Our Experts

Our contributors offer real-world perspectives and expertise to help you navigate the college planning process. Below, you can learn more about the professionals who lend their voices to help make BestColleges a leader in education decision-making.

b Jean Ballard Project Manager
Biography

Jean Ballard has over 20 years of experience implementing business solutions in the financial services sector and served as project manager for key corporate initiatives at both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. She possesses deep knowledge spanning originations, servicing, and securitization. Ms. Ballard has a proven track record with implementing product, process reengineering, and software development initiatives, including agile and waterfall approaches from concept to implementation.

b Dan Basile Executive Director of the Security Operations Center, Texas A&M University
Biography

Daniel Basile has been in the security industry for more than 18 years and currently leads the security operations center for the Texas A&M University System. He started this group with a very limited budget and has grown the team exponentially to now serve over 250,000 people and protect billions in expenditures. Over his career, Dan has worked in roles like security software tester, information security officer, and HIPAA security officer. He graduated in 2009 from Texas A&M University and recently received a master's degree in cybersecurity from the University of Maryland University College.

Contributions to BestColleges
b Susan Bourke Professor, University of Cincinnatti
Biography

Susan Bourke is an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. Prior to joining the faculty, Professor Bourke worked for the Kentucky Cabinet for Juvenile Justice as a juvenile counselor, was a juvenile court probation officer, and served as an administrator for the Kenton County Juvenile Court. Her area of expertise is corrections, particularly juvenile justice. Currently, she is the director of undergraduate studies for the School of Criminal Justice.

Contributions to BestColleges
b Nancy Brook RN, MSN, CNFP
Biography

Nancy Brook, RN, MSN, CNFP, is a nurse practitioner at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. She has master's degrees in both nursing and counseling psychology from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the University of San Francisco, respectively.

Nancy has more than twenty years of experience treating patients, teaching and mentoring nurses, and counseling families. She is a consultant to patients and families facing cancer and nurses facing stress and burnout, helping them cultivate meaningful careers and healthier lifestyles. She is the author of "The Nurse Practitioner's Bag." Nancy lives in the Bay Area with her three children, two dogs, and a rabbit.

Contributions to BestColleges
d Adrian DeGraff Owner, CoCreative Management
Biography

Adrian DeGraff graduated with a bachelor of science in computer science from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. For several years he worked as a software engineer for several enterprise companies, such as Cisco Systems, Fidelity Investments, and United Health Group. He is the owner of CoCreative Management, a fractional CMO firm in Cary, NC.

Contributions to BestColleges
d Mikaela Delia Digital Marketer
Biography

Mikaela Delia grew up in Vermont, where she graduated from Castleton University with a BS in business administration. After five years in a corporate marketing setting, she started miracle marketing, a company that capitalizes on the need for affordable online marketing for small businesses and start-ups through email marketing, social media management, content marketing, SEO/SEM, and more. Mikaela wants business administration hopefuls to conquer the fear of uncertainty, find excitement in risk, and pursue their own natural passions and purposes.

Contributions to BestColleges
d Deniece Dortch Faculty Member and Administrator in Higher Education
Biography

Deniece Dortch has a master's degree and a Ph.D. in education and is happy to share her expertise as both a faculty member and administrator in higher education. She has years of experience both advising and coaching students and prospective students about the graduate school process, and welcomes the opportunity to share her story.

Contributions to BestColleges
d Stefani Drake Founder, Drake Strategies
Biography

Stefani Drake is a strategy consultant and speaker with over a decade of experience working with the U.S. government, international NGOs, and nonprofits. She is the founder and lead strategist of her company, Drake Strategies, which serves as the public relations firm for Water Mission, an international NGO dedicated to bringing safe water to communities in need.

Stefani is currently on the UNDP's Roster of Communication Experts in Subsaharan Africa and was recognized by HoneyBook and Rising Tide Society as one of the "20 On The Rise" for her advocacy work.

Contributions to BestColleges
e Annie Evans Program Coordinator for Expecting Health
Biography

Annie Evans serves as program coordinator for Expecting Health, a maternal and child initiative at Genetic Alliance. She works to engage different stakeholders in Genetic Alliance programs through outreach efforts and the development of usable tools. Annie initially joined the Genetic Alliance team as an intern and was hired full time after graduate school.

Annie earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Penn State, with minors in international studies and global health. She received her MPH from George Washington University. Her focus was on global health program design, monitoring, and evaluation.

Contributions to BestColleges
f Melissa Funk Paralegal and Client Services Professional at Saxton & Stump
Biography

Melissa S. Funk is a paralegal and client services professional at Saxton & Stump with over 16 years of legal experience. As a paralegal, she uses her extensive knowledge of preparing pleadings, discovery, subpoenas, and medical records requests to assist the firm's lawyers. Melissa also serves as one of the firm's client services professionals. Prior to joining Saxton & Stump, Melissa worked as a legal assistant for a law firm in their civil litigation practice. She also has experience in employment law, landlord/tenant disputes, and estate matters.

