From our coaches to staff to leadership, we are committed to making college possible for all. We are dedicated to creating and maintaining an inclusive culture that embraces diversity. This commitment is realized through a comprehensive, action-oriented, Diversity and Inclusion Plan that promotes a welcoming and equitable environment throughout all levels of College Possible.
Chief Executive Officer
Craig joined the College Possible executive leadership team in August of 2019. As CEO, he oversees the day-to-day work of running and growing the organization.
A fearless advocate for equity, access, and success in education, Craig has over 20 years of leadership experience and a diverse network. He has built an intimate knowledge of the K-12 and higher education systems through previous tenures as chief strategy officer at Henderson Collegiate Charter Network, chief program officer at the National College Advising Corps, national director of KIPP Through College at the KIPP Foundation, executive director for KIPP Through College at KIPP NYC, vice president for programs at A Better Chance, director of diversity & multicultural recruitment at Phillips Academy, and program officer at the University of Michigan. He has provided strategic vision alongside founders, executive leaders and boards — elevating an organization’s ability to disseminate promising practices, strengthen partnerships, and increase visibility and recognition.
Craig holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from Emory University and dual master’s degrees in secondary education and education administration from the University of Michigan. The joys of his life are his wife, Dr. Peggy Regis Robinson, and their three children Shiloh, Christian and Kalea.
Vice President, Strategic Development
Michael Cox joins College Possible as the Vice President, Strategic Development on April 6th. Michael most recently served as the Regional Development Director for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and as a consultant on strategic transformation, leadership development and change management for non-profits. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and a Master of Arts in Religious Education degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary of Fort Worth, Texas.
At UNCF, Cox had the responsibility to advance the mission of UNCF in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas. UNCF envisions a nation where all Americans have equal access to a college education that prepares them for rich intellectual lives, competitive and fulfilling careers, engaged citizenship and service to our nation. The mission is to enable students, particularly, low income and disadvantaged students, to get to and through college.
Michael currently serves on the board of directors for the Southside Community Art Center and the Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy. A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He's also a member of Christ the King Baptist Church. He has served as a special advisor to the Illinois chapter of America Needs You and the Black Employees Resource Group of Chicago and formerly a board member of Brown Sons Empowered.
He has served in leadership capacities for faith-based organizations in New Jersey, Texas, Ohio and Illinois. He is the co-author of Church Planting in the African American Community.
Cox received the Men of Excellence 2017 award from the Chicago Defender, honored as the Religion Award recipient by the Montclair Branch of the NAACP and Essence magazine named him one of America’s Do Right Men of the Year for his leadership in the community.
Arvin Frazier III
Senior Executive Director
Arvin Frazier III is senior executive director of College Possible Omaha, which began providing services to students in the 2011-12 academic year. He leads the Omaha team in all day-to-day management and operational issues, leading strategic organizational development, raising funds, coordinating communications and building relationships with partner schools, universities and organizations in the Omaha metro area.
Arvin comes to College Possible with a long career in public service and education. For nearly 30 years, he worked for the Nebraska Department of Education, progressing to serve as area administrator for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. There, Arvin managed a large staff in delivering vocational rehabilitation services across a multi-county area. Prior to College Possible, Arvin served educational support organizations as the senior director of community programs for Building Bright Futures, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children in poverty. Arvin received his B.S. from Knoxville College and his M.S. from University of Tennessee.
He is a native Omahan, an Omaha North High Magnet School graduate, and an active community member. In service to the city’s educational and workforce development efforts, Arvin serves with such entities as the Inclusive Communities, 100 Black Men, North Omaha Cradle To Career Advisory Committee, Metro Community College President Committee on Equity and Diversity, UNO’s African American Advisory Cabinet, Millard Superintendent Service Advisory Committee and others.
Additionally, Arvin is a member of Salem Baptist church and an active member with the Omaha Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. In his spare time, Arvin enjoys officiating basketball for the Iowa and Nebraska State Athletic Associations. Himself a first-generation college attendee and proud Historical Black Colleges and Universities graduate, the work of College Possible greatly motivates him as he works to empower young adults and future leaders of our community by fulfilling their educational potential.
