34th Annual SFARN Conference
Annapolis, MD
June 8-9, 2017

Info | Presentations | Speaker Biographies

Julie Ajinkya is the vice president of applied research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). Her research interests include equity in postsecondary education and innovative models that improve degree completion for underserved populations--with a focus on attainment among incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students. Prior to joining IHEP, Ajinkya worked at the Center for American Progress (CAP), where she focused primarily on underserved populations and the impact that demographic change has on a diverse portfolio of policy issues. Her work at CAP culminated in the production of a book, All-In Nation — An America That Works For All, which argues that equity is the best model for economic growth and lays out a federal policy blueprint to close gaps between racial/ethnic groups and meet our future workforce needs. Ajinkya also serves as a visiting professor of government at Cornell University's campus in Washington, D.C., where she teaches courses on race, inequality and public policy.

Allison Beer is a research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where she is a member of the applied research team. Her research and professional interests include college affordability, P-20 systems alignment, and students’ employment outcomes. Prior to IHEP, Beer served with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid to support budget, schedule, and governance management of Title IV financial aid programs. During graduate school, Beer conducted research on educational attainment gaps and workforce training for the DC Commission on African American Affairs. In addition to her work in postsecondary education, Beer has worked with public schools in DC as an AmeriCorps VISTA at an education-focused nonprofit and as a fellow at the DC State Board of Education.

Megan McClean Coval, is the Vice President of Public Policy and Federal Relations at NASFAA. Megan oversees the Association's policy and advocacy efforts. Prior to joining NASFAA in the fall of 2010, she served as the Director of Government Relations for the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, where she contributed to several congressionally mandated reports on the postsecondary access and persistence of low- and moderate- income students. Megan began her career in higher education as an admissions counselor at Penn State University. She received a master's in higher education at Penn State and BA in political science from Allegheny College.

Charlotte Etier is a Senior Research Analyst and Grant Manager at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) where she contributes to research and policy needs. Prior to joining NASFAA in the summer of 2014, she worked as the Dallas Martin Endowment Policy Intern at NASFAA, where she contributed to work related to policy and advocacy efforts. Charlotte began her career in higher education as a graduate assistant in the Financial Aid Office at Central Connecticut State University and as a Financial Aid Officer at UConn. She received a master's in student development in higher education at Central Connecticut State University and BS in political science and women's studies from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Fred Galloway research interests are higher education policy, the economics of education, and econometrics. He teaches graduate courses in several related areas: quantitative research methods; advanced quantitative research methods; the policymaking process; higher education policy, the economics of education, evaluation theory and practice; survey research methods; and the dissertation seminar. In addition to his work as a faculty member, Dr. Galloway has also served as Associate Dean and Director of Strategic Programs in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences. Before joining the university faculty full time in 1999, Dr. Galloway taught part-time in the School of Business at USD beginning in the mid-late 1980s. His experience includes, among other things, direction of a federal policy analysis at the American Council on Education in Washington, D.C., Project Director for the National Postsecondary Direct Loan Evaluation at Macro International, and testifier before the US House of Representatives.

Maria Gaona is a Senior Analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office for the Education, Workforce, and Income Security team (EWIS). Ms. Gaona’s work at GAO has covered several social policy issues, such as how the 2007 economic recession affected state TANF programs, college outcomes for homeless and foster youth, and transition services for youth with autism. Prior to GAO, she worked in the non-profit sector as a director for a restorative justice youth program in rural Alaska and as a program evaluator in St Paul, MN. Ms. Gaona holds a M.P.P. from the University of Minnesota and an A.B. from the University of Chicago in Public Policy Studies.

Dan Gorin is a Policy Analyst with the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs (DCCA) at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In this role he analyzes issues that affect the financial well-being and access to credit of consumers, especially those who are traditionally under-served and at-risk. Areas of expertise include housing, student loans, small dollar credit, and aging. Dan has been at the Federal Reserve Board for sixteen years. Before joining the Board, he spent thirteen years with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce serving as Chief Economist. Dan received his undergraduate degree and did graduate work in economics at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.

