Applications are now being reviewed from executives who wish to become members of our Executive Speaking Faculty. If you have extensive knowledge of education finance/student loans and would like to apply for a position on our speaking faculty, please complete our online JOIN OUR FACULTY application or contact:
Don Buford, Founder & CEO, iiBIG
Phone: 212-300-2521 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Akers, Senior Fellow, Manhattan Institute
Beth Akers is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Before joining MI, she was a fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families. Akers previously held the position of staff economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, where she worked on federal student lending policy as well as other education and labor issues. She is an expert on the economics of education, with a focus on higher-education policy. She is the coauthor of Game of Loans: The Rhetoric and Reality of Student Debt. Akers received a B.S. in mathematics and economics from SUNY Albany and a Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University.
Marilena Botoulas, Asst. Dean for Financial Aid, Columbia Business School
Marilena Botoulas joined Columbia Business School in 2005 as the Director of Financial Aid and is now Assistant Dean. Her responsibilities include overseeing financial aid counseling and processing for students in the school’s full time, Executive MBA and MS programs. Prior to her current position, Marilena was the Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business and a Fund Accountant for the asset management company Lord, Abbett, & Co. Over the last 15 years, she has also held several NYC Executive Committee positions for the not-for-profit, Minds Matter of NYC, Inc. Marilena received her B.S. in Finance from St. John’s University, her M.A. in School Counseling from New York University and her Executive MBA at Columbia Business School.
Gordon Cameron, Credit Executive, PNC Financial Services Group
Mr. Cameron is a business transformation executive with three decades of success in growing businesses while managing risk. Mr. Cameron is currently an Executive Vice President in Independent Risk Management at PNC Financial Services, one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, where he serves as a Credit Risk Executive, a position he has held since 2008. He is also a Director on the Board of INUVO, inc. (NYSE: INUV). Prior to PNC Financial Services, Mr. Cameron was the Chief Credit Officer, Retail and Small Business Lending, at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce from 2005 to 2008. Mr. Cameron was the Chief Scientist Transaction Analytics, Global Account Management Solutions at Fair Isaac Corporation FICO from 2001 to 2005.
Larry Chiavaro, Executive Vice President, First Associates Loan Servicing
Larry Chiavaro is a Principal and the Executive Vice President at First Associates, the fastest growing loan servicer in the country with a $12 billion-dollar portfolio under management for various asset classes, including student loans. First Associates Loan Servicing, which recently won the prestigious LendIt Service Provider of the Year award, has a proven track record of reducing student loan delinquencies with many of the nation's leading schools. Chiavaro is a dynamic sales and business development executive with an outstanding 25-year track record of identifying and developing growth financial services markets. Prior to joining First Associates, he developed the Loan Servicing Business for CSC, managed divisions for NovaStar, HSBC/ Household and GE Capital, working with banks, investment banks, finance companies, and credit unions on a national level. Chiavaro is a graduate of the GE Management Institute and GE Six Sigma program.
Jenny Chou, VP, Darien Rowayton Bank
Jenny Chou is the head of business development at Darien Rowayton Bank. Prior to working at Darien Rowayton Bank, she worked in investment banking and private equity. She graduated with an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Debra Chromy, EdD, President, Education Finance Council (EFC)
Debra Chromy is the President of Education Finance Council (EFC), the national association representing nonprofit and state-agency student loan organizations. At EFC, Dr. Chromy leads EFC’s advocacy efforts on regulatory and legislative issues related to student loans and higher education. She collaborates with all EFC members, EFC’s Board of Directors, staff, the Administration, Congress, and other industry groups, facilitating and promoting EFC’s goals and initiatives. In addition, Dr. Chromy works to develop and implement member services and operational and communications strategies. Dr. Chromy has worked in the student loan industry her entire career, for a student loan lender of both private and federal loans, a student loan servicer, and a federal loan guarantor. Prior to EFC, Dr. Chromy served as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for American Student Assistance (ASA), where she was a leader in ASA’s corporate strategic planning process and managed ASA’s external relationships and partnerships, including federal and state governments, colleges and universities, higher education associations, and other student loan industry organizations. Dr. Chromy received an A.B. in economics from Smith College, an M.B.A from Boston University, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Chromy currently volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors of the Smith College Club of Washington, DC; a member of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Executive Doctorate Alumni Advisory Board; Chair of the Legislative Task Force for the Municipal Bonds for America Coalition; and is President of the College Club of Boston Scholarship Fund, Inc.
