Meet Our Panel of Experts

Jonathan Arak

Independent College Counselor

Jonathan has spent over 30 years prepping thousands of students as a tutor of standardized tests and admissions counselor for 10 to 60-year-olds. He is regarded as an expert in the high school admissions process for the top private and top public high schools in New York City.

Jonathan has delivered workshops on students who receive special accommodations, and how to work with them. He has been a contributing author to GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and SAT materials. He authored Cracking the Specialized High School Admissions Test. Jonathan taught ACT/SAT courses for The Opportunity Network, Minds Matter, and The TEAK Foundation during its formative years. 

Sylvia Borgo

Independent Educational Consultant

Sylvia Borgo is a California-based independent educational consultant with over 24 years of educational experience. She received her BA from UCLA and her certificate in Independent Educational Counseling from the University of California, Irvine.

Sylvia helps students and families navigate the college search and application process and helps them find colleges that are good academic, social, and financial fits. In addition to her private practice, she volunteers with first-gen, underserved students to help them access their higher education goals. Having visited six continents and 48 countries, she is passionate about instilling a sense of discovery and a curiosity for exploring the world.

Laurén Carter

Director of College Counseling at Sidwell Friends Schoolén-carter

Laurén Carter has dedicated her entire career of 30+ years to the college admissions and college counseling profession. She spent a decade in university administration and served as the Director of College Admissions at NYU. Additionally, she has served as Contributing Writer for the Huffington Post and is an instructor for UCLA Extension, College Counseling Certificate Program. Laurén has also directed college counseling programs at independent schools for over 20 years and currently serves as Director of College Counseling at Sidwell Friends School (DC). Laurén is the Author of Mindful Admissions: An Insider’s Guide to Staying Sane, Applying Well and Getting Accepted to College.

Betsy Chapman, Ph.D.

Executive Director of Family Communications at Wake Forest

Dr. Betsy Chapman is the Executive Director of Family Communications at Wake Forest, her alma mater. That title is just a fancy way of saying her job is to communicate with Wake Forest parents and families across a variety of platforms: email, web, and social media. She is the author of the Daily Deac blog, which covers a variety of Wake Forest activities, news, and college-parenting advice, and helps give parents and families a glimpse of campus life each weekday; it is cited by Wake Forest parents and families as a key resource. She has been at Wake Forest for almost 23 years, serving in a variety of roles supporting alumni, parents, and families. In 2019, she earned a doctorate in Higher Education from UNC-Greensboro; her research focused on parent and family interactions with the college related to blog readership.

Nancy Dunn

College Access Advisor at College Now Greater Cleveland

Nancy Dunn is an experienced College Access Counselor who understands the issue of how to pay for college. She grew up in eastern North Carolina in a family whose unwritten rule was everyone will go to college. Taking advantage of an affordable public college tuition and the generosity of her parents, Nancy graduated with a BA in Religious Studies from UNC-Chapel Hill.

She earned a full tuition scholarship to attend Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University where she graduated with her Masters of Divinity degree. After working in ministry for 15 years, Nancy returned to school for her Masters in Social Work from the University of Akron which she paid for with the help of student loans. Since the fall of 2016, Nancy has assisted high school seniors as they navigate the waters of college admissions, scholarships, and financial aid. She currently works for College Now Greater Cleveland as the Top Scholar College Access Advisor.

Tim Gorrell

Ohio Tuition Trust Authority Executive Director

Tim is responsible for leading the agency, recommending and implementing the investment strategy as approved by an 11-member OTTA investment board, and managing the overall operations of Ohio’s 529 College Savings Program.

Michael Horn 

Co-host top education podcasts Future U and Class Disrupted

Michael B. Horn strives to create a world in which all individuals can build their passions and fulfill their potential through his writing, speaking, and work with a portfolio of education organizations. He is the author of several books, including Choosing College; the award-winning Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns; Blended; Goodnight Box, a children’s story; and the forthcoming From Reopen to Reinvent: (Re)creating School for Every Child, which will be released in July 2022.

Michael is the co-founder of and a distinguished fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a non-profit think tank. He cohosts the top education podcasts Future U and Class Disrupted and is a regular contributor to and writes the Substack newsletter The Future of Education. Michael also serves as an executive editor at Education Next, and his work has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harvard Business Review, and NBC. 

Michael was selected as a 2014 Eisenhower Fellow to study innovation in education in Vietnam and Korea.

Kedra Ishop, Ph.D.

Vice President for Enrollment Management at University of Southern California

Dr. Kedra Ishop is Vice President for Enrollment Management at University of Southern California where she oversees the admissions, financial aid, and registrars’ offices.

She came to USC from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, where she served as the school’s first Vice Provost for Enrollment Management from 2014-2020. During her tenure there, she advanced a student-centered vision. To support this work, she expanded the Enrollment Management support structures to include Marketing and Communications, Enrollment Research, Data and Analytics, Strategic Initiatives, and Operational Effectiveness. 

Dr. Ishop is a nationally recognized expert, speaker, and advisor on issues in higher education focused on issues of access and opportunity for low-income and students of traditionally under-represented backgrounds, recruitment and enrollment practices, standardized testing, legal and policy issues in admissions and enrollment, and curriculum development.  

