Board of Trustees
Chairman and Founder, Best Associates
Randy Best is the chairman and founder of Best Associates. He began his business career in college and has founded more than 100 companies across a broad range of industries, including healthcare, defense and aerospace, publishing, agriculture, food, oil and gas, real estate and education. For the past 20 years, Mr. Best has been solely committed to mission-driven business initiatives in the education sector.
In 1995, Mr. Best founded Voyager Expanded Learning, a national initiative that provides literacy education to more than 4 million children every year, primarily in underserved areas. In 2005, he founded Whitney University System, now known as Ilumno, a network of universities across South America that serves 200,000 students. In 2007, he created Academic Partnerships, a higher education service provider.
Mr. Best serves or has served as a board member of James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy; advisory board member of Education Commission of the States; board member of NEA Foundation; advisory council member of College of Education Foundation for the University of Texas at Austin; board member of National Urban Alliance for Columbia University and the development board member of University of Texas at Arlington. He also served on the White House Millennium Committee and is a benefactor of the Smithsonian Institution and numerous philanthropic endeavors, primarily in Africa.
Don McAdams, PhD
Chairman and Founder, Center for the Reform of School Systems
Dr. McAdams founded the Center for Reform of School Systems (CRSS), a not-for-profit Texas corporation, which provides governance training and advisory services for urban school boards. He is a nationally recognized authority on school district governance and is a frequent speaker and widely published author on school reform in America. Dr. McAdams served for 12 years as a member of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) Board of Education, serving twice as board president.
Teachers College Press published his first book, Fighting to Save Our Urban Schools... and Winning! Lessons from Houston in 2000 and his second book, What School Boards Can Do: Reform Governance for Urban Schools in January 2006. His latest book, co-authored by Dan Katzir, The Redesign of Urban School Districts: Case Studies in Urban School Governance, 1990-2011, was published by Harvard University Press in 2013.
Dr. McAdams earned his B.A. from Columbia Union College in Maryland and his M.A. and PhD from Duke University. Dr. McAdams has been a research professor at the University of Houston; President of McAdams, Faillace & Associates, Inc; Executive Vice President of the American Productivity and Quality Center; and President of the Texas Independent College Fund. From 1975-1984, he was President of Southwestern Adventist College. Earlier, he was associate professor of history and acting chairman of the Department of History at Andrews University.
Rod Paige, EdD
Former U.S. Secretary of Education
Dr. Rod Paige earned his B.S. from Jackson State University and his MA and EdD from Indiana University. During his tenure as U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Paige was a stalwart supporter of improving the way that students learn on all levels and setting standards of achievement. Dr. Paige made history by becoming the first school superintendent to be named Secretary of Education. While serving as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the seventh largest school district in the U.S., he was honored as National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. Dr. Paige served for a decade as dean of the College of Education at Texas Southern University (TSU) in Houston, Texas, where he worked to ensure that future educators receive the training and expertise necessary to succeed in the classroom. He also established the University’s Center for Excellence in Urban Education, a research facility that concentrates on issues related to instruction and management in urban school systems. Dr. Paige speaks frequently to educators across the country and emphasizes, “Civilizations rise and fall depending on the quality of education.”
Deborah Jewell-Sherman, EdD
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Dr. Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, co-directed Harvard’s Urban Superintendent Program and now guides students in the University’s Doctor of Education Leadership program. Prior to joining Harvard, Dr. Jewell-Sherman worked with the Richmond, Virginia, public schools, serving as Superintendent from 2002-2008. Under her leadership the Richmond Public Schools became recognized nationally as a “Flagship” district. Previously, she served as an elementary school principal and taught English, mathematics, and computer science. Dr. Jewell-Sherman has both an EdD and an MA from Harvard, both in Administration, Planning and Social Policy, an MA from Kean College in Educational Administration, and a BS from New York University in Elementary Education.
Former Chief Financial Officer, Best Merchant Partners
Deborah Nugent served as a finance executive for more than 20 years. She retired from her role as chief financial officer of Best Merchant Partners in 2014, where she also served in other executive operational roles across several of its portfolio companies. Prior to her 12-year tenure at Best Merchant Partners, Ms. Nugent held executive management positions throughout a variety of companies and organizations, including South Central Mortgage, Inc., Mothers Against Drunk Driving, USF&G Capital Investors, Inc., and various real estate development companies. Her financial expertise spans both domestic and international markets.
