Audit/Review Committee Team Members

The members of the Audit/Review Teams are diverse not only by geography but also by the type of school and expertise they can bring to your questions. Below are the biographies of some of the members.

Pam Appleton
Pam serves as Associate Director of College Counseling at Phillips Exeter Academy. She was appointed to the Exeter faculty in 1997 after working for eight years on the Board of Admission at Wellesley College. While at Wellesley, Pam was the leader of recruitment and evaluation for the third largest Board of Admission region and was the campus liaison to the Consortium of Educational Excellence through Partnerships. In addition, Pam was the Chair of the 1996 Annual Meeting for the New England Association of College Admission Counselors (NEACAC). From 2009-2011, Pam served as a faculty member to both NEACAC's Summer Institute and The Advanced Secondary School Counselors Summer Institute, two professional mentoring programs which bring together new and seasoned professionals to learn and collaborate on issues of adolescent development and higher education. Today, Pam is an Assembly Delegate for the New England region to the National Association of College Admission Counselors. Pam holds a B.A. from University of New Hampshire and a M.Ed. from Boston College. In addition to her work as a college counselor, Pam advises day students, serves on the admissions committee, and assists with Exeter Social Service Organization efforts. Pam and her husband, Kevin, reside off campus with their two sons, Will and Tom'16. Pam is a member of NACAC, NEACAC, ACCIS and EISSCAP.
2016-17 School Profile

Brennan Barnard
Brennan Barnard currently serves as the Director of College Counseling and Public Relations at The Derryfield School, an independent day school for grades 6-12 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Previously he worked as an admission officer, college counselor, teacher, coach, and dorm parent at a number of schools throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic. These institutions include Westtown School, The Hyde School, Northfield Mount Hermon School, and The St. Paul's School Advanced Summer Program. Brennan is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College and worked for the College as the Regional Dean of Admission for New England. He holds his M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from The University of Vermont and has worked at the college level in a variety of roles in student affairs.
School Profile available upon request

Gretchen Bergill
Gretchen serves as an Associate Director of College Counseling at Phillips Exeter Academy. Interested in issues of equity and inclusion and environmental awareness, Gretchen supports ACCEPT, Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today, and has attended a number of diversity conferences. As a member of Exeter’s Climate Change Committee, she helped plan the Academy’s first Climate Change Day in February 2015. Gretchen also serves as an adviser to the Class of 2019, adviser to the Ski Club, and has been an adviser to both boarding and day students throughout the years. Until recently, Gretchen held the position of Founding Schools Chair for ACCIS. In August 2010 she served as Director of the first-ever ACCIS Summer Colloquium; she also helped to plan the first two ACCIS Summer Institutes. Gretchen other professional experience includes four years at the Sage Ridge School in Reno, NV, where she was the Director of College Counseling and at times Registrar and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid; eleven years working in retail management for Patagonia, and an early stint in college admissions at Colby, where she worked as an Assistant Dean of Admissions for four years and later as a part-time reader and interviewer while pursuing advanced course work in New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine.

2016-17 School Profile

Ali Bhanji
A first-generation, international applicant to college, Ali came to the USA from Kenya in 1987. After earning his BA in English but before earning his Ed.M in higher education administration, he spent two years working with first-year students at Middlebury College as they adapted to college life. Following graduate school, he worked as a college counselor, English teacher, and dorm parent at Concord Academy (MA). Having also directed the college counseling programs at The Roxbury Latin School (MA) and The Potomac School (VA), Ali has spent two decades in independent schools which span day, boarding, and single-sex environments. Beyond his professional life at school, Ali presents at ACCIS, NACAC, and College Board national conferences. He has read scholarship applications for The Presidential Scholars program, The Point Foundation, and The Aga Khan Foundation, and he served on the ACCIS Executive Committee from 2006-2010. Philosophically, Ali is committed to finding ways in which independent school students can remain at the center of their own college searches in the face of overzealous adults and aggressive marketing practices—the ever present forces that often complicate what should be an important period of self-reflection in a young person's life. 
School profile available on request.

