Board of Trustees

Jeri Nowakowski EdD

Jeri Nowakowski, Ed.D.

President Emeritus, American College of Education

An 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. 
Deborah Jewell-Sherman, EdD

Deborah Jewell-Sherman, Ed.D.

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 Ed.D. 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.

Deborah Nugent,

Deborah Nugent

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.

Bill Barke

Bill Barke

Bill Barke joined the ACE board in 2021, having spent his career almost exclusively in the higher education product and service business segments. He currently is active in advising and mentorship, where his focus is on the transformative effect of technology in providing increased access to adult learners.

His senior executive roles have included president of textbook publisher Allyn and Bacon, CEO of the Addison Wesley Higher Ed Group, Chairman of Pearson Canada and Chairman of Pearson’s North American Higher Education Group, where he helped drive the shift from print to digital and products to services. His current advisory and mentorship roles in higher education include StudyPortals, Rethink Education, Enabling Insights, Mentor Collective and Open Scholar. He also serves on the board of Higher Educational International (HEI), an international higher education services management company, and was a board member at Academic Partnerships for three years.
Thomas B. Evans

Thomas B. Evans

American College of Education Co-Founder

Thomas B. Evans is the founder and managing partner of Dallas-based Skyline Merchant Partners, LLC. His firm invests in and develops high-growth, high-impact businesses in the education industry.

Mr. Evans also co-founded American College of Education and helped develop the strategy, assemble the initial leadership team, and fund and oversee the business.

Prior to founding Skyline, Mr. Evans was a partner with Best Associates, where he had primary responsibility for raising capital and maintaining investor relationships, establishing university partnerships, and evaluating and implementing investments in educational institutions. He was previously chief financial officer of Voyager Expanded Learning and also was a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mr. Evans is a board member and executive chairman of ACE’s parent company, ACE PBC LLC.

He also was a founding board member of Academic Partnerships and Ilumno Holdings, Ltd. and served on the Executive Advisory Board of the College of Business at Ohio University. He earned a Master of Business Administration from Ohio State University and an undergraduate degree in business from Ohio University. 

Ron Paige, EdD

Rod Paige, Ed.D.

Lifetime Emeritus Trustee
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.”

Nimisha Savani

Nimisha Savani

Nimisha served as a marketing and business strategy executive for more than 20 years in the healthcare and healthcare technology fields. She is the founder of NVision Strategies, a marketing and communications consultancy based in Dallas.

Prior to founding NVision Strategies, Nimisha served as the Chief Marketing Officer for IntelliCentrics, a healthcare technology company; as Vertical Chief for Healthcare at Academic Partnerships, an OPM for online higher education; and as Vice President for Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She joined the medical center from ConvaTec, formerly a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, where she spent over a decade in a variety of executive leadership roles. Nimisha began her career in financial operations, before transitioning to brand management and marketing. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Villanova University. She also participates in Wharton Fellows and other executive education at the University of Pennsylvania.

Dennis Cariello

Dennis Cariello

Dennis Cariello is a shareholder at Hogan Marren Babbo & Rose, Ltd. and the co-chairman of the firm’s Education Practice. Mr. Cariello focuses his practice on working with colleges and universities, student lenders, education investors and education technology and service providers on various regulatory, transactional, governance, and other matters of strategic importance. Previously, Mr. Cariello served at the Deputy General Counsel for Postsecondary Education and Regulatory Service at the US Department of Education during the Bush and Obama Administrations. He also served as a non-federal negotiator on the U.S. Department of Education’s 2016 Negotiated Rulemaking Panel on “Borrower Defense to Repayment.”

Nursing Advisory Board

Andrew M. Stern

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.

Kathleen Davis

Kathleen Davis
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.