Ms. Nugent began her career in public accounting with PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Grant Thornton LLP as a CPA. In addition to her leadership in business and finance, Ms. Nugent has more than 10 years of board experience across higher education and not-for-profit institutions in the United States and Latin America. Ms. Nugent has a degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin.
Walter G. Bumphus, Ph.D.
Dr. Walter G. Bumphus is president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges, an advocacy organization representing more than 1,000 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions. He has an expansive career within the field of education, serving as teacher, leader and president of many different community colleges and college systems.
He previously served as a professor in the Community College Leadership Program and as chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a past president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, during which he governed seven community colleges, two technical community colleges and one technical college with 40 campuses across Louisiana.
Dr. Bumphus earned his B.A. in speech communications and his M.A. in guidance and counseling from Murray State University. He holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been a board member for several organizations, including the American Council of Education and American College Testing, and has served on various advisory boards for two presidential administrations.
Jeri Nowakowski EdD
President Emeritus, American College of EducationAn experienced executive for online institutions, Jeri Nowakowski is an educational consultant, specializing in helping corporations and higher education institutions develop and facilitate transitions to an online environment. Dr. Nowakowski began her career as an educator, first in high school then as an associate professor at Northern Illinois University. While executive director of the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, she secured over $50 million in contracts and pioneered the use of technology to deliver and evaluate training and curriculum. Dr. Nowakowski later served as executive vice president of curriculum development and evaluation at Voyager Expanded Learning.
In 2008, Dr. Nowakowski joined American College of Education, first as provost and then as president. Under her leadership, ACE transitioned to a fully online program, added a substantial number of new programs, and secured accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. In 2011, she became executive vice president of Academic Partnerships.
Dr. Nowakowski earned her bachelor’s and master’s from Arizona State University. She holds an Ed.D. in educational evaluation and research from Western Michigan University, and was a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University.
Nursing Advisory Board
Director of Integrated Care for the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix
Fran Roberts holds her Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Colorado (1994) with post-master’s degree, nurse practitioner certification (1996). She is currently a professor of Gerontology/Geriatrics and Integrated Care for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix and president and CEO of the Fran Roberts Group. She served as the executive director for the Arizona State Board of Nursing from 1987-1995 and is on the American Hospital Association’s Council on Governance.
Kathleen D. Davis Consulting, LLC
Kathy is the owner of Kathleen D. Davis Consulting, LLC a healthcare consultancy. Davis offers extensive experience leading quality, patient safety and care experience in complex health care organizations. Recent engagements are focused on executive coaching, leader and team development, quality, safety, experience and operational assessments and plan development.
She has served in executive level positions for over the last 20 years and recently as the senior vice president and chief experience officer for Presbyterian Healthcare Services based in New Mexico, where she provided leadership for customer experience, patient safety, quality, performance management and nursing at a system level, participating in strategy development and implementation.
Chief Executive Officer of HomeCare Association of Louisiana
Warren Hebert joined the HomeCare Association of Louisiana as CEO in 1998 and has been an assistant professor of nursing at Loyola University New Orleans since 2016. Warren also hosts the Family Caregiving radio program/podcast, which boasts an estimated daily listenership of 30,000. Inducted into the American Academy of Nursing in 2018, Warren has been a home health nurse since 1985. He’s spearheaded the educational content of over 50 home health conferences across the south since 1998. In addition, he has chaired state and national boards and was on the editorial advisory board for Home Healthcare Nurse journal. Warren co-founded the nationwide Certificate for OASIS-Clinical exam in 2004, which has now tested over 25,000 home health OASIS experts. His innovative model of sharing revenue has now given back over $1 million to fellow state associations. Warren earned his bachelor’s degree in nursing, his master’s degree in health care systems management and his Doctor of Nursing Practice in executive leadership from Loyola University of New Orleans.
Senior Associate Dean of Education Innovation and Chair of the Undergraduate Nursing Programs at University of Texas at Arlington
Beth Mancini is the senior associate dean for education innovation and chair for the undergraduate nursing programs at the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to moving to an academic role in 2004, Dr. Mancini was the senior vice president for nursing administration and chief nursing officer at Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, Texas, a position she held for 18 years. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, a fellow in the National League for Nursing's Academy of Nurse Educators, and a fellow of the American Heart Association. A sought-after public speaker, Beth received a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Rhode Island College, a master’s degree in nursing administration from the University of Rhode Island and a PhD in Public and Urban Affairs from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Instructor at Benedictine University, Sacred Heart University and University of Phoenix
Therese Shipps is a part-time instructor for Benedictine University, Sacred Heart University and University of Phoenix and has worked in higher education for more than 40 years. She has spent the last two decades focused on graduate education, helping develop curricula for multiple courses and acting as a member and team leader for accreditation visits for the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education. Her previous titles include director of the University of Maine School of Nursing and chair for the Maine State Board of Nursing in addition to faculty positions with Salem State College, Boston University and Grand Canyon University. Therese got her start as a nurse in the Army Nurse Corps and worked in a number of clinical capacities, including staff nurse, head nurse and clinical specialist, before transitioning into education. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Saint Anselm College and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Boston University.