David Cooper, Chief Investment Officer, Purdue Research Foundation
Mr. Cooper is the Chief Investment Officer of the Purdue Research Foundation and is responsible for overseeing investment assets totaling $7 billion including endowment, operating funds, and retirement assets for Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation. Previously, Mr. Cooper was the Chief Investment Officer of the $30 billion Indiana state pension plan, the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS). Before his time at INPRS, Mr. Cooper was a Senior Investment Consultant for Anthem, Inc., one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies. Mr. Cooper holds an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Butler University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designee. In 2015, Mr. Cooper was presented the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Governor of Indiana.
Jason D. Delisle, Resident Fellow, Higher Education Financing, American Enterprise Institute
Jason Delisle is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he works on higher education financing with an emphasis on student loan programs. Mr. Delisle started his career on Capitol Hill, first in the office of Representative Thomas Petri, then as an analyst for the US Senate Committee on the Budget. His work has led him to study the history and mechanics of federal student loans and other financial aid policies and to recommend budget process reforms for rules covering financial risk in government programs — including working on fair-value accounting for loan programs. Before joining AEI, Mr. Delisle served as director of the Federal Education Budget Project at New America, where he worked to improve the quality of public information on federal funding for education and the support of well-targeted federal education policies. He was also an informal adviser on higher education reform for Governor Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Delisle has written for a variety of publications, including Bloomberg View, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also appeared on numerous national television and radio programs, including Fox Business, National Public Radio, and the “PBS NewsHour.” Mr. Delisle has a master’s of public policy in budget and public finance from the George Washington University and a bachelor of arts degree in government from Lawrence University.
Tonio DeSorrento, CEO, Vemo Education
As CEO, Tonio DeSorrento leads the team at Vemo Education, where he focuses on income-based product development and policy issues. Tonio has contributed to the development of ISAs in the United States since 2007. Before Vemo, he held legal roles at SoFi and Pave, and practiced law at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Tonio holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he is also an adjunct professor of law, and a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy.
Sarah Ducich, SVP, Public Policy and Government Relations, Navient
Ms. Ducich is senior vice president for public policy and government relations for Navient. She is responsible for the development and advancement of the company’s legislative and policy goals. Among the topics she has advocated for are streamlined repayment options to reduce complexity for borrowers and increase engagement, and easier methods to enroll in and recertify federal income-driven repayment programs. Before 2014, Ms. Ducich held a similar position at Sallie Mae. Ms. Ducich was one of the principal authors of Sallie Mae’s research on how American families save and pay for college. At Navient, she continues that leadership with its annual research on the financial health of young adults, Money Under 35. Prior to joining Sallie Mae, Ms. Ducich consulted on federal budget policy, was deputy budget director with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a senior democratic staff member of the Senate Budget Committee, and a budget examiner with the Office of Management and Budget. Ms. Ducich received her Master’s in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and her B.A. with honors in Mathematics from Whitman College.
Brent Ferrin, Houlihan Lokey
Houlihan Lokey (NYSE: HLI) is a global investment bank with expertise in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, financial restructuring, valuation and strategic consulting. Based in New York City, Mr. Ferrin is a member of Houlihan Lokey’s Financial Institutions Group, where he focuses on advising specialty finance companies on M&A, capital raising and other corporate finance engagements. Most recently, Mr. Ferrin notably advised FP Resources USA Inc. on its acquisition of The First Marblehead Corporation. He is also currently working on several pending capital raise transactions for student lenders and student loan services providers. Mr. Ferrin graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University.
Rob Fite, VP, Business Development & Marketing, Telerock Systems, Inc.
A Credit & Collections Industry veteran who has compiled over twenty five years of deep domain knowledge in technology and data driven solutions for improving workflow processes, increasing automation, and enhancing credit & collections decisions. Rob has held product and market leadership positions with the industry’s leading solutions providers; Experian, FICO, and Lexis Nexis. He is currently a part of the executive team at Telrock Systems, an emerging leader in digital channel customer engagement capabilities, and serves on the advisory board for several technology start-ups. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Old Dominion University.
