center scholarship program for employees and postdoctoral scholars, leads monthly “Choosing Quality Childcare” sessions, oversees the campus lactation rooms, and is a contributor to many Work-Life projects offering support to MIT children and families. Kathy holds a B.A. in communication from Rhode Island College, a graduate certificate in project management from Boston University, and is certified in the Classroom Assessment Scoring System®, a leading quality improvement system for measuring and improving classroom interactions.

Rahul Kay, M.P.H., M.B.A.; Senior Vice President, Enterprise Wellness, FlexIt

Rahul Kay is the senior vice president of Enterprise Wellness at FlexIt. He has a background in mental health, cultural sensitivity, and organizational design. He was the CEO of Sukhi (an employee mental wellness firm), a former consultant at McKinsey & Company, a UN global health official, and a group therapy facilitator. Rahul has led training for 75,000+ employees across 60+ organizations, and has been featured by Harvard University, the World Bank, and Microsoft. He studied clinical psychology at Tufts University and abnormal psychology at Cornell University, and earned an M.B.A. from the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

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. 

Michael Marquez, Psy.D.; Psychologist; Co-Owner, Bmore Liberated

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. He 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. Dr. Marquez holds a Psy.D. from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Katherine McHughKatherine McHugh, M.S.; Mindfulness Educator

Katherine McHugh brings over three decades of personal mindfulness practice to her training, and over 16 years of experience as a personal development consultant and mindfulness educator in corporate, academic, and community settings. With a master’s degree in comparative contemplative practices, Katherine trained at the renowned Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School. Working with a wide array of organizations, Katherine brings a tailored approach to each client and every new project. She has successfully coached CEOs, business leaders, and students to learn to live with more intention and focus, and to promote healing to thrive.

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, Connecticut. Cora is a trained Circle of Security Facilitator, is a member of the Connecticut Association of Infant Mental Health, and teaches Early Childhood Development at the University of Connecticut. She is especially passionate about infant and toddler social and emotional development and views her work through an attachment lens, providing support and guidance that promote secure and positive parent-child relationships. Cora holds a B.A. in early childhood development and an M.A. in human development and family studies, both from the University of Connecticut.

DJ MeehanDjiara (DJ) Meehan, B.A.; Senior Manager, Educational Counseling, Bright Horizons College Coach 

DJ Meehan was inspired early on by her dog-eared copy of Fiske Guide to Colleges, and has been fascinated by the college admissions process for well over 20 years. As an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University, she fostered this interest by helping to coordinate visit programs for prospective historically marginalized students. After earning her bachelor’s degree, she worked for The Posse Foundation, a college access program that identifies and supports underrepresented students attending highly selective colleges and universities. Eager to create opportunities for more students, DJ began her formal career in admissions, which took her to Carleton College, Reed College, and Connecticut College. At all three schools, she evaluated applications, interviewed prospective students, and managed multicultural recruitment efforts. Her recruitment travels took her all over the U.S. and Latin America. Prior to joining College Coach, DJ was a high school-based college counselor in Miami, FL and San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she helped students and families navigate the evolving college admissions landscape. DJ is a member of the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).

Gail ParsonsGail Miniutti Parsons, M.S.; Founder and CEO, LifeCycle Focus LLC

Gail Miniutti Parsons, leadership development expert and motivational speaker, has been training individuals and groups for over two decades, sharing her empowering message of personal and professional resilience. Gail is known for her genuine conversational style, as well as her ability to personally connect with a group and bring out the best in people. Her fusion of down-to-earth anecdotes, academic expertise, practical strategies, and humor have earned Gail a reputation as an engaging and effective speaker. As a leadership expert, she honed her coaching skills via decades of field experience and delivery of thousands of training programs. As a mother and the founder and owner of LifeCycle Focus, Gail has earned real-life experience parenting three growing boys and one growing business. She earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and an M.S. from Wheelock College.

Briana ReidBriana Reid, Psy.D.; Clinical Psychologist, Kendall Psychological Associates

Dr. Briana Reid is a clinical psychologist at Kendall Psychological Associates. She works with adults who are struggling with trauma and PTSD, depression, anxiety, grief and loss, adjustment to life transitions, stress management, relationship issues, family caregiver support, issues related to physical health, and issues related to culture and diversity. Her approach to therapy is relational, culturally affirming, trauma informed, anti-oppressive, and warm with some humor. She is intentional about developing a meaningful, collaborative relationship with her clients. Dr. Reid uses an integration of interpersonal, mindfulness-based, and cognitive-behavioral therapeutic frameworks. She is also trained in several evidence-based treatments for PTSD. Dr. Reid earned her doctorate from William James College with a concentration in clinical health psychology, and has worked in various settings, including outpatient programs, residential substance use programs, college counseling centers, and a VA hospital.

Jen ReidJen Reid, B.S.; Founder, Base 

Jen Reid is a personal finance expert, a commentator, and the founder of Base—a financial wellness, coaching, and planning firm in Boston, MA. Since launching Base, Jen’s innovative approach to personal finance has caught the attention of national media outlets, including HuffPost, GOBankingRates, PopSugar, Best Life, Mother Untitled, Apartment Therapy, and more. Jen is a licensed financial planner. She believes that financial planning and wellness is a commitment and discipline, and any willing person can turn around their financial situation. She is also a certified Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) practitioner, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner, and hypnotherapist, which helps her clients understand the emotional components of managing their finances, along with taking the practical and tactical action steps. 