Andrew M. Stern
Managing Partner, Club Oaks Consulting LLC
Andy Stern has been managing partner of Club Oaks Consulting LLC since September 2017 when he sold Dallas-based Sunwest Communications, Inc.
Prior to forming Sunwest Communications, Stern served two years as Staff Assistant to President Gerald R. Ford at the White House. During his business career, he directed communications and government affairs activities for Delaware Medical Center (now Christiana Care Health System), served as press secretary for the mayor of Wilmington as well as holding senior positions with two publicly traded corporations.
Stern is a graduate of the University of Delaware where he was the 1993 Winter Commencement speaker and serves on the advisory board of its Center for Political Communication as well as endowing the Andrew And Sabina Stern Fund For Health Care Excellence at the College of Health Sciences.
Healthcare Advisory Board
Dean of the School of Health Sciences for Ivy Tech
Luster Fowler, PhD, is dean of the School of Health Sciences at Ivy Tech Community College. Dr. Fowler provides didactic, skills and competency-based instruction to students pursuing degrees in the allied health and nursing professions as well as within education. Dr. Fowler is engaged in multiple K-12 initiatives and projects designed to ease students’ transition from high school to post-secondary education.
Director of Integrated Primary Care for Windrose Health Network, Inc.
Dr. Vaughan, LMHC, DBM, is the director of Integrated Primary Care for Windrose Health Network, where she hires, trains and supervises behavioral health providers. Prior to her current position, Dr. Vaughan was director of Healthcare Integration Services for Aspire Indiana, a Community Mental Health Center serving central Indiana. Dr. Vaughan is licensed as a mental health counselor in both Indiana and Ohio.
Operations Manager/Practice Administrator for PMR Healthcare
Melody Warfel has more than 15 years of experience as an operations manager and practice administrator, holding leadership roles in diverse healthcare organizations. She specializes in human resource management and has director-level experience in all aspects of operations and healthcare administration within organizations.
Dean of Articulation and Transfer & Interim Director of Student Success Center for Southern State Community College
Peggy Chalker, PhD, is dean of Articulation and Transfer; and interim director of Student Success Center at Southern State Community College. She has served higher education as an administrator for 32 years in Ohio; Washington, DC; and Virginia. Her experience includes a variety of institutions, and she has served in academic and student support roles as well as managed departments as a dean and department chair.
Program Director, Home Health, Hospice, Private Duty, Behavioral Health, and Ambulatory Care for Accreditation Commission for Health Care Inc.
Teresa Harbour is program director for the Accreditation Commission for Health Care Inc. She has worked in the home care field since 1990 in a variety of positions, including hospice staff nurse, home care case manager, clinical director, hospice/home health director, ACHC surveyor, home health/hospice/physician practice consultant and ACHC program director.
Business Advisory Board
Evita M. Salles, MBA
Evita Salles holds her MBA from Rutgers Business School (2012) and MA in Defense and Strategic Studies from Naval War College (2017). She is currently a Naval Human Resources Officer and Department Head of Outreach at the Naval Recruiting District in Phoenix.
She was recognized as the 2016 Navy Human Resources Junior Officer of the Year, is PHR and SHRM-CP certified and is an active SHRM member.
Jeffrey P. Miller, Ph.D.
Jeffrey Miller holds his Ph.D. in Agricultural Education, Emphasis in Adolescent Development from The Pennsylvania State University (1991). He is a faculty member at Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership Academy and Builder/Connector of Human Leadership Networks at Innovative Leadership Solutions, Inc.
Martin R. Krause
Martin R. Krause graduated Diplom-Medienwirt (FH) in Media Management from Hochschule Mittweida (2007). He is the President and Partner of Rabbit Hole Group GmbH, a democratic IT & business consulting company group.
Mario M. Guerendo
Mario Guerendo holds his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University (2002). He is the Chief Technical Officer of Doorways, LLC. and Managing Partner/COO for Integrated Technical Services, LLC.
