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Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers


Conference Speakers









Char OehmSusan T. Buffett Foundation
Char Oehm is the Scholarship Coordinator at The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. Char’s background in education began with her service to the Omaha Public Schools before joining the Foundation. She works closely with the colleges and universities across the state of Nebraska to provide the necessary support for students on scholarship.

Amber OvertonEast St. Louis Public Schools
Amber Overton has recently accepted a position as School Social Worker with East St. Louis Public Schools. In that role, she works to provide guidance and advising to young people transitioning out of high school. She also provides management support to St. Louis Graduates High School to College Center, a summer drop-in site for students encountering challenges in the summer after high school graduation. Amber is a graduate of Saint Louis University with bachelors’ degrees in Social Work and Psychology and a 2015 graduate of the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University with a specialization in Urban Education. As 2016 Senior Education Policy Intern, Amber researched merit-based financial aid and how to make merit programs more equitable.

Dan ParrisSpeak Up Productions
Dan Parris is an award-winning filmmaker and owner of Speak Up Productions, a St. Louis based film production company. He’s directed the feature length documentaries When the Saints, Show Me Democracy, and the award-winning film, What Matters?. His projects have given him the humbling opportunity to speak to thousands about the issue of extreme poverty and the ability young people have to make a difference. Dan was awarded Biola University's 2012 Distinguished Young Alumni of the Year Award for his work in film and activism and was the closing speaker at the 2014 TEDxGatewayArch City 2.0 event. Most recently, Dan co-founded the non-profit, Continuity, with the mission to expand diversity in media production.

Stephen PayneNational Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
Stephen recently graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in both educational policy and communication arts. In addition to studying education policy, Stephen served as an intern in the Office of Government Affairs at Penn State and also spent a summer in D.C. working on student aid issues with the federal relations team at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).

Lori PencePurdue University
Lori Pence is an Associate Director of Student Success in the College of Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette. She has been serving students and families in academia since 1995. Since 2006, she has administered scholarship programs at Purdue University. Lori has transformed and lead scholarship innovation practices within academic units but also campus wide by partnering with the Offices of Financial Aid and University Development. Lori’s success in administering scholarships centers on being visionary, strategic, innovative, collaborative, action-oriented, solution focused, change and change management, developing positive professional relationships, and working as a team. People, actions, and attitude are what make a difference to students as well as to colleagues.

Kellie PickettSusan T. Buffett Foundation
Kellie Pickett is the Director of Scholarships at The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation. Before joining the Foundation, she spent her career working with college students through roles in Admissions, Orientation, Leadership, and Civic Engagement at various universities across the country. In her current role, she strives to provide access and success opportunities for low-income students in the state of Nebraska.

Kelly PierceIndiana State University
Kelly is the Scholarship Coordinator for Outreach at Indiana State University. Kelly worked previously in the Office of Admissions and Distance Support Services before transitioning to the University Scholarship Office in 2010.

Rachel PiontakAmerican Indian College Fund
Rachel has been with the American Indian College Fund for three years and currently serves as the Circle of Scholars Program Administrator. In this role, she coordinates current scholar and alumni communications, informal meet up events, and seeks ways to engage past and present scholars with the broader work of the College Fund. Prior to this work, she completed her Masters in Sociology at the University of Cape Town with a focus on social upgrading through mobile-based agricultural extension programs in Uganda.

Carl RistCFED
Carl Rist is the Director of Children’s Savings and Senior Advisor for Asset Building at CFED. In this role, he directs the full array of resources at CFED (policy, research, field-building, technical assistance and fundraising support) towards achieving CFED’s long-term vision of a Children’s Savings Account (CSA) for every child in the U.S. by 2025. Most recently, Mr. Rist was the Director of the 1:1 Fund at CFED, an innovative effort to raise incentive dollars for CSA programs. Prior to directing the 1:1 Fund, Mr. Rist was vice president of Assets and Opportunity Programs and director of Asset Building at CFED. Mr. Rist earned an M.A. in public policy from Duke University and holds an undergraduate degree from Davidson College.