David Getty, Vice President, AccessLex Institute
David is responsible for the company’s credit and default portfolio, along with recoveries and portfolio preservation. David joined Access Group in 2015.Prior to joining Access Group, David has worked for some of the largest financial institutions in the tristate area, JP Morgan, Barclays, Fleet, and MBNA. David has an extensive work experience spanning 25 years in the areas of credit, marketing, internal audit, vendor management, collections and business control risk management. In addition, David has spent the last 15 years managing the risk and performance of default portfolios in excess of $100 billion dollars.
Robert Hanna, Director, Business Development, Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co., LPA
Robert “Bob” J. Hanna is the Director of Business Development at Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., LPA, a nationally-recognized, full-service collections firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. The firm represents nearly every type of creditor, including some of the largest financial institutions in the U.S., in bankruptcy, consumer and commercial collections, litigation, and real estate default matters. Mr. Hanna is responsible for pursuing new business opportunities, building upon established client relationships, and promoting the firm on a national scale. Mr. Hanna’s 35 years of business development experience allows him to effectively offer comprehensive solutions for the firm’s Education Loan Collections and Litigation Practice, as well as other consumer and commercial creditors, servicers, and debt buyers. His proposed recovery strategies include traditional agency collections, early out cure programs, liquidation campaigns, post-charge-off recovery, litigation, bankruptcy, probate, replevins, insurance subrogation, and real estate default. Mr. Hanna earned his MBA from Rutgers Graduate School of Management and his B.A. from Rutgers College. He has been with the firm since 2003.
Nat Hoopes, Executive Director, Marketplace Lending Association
Nathaniel (Nat) Hoopes was appointed as the new Marketplace Lending Association's (MLA) first Executive Director in 2016 and heads the association’s office in Washington, D.C. Prior to the MLA, Nat served as Executive Director of the Financial Services Forum in Washington D.C., where he worked on key policy issues affecting the nation's largest financial firms. He has spent more than a decade working in financial services and public policy, and played a key policy role on Capitol Hill in the wake of the financial crisis, including in the development and bipartisan negotiation of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Hoopes also worked on developing legislation to expand opportunities for small businesses and startups through equity crowdfunding as part of the Jumpstart-our-Business-Start-Ups (JOBS) Act. As interest in marketplace lending continues to grow and different lending models emerge, Hoopes is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction and day-to-day operations of the association, as well as communicating with the public and policy makers to educate them about marketplace lending.
Pamela Horne, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, Purdue University
Pam Horne serves as Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Purdue University, managing strategy and operations for admissions, financial aid, early college outreach, the registrar’s office, and enrollment analysis and reporting. With more than 40 years in higher education, her career has encompassed positions at Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Kansas. A former president of the Association of Chief Admission Officers of Public Universities, Horne also served as a Trustee for the College Board and continues to serve on a number of College Board committees. She has also served on committees of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers. For many years she has facilitated NACAC’s two-day pre-conference workshop for Chief Enrollment Officers, and presents frequently at state, regional, and national meetings on such topics as the gap between college aspiration and preparation, the future of enrollment management, effective use of business intelligence and technology in enrollment management, the parent role in the college admissions process, college admissions and the media, and the impact of changing demographics on higher education.
Henry Howard, President & CEO, U. S. Education Finance Group
Henry B. Howard began his banking career in 1978 at Maryland National Bank in Baltimore, Maryland. Subsequently, he held officer or management level positions at National Bank of Washington, Student Loan Marketing Association (“Sallie Mae”), American Security Bank of Washington, Marine Midland Bank (Delaware), CenTrust Savings Bank in Miami and BAC International Credit Corporation in Miami. Henry founded U.S. Education Finance Group in 1999 (assets of $2.75 Billion as of 12/31/10). He has been continuously involved with education lending since 1981. Henry Howard has 30 years and $7 Billion of education loan origination and financing experience.
