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Student Financial Aid
Research Network (SFARN)
Opportunity Matters
Occasional Paper Series


29th Annual SFARN Conference
Memphis, TN
June 13-15, 2012

Info | Presentations | Speaker Biographies

Christian Alberto is a Higher Education Administration, M.S. Ed. candidate at Bernard M. Baruch College with a strong interest in higher education issues. He has been interning under the Policy & Federal Relations department at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) in Washington, DC since January of 2012. During his time at NASFAA, Christian has been working on various research related projects as well as supporting managerial Journal of Student Financial Aid (JSFA) activities.

Rachel Beers is a senior analyst with the Education, Workforce, and Income Security team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the independent, non-partisan congressional watchdog. Ms. Beers has been at GAO for 6 years and has worked on a variety of oversight issues including border security and foreign language capabilities at the Department of Homeland Security, military base realignment and closure, and state responses to challenges young adults with serious mental illness face transitioning to adulthood. Recently, Ms. Beers' work has focused primarily on elementary and higher education issues. Among the topics she has reported on are efforts to ensure access to student loans, the District of Columbia's use of federal payments for school improvement, and financial trends in public and private non-profit schools.

Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield is a senior policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). Ms. Duke-Benfield's focus is on access to and success in postsecondary education and training for low-income students. She analyzes and advocates for federal and state workforce and education policies that better serve low-income adults, and provides technical assistance to federal, state and local advocates and governments in these areas. She also directs CLASP's Benefits Access for College Completion initiative, which seeks to increase access to public benefits and financial aid for low-income students at colleges across the country. Prior to this project, she spearheaded CLASP's work around the Higher Education Act and related federal postsecondary legislation, as well as Title II of the Workforce Investment Act (the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act). Previously, Ms. Duke-Benfield was a research associate at the Urban Institute where she contributed to several evaluations of state-level welfare reform and anti-poverty programs. She holds an undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and a Master's degree from Emory University.

Elif Bor is a Research Associate at JBL Associates, Inc. Elif joined JBL Associates in March 2008. She has been involved in projects for, among others, the U.S. Department of Education, Teachers College of Columbia University, the National Education Association, and DC Appleseed. She is currently working on Achieving the Dream, a multi-year initiative focusing on student retention and success in community colleges. Specifically, Elif's duties include collecting and analyzing data, interviewing and surveying research subjects, editing, conducting literature reviews, and collaborating on the writing of reports. Prior to joining JBL Associates, Elif served as a research assistant at a child development research lab at George Mason University, where she studied educational needs and outcomes of young children, and was the assistant editor of the scholarly journal Early Childhood Research Quarterly. Elif holds a Master's in Applied Developmental Psychology from George Mason University, and a Bachelor's in Psychology from Ege University, Turkey. She is an alumni of Institute for Educational Leadership's Education Policy Fellowship Program.

Janet Chen directs all government relations activities for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance (ACSFA). Janet has been with the committee since December 2010, having previously served as an analyst at Abt Associates, Inc. in Cambridge, MA and as a paralegal for the Federal Trade Commission in Washington, DC. She holds a Bachelor's in Social Policy from Northwestern University and an Ed.M. in Higher Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Janice Nahra Friedel, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, joined the faculty at Iowa State University (ISU) in August 2011, following a three year professorship in Community College Leadership at California State University Northridge. Her professional experience includes serving 11 years as the Administrator for the Iowa Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Preparation and as the Iowa State Director for Career and Technical Education (1997-2008); President of Lexington Community College in Lexington, KY (1994-1997); Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Planning, and Chief Academic Affairs Officer at Eastern Iowa Community College District (EICCD)(1988-1994); Director of Curriculum Development and Evaluation (1983-1988) at the EICCD, and Associate Dean for Community Education, Scott Community College (1981-1983). Her research areas are focused on the community college mission, career and technical education, and higher education funding and public policy. Beginning with her tenure as the Iowa state administrator for community colleges, and as a member of the National Council of State Directors of Community Colleges to the present, she has continued her collaborative research on higher education funding and student aid, with special emphasis on the Pell Grant with Steve Katsinas (University of Alabama) and Linda Hagedorn (also at Iowa State). This past March, Drs. Friedel and Katsinas presented their research co-authored with Linda Hagedorn (ISU), Herb Swender, President of Garden City Community College, KS, and Frank Mensel, former Vice president for Governmental Affairs at the AACC, on the Pell Grant and access to rural community colleges to the Rural Council of the White House Domestic Policy Issues Staff.