Anthony Hernandez earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Harvard University. He also enrolled at Harvard Business School & Harvard Kennedy School of Government. As a graduate student, he worked in the Admissions Office to recruit students from communities not traditionally represented at the academy. He is working to earn his Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Madison Educational Policy Studies Program. He is Project Manager for the AVID/TOPS evaluation at The Wisconsin HOPE Lab. He is also working on several projects related to housing and food insecurity in higher education. Anthony is from a working-class community in South Texas where he attended a public high school. He has spent significant time working on education reform issues in Latino communities in Los Angeles, CA, and Phoenix, AZ.

Austin Lacy is an expert in postsecondary education with experience in surveys, data analysis, and policymaking. He conducts original research based on data from our nationally representative samples, frequently using frontier techniques to answer critical policy questions. Dr. Lacy plays a key role in three of our national longitudinal studies for the U.S. Department of Education, including the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS), and Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B). He directs the team that ensures the accuracy and quality of data products for all three studies, and leads the derivation of variables for the administrative collection of NPSAS. For the Pew Charitable Trusts, Dr. Lacy is using micro-level student loan data to generate a typology of repayment patterns. Dr. Lacy also has experience with state-level higher education research and policy. In addition to his current research, Dr. Lacy has written several papers on the intersection of politics and postsecondary education policymaking. Before joining RTI in 2014, he was a researcher and policy analyst for the University of North Carolina system where he conducted research to inform the policy and practice of that state and system. His research has been published internationally and can be found in The Journal of Higher Education, Research in Higher Education, Theory and Method in Higher Education Research among other outlets.

Mark Lafer is entering his fifth decade of conducting public-sector research and policy analysis. He established Mark Lafer Consulting after retiring from his role as senior researcher and policy analyst for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), after more than 16 years. His professional employment included stints in student-focused research for Kansas State University and The Pennsylvania State University, evaluation research within the national mental health services delivery system, and policy development as part of the Experimental Health Services Delivery System national federal health care initiative. He has also worked as a private consultant to education, health, and human services providers and as adjunct faculty for the U.S. Army’s Old Trooper University and The Pennsylvania State University, teaching undergraduate psychology, sociology, and statistics. He has earned degrees from the University of Michigan and Boston University and has completed advanced coursework in psychology and higher education at Kansas State University and The Pennsylvania State University.

Jennifer Ma is a senior policy research scientist at the College Board. Her research focuses on issues related to the economics of education including higher education finance, college pricing, the benefits of higher education, saving for college, student financial aid, and the impact of financial aid on college access and choice. She is the co-author of the College Board’s annual reports Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid as well as Education Pays — The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society, Tuition Discounting — Institutional Aid Patterns at Public and Private Colleges and Universities, and Simplifying Student Aid — What It Would Mean for States. Previously, she was a senior research fellow at TIAA-CREF. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and her B.A. in Economics from Fudan University in Shanghai, China.

Mike May brings over 20 years of experience in marketing strategy and delivery to the clients at Huge. His creative and mission-driven strategies have helped Federal Student Aid empower students to pay for college, AARP challenge ageist stereotypes, and Audi produce cutting-edge social media experiments. His work has defined Huge’s process for identifying, contextualizing, and solving business problems, whether it’s synthesizing insights into a strategy to steer USA Today towards growth in a new younger group of users, or conceiving new operations that allow Allergan to turn social engagement into business results. Before joining Huge in 2013, he spent a decade running his own consultancy, where he was an advisor to CEOs and CMOs in the marketing technology sector and a regular columnist for MediaPost’s Online Publishing Insider and Email Marketing Insider. As a Senior Analyst and Research Director with Jupiter Research (now part of Forrester Research), Mike wrote or contributed to over 100 articles on digital marketing, media and commerce and was a frequent commentator on CNN and CNBC and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The New York Times and other publications. As a hobby business, Mike runs a high-end bicycle components brand and e-commerce operation with a social community of 20K fans and followers and an average order of $800. Mike’s unimpressed teenage son is himself a YouTube celebrity with over 100K subscribers, who, candidly, is more often teaching Mike about kids on social than learning from him. Because teenagers. Mike holds a BA in English from Colgate University, an MA in English from the University of British Columbia, and an MBA in Marketing and Management from NYU Stern.

