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Board Member Bios


Oscar Sweeten-Lopez, President, College Success Tools, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
As the College Success Tools leader, Oscar oversees the foundation’s comprehensive college success products and services.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2005, Oscar was director of student retention and workforce development for the Oregon Council for Hispanic Advancement. Other past experience includes work with the Oregon Human Development Corporation and with AmeriCorps. Oscar has a bachelor's in political science and Spanish from the University of Oregon and is a leadership fellow at the Institute of Nonprofit Management at Portland State University.


Jane Thompson, Executive Director, TD Scholarships Canada
Jane Thompson has been the Executive Director of the TD Scholarship program for the last fifteen years, and holds a Bachelor of Commerce, and an MA and PhD in Women’s History. She serves on the Board of NSPA, lives in Toronto with her husband and son, and recently published “Resilient Woman: Weaving Together Work, Family; and Self.” 


David Levy, Scholarship Chair, Community Foundation of Verdugos
David was formerly an Editor of and worked on updating and expanding the site's resources for students and families. David brings 30 years of experience as Director of Financial Aid at some of the nation's leading colleges, including Scripps College, California Institute of Technology, and Occidental College. He is respected by students, parents and financial aid professionals nationwide because of his extensive outreach and volunteer activities, his extensive knowledge of financial aid, and his leadership in helping to simplify the aid application process. David has served in numerous financial aid leadership and volunteer positions on the national, regional and state levels and has received more than 35 awards for his service. 


Maria Falvo, President and Chief Executive Officer, American Savings Foundation
Maria is president and CEO of the American Savings Foundation, located in New Britain, CT, where she has worked since 2000.  Over the last 15 years she has taken on increasing responsibilities in communications, strategic philanthropy, financial operations, and endowment management, while designing and directing the largest single-source college scholarship program in Connecticut. She holds an MBA in Finance and Management from the University of Connecticut and an MS in Communication from Central Connecticut State University.  In January 2016 Maria assumed the role of president & CEO of the American Savings Foundation.


Larry Sparkman, Executive Director, Luckyday Foundation Citizenship Scholars Program, The University of Southern Mississippi    
Dr. Larry A. Sparkman serves as the Director of the Luckyday Foundation Citizenship Scholars Program, a privately funded scholarship and four-year student development program that and facilitates a living-learning community, service learning, and servant leadership at The University of Southern Mississippi. The Luckyday Citizenship Program has been recognized as a Best Practice in Student Affairs in the state of Mississippi and received the Best Practice Silver Award from the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals and Administrators. 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, 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. Research interests include: Emotional Intelligence and its relationship to student persistence; student performance; and the impacts of service learning on the emotional intelligence of college students, college student retention, and college student character development.


Tiffany Anderson, Scholarship Program Director, Boettcher Foundation
As director of the scholarship program at the Boettcher Foundation, Tiffany Anderson oversees all recruitment, selection and programming for current Boettcher Scholars, along with our alumni development and outreach. She also serves as the foundations primary contact for scholarship relations and oversees the scholarship grant process. Before joining the Boettcher Foundation team, Tiffany developed and directed the Leeds Scholars Program at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business. Prior to that, she served as the program director and senior program manager of the Presidents Leadership Class at CU Boulder for 10 years. Tiffany has been involved with the National Scholarship Providers Association for nearly five years. She has served as Private Foundation Learning Circle Co-Chair for the last three years, along with serving on the Membership Committee and helping to launch and facilitate our first ever NSPA Mentorship Program.

Robert C. Ballard, President and CEO, Scholarship America
Bob Ballard joined Scholarship America as president and CEO in September, 2015, bringing with him more than 30 years of higher education finance experience. Prior to joining Scholarship America, Ballard served as senior vice president, philanthropy at USA Funds, with past leadership roles at Sallie Mae, Citibank and EDULINX Canada Corporation. Ballard previously served on the board of Scholarship America as vice chair, and is the immediate past board chair of Indiana Dollars for Scholars. Additionally, Ballard holds a bachelor’s degree in management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Rochester. He currently serves on the boards of the College Promise Campaign, the National Scholarship Providers Association and Bottom Line. Ballard is a retired U.S. Navy Commander.

Jennifer Hazelton, Chief Financial Officer, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
Jennifer Hazelton is the Chief Financial Officer of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo where she was named the Houston Business Journal’s 2013 Best CFO of the Year – Non Profit. Jennifer holds a BA in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia. She is a licensed CPA in Virginia and Delaware. The Show’s Educational Programs department reports to Jennifer. The Show provides almost $25 million in scholarships , grants and premiums to exhibitors annually. Historically, the Show has funded $375 million. More than $150 million of that was for scholarships for more than 15,000 students.

Education has always been a passion of Jennifer’s. She serves on the advisory board and audit committee of the Neuhaus Educational Center, the board of Small Steps Nurturing Center, and is active with the University of Richmond’s Alumni Association, serving as the regional representative.