Vice President, Partnerships
For more than twenty years Catherine Marciano has devoted her professional career to equity through education as a teacher, evidence-based program innovator, data collector and analyst, and dynamic senior leader of New York City based educational non-profits for social good.
As an ally and competent strategist, Catherine has a proven track record of developing best-in-class programs that support individuals from traditionally underserved groups, in particular Black, Latino, low-income and first-generation students, in achieving post-secondary success. Most recently, as Managing Director of College Services for KIPP NYC Through College (KTC NYC), Catherine led design and implementation of internal strategies and external partnerships that boosted college completion rates for KIPP NYC alumni from 38% to a historically high 54%—all while the program scaled from serving 400 students to more than 2,200.
Known for her expertise in making data-driven decisions, Catherine worked collaboratively with KIPP NYC's secondary school data team to use student outcomes and indicators as predictors of college success and then leveraged that data in KTC's flagship one-to-one college and career advising program. Beginning in 2010 and revised annually since Catherine developed KTC NYC's student-centered transition-to-college programming yielding an annual summer melt rate of 4%, as compared to 10% for KIPP alumni nationally.
From 2015-2018 Catherine participated on a committee to inform KIPP's national college and career strategy resulting in the national adoption of a rubric and algorithm she co-designed in NYC in order to benchmark and segment college students’ academic and socioemotional growth semiannually. Under Catherine's leadership, KIPP Through College's NYC region became the highest performing of all 20 KTC regions nationally.
Prior to her work with the KIPP CMO, Catherine was the Program Director of Student Sponsor Partners (SSP), a New York City nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide low-income, high potential students with a quality high school education. In that role, Catherine led SSP to its highest historical high school graduation rate - 90%, an increase of over 10 percentage points. In addition to her skills developing people and programs, Catherine has deep technical expertise in database management; she served as the regional Salesforce administrator for KIPP NYC and the Raiser’s Edge database administrator at SSP. A native of Cleveland, OH, Catherine has lived in New York City for 22 years. Catherine holds a BS in Mathematics from Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN.
College Possible Oregon Executive Director Emielle Nischik joined the organization in 2015 and previously served as their director of development and communications, helping to triple the budget and expand programming and students served across the state.
Nischik brings more than 15 years of experience in business development, nonprofit leadership and fundraising. As a first-generation college graduate, she believes strongly in the power of education and is honored to be able to meld her personal experience and passion to further the mission of College Possible. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and a certificate in nonprofit management from Portland State University and volunteers with several community based organizations focused on educational equity in Oregon, including KairosPDX, Ninety-nine Girlfriends Women’s Giving Collective and on the Partnership Council with All Hands Raised. The greatest joy and challenge of Nischik’s life is being a mother to two small children and teaching them to love all the outdoor adventures her home state offers.
Contact Emielle at ENischik@CollegePossible.org.
Christine Poorman joined College Possible as the leader of the Chicago office in August 2015. Christine comes to College Possible with experience both in helping low-income high school students achieve success, and in starting up a new site for a national nonprofit organization. Before joining College Possible, Christine led the Chicago office of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which she launched as a start-up and grew to be one of their highest performing program offices. In her position, Christine was responsible for setting the strategy, board development, fundraising and public relations that supported the mission allowing NFTE Chicago to work with 18,000 young people.
Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Christine working in medical consulting for the Martec Group and also in adult entrepreneurship development with the New City YMCA LEED Council. Through her role at the LEED Council, Christine worked with low-income adults from the Cabrini Green housing development launching businesses.
Dr. Joanna Ramirez
Vice President, Site Leadership, Interim Minnesota Executive Director
As Vice President of Site Leadership, Joanna oversees all of our flagship sites, ensuring continued programmatic and financial strength. Joanna is an adaptive leader, who quickly assesses programs and people to guarantee resource and mission alignment, Joanna is a social entrepreneur who increases the revenue and sustainability of mission-driven organizations.