Rhody Davis
With many years of experience in college counseling and college admissions, Rhody Davis has served as director of college counseling at Viewpoint School in Calabasas, California since 2008. Ms. Davis’s previous positions have included director of international admissions at the University of Chicago, director of college counseling at the Latin School of Chicago, and associate director of college counseling and English teacher at The Kinkaid School in Houston. Ms. Davis has presented on a variety of topics at national conferences including NACAC, College Board Forum, and WACAC. She has published articles in The Choice blog of the New York Times and in the San Fernando Valley Business Journal. She was also interviewed on Access College, a Los Angeles-area NPR radio show KPFK (90.7 FM) that is dedicated to helping students and families gain better information about college admissions and improved access to higher education. Ms. Davis has held national positions in the profession that include chair of the Board for ACCIS and co-founder of the annual Clambake Institute. Ms. Davis has participated in two audits and led one committee.
2016-17 School Profile 

Betsy Dolan
Committed to the field of education for over thirty years, Betsy's career is one of service to young people and their mentors. Betsy began her profession as a secondary school teacher and a coach at R.L. Thomas High School, in New York. She then completed her Masters degree in Clinical Psychological Counseling from Tufts University, in Massachusetts, while earning a position on the United States Field Hockey squad. During graduate school, Betsy coached the university's field hockey and lacrosse team and acted as an athletic liaison to the admissions office. At the time, her clinical research, which focused on stress management for adolescents and young adults, became her hallmark as a therapist. Combining a variety of skills, Betsy then committed herself to college admissions at Tufts, where she remained for ten years. Becoming one of their senior associate directors, she was responsible for the development and implementation of policy, enrollment management and financial aid for their undergraduate admissions office. Now in her twentieth year at Phillips Exeter Academy, Betsy directs the College Counseling Office and is using her diverse experiences to make a difference at the independent school level. Beyond advising students, parents, faculty, alumni, and college admissions colleagues about the journey associated with the college admissions process, Betsy is one of the co-founders of the national organization ACCIS - Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools. In 2014, Betsy was honored with the Marty Elkins Award for excellence in college counseling and supporting the growth and development of her professional colleagues by ACCIS. Whether conducting workshops or panels on the college admissions process at the national and local level, or participating in discussions about the developmental issues associated with adolescents, Betsy has established herself as an active participant in the lives of young people and their mentors.
2016-17 School Profile

Marty Elkins
Marty Elkins, at Ransom Everglades School, is a career educator. Since 1981, Marty has taught, coached, lived in dormitories, and served as Director of College Counseling, Head of School, Dean of Students and a history teacher at Holderness School, St. Margaret’s School, Groton School, New Hampton School, Beacon Academy in the Philippines, Shady Side Academy, and now Ransom Everglades. In 2005 she became involved with the creation of ACCIS—The Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools—and in March of 2007 was named its first Executive Director, later serving on its Board. Interested in supporting students as they reach for future opportunities, Marty actively follows the issues and trends in education, and works to educate internal and external constituencies about challenges students face. Marty also works with leadership to strengthen schools so as to better serve their students. 
2017-18 School Profile

Vickie Garner

Vickie Garner joined Nichols School in Buffalo, NY as the Director of College Counseling in July of 2011.  Previously, she served as the first full-time Director of College Counseling at Sandy Spring Friends School (SSFS), a Pre-K through 12th grade day and boarding school in Montgomery County, MD from 2001 until her move to the Queen City.  Vickie began her work with independent schools in 1987 when she became the Director of Admissions at SSFS and led the school’s admission efforts through major growth and transitions, including a merger with a nearby Friends’ elementary school.  In both her admission and college counseling work, Vickie served in leadership roles within AIMS and AISGW and has presented at state (AIMS & ADVIS) and national (TABS & NAIS) conferences on topics ranging from Working with International Students to Strategic Planning.  A graduate of West Chester University, PA (B.S. Ed.) and The George Washington University (M.F.A.), Vickie has taught English and theatre courses and worked as a student advisor and mentor.  A member of ACCIS since 2008, Vickie is also a member of NYSACAC, EdCo of Western New York, and NACAC.
2017-18 School Profile

Scott Herrmann-Keeling
Scott began at Mary Institute & Country Day School (MICDS) in St. Louis, Missouri in 2010. In addition to college counseling duties, he teaches an Ethical Reasoning class, co-sponsors the Environmental Club and plays clarinet and saxophone in the pit orchestra for school musicals. Prior to his move to St. Louis, he served for ten years in the admissions office at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. At Trinity, he was the primary liaison between the admissions office and the athletic department. He also chaired the admissions office's Social Media Outreach Group, dedicated to enhancing its presence on a variety of social networks. Scott holds a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology and an M.A. in Social Psychology, both from the University of Connecticut.
School profile: Available upon request

