In 2017, Craig Slaughter returned to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio to serve as director of financial aid. He previously worked for Kenyon as an associate director from 2000-05. During the intervening years, Craig served as director of financial aid for the University of Redlands, in Redlands, California, and also in the same role at DePauw University. Craig currently serves as president-elect for MASFAA (Midwest) and has also served previously as MASFAA's vice president and secretary. He has held various volunteer and presenter roles with College Board, MASFAA, ISFAA (Indiana), WASFAA (Western), and NASFAA — including serving on the NASFAA Board of Directors as a representative-at-large and also as the 2018-20 diversity officer. A former member of College Board's Financial Aid Standards and Services Committee (FASSAC), Craig is passionate about college access and affordability, using technology to gather data, and streamlining processes that enable college staff to better focus on counseling. He received a bachelor's degree in music from the Eastman School of Music and a master's degree in higher education (college student personnel administration) from Indiana University. In his free time, Craig enjoys rehearsing and performing in the tenor section with symphony choruses. One particular highlight was being part of the choir that performed with Madonna in the 2012 Superbowl halftime show — a truly memorable experience!
Jessica Flogaites has worked in higher education since 2007 and currently serves as the associate director of financial aid strategic initiatives and partnerships at the University of Pittsburgh. Before joining Pitt, Jessica held financial aid positions at Western Illinois University and Hastings College in Nebraska, where she was an active member of NeASFAA. Jessica holds the FAAC® designation and earned a Ph.D. in educational studies with an emphasis in leadership and higher education from the University of Nebraska. Jessica's research publications include "Financial Aid Director: Educator, Leader, or Manager" (Doctoral Dissertation, 2019).
Christina Tangalakis, Ed.D., is currently the associate dean of financial aid at Glendale Community College in Glendale, California. Previously, she was director of financial aid at Hispanic Scholarship Fund, associate director at the University of Southern California, assistant director at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and a financial aid counselor at Central Washington University. Affordability, access, and diversity are the issues central to her daily work and professional interests. In December 2018, Christina was named one of the six members of the inaugural class of NASFAA's Diversity Leadership Program.
As a member of the LGBTQ community with Latinx heritage, Christina explains that diversity is more than just a passing phase — it is a way of life, an aspiration, and a motivation for creating change. Christina is currently a member of the advisory council for the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, and sits on the board of directors of the Foundation for the AIDS Monument. In the future, Christina wants to continue to advocate for marginalized populations' college access and affordability, and to mentor a new generation of financial aid leaders who will be ready to shape the industry's future.
Lacey Ledwich is currently the senior director of financial aid at Wichita State University-Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology (WSU Tech) in Wichita, KS. Lacey earned her FAAC® designation through NASFAA in July 2020, and has earned 9 of NASFAA's professional credentials. She has been in her position at WSU Tech for over 10 years and in financial aid almost 20 years. Lacey started her financial aid professional career as a Federal Work-Study student at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS. It is then when she found her passion for helping others pursue their dreams. She earned her bachelor's degree in business management and marketing from Pittsburg State University and her Master of Business Administration from Friends University in Wichita, KS. Prior to becoming director of financial aid, Lacey worked as a financial aid counselor at Newman University in Wichita, KS and financial aid specialist at her current institution. Lacey has served on KASFAA's Conference Planning committee and also has earned recognition from the Wichita Business Journal as a '2021 Women Who Lead in Education' recipient. In her free time, you will find Lacey on a soccer pitch or basketball court with her husband as they support their two children.
Vandeen McKenzie, Ed.D, is currently the executive director of financial aid at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Previously she was the director of financial aid at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Vandeen began her career in financial aid as a graduate assistant in the office of financial aid at the University of South Florida. She has a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, a master’s degree in community mental health, and a doctorate in higher education leadership. She earned the FAAC® designation in April 2020 and has earned eight NASFAA professional credentials. She currently serves as a FASFAA board member and has also served on NASFAA committees. Vandeen believes in continuous process improvement so financial aid administrators can focus on students, with the aim of demystifying the financial aid process and providing access to higher education.