Charles P Kelley, CPA, CFA, Executive Director, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
Mr. Kelley joined the Authority in April, 1991, as Deputy Director and was appointed Executive Director in 1993. Mr. Kelley served on the Board of the Education Finance Council from 1996 to 2002 where he served a two-year term as Chairman. A 1984 graduate from Harvard with a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in public finance, he received his Bachelors in Accounting and Business Administration in 1977 from the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Kelley is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst.
Rosemary Kelley, Senior Managing Director, Kroll Bond Rating Agency
Rosemary Kelley is a Senior Managing Director and Co-Head of ABS at Kroll Bond Rating Agency, Inc. Rosemary has been at KBRA since 2011 and focuses primarily on Consumer ABS including auto loan, auto lease, dealer floorplan, credit card, consumer loan, student loan and timeshare sectors. Prior to joining KBRA, Rosemary was a Senior Vice President at DBRS, Inc. focusing on Consumer ABS. Before DBRS, Rosemary spent ten years at MBIA Insurance Corporation, most recently as a Director in the Structured Finance department. She had previously managed MBIA's portfolio management unit responsible for monitoring and workouts in Consumer ABS. Rosemary has a BA from Manhattanville College and a MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Steve Kohles, President, Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation
Steve Kohles, President, first came to SLFC in 1989 and was with the company until 2005 returning July 2010. From 2005 to 2010, Mr. Kohles worked in venture capital and private consulting. During his previous tenure at SLFC he served as both CFO and COO. Prior to Student Loan Finance Corporation, he was employed by First Bank Systems where he held Vice President and Controller positions. Mr. Kohles is a CPA and has also been employed by Ernst and Young and Midland National Life Insurance Company. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, and has been active with the Education Finance Council and various other state financial aid associations. He has served as President of United Way, President of Rotary, President of the Roncalli Foundation and President of the United Way Foundation. He also served on the school board for the Aberdeen Catholic School system and the Northern State Foundation Board. Mr. Kohles has a BS degree from Iowa State University and post graduate studies at the University of South Dakota, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, Harvard and Babson College.
Robert Lavet, General Counsel, Social Finance, Inc. (SoFi)
Rob is responsible for managing all legal affairs for SoFi and its affiliate entities. Prior to joining SoFi, he served as a Principal in the Education and Litigation practice groups of the Washington, DC law firm of Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville (PPSV) where he represented financial institutions and post-secondary institutions on a wide variety of regulatory, litigation and transactional matters. Prior to PPSV, Rob served as General Counsel to Sallie Mae, a Fortune 300 company and the largest provider of education finance. Before his 16 year career with Sallie Mae, Rob served as a Partner in the Washington D.C. law firm of Cole Corette & Abrutyn specializing in corporate and securities litigation. He was named a top Washington D.C. corporate counsel in 2015. Rob holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and a B.A from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dan Meyers, Chairman & CEO, Cognition Financial
Mr. Meyers is Chairman & CEO of Cognition Financial. Mr. Meyers has been working in finance for 35 years. From 1980 to 1991, Mr. Meyers was involved in arbitrage and derivatives trading. He began working on ABS financings in 1986. He currently serves as the Chair Emeritus of the Board of the Curry School of Education Foundation, and sits on the finance committee of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia, the Council of Foundations and the President’s Advisory Group. He also serves on the Board of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education. He is the Chairman of the Board of Steward Medical Group, a system of eleven hospitals in Massachusetts. Mr. Meyers also serves on the Board of TRACO, an offshore insurance company, where he chairs the finance committee. Mr. Meyers received an A.B. in Economics from Brandeis University and completed the Owner President Management Program at the Harvard Business School.
Matthew Myers, COO, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Matt has 12 years experience in credit risk, modeling, forecasting and asset management. As head of GS2’s Private Loan services business he is currently overseeing $3.6B in private student loans for clients ranging across colleges and universities, hedge funds, investment banks, insurance companies and asset-backed entities. Matt also runs GS2’s debt purchasing business that makes opportunistic acquisitions of pools of charged-off student loans. Prior to joining GS2 in 2008 Matt worked for GE Capital as a Senior Risk Analyst covering HELOCs, retail credit cards and power sports where he was twice the recipient of the GE Americas Award for excellence in analytics driving profitable growth. Matt holds a BA in Economics from Macalester College and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.