Nicolas RosaMeritus College Fund
Nicolas Rosa joined Meritus in 2014 with primary responsibilities in managing Scholar outreach and selection, supporting Scholars in their academic and professional pursuits, and coordinating scholarship, counseling, and career program efforts. Prior to joining the Meritus team, Mr. Rosa founded FirstGen, a college campus based organization focused on assisting first generation college students as they work towards graduation. Mr. Rosa also worked with college-bound students as an Admission Fellow for Pitzer College where he interviewed student applicants, gave informational presentations on college admission and financial aid policies, and assisted in the selection of the first year class. Mr. Rosa holds a B.A. with Honors in Psychology and English & World Literature from Pitzer College and grew up in Las Vegas, NV. Mr. Rosa is a first generation college student who loves live music, a good book, blogging, and the occasional reality show every now and then.

Kimberly ReddAmerican Library Association
Kimberly is the Program officer for Education & Certification at the American Library Association in Chicago, IL.  She manages the ALA Scholarship Clearinghouse which supports individual pursuing their master’s in library and information science.  She also manages the Library Support Staff Certification (LSSC) and the Certified Public Library Administration (CPLA) certification programs for the ALA-Allied Professional Association.

Ashley RuddKauffman Scholars, Inc.
Ashley Rudd joined Kauffman Scholars in the Winter of 2013 as a Secondary Coach. Ashley later transitioned to a Postsecondary Coach, mentoring Scholars at the collegiate level. Prior to joining the Kauffman Scholars staff, Ashley worked as Support Services Coordinator for the Platte County Board of Services, and as a Special Education Instructional Assistant for the North Kansas City School District. Ashley holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in Youth Development and Juvenile Justice.

Nancy SanchezKaplan Educational Foundation
Nancy Lee Sánchez is the Executive Director for the Kaplan Educational Foundation. Nancy was responsible for the design and implementation of the Kaplan Leadership Program's programmatic model. She has over 18 years of expertise providing greater access to higher education, improving the college experience, and supporting leadership among low-income, under-represented and non-traditional students through services that target factors affecting degree-attainment gaps. 

Nancy's educational trajectory started at Kingsborough Community College. She holds a BA from Long Island University and a MA from Brooklyn College.   A 2014 National Hispanic Executive Leadership Fellow, Nancy completed an Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University and a Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership.

Faith SandlerThe Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis
Faith Sandler is Executive Director of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, an organization comprised of $40 million in assets providing $5 million annually in interest-free loans and grants to 600 low-income students. The organization also offers: advising; paid internships; and, advocacy at the institutional, state, and federal levels. Prior, Sandler worked for the federal court evaluating school desegregation in St. Louis. She is co-founder of a regional college access and success network called St. Louis Graduates, serves on the board of directors of the Dan Broida/Sigma-Aldrich Scholarship Fund, and the Advisory Board of University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Nonprofit Management and Leadership Program. Recent recognition of Faith’s work includes: St. Louis County NAACP’s Inspiring St. Louisan award, National College Access Network’s Executive Leadership Award of Excellence, MONEY Hero for Missouri by Money Magazine, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from University of Missouri-St. Louis.


Diane SchorrThe Suder Foundation

As Executive Director, Diane transforms ideas into workable solutions such as The Suder Foundation’s holistic student success program, First Scholars®. Diane designs opportunities to collaborate with, convene, and connect higher education professionals to increase the success of first-generation college students and create social impact in the higher education sector. Her path to philanthropy includes positions in law, higher education, public, and nonprofit organizations. In addition to her current work, Diane is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy® (CAP®) and consults as a nonprofit subject matter expert for a global technology firm.  She co-facilitates NSPA’s learning circle for private foundations.