Julie (Heitzer) Hertz
Julie (Heitzer) Hertz joined the Shady Side Academy College Counseling office in 2008, and was named Associate Director of College Counseling in 2012.  Julie was first bitten with the college counseling “bug” as a student worker in the admission office at Penn State University, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science.  After college, Julie served as Assistant Director of Admission at Carnegie Mellon University, where she worked closely with their student ambassadors as well as summer pre-college programs.  Julie has also worked with the Tepper School of Business at CMU, reviewing applications for the MBA and Computational Finance Programs.  At Shady Side, Julie serves as an advisor, sits on the Independent Study and Senior Project Committees, and coaches varsity cheerleading.  Professional development has always been an interest, and Julie has served the Pennsylvania ACAC on the conference planning (registration chair and secondary school counselors chair), membership, and communications committees.  Julie has also presented workshops at PACAC and PAISTA (Pittsburgh Area Independent School Teachers Association) conferences, and at the Pittsburgh National College Fair.  A counseling-based, student-centered approach is very important to Julie, who has her Master’s degree in School Counseling from Duquesne University.  When not writing recommendation letters or new cheers, she enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter.
2017-18 School Profile

Peter Jennings
Serving as Director of College Counseling at Concord Academy for over a decade and a half, Peter’s professional career has always centered on the transition to college. Beginning in the admissions office mail room of his alma mater, Connecticut College, Peter’s career officially began with a five-year stint at Pomona College as Assistant Dean of Admissions. Peter followed that with three years as Dean of Juniors and Seniors at Harvard-Westlake School, where he also taught tenth-grade English and coached cross-country and track. In addition to shepherding students and families through the college process at Concord Academy, Peter has been active with coaching, serving as a residential house parent, teaching English, and advising the International Student Organization. During a 2009-2010 sabbatical, Peter joined the Tufts University Staff as Admissions Officer and Counselor-in-Residence. Concord Academy’s college counseling program is distinguished by its consideration of economic equity in the college process, its on-going work with young alumni, and the prominence of students taking gap years (typically 10% of each senior class). Peter's ACCIS involvement includes leading a visiting team of the Audit and Review committee, serving as faculty on the Training and Support committee, and currently sitting on the ACCIS board.
2016-17 School Profile

Sean Kennedy
Sean Kennedy became the Co-Director of College Counseling at Ravenscroft School in 2014. After graduating from Chadwick School, an independent school in suburban Los Angeles, he earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Arizona and a master's degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In addition to past service as Upper School Director at Forsyth Country Day School in North Carolina, Sean has been involved in college admissions for over 15 years with experience accrued at independent schools in California and North Carolina and at the University of California, Los Angeles as freshman application reviewer. He attends annual regional and national college admission conferences and has been a presenter and session presider at the Southern Association for College Admission Counseling (SACAC), the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conferences. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Summer Institute on College Admissions. Sean has been published in The Journal of College Admissions and was one of 70 independent school educators to receive the E.E. Ford Fellowship through NAIS in 2004.

2017-18 School Profile

Ginny Maddux
Ginny Maddux currently serves as the Director of College Counseling at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, TN. She has worked in the college admissions field since 1990 when she started in the admissions office of Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. After working for her Alma mater for five years, she moved to Bell Buckle, TN and started her career in college counseling at The Webb School. In 1998, she moved to Nashville where she continued to expand her knowledge of college admission and independent school options through her job as director of College Counseling at The Harpeth Hall School, an all-girls day school. When she learned of an opening at Shady Side Academy in her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA, she applied and was fortunate to be able to work at Shady Side Academy for four years. She returned to Nashville in 2008. 
School Profile: Available upon request

Nikki Magaziner Mills
Currently the Director of College Counseling at St. Albans School, an all-boys independent school in Washington DC, Nikki Magaziner Mills has worked in the field of college counseling and admissions for her entire career. Prior to her arrival at St. Albans in 2005, Nikki was for seven years the Director of College Counseling and an English I teacher at TASIS, The American School in England, where she worked with both American and international students as they applied to universities all over the world. She has had the opportunity to serve on two different Curriculum Committees and on two school Administrative Committees, and she has presented at conferences in both Europe and the US. Before moving abroad, she was an Assistant Director of Admissions, supervisor of student recruitment services, and scholarship coordinator in the admissions offices of Rice University and her alma mater, Washington and Lee University. Although she has worked on both sides of the Atlantic ocean and on both sides of the college admissions desk, in both an international, co-ed, boarding school school setting and in a single-sex day school setting, she has learned that when working with students applying to college, one thing always remains constant: the college search and application process works best when the student is empowered to take charge, engage, reflect, and grow.
2016-17 School Profile