Elizabeth Jacquez-Amador is the director of student financial aid at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. She holds the FAAC® designation and she has a master's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in organizational leadership. Elizabeth began in financial aid as a work-study student in 2007 and has made a career, working her way through various roles and overseeing different areas, such as scholarships/funds and student employment. Since 2015, Elizabeth has been actively involved with NMASFAA (New Mexico), SWASFAA (Southwest) and NASFAA. She is currently NMASFAA President-Elect and was part of the 2021-22 NASFAA Diversity Leadership Program. Outside of the financial aid world, Elizabeth enjoys traveling with her son and husband.
Brian Drabik is the senior associate director of financial aid at Northwestern University. He received his bachelor's degree in arts at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is currently pursuing his master's degree in information design and strategy at Northwestern. Brian has been working in financial aid since 1998 and has experience at both public and private institutions. Brian is an active member of ILASFAA (Illinois), MASFAA (Midwest), and NASFAA. Brian was fortunate to participate in NASFAA's Diversity Leadership Program in 2019-20, which he found to be a tremendously valuable experience. In his current role at Northwestern, he oversees loan processing and compliance, as well as the aid office's communication functions, particularly with first-generation, low-income students. He is always looking for improvements in the way his office serves and communicates with its students, as well as how staff communicate and share information with one another. Besides his financial aid role at Northwestern, Brian has also built a financial wellness program for students, including a website and programming throughout the academic year. Brian also serves as a NASFAA Standards of Excellence reviewer and has performed work for NASFAA's Blue Icon Advisors consulting service. Financial aid is something of a "family business" for Brian, as his mother was also a financial aid administrator!
Melet Leafgreen has worked in financial aid for 23 years. The first 16 years, she held various positions at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, then moved to University of Texas at Arlington. Since 2017, she has been the director of student financial aid at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX. She has served TASFAA as a Board Member, Committee Chair, and President. Melet holds the FAAC® designation and 9 of NASFAA's professional credentials. She has been a NASFAA credential test content editor, and currently serves on the NASFAA Ethics Commission, as Chair of the Graduate Professional Issues Caucus, a SWASFAA Board member, and a member of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) Financial Aid Advisory Committee. She has two dogs, one husband, and one fantastic 9-year-old son.
In her role as director of constituent relations, April is focused on growing NCCEP's professional learning community, enhancing engagement with GEAR UP sites, and expanding professional development opportunities with the intent of increasing programmatic and student impact. Before joining NCCEP, April served as the director of the College Readiness Division within Baltimore City Public Schools. She was responsible for providing districtwide leadership for K-12 strategic programming, including the Baltimore GEAR UP program. She also led college access initiatives in collaboration with district administrators, principals, school counselors, teachers, and community partners. From 2007-14, April served in multiple leadership roles within College Board, including director of membership mobilization and engagement. She was responsible for organizational outreach and engagement, and promoting professional development and training opportunities for the college access and success sector. While at College Board, she also served as director of college and career planning and director within the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy (NOSCA). This work provided April the opportunity to lead international, national, state, district, and building-level training for education, business, and community stakeholders. Early in her career, she was a middle school teacher and high school college advisor within Baltimore City Public Schools. April has written several publications and is featured as a college and career readiness expert in numerous media outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal and Seventeen Magazine. April completed a master's degree in nonprofit management from Notre Dame of Maryland University and graduated from Morgan State University with a bachelor's degree in education.
Dana has over 20 years of experience working in the higher education community and has been active in multiple state and regional associations. She is a former president of NCASFAA and has been an active member of SASFAA. Prior to joining us, Dana served as the director of financial planning at High Point University in North Carolina for 12 years. She has also worked on both the lender and servicer side of student aid, most recently for Nelnet. She received her bachelor's degree from Guilford College and she holds a master's degree in public administration and a master's degree in organizational management. Dana has daughter, Sloane. She is by far her greatest accomplishment.
Susan Shogren is the director of certification and credentialing for NASFAA. Her passion is helping financial aid professionals gain the recognition they deserve for the work they do supporting the dreams and aspirations of college students across the country. Susan has worked in financial aid for over 30 years, including at the University of Portland and the University of Maine. Prior to joining NASFAA, she provided Title IV regulatory compliance training to schools across the country on behalf of NELA and USA Funds. She has been recognized for her contributions over the years by both the Oregon Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (OASFAA) and the Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA).
Susan graduated from the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and holds the Association for Talent Development's Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) certification, as well as the Certified Credentialing Professional (ICE-CCP) certification from the Institute for Credentialing Excellence. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and volunteers with the Cascadia Chapter of ATD, SOLVE Oregon, and the Oregon Community Foundation.