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

Dr. JoAnn Robinson is an internationally recognized researcher on parent-child relations and young children’s emotional development. She is a retired university professor who served as director of early childhood studies, and has more than 80 papers published in scientific journals on supportive
interventions for vulnerable families. Dr. Robinson has been part of investigative teams studying parents' perinatal wellbeing and mental health for 30 years. Her published research focuses on the outcomes of supporting parents throughout pregnancy and early childhood. She served as co-investigator in nationally recognized research efforts, including the national study of Early Head Start and the Nurse Family Partnership where the benefits of home visiting on parent-child relationships and child development were demonstrated. Also of note are investigations she co-authored on the benefits of kangaroo holding for mothers, fathers, and their preterm babies. Recently, she has consulted with international organizations about supporting parents of infants and toddlers caught up in the world refugee crisis. Dr. Robinson is also a mother and a grandmother. When not traveling around the world to research and teach about infants, young children, and families, she serves as a Peace at Home Parenting teacher and coach.

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

Heidi Roth is a registered/licensed dietitian, health coach, and nutrition expert with a passion for health and wellness. She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics. Heidi spent the first part of her career as a critical care neonatal dietitian and pediatric nutrition specialist. She went on to found her own corporate wellness consulting business, with a goal of making science-based nutrition recommendations simple, real, and fun. Today, Heidi shares her enthusiasm for nutrition and wellness virtually and in person through webinars, worksite seminars, individual counseling, and healthy food demonstrations. She enjoys traveling, hiking, and skiing, and considers herself to be a total foodie. 

Susan SchaeferSusan V. Schaefer, M.Ed., M.A.T., Parenting Coach, Peace at Home Parenting Solutions

Susan V. Schaefer is recognized as a pioneer in the field of academic and executive function coaching. She founded Academic Coaching Associates (ACA) in 2010 to help students develop and strengthen their executive functions to increase academic success and build independence and self-esteem. She began ACA to focus on students who struggle with executive functions (usually stemming from ADHD, mental health issues, as well as other learning challenges) by developing skills and strategies tailored to their particular challenges. In 2015, Susan founded Launch Career Coaching, a sister company to ACA, which helps recent college graduates with executive function deficiencies successfully join the workforce. Susan holds an M.Ed. as well as an M.A.T., and was a tenured classroom teacher. 

Tessa SelchTessa Selch; Senior Academic Advisor, Revolution Prep

Tessa Selch has over 10 years of experience in the field of education, and loves the opportunity to help and support students with their academic journey. Tessa understands the challenges and pressures that face students and parents; as a mother of three, she is compassionate and understanding of each individual student’s needs and goals. Tessa was an Admissions Advisor and Director of Admissions before joining Revolution Prep, and has helped thousands of students achieve their educational goals. She loves to see the growth and success of her students, believing that each student’s path is unique, and success lies outside your comfort zone.

Sherri SnellingSherri Snelling, M.A.; Consultant and Speaker,

Sherri Snelling is a corporate gerontologist, “authorpreneur,” and founder/CEO of Caregiving Club, a strategic consulting and educational content creation firm with an expertise in caregiver wellness, well home design, and brain health/Alzheimer’s disease. She is the author of the new book, Me Time Monday – The Weekly Wellness Plan to Find Balance and Joy for a Busy Life, and is the host of the podcast, “Caregiving Club On Air.” Snelling writes articles, appears on TV and radio, and has served on aging and caregiving advisory committees for the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Institute on Aging (NIA), and Georgetown University. She has a master’s degree in gerontology from USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and a master’s certification from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Andie Lei WangAndie Lei Wang, A.S.A., M.S.; Retirement Plans Manager, MIT

Andie Lei Wang manages MIT’s retirement plans and the team that delivers retirement services to members of the MIT community. Prior to joining MIT, Andie acquired over 12 years of experience as an associate consultant, working on various actuarial and benefits projects—and another seven years of experience as a retirement finance manager, managing pension, 401(k), and other retirement plans. Andie holds an M.S. in actuarial science from Boston University and is an Associate of the Society of Actuaries (A.S.A.).

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

Aaron Weintraub has 30 years of experience in supporting families of children with special needs. His approach is focused on recognizing strengths in the child and family system, and draws from experience working in settings such as infant development centers, public schools, university instruction, adult day services, private practice for children with special needs, and everything in between. Aaron has three children whose ages range from an adult daughter to a young son. He serves as both a teacher of live online classes and a virtual parenting coach; is the director of Kids Cooperate in Tolland, CT; and is the family specialist at CLICC, supporting parents who are incarcerated.

Gayle Parker WrightGayle Parker Wright, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.-R.

Gayle Parker Wright is an L.C.S.W.-R in NY, a licensed social worker in NJ, and a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor. She graduated from Howard University with a B.S. in social work and from Columbia University with an M.S.W. Gayle is currently working toward her doctoral degree at Simmons University. She has over 30 years of experience working with individuals and families in underserved communities, and has provided services to populations such as foster care, criminal justice, mental health, substance abuse, case management, juvenile justice, and geriatrics. Gayle has worked in and provided services in various settings, such as residential, corrections, substance abuse, mental health, respite, and private practice. Over the last 25 years, she has served in many leadership roles, providing management oversight and clinical consultant services to community agencies. Gayle is a motivational speaker, sharing her life experiences and information to empower others. 

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