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Valerie Jaquith
Manager, Academic & Student Support

Valerie spent many years of working in several different roles within the University of South Florida. Working on the front lines in the undergraduate admissions office and then as a recruiter, she advised a wide variety of students, including adult learners, before she transitioned into academic advising for the College of Nursing’s RN-B.S. and RN-M.S. programs. There, Valerie advised nurses from beginning to end of their degrees, creating program plans, performing transfer credit evaluations, tracking progression, implementing an RN technology and academic support orientation, and certifying degrees. Valerie holds a B.A. in Sociology and an M.A. in adult education from the University of South Florida.

Beth Feinberg Kennan
Director, College Finance

Beth has more than 10 years of experience as a financial aid officer at Northeastern University and has helped both graduate and undergraduate students navigate the financial aid process. In recent years, Beth has worked with thousands of families on their approach to save and pay for college, and she is an expert in education loan repayment strategies. She is a graduate of Scripps College in Claremont, California with a degree in economics and has earned both an MBA and a master’s degree in college student development and counseling from Northeastern University. Beth is an active member of Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and runs financial aid nights at local high schools for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority.

Tara Piantanida-Kelly
Senior Manager, College Finance

Tara has more than 25 years of experience working in financial aid. In 1995, she left her financial aid director’s position to start her own college financial aid consulting business, and more than 20 colleges and universities have utilized her services. Tara has written a book on selecting the right college at the right price, and has trained college financial aid administrators all over the United States. Tara enjoys helping students and families with strategies to save for college, pay for college, and repay student loans. Tara holds degrees in communications and music from Winthrop University.

Jeanne Mahan
Senior Manager, College Finance

Jeanne has more than 20 years of experience in higher education. Most recently she served as senior financial aid counselor at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, Massachusetts. There she worked with both traditional and nontraditional students, advising them on the financial aid process, determining financial aid eligibility, and managing state and federal aid programs. Previously, Jeanne was the financial aid coordinator at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, where she managed the institutional scholarship program and advised students on the loan repayment process. She also volunteers in central Massachusetts high schools, assisting low-income and first-generation aspiring college students who are navigating the admissions and financial aid processes. Jeanne holds a Bachelor of Arts in French language and literature from Emmanuel College, a certificate of French language from the Universite de Paris – Sorbonne, and is completing a Master of Science in nonprofit management at Worcester State University.

Cristy McGuinness
Manager, Academic & Student Support

Cristy has a great deal of experience in adult education. Most recently, she was the assistant director of graduate and professional studies admissions at Rivier University, where she created and implemented branding strategies; helped guide students in the selection of degree programs; and counseled international applicants on enrollment, immigration, academic, and financial requirements. Prior to working at Rivier, Cristy was the assistant director of graduate admissions at New England College, working with graduate and adult students during the college enrollment process. Cristy holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and communication from the University of New Hampshire, spending a semester at Regent’s University in London, England studying British literature, and a Master of Science in higher education administration from New England College.

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Brendan Nelson
Manager, Academic & Student Support

Brendan joined EdAssist after having spent the last 8 years working in admissions and enrollment management, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. His most recent position was an enrollment manager with Robert Morris University, where he was responsible for recruiting and advising students on a number of different programs. He was also a member of the adjunct faculty at Robert Morris, teaching courses in Communication and Organizational Leadership, and he served on the membership committee for the National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals. Previously, Brendan worked as an admissions counselor at Mount Ida College and coordinated the recruitment and advisement of students with learning disabilities. Brendan holds a B.A. in Communications from Allegheny College and an M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Robert Morris University.

Laurie Peltier
Director, College Finance

Laurie has spent the past 22 years in financial aid. Prior to her work at EdAssist, she was the director of financial aid at Anna Maria College and assistant director of financial aid at Becker College, as well as a consultant at several other colleges in Massachusetts. She is considered an expert in all aspects of financial aid and in methods for families to save for college. Over the years, Laurie has helped thousands of families save and pay for college. Her passion lies in helping families understand the financial aid process. She is a graduate of Bentley University with a degree in marketing and has a Master of Business Administration from Anna Maria College.

Michelle Clifton
Manager, College Finance

Michelle has spent the majority of her professional career in higher education.  She began her career at Rhode Island School of Design, working with student accounts and student loans.  At Babson College, she worked in a variety of roles within Student Financial Services, including financial aid, student loans, and student accounts.  She most recently served as Babson’s associate director of financial aid, providing financial aid counseling for undergraduate and graduate students, reviewing and awarding applications, processing appeals, and overseeing all loan processes.  Michelle is an active member of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and volunteers for FAFSA Day Massachusetts, where she guides students to complete the online financial aid applications.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Management from Northeastern University.

Erin Sexton
Manager, Academic & Student Support

Erin brings a great deal of corporate higher education knowledge and experience to EdAssist, primarily in the areas of executive education, professional development, and continuing education. As a higher ed administrator, she has coordinated the successful delivery of executive-level professional development programs for numerous Fortune 500 companies, and has also worked in both agency and corporate recruiting capacities to help organizations identify and fill skills gaps within their workforces. Erin has been highly successful in creating and implementing recruitment strategies for senior- and director-level positions across various industries, including financial services, consulting, biotechnology, healthcare, and retail. Erin holds a B.S. from Providence College and an MBA from Babson College’s F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business.

Laura Saunders

Advisor, Academic & Student Support

Laura has over 25 years of experience in higher education. Most recently, she served as Director for Admissions at Ogeechee Technical College (OTC) in Statesboro, Georgia. While there, she was responsible for recruiting and then guiding students through the admission process. Prior to her role at OTC, Laura spent 17 years working in different positions at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia including admissions and advising. She recruited and worked directly with all incoming international, non-traditional, and home-schooled students. As an advisor in the College of Education, she recruited high school students and advised education majors from freshman status through graduation. Laura holds a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from Georgia Southern University.

Michelle Jones

Advisor, Academic & Student Support

Michelle has spent the last eight years in higher education working with a population of primarily adult learners. During this time she provided academic advising services to both ground and online students enrolled in various programs such as business and healthcare. Previous to that Michelle spent many years working in the staffing industry, most recently as a staffing resource manager for a large staffing firm. There she provided temporary and direct hire staffing, as well as onsite management to a variety of companies throughout the Boston region. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a minor in Social Welfare from Bridgewater State College.