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Conference Speakers J-N



Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers









Heather Johnson, Phi Theta Kappa Honor SocietyPrior to joining the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation
Heather worked in Phi Theta Kappa’s Scholarship Programs Department for nine years. Prior to joining the Headquarters staff, she was associated with Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, Assistant Director of Admissions, working specifically with recruitment of transfer students.

Heather attended Concordia University in Portland, graduating with a Master’s in Business Administration in 2004 as well as completing a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 1997. Heather also graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 1994 from Central Oregon Community College. She became a member of Phi Theta Kappa in 1993 while attending COCC.

As Scholarship Developer & Prospect Researcher, Heather helps identify potential donors and develop new scholarship opportunities for Phi Theta Kappa members. She also oversees all development, design, and review of all online scholarship applications and is responsible for all aspects of judging and scholar selection.

Jenna Johnson, Elks National Foundation
Jenna Johnson, an alumna of Abilene Christian University, is the second Elks Scholar Fellow to lead the Elks Scholar Service Trips initiative. A 2012 Most Valuable Student scholarship recipient from the Foundation, Jenna joined the Foundation staff in April of 2016 and has a background in running mission trips and working in Residence Life throughout college. She has led one Elks Scholar Service Trip in Chicago and will lead five more trips over the next two years to different parts of the U.S.

Tania Johnson-Rachkoskie, National Association for College Admission Counseling
Tania Rachkoskie is the Director of Education and Training for NACAC. Tania brings with her more than 15 years of college counseling and college admissions experience. Her time at The Common Application as the Director of Outreach, The Burlington School as the Director of College Counseling and Director Admissions provide her with insight into the high school counselor perspective of the process. Tania started her career in college admissions at Muhlenberg College where she was responsible for student of color recruitment. She continued working with underserved student populations while at Bucknell University and Guilford College. Tania earned a B.A. in Psychology from Muhlenberg College, an M.A. in Liberal Studies and a certificate in Non-profit management from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Certificate in College Counseling from the University of California San Diego Extension. Tania is currently completing coursework at Northeastern University in the MEd. Higher Education program.

Mark Kantrowitz, Cappex.com LLC
Mark Kantrowitz is a leading national expert on scholarships, the FAFSA, student loans and education tax benefits; he has written four bestselling books about planning and paying for college. He is currently Publisher and VP of Strategy of Cappex.com, a free web site that connects students with colleges and scholarships. He has previously served as publisher of Edvisors, Fastweb and FinAid and as a member of the NSPA board of directors. He has testified before Congress and federal/state agencies about student aid policy on several occasions. Mark has been quoted in more than 5,000 articles in newspapers and magazines over the last five years. He has written for the Washington Post, Money Magazine, New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Brett Kimmel, America Achieves College Access and Success
Brett Kimmel is Chief Program Officer, College Access and Success, at America Achieves. In this role, he helps lead CollegePoint, a national initiative designed to significantly move the needle on the number of high performing low- and moderate-income students attending the best colleges in the country. From 2006-2015, Brett was principal of Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School (WHEELS), a high performing New York City public school that he founded. In 2014, President Barack Obama highlighted the success of WHEELS in two speeches, including the State of the Union Address. From 2002-2006, Brett was Assistant Principal at Intermediate School 143 in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan. Prior to becoming Assistant Principal in 2002, he was Project Director for Extended Learning Opportunities at New York University’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. Brett is a Teach for America alumnus and taught 5th grade in Houston, Texas. He holds a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Political Science from University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from New York University. Brett was a 2010 Cahn Fellow for Distinguished New York City Principals at Teachers College, Columbia University, and from 2012 to 2015, he completed an America Achieves Principal Fellowship. Since 2012, he has served on the Board of Directors of Blue Engine, Inc. Brett was featured in Wendy Kopp’s book, A Chance to Make History, and he and WHEELS have been profiled on NBC’s Today Show and in The New York Times.

Kelli King, University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Kelli King is entering her sixth year as the Director for the William H. Thompson Scholars Learning Community at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Before relocating to Nebraska, Ms. King lived in New York City where she was attending the Teachers College of Columbia University. Prior to her graduate work at Columbia University, she taught a myriad of social studies courses in a variety of schools.

Beth Barnette Knight, IUPUI
Beth Barnette Knight is the Director of the Office of Student Scholarships at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Ms. Knight over-sees the coordination and administration of over $20M in institutional scholarships at IUPUI. She is also responsible for the recruitment and retention of high-ability students to the campus. Ms. Knight received her master’s degree in Communication Studies from IUPUI in 2007. In 2010, she completed the Certificate in Fund Raising Management from The Fundraising School in School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. IUPUI has twice been awarded the NSPA University Provider of the Year Award in 2006 and 2008.