Joanna’s background spans the nonprofit, philanthropic, social enterprise and for-profit sectors, develops innovative programming that facilitates community change. A strong voice for the organization, Joanna leverages technology and quality assessment to discern appropriate investments and maximize social impact. Through development and continuous learning, Joanna empowers staff to deliver on critical outcomes. Joanna’s toolbox includes fundraising, board engagement, partnering on community initiatives, advocacy and program evaluation. Recognized as a thought leader in diversity and inclusion that creates and implements effective solutions to reduce disparities within diverse communities.
Contact Joanna at JRamirez1@CollegePossible.org.
Vice President, Advancement
Jaclyn Schroeder joined College Possible as the vice president, advancement, on June 15. Jaclyn brings over 16 years of leadership and fundraising success in responsive philanthropic organizations, and a passion for impact, strategic vision for innovative social enterprise, and aggressive resource development. She became a licensed attorney in 2018, and her legal skills and familiarity with tax, business structures, and corporate finance adds to the experience with nonprofit management and passion for fundraising. She brings a unique blend of technical skills, leadership strength, and the ability to develop and execute a strategic vision. Jaclyn’s career path is a proven track record of inclusive and responsive leadership in human service organizations and one of the largest community foundations in the nation, managing both local and remote teams to define and reach shared objectives.
Jaclyn serves as an active mentor for law students at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and provides pro-bono legal services to help individuals who face barriers become U.S. citizens. She has served on the boards of several Twin Cities nonprofits, with a focus on governance and development. She has served as a presenter, panelist, and moderator at various community events, continuing legal education programs, and industry conferences. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville, a master’s degree from Purdue University, and a juris doctor from Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Additionally, she has earned a Certificate in Fundraising Management (CFRM) and the Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) designation.
Senior Vice President, Finance & Operations
With an interest in multi-site operations and replication, Jon started his career at Gap Inc. where he was on the founding team for oldnavy.com and has since held senior leadership positions with Envision Schools, Achievement First, the Charter School Growth Fund and Wildflower Schools. More broadly, Jon’s passion and strength centers around ensuring that central office entities consistently deliver high quality support to sites while simultaneously developing the systems, processes and mindsets necessary to scale with excellence. Jon has also held roles at New Profit, Scholastic and the California Charter Schools Association. He earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a BA in history from Princeton University, and he is a graduate of the Broad Residency Program. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and three children.
Kellie J. Sigh
Kellie has more than 25 years working in the private and public school sectors. Kellie has extensive knowledge of the Milwaukee funder community and experience in cultivating relationships. She has a track record of building and cultivating valuable partnerships in service of students. Kellie’s experience and connections with Milwaukee Public Schools, her passion for students, and her approach to building and maintaining effective, healthy and whole teams adds value to her role as executive director.
Kellie is a member of Professional Dimensions, serves as chair of the Salvation Army advisory board, is vice chair of the MENTOR Greater Milwaukee board of directors, and is a member of the Alverno College Vanguard Honor Society. She holds a bachelor’s degree (conferred with honors) from Alverno College, an MBA from Concordia University-Wisconsin and is currently pursuing a doctorate in transformational leadership in higher education at Alverno College.
Contact Kellie at KSigh@CollegePossible.org.
Senior Vice President, External Relations and Senior Advisor, Interim Philadelphia Executive Director
Senior Vice President, External Relations and Senior Advisor, Interim Philadelphia Executive Director
Bill Wells is senior vice president of external relations and senior advisor, where he leads the advancement and site leadership teams. He is also the president of W. Wells & Associates, LLC, a management consulting firm. In his work, Bill focuses on a broad range of organizational and human capital issues.
Additionally, he helps clients create a vision focused on advancing diversity, inclusion, culture change and transformation. Bill also works closely with senior leaders providing coaching and guidance during the change management process. His client organizations cover all different industries and include Fortune 500, as well as private, public and nonprofit sectors.