Rick O’Donnell, Founder & CEO, Skills Fund
Rick O’Donnell is founder and CEO of Skills Fund, a quality-assurance and student financing platform for high return on education post-secondary programs. Previously, he founded and served as CEO of College Portfolio, which was later acquired by Fullbridge. He is a three-time cabinet appointee in Colorado, including serving as executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Passionate about education reform and entrepreneurship, he was the founding president of The Fund for Colorado’s Future and President of the Acton Foundation of Entrepreneurial Excellence. Rick currently serves on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
Patrick Partridge, Chief Marketing Officer, Western Governors University
Patrick Partridge is Chief Marketing Officer at Western Governors University, where he’s responsible for the university’s marketing, public relations, enrollment, scholarships, alumni, and admissions departments. Partridge received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Virginia, obtaining his MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration in 1982. He spent several years in general management and entrepreneurial roles in cable television, wireless and publishing, including general manager of two cable television operations, vice president of operations, and part owner of a private cable TV company, and president of a small wireless company. Prior to joining WGU, Partridge was VP of marketing for another distance-learning university. Beginning at WGU in 2002, when the university had about 400 students, he has directed marketing and enrollment programs at WGU, which now has an online student body of over 80,000 students and over 78,000 graduates throughout all 50 states. Pat gets a kick out of photography, having picked up a few ribbons, is working (slowly) on his second novel, and has authored an irreverent book of political humor now in its third edition. For kicks (and a little self-torture) he created an instant-message phone app.
Daniel Pianko, Co-founder and Managing Director, University Ventures
Daniel is a co-founder and Managing Director of University Ventures, a leading higher education focused investment fund with approximately $300M under management. Daniel started his career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, but quickly realized that he wanted to combine private capital with the creation of a next generation of socially beneficial education companies. Since leaving Goldman, he has invested in, founded, advised, or led in a number of education related businesses that led to the creation of University Ventures. Daniel currently sits on the boards of Ponce School of Medicine, Synergis Education, Galvanize, Qubed and EDEX. Daniel is also involved in his community, serving on the Board of Trustees of Harlem Village Academies and the Alumni Council of Horace Mann. Daniel graduated from Columbia University and holds an MBA and Masters of Education from Stanford University.
Mike Pierce, Deputy Asst. Director and Sr. Advisor to Student Loan Ombudsman, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Mike Pierce is currently acting as a Deputy Assistant Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he serves as Senior Advisor to the CFPB Student Loan Ombudsman and helps lead the Bureau’s Office for Students and Young Consumers. Mike joined the Bureau in 2011 to help stand up the Bureau's work in the higher education finance marketplace. Mike continues to lead Bureau initiatives on student loan servicing, student loan repayment and the impact of student debt on the economy. Prior to joining the staff at CFPB, Mike served as a policy advisor to Congressman John Sarbanes, representing the Third District of Maryland. During his time on Capitol Hill, Mike assisted in the passage of legislation creating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. He is a graduate of the Marshall-Wythe Law School at the College of William and Mary and is admitted to practice law in Maryland.
John Pitts, Deputy Assistant Director, Intergovernmental Affairs, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB)
John Pitts serves as the CFPB’s Deputy Assistant Director for Intergovernmental Affairs. In this capacity, Mr. Pitts manages the Bureau's work with state, local, and tribal governments. Prior to the CFPB, Mr. Pitts was and Associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, where his practice focused on congressional investigations, multi-state public policy initiatives, and legal and strategic crisis management. Mr. Pitts graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law, and earned his B.A. at Kenyon College.
Charles W. Pruett, JD, Assistant Dean for Financial Aid, Georgetown University Law Center
Charles Pruett is the Assistant Dean for Financial Aid at the Georgetown University Law Center and has been with the Financial Aid Office since 1997. The ever-evolving state of the economy ensures that the needs of Georgetown Law’s student body are constantly changing. He regularly works with students to increase their knowledge of financial planning and illuminate the nuances and pitfalls important to the lives of younger professionals. For over fifteen years, Georgetown Law’s flagship financial program, “Life after Georgetown Law” has prepared thousands of graduating students to enter the “real world” as informed earners and consumers. Mr. Pruett earned both his B.A. and J.D. from The George Washington University.