Contributions to BestColleges
g Sam Gavis-Hughson Founder of Byte by Byte
Biography

Sam Gavis-Hughson, founder of Byte by Byte, helps software engineers interview for jobs at top tech companies. He is the author of "Dynamic Programming for Interviews," an e-book that shows how to succeed at dynamic programming interviews. Through his blog and free content, Sam has helped thousands of students -- and 40+ coaching clients -- land jobs at Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Bloomberg, and Uber.

Contributions to BestColleges
g Brian Gill Computer Scientist, Entrepreneur, and Angel Investor
Biography

Brian Gill is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and angel investor. In 2004, he started Gillware Data Recovery and is a co-founder of Gillware Data Services (acquired by StorageCraft in 2016), Phoenix Nuclear Labs, and SHINE Medical Technologies. Most recently, Brian co-founded Gillware Digital Forensics, a startup focused on digital forensics, digital security, and incident response services.

Contributions to BestColleges
g Jody Glassman Director of University Admissions, FIU
Biography

Jody Glassman is director of university admissions at Florida International University (FIU). Jody has worked the last 23 years in higher education, specifically university admissions and enrollment management. Prior to her work at FIU, she was an associate director for admission software services at the College Board.

Contributions to BestColleges
g Eshe Glover Principal, Blue Pepper Public Relations
Biography

Eshe Glover has spent the past 18+ years honing her communications prowess and definitely knows her way around high-level strategy, right down to the nitty-gritty details of execution. Eshe's people-centric approach is the foundation for BluePepper Public Relations' success and the reason her work has been recognized by the Public Relations Society of America, City County Communications and Marketing Association (3CMA), the International Association of Business Communicators, and the American Public Transportation Association. Eshe is a graduate of Northwestern University and Leadership Charlotte.

Contributions to BestColleges
h Gustavo Hinojosa Executive Director, the National Cybersecurity Student Association
Biography

Gustavo Hinojosa is the executive director of the National Cybersecurity Student Association. He champions the development of strategic alliances and relationships within academia, governmental institutions, and industry. Gustavo's primary focus is to energize, expand, and cultivate an ecosystem of next-generation cybersecurity professionals through education, mentoring, and professional development opportunities while aiding in bolstering the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a diverse learning community.

Contributions to BestColleges
k Sherry Koch ThanksUSA Scholarship Program Manager
Biography

Sherry Koch has been with ThanksUSA since 2009. As scholarship program manager, she has had the privilege of meeting, speaking with, and encouraging hundreds of ThanksUSA scholarship recipients as they pursue the goal of higher education. Because she is a military spouse and parent of a college-bound high schooler, ThanksUSA's mission is especially close to her heart.

Contributions to BestColleges
k Danny Kofke Special Education Teacher
Biography

Danny Kofke is currently a special education teacher in Georgia. He has also taught prekindergarten, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and sixth grade, and has been an educator for 15 years. Danny's love of teaching and helping others win with money led him to write four personal finance books, including the recently released "The Wealthy Teacher: Lessons For Prospering On A School Teacher's Salary."

Contributions to BestColleges
l Ellen M. Levine Founder of The Wholesome Path, LLC
Biography

Ellen Levine, MS, RD, founder of The Wholesome Path, LLC, has been serving in the wellness community for over 15 years. Ellen earned a bachelor of science in exercise physiology from Montclair State University with a second bachelor's and a master of science in nutrition from The College of St. Elizabeth, where she also completed the dietetic internship and sports nutrition certification.

Contributions to BestColleges
l Alexander Lowry Professor, Gordon College
Biography

Alexander Lowry is a professor of finance at Gordon College where he leads the school's master of science in financial analysis program. He's also a board of directors member for fintech and financial services companies. Alexander brings an unusual "bilingual" perspective to the academic world, having spent 15 years in senior executive positions in international business and finance. He's a frequent speaker at gatherings of business leaders, corporate events, and academic conferences.