Previously, Bill served as vice president, global diversity and chief diversity officer for The St. Paul Companies/Travelers Insurance Including this role, Bill has an extensive career in the corporate sector with over 35 years of experience including a variety of executive and general management positions in the telecommunications and insurance industries. Throughout Bill’s career, he has held key leadership roles in human resources, information technology, operations, marketing, strategic planning and business development.
Bill has also proudly served on the National Black MBA Association (NBMBAA) board of directors including national chairman (2007– 2013); as well as chapter president, Twin Cities (NBMBAA, 1997-2001). Additionally, Bill has served in leadership roles on various boards for local nonprofit and public sector organizations.
During his longtime professional career, Bill has received numerous awards including the Helping Hands award (NBMBAA), Lifetime Achievement Award (Multicultural Forum), Chairman’s Leadership & Diversity Champions Award (U.S. West Communications), Corporate Innovation Award (Bell Communications Research), Outstanding Achiever in Business & Industry (A.T. &T) and Outstanding MBA of the Year (NBMBAA, Twin Cities). Bill also led the Twin Cities Chapter (NBMBAA) to recognition as Outstanding Chapter of the Year three out of four consecutive years.
Bill holds an MBA degree with a major in marketing, a graduate certificate in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a psychology major. Bill is a life member of both the NBMBAA and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He is married and has two sons.
Contact Bill at BWells@CollegePossible.org.
Senior Vice President, People & Culture
Lavada is a global transformation leader with 20+ years of experience leading global change initiatives for high performance organizations such as Cargill, Bank of America and Deloitte. She has a proven track record developing, redesigning and implementing complex, large-scale solutions and driving multiple projects to completion. Lavada has advised and provided strategic leadership to C-level executives on leading highly effective and efficient global teams. Her areas of expertise include: Business Start-up & Transformation, Change & Education Management, Leadership Assessment, Alignment & Development, Learning & Organizational Effectiveness, Mergers & Acquisitions/Culture Integration, Performance Improvement, and Talent Development. While at Deloitte, she authored the Business Models, Culture, Leadership and Vision/Strategy sections of a white paper on Creating a High-Performance Organization.
Lavada has experience creating and leading charitable foundations and non-profit organizations. Along with her husband Ron, she co-leads The Ron and Lavada Williams Foundation where she is President and Global Programs Director. The Foundation supports the Les Freres Unis (The United Brothers) school in Fort Liberte’, Haiti. Other past charitable and service leadership includes Founding Member of Build the Future USA (South Africa mission’s organization) and coleader of the Hampton Roads campaign fundraisers for the Office of U.S. Congress and Governor of Virginia.
In 1993, Lavada was selected to coordinate the Governor’s Annual Meeting luncheon and program on behalf of Governor Douglas Wilder. That same year, she was awarded the Small Business Minority Advocate of the Year from The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. In 1994, Lavada was appointed by Governor Wilder to a 4-year Commission to the World Trade Alliance of the Blue Ridge. Lavada holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics from Christopher Newport University and is a graduate of the Leadership Institute of the Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce.
Lavada resides in Delray Beach, Florida with her husband Ron where she is Owner of Ksquared Events and sits on the board of Pace Center for Girls Palm Beach.
Senior Education Consultant, Irving Ventures
Mr. Fan was the founding executive director for Charter School Partners and led the nonprofit for six years in its work to support the startup, growth and expansion of high quality schools. In 2013, Mr. Fan was named by the Walton Family Foundation as one of the national “Ed Reformers to Watch.”
Prior to this, he worked for 16 years at General Mills, a global food manufacturer based in Minneapolis, in various marketing and sales positions in the areas of brand management, category management, consumer research and strategic planning. Prior to General Mills, Mr. Fan was at Accenture, a global strategic consulting firm, and worked with numerous organizations in the areas of technology, systems development and strategic planning.
Mr. Fan currently serves on the board of trustees for The Minneapolis Foundation and on the leadership council for Generation Next. He has also served on the boards of the Cookie Cart in north Minneapolis, Social Venture Partners/MN, Hiawatha Leadership Academy and was the founding board chair for KIPP MN. Mr. Fan has been a volunteer for Best Prep, Junior Achievement, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Mr. Fan has an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and operations research from the University of California, Berkeley and a masters of business administration degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been married for 30 years and is the proud father of three adult daughters who have officially left the nest.