Zander Rafael, Co-Founder & CEO, Climb Credit
Zander Rafael is the Chief Executive Officer at Climb Credit. After completing his BA and MA at Harvard University, he began his career at Bridgewater Associates; there, he was part of a group charged with developing the firm’s trading algorithms and developed hedging strategies for sovereign wealth funds and pensions. He left to join BCG, serving in three offices and working with financial services clients on a range of issues, including federal mortgage policy. Afterwards he started, ran, and sold a SaaS marketing platform.
Matt Ribe, Senior Director, National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Matt Ribe is the Senior Director of Legislative Affairs and Corporate Secretary for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). At the NFCC, he is responsible for government relations at the state and federal level as well as managing the organization’s Board of Trustees and member governance committees. Ribe is heavily involved in the Coalition of HUD Intermediaries, where he serves as co-chair of the Advocacy Committee. Well versed in the federal student lending programs, Ribe serves as the NFCC’s Subject Matter Expert on student loans and has been a trusted source for ABC 7 News in Chicago, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Equifax, Bankrate and other media outlets. Prior to joining the NFCC, Ribe worked as a Senior Analyst at Promontory Financial Group conducting mortgage audits as a part of the Independent Foreclosure review. Previously, he worked as a Project Manager at BITS, a division of the Financial Services Roundtable, where he managed initiatives pertaining to payments system security and combatting financial fraud. An attorney by training, Ribe received his Juris Doctor from American University’s Washington College of Law in 2011, and his Bachelor of Arts from Amherst College in 2006.
Ken Ruggiero, President & CEO, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Ken has more than 20 years of management, finance, and business development experience as an integral part of management teams that grew companies in fast-changing environments. Prior to becoming Chairman and CEO of GS2, Ken served Goal Financial, LLC for five years as CFO and then one year as President and COO. During his tenure at Goal Financial the company originated over $8 billion in student loans, becoming a top 10 student loan provider. Prior to joining Goal, Ken was CFO of eAssist Global Solutions, a $70 million venture-funded call center software company. Previously, he was CFO of INTERVU, a NASDAQ listed company that merged in 2000 with Akamai Technologies in a $2.8B transaction. Earlier in his career Ken held management positions with NBC’s Internet Division and Arthur Andersen. He received his CPA in New York, an MBA from Columbia University and a BBA in Accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.
Joe Santoro, Director, BoA Merrill Lynch
Mr. Santoro is head of the Education Finance Investment Banking team at Bank of America Merrill Lynch and has been a member of this group since 2007. He began his student loan investment banking career with UBS in 1999 where he initially assisted clients in the preparation of loan portfolio valuations, cash flow projections and pricing analyses. Since then he has helped clients create new loan programs and completed numerous financings for dozens of education loan programs, many of which incorporated innovative financing strategies and securities. His clients include state agencies, quasi government agencies, 501(c)(3)s, as well as entities on the for-profit side. In the last several years, Mr. Santoro has helped clients evaluate and execute restructurings and move forward with new opportunities - including the structuring and financing of private student and education refinance loan programs. Prior to moving into finance, Mr. Santoro was a consultant in HDR’s Municipal Advocacy Group – advising and assisting clients faced with the threat or opportunity of privatization. Before that he worked for several years in infrastructure engineering and construction management. Mr. Santoro holds a Bachelor and Master of Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and an MBA in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
Randy Schmidt, General Counsel & SVP Business Development, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Randy has over 24 years of experience with the last 18 years being in the education finance industry. He has led legal and compliance departments, created and managed sales organizations and managed client relations for national servicing firms like AES/PHEAA and secondary market clients. He is responsible for the business development and marketing activities of GS2 focusing on school, bank and other third-party client relationships. Prior to working in student loans, Mr. Schmidt handled commercial real estate transactions in private law practice with an emphasis on municipal ordinance compliance and financing of municipal improvements. Mr. Schmidt graduated from Juniata College and then received his J.D. from Widener University.