Max Hansen holds his Bachelor of Science in Business from Northern Arizona University (1998). He is the CEO and Founding member of Y Scouts and Forum Chairman for the YPO Phoenix Chapter.
Michael P. Thompson, Ph.D.
Michael P. Thompson holds his Ph.D in Communication and Rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1985). He is an Associate Professor at Marriott School of Management - Brigham Young University, where he previously served as Associate Dean.
Sherry Fischer, MBA
Sherry Fischer joined the American Academy of Dermatology in July of 2016 and manages both the design and implementation for all new products and programs offered by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). She designs and develops tools and resources that are focused on the transformation of health care delivery to integrated and accountable systems of care and is responsible for developing business and marketing strategies. In addition to strategic planning and business development, Sherry plays a significant project management role, overseeing the design and development of AAD products and offerings.
Sherry earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from St. Xavier University in Chicago Illinois. Sherry is certified in Managed Care and offers a combined 17 years physician practice and program management experience.
Dr. Shawntel Landry joined American College of Education in 2009 and has served as president since 2013, overseeing an era of record growth and exceptional performance by the institution across all areas of the college.
Since 2013, ACE’s active student population has grown by nearly 140%, with more than 6,800 active students and more than 22,000 alumni as of August, 2020. Under Dr. Landry’s leadership, ACE has become the #3 conferrer of M.Ed. degrees in the country, while expanding program offerings in education, healthcare, nursing, business, and leadership. ACE also has significantly grown its doctoral and education specialist degrees, while becoming an early adopter of micro-credential offerings to supplement certificates and full degrees.
An advocate for student-first approaches to scalable operations and programming, Dr. Landry developed the college’s first yearly Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) report, led the college through development of a new mission, vision, and strategic plan, and guided the college to become the first company in Indiana that is both a Certified B-Corp and a Benefit Corporation.
She has reorganized all departments for operational efficiency, growing the staff and faculty while increasing operating margins and revenue per employee. Currently, American College of Education has five state-level non-profit partnerships, one national non-profit partnership, more than 1,500 academic or education partnerships, and more than 140 partners in the healthcare field. Together, these partnerships help ACE reach more than 2 million professionals around the country. Under Dr. Landry’s leadership, American College of Education also has won national and state awards for workplace flexibility and employee satisfaction, while running a 350+ employee organization, with faculty and staff located throughout the country.
Prior to initially joining ACE in 2009 as a senior vice president, Dr. Landry worked in K-12 classrooms and K-8 curriculum development, later serving as a curriculum writer, editor, and director for Voyager Learning. She worked directly with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on research about national and international mathematics standards and the impact to U.S. test scores while she was working at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
Dr. Landry holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Education in Gifted Education with a minor in Instructional Technology from University of Louisiana-Lafayette. In addition, she holds a Master of Business Administration and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Texas Christian University. She has completed post-graduate coursework at Southern Methodist University and University of Connecticut, as well as executive leadership professional development at Harvard University and The Wharton School. She has lifetime teaching certifications in elementary education and gifted education in Louisiana and Texas.
Vice President, Human Resources and B Corp Benefits Officer
KK Byland is the vice president of human resources and B Corp benefits officer. With a people-first mindset, Byland has set the tone for the college’s organizational culture, leading the development and implementation of paid parental leave, tuition assistance and remote working. She ensures ACE is compliant with employment legislation and refines processes to nurture employee engagement and growth as part of her leadership of the human resources office.
Byland successfully led ACE through the B Corp certification process, which evaluates companies based on their social and environmental impact. ACE was the first Benefit Corporation and certified B Corp in the state of Indiana. As part of that designation, Byland has led multiple service initiatives and cemented nonprofit partnerships with School Tools, Treasures 4 Teachers, Kids in Need, Kappa Delta Pi, A Gift for Teaching, World Vision and Teachers’ Treasures to reach students in need. She also serves on the board of directors for Teachers’ Treasures, helping set direction for the organization through strategic planning and budgeting.
She received her master’s degree in human resources management and services from Indiana Wesleyan University and her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching from Ball State University. Byland also took part in Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2017 Women in Education Leadership, a program designed to help educational leaders learn how to navigate competing demands and constituencies.
Monica Carson, M.Ed.
Senior Vice President of Enrollment Operations
Monica Carson oversees the functions related to partnership development and new student recruitment for ACE.