Matea Pender is an associate policy research scientist in College Board’s policy research division. Pender focuses on financial aid policy and provides research support for College Board’s annual publications “Trends in Student Aid” and “Trends in College Pricing.” She also conducts research on college access and college choice and provides research support and advice for the College Board’s initiatives aimed at improving academic opportunities to students. Pender holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Sarah Pingel joined the Education Commission of the States in February 2014. Sarah supports states by providing analysis tailored to student financial aid and college affordability policies. A data wonk at heart, she also prepares research, authors reports and organizes convenings designed to help policy leaders learn from one another. Prior to working at Education Commission of the States, Sarah held various positions within three institutional financial aid offices. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder, a master’s degree from Bryn Mawr College and a doctorate in Higher Education from the University of Denver. When she isn’t knee deep in policy research, Sarah spends time in the small Rocky Mountain town where she is from and enjoys finding opportunities to practice her French.

Alain Poutre is a research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where he is a member of the policy research team. His research interests include college access and affordability, public-private partnership and funding in higher education, institutional best practices, transparency and accountability in the education sector, data policy, and research methods for education. Prior to joining IHEP, Alain was an Education Pioneers Fellow at uAspire, a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all young people have the financial information and resources necessary to find an affordable path to and through postsecondary education. As part of the fellowship, Alain led a project funded by America Achieves to design and create a series of affordability profiles for the top 250 colleges and universities in the United States, which will be used as a tool for advisors when talking with students about their college options. Alain earned his Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also served as a postgraduate research assistant in Paul L. Harris' Early Childhood Lab. Before entering the world of education policy, Alain worked for several years as an enrollment counselor, international student advisor, transfer specialist, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, as well as a college candidacy-building consultant.

David Radwin is a senior research associate at RTI International with a focus on postsecondary education and quantitative methods. As a task director for the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Mr. Radwin oversees derived variable development and reporting. His report describing total, net, and out-of-pocket prices of attending college was published last year by the National Center for Education Statistics, and he is currently coauthoring another report comparing outcomes of transfer students to students who start at 4-year institutions. He is also the lead analyst for The Completion Arch™, which presents more than 600 indicators of community college student progress and success in an interactive Web site and set of research briefs.

Keb Redd is Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Higher Education, University of Georgia. At NACUBO, Ken directs the 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. Ken has a master’s degree in public policy analysis and social policy from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and a bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Tufts University, Medford, MA. Amanda Janice Roberson is a senior research analyst at IHEP where she is a member of the policy research team. Her research interests include college access, affordability, and success; using data to inform policy; and federal higher education policy. Much of her work at IHEP centers on postsecondary data, metrics, and infrastructure, including contributions to the postsecondary metrics framework. Prior to joining IHEP Amanda served as the assistant director for the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, managing the scholarship program, assisting students with college financial aid, and investigating outcomes of program participants.

Jamey Rorison is a senior research analyst at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), where he is a member of the policy research team. He manages the organization’s Reimagining Aid Design and Delivery (RADD) project and provides support for other initiatives related to postsecondary data and metrics. Rorison’s research interests include: college access, choice, and affordability; federal, state, and institutional financial aid policy; higher-education finance; and using data to inform higher education policy and practice. Prior to joining IHEP, Rorison was a research associate with the Institute for Research on Higher Education and the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, where he worked on a five-state case-study project examining the relationship between state- and institution-level policies and higher education performance. Rorison earned his Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. His dissertation focused on the ways in which students from low-income families use financial aid and other resources to persist through bachelor’s degree completion. Rorison also holds a master’s degree in higher education and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, both from the University of Pennsylvania.