Jeff Simendinger, COO, SIMM Associates
Jeff Simendinger began his career in the collections industry as a part time collector at MBNA while in his freshmen year at the University Of Delaware Lerner School Of Business. A second generation collection executive Jeff currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer of SIMM Associates, Inc. and is also a principal and co-founder of the company. SIMM is a nationally recognized ARM (Account Receivables Management) company that provides call center solutions for debt buyers, financial institutions, healthcare facilities and both Private and Federal Student loan companies. For the past 24 years Jeff has overseen all of SIMM’s day to day operations including its First Party and Probate Divisions.
Amit Sinha, CFO & Co-Founder, Climb Credit
Amit is the Co-Founder and Chief Financial Officer at Climb Credit. Amit has 19 years of senior management experience in financial markets in US, Europe and Asia at JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Standard Chartered. He has executed over $50 billion in transactions across fixed income, equity and M&A. He has a Bachelor of Technology degree from IIT, Mumbai, and an MBA in Finance from NYU.
Harrison M. Wadsworth III, Principal, Washington Partners, LLC
Harrison Wadsworth is a principal at Washington Partners, LLC, a Washington, DC-based government and public relations firm. He has more than 25 years of experience in public policy and communications. He has expertise in a variety of areas, including the legislative process, higher education, finance, communications and trade association management. Among his clients, he serves as a special counsel to the Consumer Bankers Association, as executive director of the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations, and executive director of the International Education Council. He also works with corporate and university clients. He previously served for six years as the vice president and deputy executive director of the Education Finance Council, a trade association of student loan organizations, where he worked on issues related to the financing of student loans, including tax laws and policies, the securities markets, federal student aid laws and regulations, and communications. Mr. Wadsworth served for eight years as legislative director and press secretary for former U.S. Representative Bart Gordon, who served as the chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee and as a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and of the Rules Committee. Among his issues of responsibility were taxes, banking, telecommunications and education. He also worked for seven years as a newspaper reporter and editor at the Contra Costa Times of Walnut Creek, California, and other daily newspapers where he wrote numerous articles on diverse subjects including politics, energy, courts, government planning, and environmental issues. Mr. Wadsworth received an MA in Economics and American Foreign Policy/Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in 1987 and a BA in Mass Communications from the University of California, Davis in 1977.
Kevin Walker, VP Education Loans, LendingTree
Kevin started his career by founding a language school in Russia. He was then an early employee at student loan pioneer, First Marblehead (now Cognition Financial), where he led a unit that developed custom student loan programs at dozens of colleges. He later led the company’s marketing efforts. Kevin has been CEO and founder/acquirer of several businesses focused on lowering college costs: SmarterBucks, a rewards program that helps graduates pay down their student debt. SmarterBucks was acquired by Gradifi (now First Republic). ValoreBooks, a textbook marketplace, grew to exceed $100MM in sales and appeared twice on the Inc. 1000. Boundless, a digital textbook platform, provides low-cost, high-quality content to millions of students and educators. ValoreBooks and Boundless were acquired by Follett Higher Education. Kevin co-founded SimpleTuition (acquired by LendingTree), which has helped more than 20 million students and parents make sense of college financing choices. Kevin was also a VC for a Russia-focused fund, working for the chairman of Russia’s leading search engine, and was a management consultant at the Parthenon Group. Kevin was a New England finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year. Kevin holds degrees from Amherst and Harvard.
Mark Weadick, Managing Director, SL Capital Strategies LLC
Mark Weadick has more than 30 years’ finance, management and consulting experience and now specializes in providing consulting and financial advisory services. Mark joined SLCS in June 2008. Before joining SLCS, Mark was the co- head of Citigroup’s Student Loan Investment Banking Group, and has worked for both Citigroup (originally joining Smith Barney in 1996) and William R. Hough & Co. Mr. Weadick has served as project lead and primary contact for over 20 different entities. Mr. Weadick has also completed numerous strategic projects and M&A transactions for clients. Mr. Weadick also previously served as the chief financial officer for Student Loan Funding Corporation. Mr. Weadick has also worked as a certified public accountant for Arthur Andersen and as a corporate/securities lawyer at Taft Stettinius & Hollister. Mr. Weadick is an honors graduate of both Bowling Green State University (B.S. in Accounting) and the University of Cincinnati College of Law (J.D.). Mr. Weadick was a founding board member of the Education Finance Council in 1993 and served as Treasurer, and Vice Chairman.