Kimberley Harper

Kimberley Harper

With nearly 40 years of healthcare experience, Kimberly Harper currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Center for Nursing, an organization that unites state-wide nursing education and practice leaders to effect change through one voice to ensure a high-quality nursing workforce that meets the needs of Indiana’s healthcare consumers. In her CEO role she also serves as the Nursing Co-Lead for the Indiana Action Coalition, which serves to implement the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing Report. In addition, Kimberly now serves as Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors of the national Nurses on Boards Coalition, which unites over 25 national nursing organizations toward the achievement of the goal of improving the healthcare of our nation through the service of nurses on boards.

Therese Shipps

Therese Shipps
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.

Warren Hebert

Warren Hebert
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.

Healthcare Advisory Board

Donna Vaughan
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.

Melody Warfel
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.

Peggy Chalker
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.

Teresa Harbour
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

Amanda L. Bonilla

Amanda L. Bonilla

Amanda L. Bonilla M.S joined Ivy Tech in the Fall of 2020 as the inaugural Executive Director for Student Diversity, Equity and Belonging for the statewide system. In this role Amanda supports all of the Ivy Tech campuses in developing programs, policies and services that close achievement gaps for student success and works with the statewide diversity leads and campus student leaders to promote student belonging. She also develops trainings and educational materials to enhance awareness of equity issues and works to ensure cultural competence is embedded in course curriculum.

Prior to Ivy Tech Amanda served at IUPUI for seven years as the Assistant Director for Social Justice Education and founded the award-winning Social Justice Scholars program. Amanda received her masters of science in Higher Education Student Affairs from Indiana University Bloomington. Outside of work Amanda serves on the National Board of Directors of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Inc., as the Director of Social Policy and Education, Board of Directors for United Way of Central Indiana and is an alumni of the Indiana Latino Institute Leadership Circle.

Evita M. Salles

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

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

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 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.

Michael P. Thompson

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

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.


Shawntel Landry, Ed.D.

Shawntel Landry

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.

Jill Geer CMO

Monica Carson, M.Ed.
Chief Growth Officer

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.

Bryce Peterson

Bryce Peterson
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.

KK Byland, M.S., PHR

KK Byland
Chief Human Resources 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.

William Liu
Chief Marketing Officer

William Liu joined American College of Education in December of 2021. He currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer and is responsible for the marketing strategies and operations at ACE.

Overall, he brings close to 20 years of marketing experience across multiple industries starting with his enlistment in the U.S Army. Prior to joining ACE, he led the marketing department at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. While at the Academy, he led several key initiatives to vastly improve the school’s marketing and enrollment efforts. He transformed the Academy’s digital marketing capabilities, enhanced its CRM integration, and streamlined its data warehouse and attribution infrastructure.

He received his bachelor's degree from American InterContinental University and a Master's in Business Administration from Duke's Fuqua School of Business.

Heidi Wilkes
Chief Academic Officer and Provost

Heidi Wilkes joined American College of Education in January of 2022 as the Chief Academic Officer. Prior to her appointment at ACE, Dr. Wilkes served as the inaugural Associate Dean of Academic Operations in the College of Graduate and Professional Studies (CGPS) at the University of New England (UNE) in Portland, Maine. At CGPS she provided creative leadership in the promotion of excellence in fully online programs for the Academic Programs, Assessment, Accreditation/Policy, Instructional Design, Enrollment and Student Support teams.

Prior to her role at UNE, she served in several roles at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), including Associate Vice President of Learning Solutions, Chief Academic Officer of College for America (CfA) at SNHU, and Senior Director of Curriculum and Assessment Development at CfA, responsible for the academic quality and accreditation compliance of online competency-based programs.

Before joining SNHU, Dr. Wilkes was the Dean of the Innovations Group at Granite State College, part of the University System of New Hampshire, where she built academic partnerships and developed graduate programming. Prior to that she served as the Assistant Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, focusing on growing international programs and managing a robust portfolio of undergraduate programs.

She holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University, an MBA in International Business from Bentley University, and a Doctorate in Law and Policy from Northeastern University.