Eric Monheim
Eric Monheim joined St. Mark’s as the Director of College Counseling in July of 2013. Eric comes to the position after thirteen years in Washington D.C. where he served as the Director of College Counseling at Sidwell Friends and Bullis. Eric served ACCIS as the Executive Director for three years, as well as in a variety of other tasks within the Executive Committee through the early years of the organization. He previously served as a college counselor, history teacher and basketball coach at The Northfield Mount Hermon School and a number of other private and public schools in Pennsylvania and New York City. Additionally, he served on the admissions staff at Kenyon College in the late 80’s. A promising, but short-lived, career as a sports writer, dish man, landscaper, and house painter followed a year of graduate school at Teachers College at Columbia where he met his wife Tricia. Tricia and Eric have two sons (Aidan & Liam). BA Gettysburg College, MAT Teachers College, Columbia University.
School Profile: Available upon request

Maria Morales-Kent
Maria is a graduate of Occidental College. She earned a BA in English and is also a graduate of the Coro Foundation’s Fellows Program in Public Policy in Los Angeles. She has served as Director of College Counseling for the Thacher School in Ojai, California since 1997. Prior to this, she worked for the University of Pennsylvania (1984-90) as an Associate Director and then Director of the Western Regional Office. From 1993-97, she returned to her alma mater, as Director of Transfer Admissions. In Los Angeles, Maria worked for former Mayor Tom Bradley as a policy analyst and advisor, and she helped found College Marketplace, an nonprofit that developed a curriculum in college admission and counseling for inner city schools. While at Thacher, Maria was also a founder of ACCIS – a national, professional organization for independent school counselors. In 2014, she was appointed to the Advisory Council for the National Merit Corporation, which recognizes exceptionally talented juniors and seniors, and in 2016 she was invited to join the Advisory Council for Colorado College. As Director of College Counseling at Thacher, Maria leads a small staff that is focused on guiding and supporting students through the often-daunting college search and application process. Her primary goals for this work are to help students find the right fit for their personal and educational growth beyond Thacher. Maria serves on the Thacher’s Administrative Team, is an advisor for senior boys and Latinos Unidos, and is the school’s Ombudsman.

School Profile: Available upon request

Gunnar Olson
In 2016, Gunnar Olson became the Director of College Counseling at Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, OH. Prior to that appointment, Gunnar served for 13 years as Director of College Advising at the Indian Springs School, an 8th-12th grade day/boarding school outside of Birmingham, AL. In addition to his college advising duties at Indian Springs, Gunnar was the assistant PSAT/AP test coordinator and served on various committees, including the Academics Committee and senior administrative Cabinet. Additional duties have included coaching, and serving as both grade team chairperson and as an admissions representative. Gunnar has served as Chairperson of the NACAC College Fair in Birmingham and consulted in the creation of a college advising program at a local private high school for students with learning differences. Before Indian Springs, Gunnar worked as a Dorm Parent and College Counselor at Saint Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, TX, and in the admission offices of Kalamazoo College in Michigan and Adelphi University in New York. A graduate of a boarding school in Maine, Gunnar has participated at various national and regional conferences and presented on such topics as college fairs, recommendation writing, and surviving board-mandated evaluation audits. Gunnar holds a B.A. in German from Gettysburg College and a M.L.I.S. in Information Studies from the University of Alabama.
School Profile: Available upon request

Christine Pluta
Since 1997, Chris has worked in college admissions counseling, first as a Regional Director at the University of Pennsylvania (1997-2001), an Associate Director of Admissions at Barnard College (2001-02), an independent consultant at College Coach, LLC (2002-05), and an Assoc. Director of College Counseling at Horace Mann School, Bronx, NY (2005-08). Since August 2008, she has served as the Director of College Counseling at Lycée Français de New York in Manhattan, where she works with student body that is over 50% international and seeking university counseling towards US, French, UK, and Canadian institutions in addition to multinational programs. Chris has led panels at the NACAC national conference, the College Board Forum, and is a visiting faculty member of the College Board’s Summer Institute for International Counselors. Chris has written for The Choice blog of the New York Times and has been quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education and US News & World Report, most often on the emotional and behavioral effects of the college admissions process on adolescents. She is an avid supporter of ACCIS and was the Director of the ACCIS Summer Institute in 2012. She was an Associate Faculty member of the Blackberry River Conference in 2014 & 2015. Chris is a regular participant of the Skaneateles Institute and is a former board member of the Clambake Institute at St. George's School. She has also served as the Representative for Admissions to the Bryn Mawr College Alumnae Board. Chris is devoted to simplifying and humanizing the college admissions process for all students and their families, and is an activist for change in undergraduate admissions.