Gary Kuch, The Clark Foundation Scholarship Office
Gary M. Kuch is currently the Director of the Clark Foundation Scholarship Program in Cooperstown, New York. He has over thirty years in public education having retired recently as a Superintendent of Schools. For the last twenty years, he has worked in poor rural schools in which the College for Every Student program has been an integral partner in giving children their dreams back. Working initially as a School Psychologist, Mr. Kuch has a strong background in prevention and building resilience in families and communities. For over 18 years, he worked as a trainer and consultant for the Northeast Regional Center for Safe and Drug Free Schools and Communities.

Mimi Daly Larson, Scholarship America
Mimi Daly Larson is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Public Policy at Scholarship America. Mimi is responsible for Scholarship America’s marketing and brand strategy, public policy and advocacy initiatives, and advancing the organization’s strategic awareness and revenue opportunities. With more than 20 years of experience in marketing and fundraising, she has held multiple executive leadership positions at nonprofit organizations. Mimi has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and done consulting projects in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications from Macalester College and a Mini-MBA in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of St. Thomas.

Anne LassenFlinn Scholars Program
Anne Lassen currently serves as Assistant Vice President of the Flinn Scholars Program, a partnership with Arizona’s public universities to retain in Arizona the state’s most accomplished and promising high-school graduates. Anne joined the Flinn Foundation from the University of Arizona, where she served as Associate Director. In that position, she managed UA’s out-of-state recruitment efforts. Anne holds a master’s degree in counseling and bachelor’s degree in speech communication, both from Northern Arizona University.

Karen Leaffer, Leaffer Law Group
Karen Leaffer is a recognized leader in the area of nonprofit law, and a frequent presenter at the National Scholarship Providers Association’s Annual Conference. She practiced in some of Denver’s largest, most respected law firms for more than 20 years before forming Leaffer Law Group, a firm whose sole focus is to advance, guide and support the work of nonprofit organizations. She is also a community leader, a mentor and an entrepreneur. It is her extensive experience, combined with her lifelong dedication to serving nonprofits, which makes her a sought-after resource for nonprofit organizations and their advisors.

Karen serves as both general and special counsel to nonprofits, advising them on corporate, tax and transactional matters, including the regulation of private foundations, supporting organizations and donor-advised funds, and the award of scholarships, prizes and other special types of grants.

Karen currently serves as managing editor and contributing author of A Guide for Colorado Nonprofit Organizations, a role she has served since the Guide’s inception in 2007. She also served as a contributing author of the National Scholarship Providers Association’s Scholarship Program Toolkit. Karen has a Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent® ranking, and has been recognized in Best Lawyers in America® for Non-Profit/Charities Law (2007-2016), and for Tax Law (2015) and in Law Week Colorado as the Barrister’s Best Nonprofit Attorney (2011, 2013, 2015). In 2014, she received the Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business award in the law category.

Stevie Lee, American Indian College Fund
Stevie administers the Tribal College and University Scholarship Program, accounting for more than $4 million in scholarships each year. When not at work, she's pursuing her PhD in Higher Education, with a focus in Diversity and Higher Learning, at the University of Denver. She researches the intersectionality of Indigenous pedagogy, Inclusive Excellence, as it relates to student achievement, access and equity for underrepresented groups. She also sub-specializes in research methods, allowing her to critically assess utilizing quantitative and qualitative research.

Abigail LipsonHarvard University 
Abigail Lipson is the Director of the Bureau of Study Counsel at Harvard University, and co-founder of the multi-university Resilience Consortium. With a background in education and psychology, her interests include the practical, experiential, and neurocognitive aspects of the learning process; the relationships between motivation, achievement, and creativity; resilience in the face of failure and resilience in the face of success; how we make and remake decisions and cope with the consequences; and how college students’ senses of identity, family, culture, class, and life direction affect their college learning and evolve over time. She is a licensed clinical psychologist.

Sharon Lusk, Hamilton Holt School
Sharon Lusk has over 35 years of experience in adult education at Rollins College.She is the Assistant Dean of the Hamilton Holt School, a program that serves the educational needs of non-traditional learners through undergraduate, graduate, and lifelong learning courses.Sharon’s experience at Rollins has encompassed student services, advising, and academic administration.She is currently responsible for oversight of the Hamilton Holt School scholarship program, including promotion and oversight of the application, awarding, and renewal processes.She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling Degree from Rollins College.