Roman Ruiz is a Ph.D. candidate and researcher at PennAHEAD at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. He has also served as policy research intern with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development and summer research fellow at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. Recent publications include co-authoring the Pell Institute/PennAHEAD report Indicators of Higher Education Equity in the United States and co-authoring the report Driven to Perform — Tennessee’s Higher Education Policies & Outcomes released by the Institute for Research on Higher Education. Ruiz’s current work utilizes spatial analysis techniques to understand the role of place as a determinant of college access and student college choice. Prior to doctoral studies, Ruiz worked as an academic counselor for the University of Arkansas’s TRIO Talent Search program.

Reid Setzer is Young Invincibles’ Government Affairs Director, and is primarily responsible for maintaining relationships with Congressional offices, strategic partners, the Administration, and other national stakeholders. Reid has also co-authored policy reports for YI, in addition conducting policy research and helping to direct strategy for YI’s advocacy campaigns. Before working at YI, Reid did legal research and writing at the Center for American Progress and interned for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He studied history and political science at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated magna cum laude in 2010, and graduated from Georgetown University Law Center with his Juris Doctorate in 2013.

Peter Siegel is a senior statistician and director of RTI International’s Education Statistics Program. Mr. Siegel has worked on the statistical aspects of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) since the 1999-2000 round of the study, as well as the 2008-09 and 2008-12 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Studies. His work has included sample design and selection, weighting, variance estimation, imputation, nonresponse bias analysis, and disclosure analysis. Mr. Siegel has a B.S. in applied mathematics from Texas A&M University and a M.S. in applied statistics from George Washington University.

Deborah A. Signer is a Senior Analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office for the Education, Workforce, and Income Security team (EWIS). Since 2001, she has led GAO engagements on a range of human services issues affecting vulnerable and low-income populations, including higher education for homeless and foster youth, special education under IDEA, and child welfare. Prior to working on education and human services issues, she also led GAO engagements on public health and Medicaid. Dr. Signer has been recognized for her work with a GAO Meritorious Service Award as well as two Managing Director’s Awards. Before joining GAO, she worked as a writer and editor in the private sector. She was also an instructor at Columbia College and Queens College in New York while she was pursuing her Ph.D. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature and a B.A. from C.C.N.Y. in English Literature.

Sean Simone is a Statistician at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in the Longitudinal Surveys Branch of the Sample Surveys Division. He serves as Associate Project Officer for the 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS) and Project Officer for the 2017-18 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, Administrative Collection (NPSAS-AC), which is anticipated to have state-representative samples. Dr. Simone supports the student records and transcript data collections across the secondary and postsecondary sample surveys in the Longitudinal Surveys Branch. He has written on topics such as tuition pricing, credit transfer, and sample survey methods. Prior to joining NCES, he has served as the AIR/NCES Postdoctoral Policy Fellow, a Research Policy Analyst for the Maryland Independent College and University Association, and a college administrator. Dr. Simone’s research interests include higher education economics and finance; postsecondary education pricing and costs; student and credit transfer; and student persistence and attainment. Dr. Simone holds a doctorate in education policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Nichole Smith is a research education analyst at RTI International. Her skills in data management and data analysis, particularly in her work with the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), have made an impact on several postsecondary studies and policy evaluations. She has supported various cycles of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS) and the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study (B&B) and served on public policy evaluation teams. These experiences, along with her work in institutional research at the University of North Carolina-General Administration and her studies in higher education administration, have driven her research interests in federal financial aid and postsecondary education policy.

Patricia Steele is an independent researcher, founder and principal of Higher Ed Insight, a research and evaluation business designed to study, improve and develop college access programs and policies so that underrepresented populations are better served. She has extensive experience in evaluation, research, policy writing, strategic data reporting, planning, and project management. Most recently she co-launched a new nonprofit, Ascend DC, to expand educational and employment opportunities through high-quality training and education programs in the DC area. Steele holds a Ph.D. in higher education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland, College Park.

PJ Tabit is a supervisory policy analyst in the Division of Consumer and Community Affairs at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, DC. His work primarily focuses on student loans, auto finance, and credit scoring. He has previously held positions at the Congressional Research Service and the U.S. House of Representatives. PJ earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from the University of Scranton and master’s degrees in public policy from the George Washington University and predictive analytics from Northwestern University. PJ also serves on the board of directors and as treasurer of the Wiki Education Foundation, a San Francisco-based non-profit.