Dr. Melissa Lopez-Larson

Board Certified Adult, Child, Adolescent Psychiatrist

Dr. Lopez-Larson is a board certified in adult, child and adolescent psychiatrist and is a best selling author of the book: My Child’s Not Depressed Anymore-Treatment Strategies That Will Launch Your College Student to Academic and Personal Success.

Dr. Lopez-Larson has been practicing for over 15 years in a variety of settings including academic research, inpatient, residential and outpatient psychiatric services. She has extensive clinical and research experience, and completed an integrative medicine fellowship in 2017.

Dr Lopez-Larson currently has a private practice in Park City, Utah, where she combines classic psychiatric services with evidence-based complementary treatments such as supplements, nutrition, meditation and other modalities, to provide an individual with a holistic approach to the treatment of mental health related issues.

Sydney Montgomery

Founder of S. Montgomery Admissions Consulting

Sydney Montgomery guides high school students through the college admissions process and helps students navigate the law school admissions process. As the daughter of military parents and a Jamaican mother, she knows first-hand how daunting the college admissions process can be. Through S. Montgomery Admissions Consulting, she can ease the process for other students. 

Montgomery received her Bachelor of Arts in English and a Certificate in French Language and Culture from Princeton University, and her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. She completed the Independent Educational Consultant Certificate from UC Irvine, Division of Continuing Education. 

In 2020, IECA (Independent Educational Consultants Association) named Sydney one of seven inaugural recipients of the “Making a Difference Award” for positively contributing to the profession and membership. 

Nat Smitobol

Master College Admissions Counselor at IvyWise

Nat is a former Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Multicultural Recruitment at his alma mater, Skidmore College. Nat also served as a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at New York University and, most recently, at the hyper-selective NYU Abu Dhabi. 

While at Skidmore, Nat pioneered many new recruitment techniques, including the integration of Facebook in college admissions. At NYU, he worked on diversity initiatives and served as a member of the scholarship committee. 

Nat specializes in students seeking K-12 admissions, student athletes pursuing the recruitment process, international students, underrepresented minorities, and students interested in a wide range of schools.

Mark Salisbury, Ph.D.

Creating Price Transparency in Higher Ed at

Mark Salisbury has spent over 25 years in higher education, as a soccer coach, an admissions counselor, an academic administrator, and a director of institutional research. Mark earned his Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Iowa and studies issues of college access, student success, learning outcomes, and how students make choices about college options. His research and commentary has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, Forbes, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and TED.

Allison Slater Tate

Director of College Counseling for Lake Mary Preparatory School in Lake Mary Florida and College Consultant for Dunbar Educational Consultants

Allison Slater Tate advises college-bound students and their families to help them find college homes where they will thrive and grow. She splits her time between Dunbar Educational Consultants and Lake Mary Preparatory School, where she is the director of college counseling. She is also a freelance writer who covers college admissions for national outlets. 

She graduated with a degree in English Literature and American Studies from Princeton University.

With extensive experience in test prep and personal essay writing, Allison focuses on finding the fun and the positive in what can be a stressful process. She loves to help each student find their voice and their story through the college application journey.

In her former life, she worked in television, film, and even musical theater in New York and Los Angeles. 

Neeta Vallab

Founder of MeritMore

Neeta Vallab is a NYC public school parent and technologist. Frustrated with the lack of tools and data designed just for parents, she built MeritMore, a free set of tools including personalized merit aid search, application task tracker and an appeal letter generator. Neeta is interested in bringing the voices and perspectives of students and families to discussions around college admissions and affordability. She recently published this opinion in Inside Higher Education.

Susan Valverde

Chief Franchise Operations Officer at Sylvan Learning

After first working with Sylvan Learning as a franchisee for 14 years, Susan Valverde brought her passion for education and her deep knowledge of the system to the brand’s corporate team.

Belinda J. Wilkerson, Ed.D.

Founder of Steps to the Future and Vice President of Ethics and Professional Practices for the Independent Educational consultants Association

Belinda Wilkerson has more than 30 years experience in education ranging from a social studies teacher to a school counselor at the secondary level to the coordinator of the Rhode Island School Counseling Project, a statewide school counseling program.

Now, she has come full circle as an independent educational consultant, providing a direct service to students that assists them with attaining their educational and career aspirations. As the founder of Steps To the Future, Wilkerson helps families eliminate random acts of college planning. 

Active in her community, she currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Cumberland County Public Library and information Center and the Vice President of Ethics and Professional Practices for the Independent Educational consultants Association.

Jennifer Winge

Vice President for Enrollment at The College of Wooster

Jennifer Winge is the Vice President for Enrollment at The College of Wooster. Until 2011, she led the Wooster admissions team as dean of admissions. As a graduate of Allegheny College with a bachelor’s degree in English, Jenn has committed twenty five years to college admissions including time at her alma mater as dean of admissions and director of college counseling at The Kiski School, a private high school near Pittsburgh.  While at Kiski, she also served as an English instructor for eleventh and twelfth grades.  She is an active member of her state and national professional associations, having served as delegate to the national association and as the state’s committee chair for admission practices. 

Jenn is also a member of the advisory board for SAGE Scholars and frequently presents on college admission topics at high schools across the country.