Nicholas Hillman is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of Utah. His research focuses on financial aid policy, particularly with regard to state and institutional grant programs and federal student loan default trends. Nick's research has been published in Research in Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and the Journal of Student Financial Aid; he currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition and is the Associate Editor of the Journal. At Utah, he teaches courses in higher education finance, education policy, and research methods. Professor Hillman's past professional experiences include research and policy analysis with state and national higher education organizations, including State Higher Education Executive Officers and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Professor Hillman earned his Master's in Public Affairs and his Ph.D. in Higher Education Policy Studies from Indiana University in 2010, where he was also a McNair Scholar and NCES/AIR Fellow.

Anthony Jones has over 20 years of experience in higher education. He currently directs the policy and research efforts at the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, a non-partisan, independent committee created by Congress in 1986 to provide expert advice and counsel to Congress and the Secretary of Education on student aid and issues related to access and persistence. Anthony has been with the Committee since 2010. Prior work experience includes serving as a policy analyst in Federal Student Aid as well for the Office of Postsecondary Education. He has been a financial aid administrator at three institutions, including serving as Director of Financial Aid at Tusculum College. Anthony holds a Bachelor's in Speech Communication Studies from UNC-Greensboro, a Master's in Adult Education from Tusculum College, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Higher Education at the University of Georgia's Institute of Higher Education.

Kathryn Kailikole, Ed.D., works on projects spanning middle school to graduate levels - including mathematics, research and education instruction, data analysis, curriculum development, ethnography and survey work. Kailikole currently is the Director of Analysis and Strategic Planning under the Associate Vice Provost at Drexel University. Previous work includes Director, The Stokes Institute at the Council for Opportunity in Education, and many years in the University of California System (Berkeley, Santa Cruz, Riverside, and San Diego).

Steve Katsinas, Ph.D., is Director of the Education Policy Center and Professor of Higher Education at The University of Alabama. He is lead author of the classification of Associate's Colleges published by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2006 and 2011, for whom he serves as a Consulting Scholar. With Jan Friedel of Iowa State University and Mark D'Amico of UNC-Charlotte he is coauthor of an annual national survey state community college directors of access and finance issues facing public higher education. His interest in student aid issues dates to his work for the late Paul Simon on the U.S. House Postsecondary Education Subcommittee staff in 1982. In April 2011 with Linda Hagedorn and Jan Friedel of Iowa State University, and Frank Mensel, former Vice President for Governmental Affairs at the American Association of Community Colleges, he coauthored a study of the impact of increased Pell Grant funding at 205 community colleges. In February 2012 the same team published a study of the impact of Pell Grant funding increases at community colleges in the State of Kansas, which was presented before the Rural Council of the White House Domestic Policy Issues Staff in March 2012.

Kathleen Little has worked at the College Board since June 1986, and is currently Senior Adviser, Student Aid Policy. In this position, she provides staff support to the College Board's Advocacy and Policy Center projects related to college affordability and financial aid. Prior to her current position, she served as Executive Director, Financial Aid Services. In that role, she was responsible for the design and management of all College Board financial aid services and was responsible for communications with and training of college and university financial aid administrators. Ms. Little holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University.

David A. Longanecker has served as the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) in Boulder, CO, since 1999. WICHE is a regional compact between 15 Western states created to assure access and excellence in higher education through collaboration and resource sharing among the higher education systems of the West. Previously, Longanecker served for six years as the assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that he was the state higher education executive officer (SHEEO) in Colorado and Minnesota. He was also the principal analyst for higher education for the Congressional Budget Office. Longanecker has served on numerous boards and commissions. He has written extensively on a range of higher education issues. His primary interests in higher education are: expanding access to successful completion for students within all sectors of higher education, promoting student and institutional performance, assuring efficient and effective finance and financial aid strategies, and fostering effective use of educational technologies, all for the purpose of sustaining the nation's strength in the world and increasing quality of life for all Americans, particularly those who have traditionally been left out in the past. He holds an Ed.D. from Stanford University, a Master's in Student Personnel work from George Washington University, and a Bachelor's in Sociology from Washington State University.