Patricia Macdonald, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
Pat Macdonald, a 25-year resident of Kansas City, Missouri, joined the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation in 2006. She serves dually as Senior Philanthropic Advisor, providing professional guidance to individuals, families and businesses, in and out of state, on their charitable accounts and scholarship programs, and also as Executive Director to the Black Community Fund which makes charitable grants and administers a population-focused scholarship program. 

Pat has a long history in nonprofit management, research, strategic planning, resource and community development, and the arts.  In the late 1990’s Pat represented Kansas City as one of eight individuals selected nationally to participate in the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild’s CDC/ARI (Community Development Arts Resource Initiative) at Harvard Graduate School of Business.  In the early 2000’s Pat enjoyed independent consulting as a museum design content researcher for Eisterhold Associates. Eisterhold Associates is an internationally recognized museum design firm located in North Kansas City. With Eisterhold, Pat contributed to such projects as the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in North Carolina, Rosa Parks Children’s Annex in Alabama and Ralph Nader’s Tort Law Museum in Connecticut. 

Michael Maher, Western Golf/Evans Scholars
Mike Maher is the Director of Education for the Evans Scholars Foundation. An Evans Scholar Alum from Marquette University, Mike has worked at the WGA since 2008 and previously served as the Caddie and Scholarship Development Manager and the Associate Director, Education. In 2012, Mike established the WGA Caddie Academy for high school girls. This unique program allows its participants – with an emphasis on minorities and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds – a chance to experience the benefits of being a golf caddie, from learning life lessons to being around successful adults. Those who complete the program are eligible to apply for the Evans Scholarship, which provides a full, four-year tuition and housing grant to top universities across the country.

Mike is a golf enthusiast and enjoys all sports and outdoor activities. Mike lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, Liz, and their two daughters, Hannah and Nellie.

Johnna MartinezBellevue University
Johnna Martinez is the Director for Scholarships and Grants at Bellevue University, in Bellevue, Nebraska.She is responsible for managing and developing strategies, processes, and procedures to effectively administer all institutionally related scholarships and grants for the University.As a stand-alone department, Johnna’s team collaborates with the Financial Aid Department, Student Financial Services, Student Finance, the Business Office, Enrollment, Advising, Athletics, Advancement and the individual colleges to ensure a smooth centralized process for current and prospective students to apply for scholarships.Johnna joined the University 9 years ago initially as a High School Outreach Counselor; recruiting high school seniors to the University.She has always worked with scholarships and in 2011 took over as Manager for the newly formed Scholarships and Grants Department.She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master of Science from Bellevue University.

Lesley McBainPh.D.,NACUBO
Lesley McBain is Assistant Director, Research and Policy Analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). In this role, she works on research studies such as the Tuition Discounting Study and other studies on higher education finance issues. She has also worked at the U.S. Department of Education, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) within the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Dr. McBain earned a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of California, Los Angeles; she also holds an M.A. in education from UCLA and a M.S. in higher education from Drexel University.

K.J. McCorry, Officiency, Inc.
K.J. McCorry is the owner of Officiency Enterprises, Inc. a consulting company based out of Boulder, CO. K.J. consults in a wide-variety of topics including productivity, systems improvement, records management, and sustainability. She is the author of Organize Your Work Day In No Time, by Que Publishing. She has appeared New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Chicago Tribune, Real Simple, CNN Money, Better Homes & Gardens with regular TV and radio appearances. K.J. has been nominated twice by her peers for the prestigious Founders Award with the National Association of Professional Organizing, recognizing leaders who have furthered the productivity industry. She was also selected as a finalist for the 2008 Oppenheimer Funds Entrepreneur of the Year Award, who recognizes entrepreneurs who have successfully built businesses and positively impacted the community. She currently resides in Boulder, CO.

Rob McMaster, Lincoln Community Foundation
After receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree, Rob McMaster, had a career as a partner in a small retail grocery for 35 years. Seeking to do something totally different, he entered the community foundation world where he administers 60+ scholarships paying out $328,000 in 2016, assists the Vice President for Community Outreach with competitive grants, and oversees the management of the Foundation Building, which houses 14 nonprofit organizations.

William G. McMullenTarrant County College, Trinity River Campus
Bill McMullen serves as the director of Student Financial Aid Services at Tarrant County College Trinity River Campus in Texas with 20 years of experience in financial aid. Bill is a Veteran of The U.S. Air Force with 10 years of active duty. He served in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm with the Flying Tigers. Bill started in Financial Aid as a Veteran Affairs Work Study and held several positions within financial aid, including as front counter staff, College Work Study coordinator, loan coordinator, Veteran Certify Official, and associate director. Bill serves as staff sponsor of the Veterans Organization, Guitar Club, and Martial Arts Club.