Julie Kim, Executive Director, Operations, Scholarships & Programs, United Negro College Fund (UNCF)
As the Executive Director of Operations for Scholarships and Programs at UNCF, Ms. Kim is responsible for overseeing effective and efficient processing of 400 scholarships and programs UNCF administers including the Gates Millennium Scholar program. In addition, Ms. Kim manages all technology tools that are utilized to process scholarships as well as overseeing the necessary policies and procedures development and updates for the scholarship management. Prior to joining the Gates Millennium Scholars Program with the UNCF in 2001, she was the Washington Office Director for The Korea Society based in New York, NY, promoting greater awareness, understanding, and cooperation between the people of the United States and Korea. Ms. Kim has over 20 years of nonprofit management experience and has extensive grassroots community service experience where she has been active in the immigrant community coordinating voter registrations drives, citizenship/naturalization drives, racial reconciliation programs, and fundraising efforts. Today, along  with sitting on the Board of Directors for NSPA, Ms. Kim is a member of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), and President of PTA for the United Korean School of Washington, VA Campus. She received her B.A. in International Relations from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.  

Beth Barnette Knight, Director, Office of Student Scholarships, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Beth Barnette Knight has been the Director of the Office of Student Scholarships at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) for the past 14 years. Mrs. Knight oversees the coordination and administration of over $12M in institutional scholarships at IUPUI. She is also responsible for the recruitment and retention of high- ability students to the campus. She 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 the School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. Mrs. Knight currently serves on the NSPA Board. IUPUI has twice been awarded the NSPA University Provider of the Year Award in 2006 and 2008. 

Traci Lanier, Vice President, 10,000 Degrees
Traci joined 10,000 Degrees® in 2003 and developed the organization’s first organizational advancement plan. She also co-founded Marin Educational Equity Week. In 2007, she was named Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and was made Vice President and Deputy Director in 2013. Traci is responsible for organizational operations, including personnel, scholarship allocation, and budget. Previously, Traci served as Annual Giving Manager at the Colorado School of Mines, Account Manager for ProSavvy, an international business-to-business start-up, and Development Manager at the University of Phoenix. She earned her master’s degree in International Economics from the University of Denver and her bachelor’s degree from San Francisco State University.

Traci played an instrumental role in the formation of Marin Promise and currently co-chairs their College Enrollment Action Team. She served the Advisory Council for COMPASS, (College of Marin Dual Enrollment Partnership) and as Special Advisor on projects for The College Board. She is also active in her children’s school. 

Dana O'Neill, Director of Higher Education Programs, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
As the director of the Higher Education Department at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Ms. O'Neill oversees the Cooke Foundation's College Scholarship, Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, and graduate scholarship programs.  This role includes managing the selection processes for the higher education programs; developing program materials, scholar reports, and budgets; overseeing services to scholars; and researching and developing new program components. Before joining the Cooke Foundation in 2003, Ms. O'Neill was a senior program coordinator for the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars, a nonprofit organization that administers the Fulbright Scholar Program.  She holds an M.A. in International Affairs from George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs and a B.A. in Political Science from St. Mary's College of Maryland. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation was a recipient of the NSPA Scholarship Provider of the Year Award in 2004. 

Laura Steffen, Vice President, Scholar Recruitment & Selection, Daniels Fund
Laura grew up on the east coast in Salisbury, Maryland and attended a boarding high school in Middletown, Delaware called St. Andrew’s School. Her mother is from Madrid, Spain and, therefore, she grew up in a bilingual home. Laura earned her B.A. in English Literature at the University of Oregon in 1996. Having also taken college courses at UCLA, University of New Mexico, University of Maryland College Park and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, she is a good resource on many different college environments and experiences. After completing her undergraduate studies, Laura went on to earn her M.A. in Spanish Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1999. The final year of her Master’s program was spent completing her studies on the Middlebury campus in Madrid, Spain.

Laura became a high school Spanish teacher, field hockey and lacrosse coach, and student advisor in the fall of 1999.  She spent seven years working with high school students at Fountain Valley School and Kent Denver School. Laura then served as the Director of a Latino Initiative at Junior Achievement in Denver matching Latino leaders in the community as volunteers to teach Latino elementary, middle and high school students in the Denver metro area about financial literacy. Finally, Laura has been supporting Daniels Scholars since 2007 and often uses her Spanish speaking abilities to support the Spanish–speaking families of our Daniels Scholars.  

Jamie Williams, Director of Scholarships, Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation
Jamie's role as Director of Scholarships for the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation is to develop meaningful engagement and enrichment opportunities that hone Scholars' leadership skills and help them develop their professional purposes in college. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jamie was director of the National Scholars Program at Clemson (S.C.) University from 2002-2015, in addition to serving as associate director of the Clemson Honors College from 2009-2015. In 2006, Jamie led the effort to create USPAA, the Undergraduate Scholars Program Administrators Association, a professional body supporting the work of campus-based scholars programs, and served as president and a board member from 2009-2013. 

Jackie Bright, Executive Director, NSPA
Jackie is an innovative and celebrated leader with over a decade of nonprofit leadership experience. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director for the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA where she managed a multi-million budget, a staff of 60, and provided guidance and support for over 500 volunteers. She has been recognized by the Virginia Daily Progress as a “Charlottesville Woman We Love” and by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America for developing and maintaining a “Gold Standard” program. Jackie holds an undergraduate degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Rhetoric and Public Discourse, as well as a Certificate in Leadership from UVA’s Darden School of Business. Aside from Bright’s commitment to nonprofit excellence, she loves wrangling her three dogs, antiquing, the outdoors, and sheet cake (in that order).

Thank you to the following organizations for their generous support!

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