Joy ScoureyWashington State University

Joy has over 22 years of experience working with financial aid and scholarships in higher education.  She serves as Senior Associate Director for Financial and Scholarships which encompasses oversight of Central Scholarships, Program Administration, Student Services, Outreach and managing the day-to-day internal operations.  Washington State is a top tier research university and Washington’s original land-grant university, serving citizens statewide and worldwide with four campus locations across Washington and online.  WSU’s enrollment is 29,686.


Maryann SlaterElks National Foundation

Maryann Slater is a Rutgers University alumna, and her life and career path have been directly shaped by the Elks National Foundation, which she now works for. The recipient of a 2011 Legacy award from the Foundation, she was selected to be on the Foundation's Scholar Advisory Board throughout her time in college and was able to step into the Elks Scholar Fellow position, a full-time two-year position at the Foundation specifically for an Elks scholar or a scholarship recipient from the Foundation. She stepped into the position as the first Fellow in June of 2015 and began the Elks Scholar Service Trips initiative that brings up to 20 scholarship recipients to locations throughout the country to do service and connect with each other, Foundation donors and Elks members, for one week at a time. The first three trips traveled to Manistique, Michigan, Oakland, California and Washington, D.C. She was promoted in November to a permanent position (open-ended) at the Foundation as the Programs Relationship Associate where she now oversees many programs the Foundation offers to engage scholarship recipients.


Larry SparkmanUniversity of Southern Mississippi
Larry Sparkman serves as the Director of the Luckyday Foundation Citizenship Scholars Program, a privately funded scholarship and four-year student development program that facilitates a living-learning community, service learning, and servant leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi. Larry’s previous professional experiences include: serving as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer, directing a first year experience office, facilitating orientation for new students, directing student recruitment and enlistment, leading enrollment management teams, campus ministry, serving as a children’s program coordinator at a psychological rehabilitation hospital, and working as a mental health professional in correctional institutions.

Larry holds a Master of Social Work from Louisiana State University, Master of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from The University of Southern Mississippi.


Sylvia SpiveyThe Philadelphia Foundation
Sylvia T. Spivey joined The Philadelphia Foundation (TPF) in 2001 and currently serves as the Development & Scholarship Manager.  Sylvia’s role at TPF—a community foundation and Southeastern Pennsylvania’s leading center for community philanthropic engagement—provides her with the opportunity to oversee the distribution of over $1.5 million in scholarships annually while maintaining relationships with the donors associated with TPF’s scholarship funds.    

Sylvia’s passion for philanthropy and community service was ignited while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in communication. Her commitment lies in connecting individuals to the resources that will allow them to follow their dreams. She does this by supporting students of all ages in their pursuit of higher education, inspiring women to find fulfillment in their careers, and assisting nonprofits in their efforts to maximize their capacity.  

Sylvia is a native Philadelphian and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Northern Children Services in Philadelphia. She is the current president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Executive Women International; a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP); and a charter member of The Philadelphia College Prep Roundtable.   

Sylvia’s scholarship expertise, however, extends beyond the Philadelphia area as she lends her knowledge to students and several nonprofits across the country.  Currently, she is the co-chair of the International Review Committee for Executive Women International’s EWISP scholarship.  She has also served on the application review committee for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund’s Gates Millennium Scholarship Program, and was review committee member for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund.


Laura SteffenDaniels Fund
Laura Steffen is the Assistant Vice President of Scholar Recruitment and Selection at the Daniels Fund. She has been working in the Daniels Scholarship Program since November 2007 and overseeing the selection of Daniels Scholars since 2015. She is bilingual and uses her Spanish-speaking abilities to support Spanish-speaking families.

Prior to joining the Daniels Fund, Laura was a high school Spanish teacher, field hockey and lacrosse coach, and student advisor working at Kent Denver School and Fountain Valley School. She also served as the Director of the Latino Initiative at Junior Achievement of the Rockies. Laura currently represents the Daniels Fund on the National Scholarship Providers Association Board of Directors.