May Melehan, Making Waves Foundation
May Melehan has been working in education for almost 15 years beginning her career tutoring middle and high school students. She attended the University of San Francisco and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Ethnic Studies. Later, she obtained a Master’s degree in Sociology and Education with an emphasis on Educational Policy at Teachers College at Columbia University. She moved from New York to Portland, Oregon and worked for an organization coaching thousands of students in colleges and universities all over the country. It was through these experiences she learned the value of coaching and its potential to support students to retain and graduate from college. In 2013, she came back to California to lead the coaching department in the Making Waves College and Alumni Program (CAP). She has a strong belief that education, specifically institutions of higher education, serve as spaces of opportunity and upward mobility leading to a greater world impact for all students.

Amy Miller, The University of Southern Mississippi
Amy Chasteen Miller serves as Associate Provost for Academic Excellence at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she focuses primarily on the undergraduate curriculum, faculty development, student engagement, and student success. She enjoys speaking to a range of audiences on and off campus about how to connect students and faculty members in productive ways. Dr. Miller holds a Ph.D. in sociology and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from the University of Michigan, and she continues to teach undergraduate students in sociology and conduct research on issues of gender and health.

Brenda Moran, STARS Scholarship Program, Council Bluffs Community Education Foundation
Brenda serves as the Program Director for the STARS Scholarship which supports low-income adult parents who are seeking a degree, license, or certificate. As a part educational advocate, part social worker, part cheerleader and part drill sergeant, she continues to find creative ways to motivate, congratulate and stimulate her scholars. She is a long-time champion of educational success with over 20 years of experience teaching, providing, and managing educational and service programs for all ages. With a Ph.D. in Children, Youth and Families from the University of Nebraska, a Master's in Ministry from Creighton University and a Bachelor's in Communications from the University of New Hampshire, she has first-hand experience as a traditional and an adult learner. Brenda and her husband Craig, live on a farm in Iowa and delight in their four grown children, a daughter and son-in-law and first granddaughter. For fun, she enjoys word games which helped her to become a contestant on Wheel of Fortune yet, alas, she couldn’t solve the bonus round puzzle!

Amy Basore Murphy, St. Louis Community Foundation
Amy Murphy is co-creator of Scholarship Central and serves on its oversight committee. She is director of scholarships and donor services at the St. Louis Community Foundation and serves on the Steering Committee of St. Louis Graduates. With forty years in college and nonprofit management, Amy enjoys bringing new people and businesses to the scholarship table to help remove financial barriers from college access and completion. Amy has an MA from Washington University.

Dr. Kevin NadalExecutive Director,The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York
Dr. Kevin Nadal is an award-winning professor, psychologist, performer, activist, and author, who received his doctorate in counseling psychology from Columbia University in New York City. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the Graduate Center (GC) at the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as an Associate Professor of psychology at both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and GC- CUNY. He is one of the leading researchers in understanding the impacts of microaggressions , or subtle forms of discrimination, on the mental and physical health of people of color; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people; and other marginalized groups. He has published over 60 works on multicultural issues in the fields of psychology and education.

A California-bred New Yorker, he was named one of People Magazine's hottest bachelors in 2006; he once won an argument with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor"; and he was even once a Hot Topic on ABC's "The View". He has been featured in the New York Times, Buzzfeed, PBS, the Weather Channel, the History Channel, HGTV, Philippine News, The Filipino Channel, and Filipinas Magazine. He is the author of five books including Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice (2011, John Wiley and Sons), Filipino American Psychology: A Collection of Personal Narratives (2010, Author House), Women and Mental Disorders (2011, Praeger), That's So Gay: Microaggressions and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community (2013, APA Books), and Filipinos in New York City (2015, Arcadia).

He is the President of the Asian American Psychological Association, a National Trustee of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color Network. In 2011, he received the Early Career Award for Contributions to Excellence by the Asian American Psychological Association and in 2012, he received the Emerging Professional Award for Research from the American Psychological Association Division 45.

Barry Nagle, UNCF
Barry Nagle is the Gates Millennium Scholars Program/UNCF Senior Research Associate. Dr. Nagle has worked in the research and evaluation field for the 18 years and completed Educational Research Methodology graduate work at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and earned his doctorate at The George Washington University in Educational Administration and Policy Studies. He has conducted 21 national and international research and evaluation projects and over 100 regional and local research and evaluation projects. Dr. Nagle also serves on the Association for Institutional Research’s Tech Tip team which provides information to IR officers in the field.

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