Managing Director, Monitor Institute by Deloitte
Joanna Burleson is a Managing Director with the Monitor Institute, a fully integrated unit of Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Her work is focused on social change with innovative leaders at nonprofits and foundations nationwide to advance social impact across a diverse range of issues. She works closely with social entrepreneurs, leaders and their organizations to deepen and scale their impact on some of society’s most complex social challenges. Her work is driven both by her passion for deep strategic insight and a fascination with the human system at the heart of every organization.
Joanna’s work builds on over a decade of experience across the for-profit and non-profit world, both in the United States and abroad. She began her life as a strategist with The Monitor Group, working with organizations as they wrestled with some of their most pressing strategic problems in the midst of rapidly changing environments. She brings this experience to the Institute, where she helps to tackle some of the most meaningful and important strategic problems facing society today.
Joanna obtained her B.A. in Economics from the University of California at Berkeley and her MBA from the University of California at Los Angeles. She presently lives in Boston with her husband and three children.
Daniel Lugo, JD
President, Queens University of Charlotte
Daniel G. Lugo, J.D., began his service as president of Queens University of Charlotte on July 1, 2019. He was named president after serving in key leadership positions at three top-ranked liberal arts institutions. These roles included vice president of college advancement at Colby College, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid at Franklin and Marshall College, and associate dean of admissions at Carleton College.
As vice president for college advancement at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Lugo orchestrated the strategy, launch and execution of a $750 million fundraising campaign, the largest of its kind for any liberal arts college in history. In the first two years of the campaign, Colby secured $415 million in philanthropic commitments including 40 gifts that exceeded $1 million. Colby will use these funds to:
- Establish an institute for the study of American art
- Create multidisciplinary initiatives in biosciences and data science
- Develop new facilities and programs in partnership with the town of Waterville
- Provide financial aid to global students
- Guarantee that all students have access to a funded research opportunity, internship and global experience
In addition to overseeing Colby’s fundraising, Lugo worked to strengthen the campus and alumni communities, both individually and collectively. He co-chaired the diversity, equity and inclusion task force, partnering with faculty members on Colby’s inclusivity efforts. Lugo also initiated innovative technology and programmatic solutions for alumni to mentor current students and impact the student experience through philanthropy. These efforts led to Colby’s top 10 national ranking in alumni participation.
At Franklin & Marshall, Lugo collaboratively developed a global talent strategy that led to a 45 percent increase in applications and yielded a more academically talented and diverse — socioeconomically, ethnically and geographically— incoming class. Earlier in his career, Lugo supervised the admissions process and enrollment marketing strategy, as well as helped to develop cultivation and solicitation strategies for leadership donors at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.
A first-generation college graduate, Lugo strongly believes in the transformative power of education. He earned his bachelor of arts in political science from Carleton College, and his juris doctorate from the University of Minnesota School of Law, where he was an editor of The Journal of Law & Inequality. Prior to his career in higher education, Lugo was an intellectual property and entertainment attorney, representing national music artists.
Donnell Butler, PhD.
Founder and President, Opportunity College
Dr. Donnell Butler is the Managing Director of College Initiatives at Together Education. His work focuses on identifying and enhancing individual characteristics and institutional actions that improve college student access and success. Most recently, he served for seven years as the Senior Associate Dean for Planning and Analysis of Student Outcomes at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M). He is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship alumnus and member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Before F&M, he directed research and development of background survey questionnaires for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) at Educational Testing Service (ETS). Previously, he served as a joint American Education Research Association (AERA) and ETS post-doctoral fellow working primarily on the NSF-ITEST funded College Ambition Program at Michigan State University, project director in Princeton University’s Office of Population Research for the Ford Foundation-supported Campus Life in America Student Survey, evaluation specialist for the Princeton University Preparatory Program, coordinator of the Goldman Sachs Foundation-supported Opening Doors and Paving the Way Forum for increasing college access and success for talented low-income students, senior policy research analyst at APPRISE Incorporated, senior business advisory services professional at Ernst & Young, and intern with the White House's Office of Communications Research.