Dustin Weeden, Senior Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures
Dustin Weeden is a policy specialist with NCSL’s Education Program. Dustin tracks and analyzes legislation on higher education issues including affordability, finance, student aid, performance-based funding, college savings plans, student loans, tuition policy, governance, technology transfer, and educational attainment. Additionally, he authors policy briefs and research reports. Prior to joining, NCSL, Dustin was a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at the University of Iowa. During his graduate studies he worked with several higher education policy organizations including the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. Dustin also holds degrees from Kansas State University and the University of Denver. The issue areas on which Dustin works are: higher education finance, and higher education.
Pat Wilson, Partner, Route 66 Ventures
As an entrepreneur, Pat has experienced both failure and success. As an investor, ten years of elbow grease liberally applied over multiple asset classes and investment strategies has crafted his unique voice and adeptness for early-stage investing within the venture world. Prior to joining Route 66, Pat was a Vice President with Quona Capital, a growth-stage venture fund where he focused on fintech in emerging markets. At Route 66, Pat brings together his entrepreneurial, direct investment and global fintech expertise to source, evaluate and lead new venture investments as well as mentor and support Route 66’s existing portfolio. After co-founding a marketing tech start-up during university, Pat spent his early career in middle-market buyouts where he worked as an investment banker and private equity investor at Citigroup, Brazos Private Equity Partners and HBK Capital Management, a global hedge fund managing $10 billion in equity capital. Pat left HBK in 2008, to start a private equity fund specializing in the acquisition, renovation and management of multi-family affordable housing. Under his leadership, the company redeveloped properties now housing 1,062 low-income families. Pat understands the challenges of starting and growing a business. He knows firsthand the pain of discipline, the importance of people and the humility of leadership. Pat is passionate about entrepreneurs’ ability to create a better, more inclusive tomorrow and feels privileged to support Route 66’s investees with the time, attention and hard work required to ensure success. Pat holds a BS, Finance and Entrepreneurship, from the University of Pennsylvania – The Wharton School.
Steve Winnie, President & COO, CampusDoor
Steve Winnie is the President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of CampusDoor. He also serves as the Corporate Secretary and Security Officer and heads the company’s business development efforts. In his various roles, Mr. Winnie oversees all operational, legal and regulatory matters and manages intake and implementation of new clients and loan programs. After graduating from Cornell Law School, Mr. Winnie worked in private practice in the Commercial Litigation Department of Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton, LLP. He then served as General Counsel to Campus Door, Inc. from 2006-2008. Mr. Winnie then worked as Associate General Counsel at Sallie Mae where his practice focused on private student loan originations, specifically marketing and advertising, new product development and regulatory compliance. Mr. Winnie rejoined CampusDoor in 2009. Mr. Winnie earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. He is also a graduate of the ABA National Compliance School held in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Winnie is admitted to practice law before the state and federal courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Winnie’s community involvement includes participation on the Board of Directors of the Carlisle Family YMCA and the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel as well as serving as a certified youth coach for the Cumberland Valley Youth Basketball Association and the Cumberland Valley Youth Lacrosse Program.
Jack Zoeller, Founder & CEO, Purefy
Jack founded Purefy in 2014 as a student loan refinancing platform and has led its growth as an award-winning financial technology partner to financial institutions. He began his career on Wall Street where he was an innovator and leader in the early years of the U.S. derivative markets. Over three decades he built his reputation as a start-up and turnaround CEO at E.F. Hutton Indemnity, ComFed Bancorp, Bank of Virginia, Cordia Bancorp, Capital Risk Management, North American Health & Life Insurance, and AtlantiCare Risk Management. Jack has launched 5 new companies, served on 23 boards of directors and is a Visiting Professor at George Washington University. In 2010 he was appointed to the Defense Business Board, a volunteer board at the Pentagon. Jack also served in the U.S. Army as a Ranger and company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division. He earned degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Harvard University and Oxford University where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.