College Countdown is proud to share insights from industry pros with you. Learn more about our contributors below.

Contributor

Bright Horizons College Coach

Bright Horizons College Coach® is the nation’s leader in educational advising. We help students and families across the country navigate the path to college.

Bright Horizons College Coach® is the nation’s leader in educational advising. We help students and families across the country navigate the path to college, with a team of experts — all former admissions and financial aid decision-makers at top schools — who know the process from the inside. Collectively, we’ve helped more than 32,000 families successfully manage every aspect of college admissions, from choosing schools, to creating stand-out applications, to economically saving, and financing it all.
Contributors
Contributor

Grown & Flown

Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, the cofounders of Grown & Flown, are writers, moms, and friends. They created Grown and Flown when each of their youngest kids were in high school and their oldest kids were in college.

Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, the cofounders of Grown and Flown, grownandflown.com are writers, moms, and friends. They created Grown and Flown when each of their youngest kids were in high school and their oldest kids were in college. It has become the #1 site for parents with teens and college students, reaching millions of parents every month. They are also co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron, 2019). Click the book icon below to purchase.

In their past incarnations, Mary Dell worked in television and media, and Lisa had a career that included Wall Street, politics, and writing. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author of three books, including Goldman Sachs: The Culture of Success. Lisa, a California native, graduated from UC San Diego and MIT. Mary Dell is a graduate of the UT Austin and Harvard Business School.

Contributor
Contributor

Neil Best, Ph.D.

Dr. Neil Best has been working in Higher Ed for almost 20 years. He received his PhD from Azusa Pacific University in Higher Education and his dissertation explored on the campus climate predictors of sexual assault victimization.

Dr. Neil Best has been working in Higher Ed for almost 20 years. He received his PhD from Azusa Pacific University in Higher Education and his dissertation explored on the campus climate predictors of sexual assault victimization. He has professional experience working in the areas of Equity and Compliance, Diversity and Inclusion, Residence Life, Student Engagement, Leadership Development, and Student Conduct. He currently serves as Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Civil Rights Investigator at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His research interests focus on student success and sexual violence prevention and he has taught classes on Student Success, Student Conduct, and Research Methods. In his free time, he loves exploring the great state of Alaska with his partner and three young daughters.
Contributor
Contributor

Oscar Espinoza-Parra, Ph.D.

Dr. Oscar Espinoza-Parra serves as Dean of Enrollment Services at College of the Desert.

Dr. Oscar Espinoza-Parra serves as Dean of Enrollment Services at College of the Desert. He holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University, a master’s degree and dual bachelor’s degrees from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and Reno. He is a faculty member at Maryville University.
Contributor
Contributor

Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, Ph.D.

Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz is a higher education professional with over a decade of experience.

Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz is a higher education professional with over a decade of experience. She oversaw undergraduate admissions at Pepperdine University and completed doctoral coursework at Azusa Pacific University. Her career has focused on counseling students, parents, colleges, and enterprise companies on admissions, financial aid, technology, talent, and workforce development.
Contributor
Contributor

Michelle Samuels-Jones, Ed.D.

Michelle is VP For Student Success at Credo and partners with colleges to foster student achievement.

Michelle is VP For Student Success at Credo and partners with colleges to foster student achievement. Michelle’s background encompasses academic/student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and college administration across a variety of higher education settings. She earned her B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of Virginia and Ed.D. from Northeastern University.
Contributor
Contributor

Jennifer Tharp, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Tharp is the assistant dean of student academic services and director of student success at The King's College in New York City.

Dr. Jennifer Tharp is the assistant dean of student academic services and director of student success at The King's College in New York City. She earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Azusa Pacific University, where her research focused on college student thriving and success. Dr. Tharp teaches at the graduate level and consults nationally in the area of student success. Explore more of her work at drjennifertharp.com.
Contributor

Eric Bennett

Eric Bennett has over three decades of experience in higher education managing recruitment and marketing, financial aid, and student development at three universities from Georgia to California to New York City.

Eric Bennett has over three decades of experience in higher education managing recruitment and marketing, financial aid, and student development at three universities from Georgia to California to New York City. Eric recently put his experience to use launching Bennett Collaborative, a small business that creates content for brands with purpose. With his reputation for being an effective communicator, Eric writes for all kinds of industries from finance and college savings to education and disability services. He even dabbles with writing short stories.
Contributor

Marla Franco, Ph.D.

Dr. Marla Franco serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives at the University of Arizona.

Dr. Marla Franco serves as the Assistant Vice Provost for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives at the University of Arizona and is a member of the president’s senior leadership team. Her higher education career spans 20 years and two states, California and Arizona. She has championed access and equity in higher education for all students and has authored publications to further understanding of HSIs. She is a first-generation college graduate and earned her PhD in Higher Education Leadership at Azusa Pacific University.
Contributor

André Stephens, Ph.D.

Dr. André Stephens spent 25 years in Enrollment Management at Biola University before being appointed Vice President for Student Development in 2016.

Dr. André Stephens spent 25 years in Enrollment Management at Biola University before being appointed Vice President for Student Development in 2016. In this role, André leads a dynamic team of co-curricular staff who desire to provide meaningful learning experiences for students. He is also an active participant in higher education professional organizations currently serving as vice chair of the Council of Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) Commission for Student Development. André earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from Claremont Graduate University.
Contributor

National College Attainment Network

NCAN's mission is to build, strengthen, and empower communities and stakeholders to close equity gaps in postsecondary attainment for all students.

NCAN's mission is to build, strengthen, and empower communities and stakeholders to close equity gaps in postsecondary attainment for all students. Drawing on the expertise of hundreds of organizational members in every U.S. state, the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) is dedicated to improving the quality and quantity of support that underrepresented students receive to apply to, enter, and succeed in postsecondary education.

NCAN member organizations touch the lives of more than 2 million students and families each year and span a broad range of the education, nonprofit, government, and civic sectors. NCAN provides members with professional development, networking, benchmarking, tools, and news from the field so they can deliver college access and success services more effectively and to more students. NCAN also advocates at the national level for policies to improve access and success for all students. Learn more at NCAN.org.

Contributor

Mo Hyman

Mo is the Executive Director of College Access Plan, a nonprofit organization that prepares underserved students to succeed in college. She also proudly serves on the Leadership Council of Collaborate PASadena.

As one of College Access Plan’s founders, Mo can’t think of anywhere else on earth she’d rather be. The students she meets everyday inspire her to work hard and laugh a lot. It’s easy for her to be passionate about college: it was as an undergraduate at Michigan State University receiving a BA in English that Mo developed into a scholar, became a community advocate, and made the friends of a lifetime. She has since gone on to obtain an MA in English from the University of New Mexico and a Masters of Public Administration from USC and spent nearly two decades teaching community college English, which helped to build her passion for educational equality and access. CAP allows her to combine these passions and work shoulder-to-shoulder with the most amazing students, staff, board, and community she could have ever imagined.

In addition to her role at CAP, Mo proudly serves on the Leadership Council of Collaborate PASadena, a shared initiative of the Pasadena Public School district, community organizations, and the city/local governments of Pasadena, Altadena, and Sierra Madre. She also serves on the board of Action Kivu, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with local nongovernmental organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and invests in Congo’s women, children, and communities through vocational training and education, creating paths toward peace and prosperity.