Dr. Butler earned his B.A. in business administration and sociology from F&M and his Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University.
Vice President, Community Relations, Travelers and President & CEO, Travelers Foundation
Vice President, Community Relations, Travelers and President & CEO, Travelers Foundation
Marlene M. Ibsen is chief executive officer and president of Travelers Foundation and vice president, Community Relations, for The Travelers Companies, Inc. In her role, she manages the company’s giving practices, overseeing the distribution of approximately $20 million in charitable and civic support each year. She is also responsible for the company’s community-related employee engagement and development activities. Ms. Ibsen took on her current responsibilities in November 2007, and since then has developed a strategic approach for the company’s charitable giving, with a significant emphasis on increasing educational opportunities for underrepresented students.
Under her direction, the Travelers Foundation and Travelers have launched three signature programs designed to meet community needs and align with business interests, including Travelers EDGE® (Empowering Dreams for Graduation & Employment), a nationally recognized, comprehensive, career pipeline program intended to increase the number of underrepresented individuals who complete bachelor’s degrees and are prepared for a career in the Insurance and Financial Services industry.
Prior to her role in Community Relations, Ms. Ibsen worked as a vice president in Travelers Corporate Communications, supervising the communications staff responsible for media relations, corporate issues and business unit support. She has also worked in a variety of communications management roles at Travelers, including internal communications and marketing communications. Previously, Ms. Ibsen worked as a writer/producer and public relations consultant. In addition, she has experience working in communications and fundraising for nonprofit organizations.
Ms. Ibsen holds a B.S. in Radio-TV-Film from Texas Christian University, and an M.S. in Communications Management from Syracuse University.
Ms. Ibsen currently serves on the board of directors for the National College Access Network in Washington, D.C., and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures in Minneapolis, Minn. She also is a member of the Board of Governors for the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation and a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s Executive Forum.
Co-Founder, Boldly Go Philanthropy
Jeff Kutash joined Peter Kiewit Foundation as Executive Director in 2013. The foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for people to live in and help build strong and vibrant communities, achieve economic success, and enjoy a high quality of life. To pursue that mission, the foundation supports education, economic development, and community development efforts in Nebraska and a small portion of Western Iowa. Since 1979, Peter Kiewit Foundation has awarded over $600 million in grants and scholarships. Jeff is responsible for the foundation’s overall grantmaking, community initiatives, and operations.
Jeff combines an extensive background in strategy development for social sector organizations with significant experience in education and youth issues. Prior to joining the foundation, Jeff was a Managing Director at FSG, a nonprofit research and consulting firm. Jeff ran FSG’s San Francisco office, launched and oversaw the firm’s national Education and Youth Practice, and helped dozens of leading corporations, foundations, nonprofits, and government agencies design strategies, develop programs, and evaluate their results to improve their social impact. Previously, Jeff was the Director of California Operations for The SEED Foundation and spent three years as a public and private sector strategy consultant, first with McKinsey & Company, and then with The Bridgespan Group. Jeff's direct experience in the social sector also includes three years as the Director of Programs at the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, a youth development nonprofit in New York City and three years teaching math at a New York City public school as a Teach For America corps member. Jeff speaks regularly around the country and writes on topics of effective philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, effecting social change, and education.
Jeff holds an M.B.A in General Management from Harvard Business School and a B.A in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. Jeff and his wife Jessica live in Omaha with their three school-aged children, meaning Jeff also has extensive experience in juggling schedules, carpooling, and attending soccer games.
Chief Public Affairs Officer, M Health Fairview
Andrea Mokros has spent a career in communications and event production at the local, state and national level. Currently, she serves as Senior Vice President at Weber Shandwick. where she leads Public Affairs in their Minneapolis office. She most recently served as the Vice President of Communications for the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee, one of the world’s pre-eminent sporting events.