Abby Miller is the Research Project Manager for The Pell Institute where she manages and conducts research focusing on the access and success of low-income, first-generation students. She recently led Pell Institute studies Bridging the Gaps to Success: Promising Practices for Promoting Transfer among Low-Income and First-Generation Students and Sealing the Gaps: Supporting Low-Income, First-Generation Students at Four-Year Institutions in Texas Post-Transfer, and has co-authored publications including Raising the Graduation Rates of Low-Income College Students. Previously, Abby worked as a Research Associate for JBL Associates and co-authored two books addressing the transition from college to the workforce. She obtained a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master's degree in Education Policy and Leadership with a concentration in higher education from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Quixada Moore-Vissing is a Ph.D. student in the Education department at the University of New Hampshire. She studies financial aid policy and civic engagement in higher education. In particular, she is interested in how universities and communities can work collaboratively to find unique solutions to keeping the cost of higher education affordable so that individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds have access to college education. Moore-Vissing works as a College Outreach Specialist for the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation in their Community Engagement department where she has conducted over 400 workshops on the subject of college access and financial aid to schools and community organizations across the state of New Hampshire. Her personal passion is counseling students and families about the financial aid process. She teaches families how to file the FAFSA and CSS Profile, directs them to funding options for their unique financial circumstances, and discusses loan debt and repayment. Moore-Vissing also works as a facilitator with the New Hampshire Listens program in the Carsey Institute where she assists communities in creating conversations on local and statewide issues through a deliberative model.

Ed Pacchetti is the Director of Customer Analytics for the Customer Experience office of Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to this position, Ed was the Special Assistant to the Senior Advisor on the Secretary's Initiative on College Access at the U.S. Department of Education and prior to that he worked for five years in the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). His dominant interests are around college access and completion, and while he recognizes the complexity inherent in both areas, he also recognizes that financial aid can make a critical difference, especially for low-income students. Ed is a first generation college student who has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master's of Public Administration degree from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Maryland.

Claudine Pauselli is a senior analyst with the Education, Workforce, and Income Security team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the government watchdog agency for Congress. Ms. Pauselli has been at GAO for nearly 8 years and has worked on a variety of oversight issues including the management of federal real property for public benefit use, national park operations funding trends, and overseeing OSHA's efforts to protect worker safety and health in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the last few years, Ms. Pauselli's work has focused primarily on higher education and federal student financial aid issues. Among the topics she has reported on are the trends in teams and participants in national collegiate athletic sports, Department of Education's monitoring and assistance to low-income and minority serving institutions, the Department of Education's oversight of federal student aid eligibility requirements, and financial trends in public and private non-profit postsecondary education.

Paulina Pιrez Mejνas is currently a faculty member of the Higher Education Research Center at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile (USACH), a Doctoral Intern for The Pell Institute, and a visiting scholar at the University of Maryland, College Park. She recently obtained her Ph.D. in the Higher Education program at the University of Maryland, sponsored by a Fulbright Scholarship. Before coming to Maryland, she was the Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant to the USACH's President. Paulina also holds a Bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, and a Master's degree in engineering sciences. Her research interests include access, attainment and persistence in postsecondary education, first-generation and low-income students, and the role of financial aid in access and persistence.

Alexandria Walton Radford is the Associate Director of Postsecondary Education and Transition to College at MPR Associates, Inc., a consulting firm that conducts innovative research and develops practical tools to inform education policy and practice. Alexandria leads MPR's efforts in the development of NCES' Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS) Longitudinal Study, and has recently used these data to examine students' remedial coursetaking, persistence and attainment, and labor market outcomes. She is also currently investigating families' preparations for funding college, high schools' college counseling programs, and students' college choice. Alexandria is the co-author of the book No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Kenneth E. Redd is Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). Ken directs NACUBO's annual survey of college and university endowments and other studies on higher education finance issues. He came to NACUBO in 2008 from the Council of Graduate Schools, where he directed the organization's research and policy analysis efforts. Previously, he served as director of research at the USA Group Foundation (now the Lumina Foundation for Education) and as a senior research associate at Sallie Mae. He has also worked as a researcher and analyst at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Congressional Research Service.