Having grown up in Salisbury, Maryland, Laura attended St. Andrew's School in Middletown, DE, earned her B.A. in English Literature from University of Oregon and her M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.


Erin SteinfortIUPUI
Erin Steinfort is the Senior Assistant Director, overseeing Special Scholarship Programs in the Office of Student Scholarships at Indiana University- Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Mrs. Steinfort processes and manages scholarship and fellowship awards for the university, including the coordination and management of the Cox Scholarship program; communicating with departments on new procedures for awarding. She is also responsible for serving as the campus NCAA Financial Aid Representative to coordinate the processing and verifying of eligible of athletic awards and financial aid. Mrs. Steinfort received her bachelor’s of Science degree from Purdue University in Financial Planning and Counseling in 2006. She received her Masters of Arts in Public Relations Management in 2014.

Karen SterkJeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund
Karen is a champion for women, a champion for education and a champion for social justice. 

Before joining Jeannette Rankin Fund as Executive Director, Karen was the Founding Director of Racial Justice at the YWCA of Greater Atlanta.  For two years, she served as the Program and Development Director, responsible for both the YWCA’s programs and fundraising. She was part of the Senior Leadership Team that revitalized the YWCA of Greater Atlanta, taking the organization from a $300K deficit to break even in one year. 

Karen spent the previous ten years at the YWCA of Minneapolis, leaving as the VP of Health and Wellness. Her drive to create and grow programs while building financial vitality was welcomed. During her tenure her team tripled the number of members and revenues. She was part of the team that launched the YWCA’s Racial Justice Program It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race in 2002. 

Karen is married to Ron Warren who is a Senior HR Manager at Delta Air Lines.  They have two adult daughters, a son in law and a rescued greyhound.

Kim StezalaStezala Consulting, LLC
Kimberly Stezala is President of Stezala Consulting, LLC, a company that assists scholarship providers, foundations and educational organizations to improve their vitality through objective analysis and consulting. Kim is focused on the strategy, evaluation, and improvement of programs with the overall goal of strengthening outcomes for youth and families in the college pipeline.

Students and parents know Kim as The Scholarship Lady,® through www.scholarshiplady.com and her book Scholarships 101: The Real-World Guide to Getting Cash for College. She has been a guest speaker for the National Scholarship Providers Association for 10 years and was the content development consultant for the NSPA’s online toolkit for scholarship providers.


LaTrena StokesJeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund

LaTrena is a woman who knows that ALL things are possible to those who believe.

She was destined to link arms with Jeannette Rankin Scholarship Fund in the summer of 2011 as a scholar. Fate would have it that she now links her passion with JRF as a staff member. LaTrena’s perseverance has propelled her to succeed and to help those that she cross paths with do the same. LaTrena has a passion for people and is dedicated to excellence. She has a BA from the University of Georgia in Human Development & Family Science and a BA from Andersonville Theological Seminary in Theology. LaTrena has received a number of awards including GA Woman of the Year Scholar and UGA Amazing Student.


LaTrena is the proud parent of two boys Cameron, age 13 and Jeremy, age 11.


Jeff StricklandThe Ford Family Foundation
Jeff Strickland joined the Foundation in 2013. He brought with him a unique set of skills in personal counseling, academic advising, and career guidance. In addition, he is an alumnus of the Ford ReStart Program (class of 2001). Jeff has served as a counselor in Medford and Ashland public schools, Oregon State University – Cascades, and Central Oregon Community College. Prior to his counseling career, he worked as a project manager, community liaison, and volunteer coordinator in affordable housing and commercial property development. Jeff holds a bachelor's degree in psychology, a master's degree in counseling, and certification with the National Board for Certified Counselors. Living most of his life in Southern Oregon, Jeff enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, fishing, canoeing and cross-country skiing. He lives in Eugene and has two grown daughters who reside in Oregon and South Carolina.

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support!

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