Erin Dunlop Velez is an education research analyst at RTI International, has a background in quantitative analysis and policy evaluation, with a focus on postsecondary education. She analyzes data for National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) studies: High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 (HSLS:09), Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS), Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B) and updates their Condition of Education postsecondary indicators.Her research is centered on barriers to attainment of postsecondary credentials, financial aid policy, community college students, and the labor market returns for postsecondary credentials. Dr. Velez has published reports on Pell Grant recipients, private student loans, and student debt. Dr. Velez has a BA in Economics from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Virginia.

Mamie Voight is the vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). She leads IHEP’s projects on affordability, accountability, and postsecondary data policy and works with the organization’s senior leadership team to inform the strategic direction of the organization. Voight and the policy research team launched and manage the Postsecondary Data Collaborative (PostsecData), which brings organizations together to advocate for the use of high-quality postsecondary data to advance student success and educational equity. At IHEP, she has co-authored more than 10 reports and briefs on higher education topics. Before joining IHEP, Voight was a research and policy analyst and assistant director for research and policy at The Education Trust (Ed Trust), an organization that works to promote high academic achievement for all students, with a particular emphasis on closing opportunity and achievement gaps.

Carrie Warick is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the National College Access Network. She leads NCAN’s policy and advocacy work to promote policies that support students who are low-income, first-generation, or of color access and succeed in higher education. This includes managing NCAN's policy priorities at both the federal and state level. Joining NCAN in May 2008, Ms. Warick has also served as a Program Associate, the Director of Member Services, and the Director of Partnerships and Policy. In these positions, she managed NCAN's technical assistance to statewide and regional networks, developed and disseminated resources and training to NCAN members as well as managing membership events, communications, recruitment, and renewal. Ms. Warick holds a Masters of Public Policy, with a concentration in education policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and History, both from The George Washington University. While pursuing her Masters, Ms. Warick was a Presidential Administrative Fellow and worked in various areas of communication within GW. Warick is a five year member of Women in Government Relations and currently serves as co-chair of the Education Taskforce. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northeast D.C.

Lindsay Wayt is an assistant director of research and policy analysis at the National Association for College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). Lindsay works on NACUBO’s annual tuition discounting study of private, non-profit four-year institutions; an annual student financial services benchmarking report; and other studies on higher education finance issues. Previously, she was a graduate research associate at the American Council on Education. Prior to working at higher education associations, Lindsay completed her doctoral work focused on educational leadership and higher education. In addition, she has experience working in student affairs (advising, planning, and teaching for a learning community that served a large population of low-income, first generation, and/or minority students) and several years of teaching experience at the secondary level.

Jeff Webster has worked for TG since 1986 and now holds the position of Director of Research. Jeff has overseen numerous studies on student loan default, debt burden, student retention, and the demand for student aid. His area pioneered the use of predictive modeling to improve student loan default prevention efforts and developed the first consumer facing tool to show student debt-to-income ratios by major by institution. Jeff has presented to many groups including the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, and the Financial Literacy and Education Commission. His latest research focuses on the efficacy of student loan counseling.

Meredith Welch is a policy research analyst at the College Board, where her work focuses on issues of college access, financing, and completion. Previously, she spent several years as an analyst on the higher education team at The Education Trust. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and Spanish from the University of Michigan. Jennie Woo is a Senior Research Associate in the Education Studies Division of RTI, International, conducting research on postsecondary education. She examines such topics as persistence in higher education, higher education finance, student financial aid and student loan debt. She derives and analyzes data for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)postsecondary studies: the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), Beginning Postsecondary Students (BPS), and Baccalaureate and Beyond (B&B). Dr. Woo has published reports on graduate financing, private student loans, non-need-based aid, and student loan default. Dr. Woo has a BA in Psychology from Swarthmore College and an Ed.D. from Harvard University in Economics of Education.