Previously, Andrea served in the White House as Special Assistant to the President and Director of Strategic Planning for the First Lady. In this role, she oversaw the strategic planning process for all aspects of First Lady Michelle Obama’s schedule, managing an active Scheduling and Advance team that takes every event from inception to completion. During her tenure, Andrea led the First Lady’s travel to China, Africa, the 2012 London Olympics, as well as countless other domestic and international trips; created programming for the spouses of world leaders at US-hosted summits, including NATO and the UN General Assembly; and produced major national tours on behalf of the First Lady’s Let’s Move!, Joining Forces, Reach Higher and Let Girls Learn initiatives.
Prior to joining the White House, Andrea served as Deputy Chief of Staff in the office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. She led communications and outreach efforts; serving as spokesperson, crafting and executing communications strategies in support of the Governor’s initiatives, and leading major events from the State of the State address to bill signings.
As founder and principal of Mokros Strategies, LLC, Andrea worked with local, state, and national clients to develop speeches, op-eds, and events-based communications strategies that used the power of pictures to communicate a message. She regularly served on Advance teams for the White House and the Presidential campaigns of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry; traveling the country and the world to execute principal participation in events from the G20 Summit in Toronto, to the Presidential Debates, to the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.
Andrea began her career in Minnesota politics as scheduler to Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey, III in his campaign for Governor. She went on to serve as scheduler and later as Director of the Executive Office to former White House Chief of Staff Mack McLarty in his international consulting firm, Kissinger McLarty Associates. As Communications Director in the Minnesota State Senate, Andrea worked with Senators to communicate legislative priorities and make them relevant to constituents. As Deputy Chief of Staff to US Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Andrea spearheaded strategic planning and managed the Senator’s communications operation, executing countless press conferences, tours, speeches and interviews.
Andrea is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a proud graduate of the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts, Class of 1999. She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Joelle A. Murchison
Principal and Founder, ExecMommyGroup LLC
Joelle A. Murchison is the Special Advisor, Diversity and External Partnerships at The University of Connecticut, Hartford campus. Prior to joining UCONN, Joelle served as Vice President, Enterprise Diversity & Inclusion at The Travelers Companies, Inc. (Travelers) where in partnership with management, she developed the framework of the company’s diversity & inclusion focus and led the execution of Travelers’ diversity & inclusion strategy.
Joelle previously served 2 terms on the board of directors of both the Morgan State University Foundation and Leadership Greater Hartford and spent 10 years as a diversity trainer with the Anti Defamation League’s A World of Difference Institute. Joelle is the recipient of numerous awards including most recently, the Trailblazer Award from the Voices of Women of Color and the Living Waters Award from the Connecticut Conference of the UCC.
Currently, Joelle serves as a director/trustee on the boards of the Amistad Center for Art and Culture (Hartford, CT), The Discovery Center, and College Possible, a national nonprofit focused on college access. She is also a Corporator of the Village for Families and Children and a member of the Board of Ambassadors of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
A native of Queens and Long Island, NY, Joelle holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy and educational studies from Brown University, a master’s of education degree from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a master’s of science degree in Communication Management from Syracuse University.
Stephen M. Smith
Stephen M. Smith is CEO of Intellispark, a chair of the national board at College Possible and a member of the board of the National College Access Network. Steve is co-author of Who Do You Think You Are: Three Critical Conversations for Coaching Teens to College & Career Success, published by John Wiley & Sons.
Steve was previously president and chief product officer at Hobsons where he led global product strategy, corporate development, student data privacy and R&D. Steve joined Hobsons through the acquisition of Naviance, a leading college and career readiness technology platform used in 12,000 schools in more than 100 countries, where he was co-founder and chief executive.
Earlier in his career, Steven served as vice president of digital product development at Peterson’s, as a founding member of the internet consulting practice at Thomson Technology Services Group, and as a practitioner faculty member at The Johns Hopkins University and Montgomery College.
Steve earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, cum laude, and an MBA from Cornell University.