School Profile: Available upon request

Katie Ryan 
Currently Director of College Counseling at Charles Wright Academy in Tacoma, Washington, Katie has over 30 years of experience in the field of college admissions and college counseling.   She began her career in education at her alma mater, Occidental College in Los Angeles, where she served as Assistant Director of Admission, then moved to Cate School in Carpinteria, CA where she was Associate Director of College Counseling.  In addition to college counseling at CWA, Katie has served as Academic Dean, assisting the Upper School Head with all aspects of the academic program including academic advising, scheduling, and curriculum.    She has also worked with admissions, advised the student council, and she runs the senior internship program.  Katie has been a member of NACAC and its regional associations for 30 years, served as Director of the Summer Institute in 2015 and is a former elected member of the Guidance and Admission Committee of the College Board Western Regional Council.
2016-17 School Profile 

Jenny Schneider
Jenny Schneider currently serves as Senior Associate Director of College Counseling at San Francisco University High School, an independent day school for grades 9-12. She began her career working as an admissions officer for two years at her alma mater, Middlebury College. She continued her journey at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, earning a degree with an emphasis in Human Development and Psychology. She is also currently earning a Masters degree through Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. Jenny landed her first college counseling position at Thayer Academy in the winter of 2011, and during her three and a half years there, she also taught English and coached cross-country. At University High School, Jenny has worked to address equity issues around support for students applying from underrepresented backgrounds, particularly through the financial aid process and for students eligible for fly-in programs. Her counseling practice is undergirded by a desire to treat the college process as an important rite of passage, but also to contain the anxiety that it might be the only or most important one young people will experience.

2017-18 School Profile

Courtney Skerritt
Courtney Skerritt serves as Director of College Counseling at The Hockaday School in Dallas, Texas. Prior to joining the Hockaday faculty in 2011, Courtney served as the Director of College Counseling Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts, for five years. She began her career in college admissions as an Admission Coordinator at Boston University before returning to her alma mater, Mount Holyoke College, as Assistant Director of Admission from 2003-2006. As a member of NACAC, TACAC, and ACCIS, Courtney presents regionally and nationally on topics relating to identity development in the college admission process as well as multicultural practices, on which she presented at the 2012 NAIS People of Color Conference. Courtney’s article “Building the College List: Create Meaning by Guiding Students through Effective Research” was published in the Summer 2012 Journal of College Admission. In 2014, Courtney was honored with the NACAC Rising Star Award for her work on a professional development webinar series, and the TACAC Founders Award recognizing “contributions to the Association and the profession that are above and beyond the call of duty and exemplary of exceptional talent and devotion to students.” Courtney completed her undergraduate degree at Mount Holyoke College with a major in sociology and minor in politics and continued her studies at Tufts University, earning a master's degree in education. She enjoys navigating work-life “balance” with her husband, a student services professional at Southern Methodist University, and their two children – Cullen and Dana.
2017-18 School Profile 

Jake Talmage
Since 2000, Jake has served as the first full-time Director of College Counseling at St. Paul’s School, just outside Baltimore, MD. Starting as a co-ed school in kindergarten, St. Paul’s graduates approximately eighty boys per year and is an International Baccalaureate School. In addition to his work at St. Paul’s, Jake is actively involved in PCACAC where he serves in the Presidential cycle 2017-2020, and previously served as Secretary, Delegate, Admissions Practices Chair, and Co-chair of Professional Development. He regularly presents at regional and national conferences. Jake has also previously served as the chair of the Baltimore Area AIMS College Counselors, a group of counselors from over thirty independent schools. This group meets quarterly and sponsors joint efforts, such as HBCU nights, financial aid nights, and an annual college fair among the schools. Prior to coming to St. Paul’s, Jake was a college counselor at Pine Crest School for five years and worked in college admission at Johns Hopkins and University of Vermont for eight years. He is a graduate of William and Mary (BBA) and University of Vermont (MPA).
2017-18 School Profile