Jamey Rorison is a Ph.D. candidate in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. He has spent the last three years working on a five-state study in collaboration with National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, aiming to better understand how state policies explain state performance in higher education. In addition to his work on the state review project, he worked for The Education Trust in Summer 2011, where he contributed to the Save Pell campaign. Rorison's research interests include understanding the role of federal and state financial aid policy as a means of facilitating access for traditionally underrepresented students and undergraduate student learning outcomes. Prior to beginning his graduate work, Jamey worked as a middle school language arts teacher in Maryland and as the curriculum developer for Summit Educational Group. He has an M.S.Ed. in Higher Education and a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Rachelle Sharpe is Director of Financial Assistance at the Higher Education Coordinating Board in Washington and has been with the agency for over six years. In this position she oversees 15 aid programs serving nearly 80,000 students with over $300 million in state funding. Previously she was a financial aid administrator for Cascadia Community College, Green River Community College, and The Evergreen State College. She has also worked in admissions and college access (Upward Bound) areas in Oregon. Rachelle recently completed her doctoral degree and enjoys using financial aid research to inform policy and support program advocacy.

Laura Szabo-Kubitz has been a policy associate at the Institute for College Access & Success since 2007, conducting research and disseminating findings on a range issues. Her work focuses on community college affordability, including identifying best practices to improve awareness about and assistance with the financial aid application process, encouraging federal loan participation, and protecting and strengthening California's Cal Grant program. Previously, Ms. Szabo-Kubitz worked in the non-profit sector and as an educator, including her roles as recruiting coordinator for American Student Assistance, a former guarantee agency with the mission to make student loans more manageable and affordable; and as after-school liaison for Aim High, an organization that creates empowering environments for the educational and personal growth of underserved middle school students. She also has experience with non-profit direct service and finance, having worked as the Parent Voices project associate and assistant to the CFO at the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network. Ms. Szabo-Kubitz received her Master's in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and her Bachelor's in English from Oberlin College.

Amelia M. Topper, a JBL Associates contractor, has worked in the education sector for over 14 years as both a teacher and researcher. Topics of research include postsecondary student access, persistence and retention; financial aid policies; K-12 student migration and charter school enrollment; and costs associated with educating English language learners. She is currently working on Achieving the Dream, a multi-year initiative focusing on student retention and success in community colleges. She has authored and co-authored national publications on low-income student success and outcomes, faculty salaries, and the proprietary higher education sector, and has two forthcoming peer-reviewed articles on student migration and English language learners. She also serves as a managing editor of Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA), an open-access, international, peer-reviewed journal. Amy holds a Bachelor's in the History of Philosophy and Classical Languages from St. John's College (Annapolis), Maryland; a Master's in Leadership in Teaching from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland; and is currently a doctoral student in Arizona State University's Education Policy and Evaluation program.

Jeff Webster has worked for TG since 1986 and now holds the position of Assistant Vice-President for Research and Analytical Services. In this capacity, Jeff serves the research needs of the Texas student aid community, government officials, and legislative staff, as well as, TG's management. Jeff's area produces the annual State of Student Aid and Higher Education in Texas and other reference publications that inform student aid professionals and policymakers. He was the lead author of The Toughest Test: The Student Loan Liquidity Crisis of 2007-08 in Texas, and Ready, Willing, and Unable: How Financial Barriers Obstruct Bachelor-degree Attainment in Texas. Jeff has overseen numerous studies on student loan default, debt burden, and student retention. His area pioneered the use of predictive modeling to improve student loan default prevention efforts. Jeff's team is responsible for TG's portfolio analyses, program assessments, and evaluations of research project proposals for TG's philanthropic initiative. He has made presentations to many groups including the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, College Board's Preparate: Educating Latino for the Future of America, Student Financial Aid Research Network, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, Texas Association of Institutional Researchers and TG's annual conferences. He has a bachelor's degree from Kenyon College and a master's degree from the University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs.

Jennie Woo, Ed.D., is a Senior Research Associate at MPR Assoc., Inc., a Berkeley consulting firm that conducts research to inform education policy and practice. Her research focuses on higher education access and student financial aid. She has written reports under contract with the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) on various topics of higher education finance such as student debt, private borrowing, merit aid and graduate financing. She also participates in the preparation and analysis of data for the ongoing National Postsecondary Student Aid Studies (NPSAS) and the Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) Longitudinal Studies conducted by NCES. Prior to joining MPR, she was Senior Economist at EDFUND, a student loan guarantee agency where she also served on the Board of Directors. She has published papers on student debt, student loan default, and persistence in higher education, as well as developed financial forecasting models. Dr. Woo has a bachelor's degree from Swarthmore College and an Ed.D. from Harvard University.