Contributions to BestColleges
m Greg Menken MenkenLLC
Biography

Greg Menken is an award-winning communications and public affairs strategist with 20 years of experience working in nonprofits, government, and politics. He started MenkenLLC to focus on missions he truly cares about and to give clients the personalized attention they deserve. Greg served on the senior leadership team of 5W PR where he directed many of the firm's public affairs and crisis communications campaigns.

m Robin Monsky Communications Executive
Biography

Robin Monsky is a veteran sports industry PR/communications executive living in Chicago, Illinois. Since opening Round Robin Sports in 1996, her clients have included marquee names, like ESPN and LaLiga, and niche brands, like the Rugby Weekend and the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation. Monsky has worked at six Super Bowls, five Chicago Marathons, four World Series, three Sundance Film Festivals, one Davis Cup final, several regional NCAA basketball tournaments, and the 1996 Olympic Games, where she was press chief at Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

m Laura Morlok LCPC & RPT
Biography

Laura Morlok is a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) and registered play therapist (RPT) based in Damascus, Maryland. She earned her master's in counseling in 2010 and works as a therapist for children, adolescents, and families in multiple settings, including private practice, acute inpatient treatment, and a partial hospitalization program. She also provides supervision to recent graduates and other clinicians.

Contributions to BestColleges
p Josh Prigge Sustainability Consultant and College Professor
Biography

Josh Prigge is a sustainability consultant, college professor, published author, and public speaker. Prigge is the founder and CEO of Sustridge, a Las Vegas-based sustainability consulting firm dedicated to helping organizations of all sizes become sustainability leaders. Josh also produces and hosts the popular podcast "Sustainable Nation," interviewing global leaders in sustainability every week.

Contributions to BestColleges
p Melynda Pryor Assistant Professor in the Healthcare Management and Health Administration Programs at Maryville
Biography

Melynda Pryor has over 15 years of experience in healthcare administration and nearly 25 years of experience in management. She has worked for Washington University as a clinical administrator for the Cardiovascular Division and Saint Louis University as director of clinical operations. In these roles, Melynda managed staff, oversaw 15 clinical locations, created and maintained policies and procedures, reviewed and created budgets, designed a new facility, and led process improvement efforts.

r Elisa Robyn Ph.D. in Educational Psychology
Biography

Dr. Elisa Robyn has a bachelor's and master's degree in geology, a Ph.D. in educational psychology, and a second master's degree in Jewish studies. She has over 20 years of experience as a professor and academic dean in various institutions. She has expertise in advising students on undergraduate and graduate academic and career pathways. Dr. Robyn also has an active blog, is the author of two books and several academic articles. She can be connected through her website: elisarobyn.com

Contributions to BestColleges
s Vincent Sanders Founder, TG4 Solutions
Biography

Vincent Sanders is the founder of TG4 Solutions, a premier IT and business consulting firm. Prior to starting his consulting company, Vincent worked as an IT technologist in the telecommunications, financial services, apparel, and banking industries. He is a certified scrum master and an AWS associate solutions architect. Vincent is a proud alum of North Carolina State University, with bachelor’s degrees in both computer engineering and electrical engineering, and currently serves as a board member on the Young Alumni Advisory Board for the College of Engineering.

Contributions to BestColleges
s Kathy Saville Director of Instructional Technology and Distance Education
Biography

A native of Virginia, Kathy Saville holds both a BS and M.Ed. from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She is currently the director of instructional technology and distance education at Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, Indiana. She has held this position for over six years.

Contributions to BestColleges
s Heather E. Schwartz Independent Book Producer
Biography

Heather E. Schwartz is an independent book producer, marketing consultant, and author based in upstate New York. Her authoring credits include branded titles for Disney, Sesame Street, Time for Kids, and the Smithsonian. She has also worked on projects for the Arthritis Foundation, Bridal Guide, Discovery Girls, National Geographic Kids magazines, and NASA. She graduated from SUNY Potsdam in 1992 with a bachelor's degree in writing.

Contributions to BestColleges
s Nikki Specht K-12 School Counselor
Biography

Nikki Specht is a certified K-12 school counselor at a high school outside of Philadelphia. She has a degree in English and communications from Penn State University and a master of education in school counseling from West Chester University. Nikki volunteers at a grief center for children, is a certified grief group facilitator, and volunteers for Red Cross Disaster Mental Health.

t Jessica Terzakis Consultant with Terzakis & Associates
Biography

Jessica Terzakis is a consultant with Terzakis & Associates, a business advising firm in Bedford, New Hampshire. She taught high school English and worked with the New England Association for Schools and Colleges evaluating schools' curriculums and assessments. She is also an adjunct instructor at the University of New Hampshire, where she earned a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in teaching.

Contributions to BestColleges
y Susan Youngsteadt Licensed Clincal Social Worker
Biography

Susan Youngsteadt graduated from NCSU with a master's of social work in 2016. She has over six years of experience working with youth and adults in various agency settings. She is a licensed clinical social worker associate and currently practices as a family-centered treatment (FCT) therapist for a private community mental health agency in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Susan also holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and a certificate in nonprofit studies/management. She is currently a member of the SAFEchild Young Ambassadors in Raleigh and works with a local chapter of Safe Families for Children.

Contributions to BestColleges