Carson's professional experience spans more than 18 years of service in enrollment operations for higher education. During her career, Carson has worked for the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, Orbis Education, and Dream Center Education Holdings.
With more than 15 years of senior management experience, Carson brings a solid education foundation and passion for developing state of the art processes that support partnership growth, new student recruitment, and overall positive student outcomes and success.
Carson earned her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, and her master’s in adult and continuing education and teaching from the University of Phoenix. Carson attended Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2018 Women in Education Leadership Conference, a program designed to help senior-level administrator shore up their leadership skills and advance education initiatives.
Jill Geer, MA
Chief Marketing Officer
Jill Geer became Chief Marketing Officer on January 2, 2019. From 2000 to 2018, Geer was an executive with Indianapolis-based USA Track & Field. Her career at USATF began as director of communications. As chief public affairs officer from 2009-2016 and chief marketing officer from 2016-2018, she was responsible for executive oversight of USATF’s marketing, communications, branding, promotional and community outreach initiatives. Throughout her tenure, she served as the organization’s spokesperson, crisis management lead, and advisor to the CEO and board of directors.
Among the first to introduce electronic news distribution in the U.S. Olympic and national governing body family, Geer has been featured in PR Week, Sports Business Journal and espnW. In her marketing role, she secured more than $8 million in sponsor revenue, while communications efforts placed USATF athletes and storylines in every major U.S. newspaper; prominent national mainstream magazines ranging from Vogue to People to Men’s Fitness; nightly news telecasts; and network late-night and morning shows. Press officer functions took her to more than 18 countries and six Summer Olympic Games. Prior to USATF, Geer worked for Knight Ridder-Tribune in Washington, D.C. She had previous stints as a sports writer and transportation news writer and editor.
An NCAA scholarship athlete in track and cross country, Geer earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in U.S. intellectual history from the University of Arkansas, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude.
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs
Stephanie Hinshaw is the senior vice president of academic affairs. In her current role, she oversees all the functions of the academic activities for the college, including academic departments, curriculum production services, student-facing publications, the library, and state licensing approvals.
As an advocate for student-first approaches and processes, Hinshaw’s ethos revolves around monitoring and converting student feedback into actionable changes and eliminating barriers to continuing education.
Hinshaw has worked in the higher education sector for 18 years and joined American College of Education in 2014, where she ascended the ranks, serving as senior director of registration and student services, senior director of student operations, and assistant provost and vice president of student operations. Previously, Hinshaw worked as the director of admissions operations for Orbis Education, where she spearheaded admissions efforts for their accelerated online nursing programs and co-led the development of a centralized nursing admissions model.
Before that, she served as an instructor, director of admissions, corporate director of admissions and marketing, and vice president of admissions for Medtech College, where she grew the college to 12 campuses during her tenure. Hinshaw also served as the high school marketing specialist and assistant director for high school marketing for Harrison College, and as an adjunct faculty member at Axia College, a division of the University of Phoenix.
She received her Ed.D. in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University where she studied the long-term influences of toxic leadership. Hinshaw also has an MBA in marketing from Butler University and a bachelor’s in journalism and public relations from Indiana University. Hinshaw attended Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2017 Women in Education Leadership conference, a program designed to help senior-level administrators shore up their leadership skills to advance education initiatives.
Chief Financial Officer
Bryce H. Peterson joined American College of Education in June of 2018, as Chief Financial Officer responsible for ACE’s finance and compliance strategies and operations.
Prior to joining ACE, Peterson was Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Universal Technical Institute (NYSE: UTI) responsible for UTI’s finance, IT and compliance strategies and operations. While at UTI, Peterson led the successful early adoption of ASC 606 (Revenue from Contracts with Customers); architected and implemented the company’s Financial Improvement Plan; implemented multiple, industry-leading technology solutions that significantly reduced operating costs; streamlined compliance operations and improved compliance metrics; and was recognized by Microsoft and the Phoenix Business Journal as a leader in technology innovation. Before joining UTI, Peterson was a Manager at KPMG, LLP, where he served international clients in multiple industries.
Peterson is a Certified Public Accountant licensed in the State of Arizona and received a Master’s Degree in Information Systems Management and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University. Peterson is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has published multiple articles on accounting, compliance, and technology innovation in the Journal of Accountancy, The Internal Auditor, and Books 24x7. Peterson currently serves on an advisory board at Brigham Young University and previously served on advisory boards at Pearson Education and Arizona’s Children Association. Peterson speaks Thai fluently and is actively involved in community service and faith-based initiatives.