Kim Cook, Executive Director

Kim Cook, NCAN's executive director since 2008, has worked in the higher education and college access field for her entire professional career, including experience in undergraduate admissions and financial aid, administration of a last-dollar scholarship program, and a succession of responsibilities at NCAN. As a former Pell Grant recipient herself, she personally understands the imperative to help more Americans--especially those who have been historically underserved by higher education--get a postsecondary credential. At NCAN, she sets the vision for supporting 400 member organizations across the country serving an estimated 2 million students annually in their mission to achieve significantly higher college enrollment and graduation rates than national averages for low-income students and students of color.

She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of College Access, the advisory board of the American University Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success, and the TXCAN Statewide Scaling Committee. She is often consulted to speak on federal policy issues and building college access and success collaboratives. In 2016, she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for College Opportunity.

Prior to joining NCAN in 1999, she was a Senior Program Associate at Plan for Social Excellence, Inc., a foundation supporting innovative projects in education, and served as its Grants Manager and Scholars Program Manager. Previously, she was as a college admission counselor at Pace University in New York. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Pace University and a Bachelors degree in Communications, Law, Economics and Government from The American University (Washington, DC). She has completed continuing professional development through courses in Georgetown University’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Harvard University’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management institute.

Email: cook(a)

Twitter: @NCANCook

Jamese Carrell, Member Services Associate

As the Member Services Associate, Jamese Carrell provides NCAN members with support through use of and sharing best practices, webinars, conferences, and online resources with the goal of increasing members’ ability to increase the number of underrepresented students entering and completing a higher education. Ms. Carrell also contributes to maintaining and expanding NCAN’s membership base, along with recognizing the work and achievements of members. Ms. Carrell also represents NCAN externally at events and authors communications in official NCAN newsletters and blog posts.

Prior to joining NCAN, Ms. Carrell served as a Hall Director at Virginia Commonwealth University where she was responsible for community management and development of two first-year residence hall communities, including a living-learning program, The Honors College. She completed her undergraduate degree at Western Illinois University as a communication major with an emphasis in interpersonal and organizational communication, and a minor in sociology. After undergrad, Ms. Carrell served as an ISACorps Member for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) in Rockford, where her passion for working with first-generation, low-income populations bloomed. She also holds a master’s degree in student affairs and higher education administration from Indiana State University. As a first-generation college student herself, college access and equity work is central to her story.

Email: carrellj(a)

Twitter: @NCANMemberSvcs

Allie Ciaramella, Communications Manager

Allie Ciaramella is Communications Manager at the National College Access Network, where she delivers and promotes key messages, information and opportunities to NCAN members, policymakers, the media and other stakeholders in the field of college access and success. That includes managing the content in NCAN's quarterly newsletters and its weekly, members-only Success Digest, as well as the network's main Twitter account, @collegeaccess.

Before joining NCAN in May 2016, Mrs. Ciaramella covered federal and state higher education policy at POLITICO Pro. Under the byline Allie Grasgreen Ciaramella, she reported extensively on the Barack Obama Administration's postsecondary agenda, including efforts by the Education Department to streamline federal financial aid, simplify the FAFSA form and strengthen the volume and value of Pell Grants. She also covered efforts in Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, improve student loan servicing and hold colleges more accountable for student outcomes.

Prior to POLITICO, Mrs. Ciaramella was a reporter at Inside Higher Ed, where she covered the National Collegiate Athletic Association and student affairs issues such as health, activism and administration. She earned her bachelor's degree in 2010 from the University of Oregon, majoring in newspaper/editorial journalism and minoring in environmental studies.

Email: allie(a)

Twitter: @collegeaccess (NCAN news), @alliegrasgreen

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Crystal Courtney, Office and Events Manager

For more than 15 years, Crystal Courtney has worked in web production, publications, and executive administration for the telecommunications, government, and nonprofit sectors. At NCAN, she is responsible for office operations, website management as well as office and event planning.

Prior to joining NCAN, Ms. Courtney worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, American Geophysical Union as an Editor's Assistant where she was responsible for editing and managing technical, scientific, and college publications. She has also worked for EMC and Verizon in Communications, Internet and Business Services where she was an integral part of developing Home Monitoring and Controls systems, developing vendor partner relationships; and managing and maintaining numerous websites. She studied computer science at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD, and is completing a bachelor’s degree in business management.

Email: courtneyc(a)

Bill DeBaun, Director of Data and Evaluation

As NCAN’s Director of Data and Evaluation, Bill DeBaun researches and writes about college access and success programming that demonstrates significant results for students’ college enrollment and graduation rates. He has worked with the Common Measures Learning Community to produce resources for NCAN members like the Data and Evaluation Toolkit. Additionally, Mr. DeBaun leads NCAN's Benchmarking Project, a collaborative effort with NCAN members that examines the enrollment and completion outcomes of students served by college access and success programs, and provides technical assistance on research, data, and evaluation-related topics.

Prior to joining NCAN, Mr. DeBaun was a policy and advocacy associate at the Alliance for Excellent Education in Washington, DC, where he authored the white paper “Inseparable Imperatives: Equity in Education and the Future of the American Economy” and co-wrote several reports on the need for federal student aid reform. Mr. DeBaun has a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a minor in education studies, from American University and a master’s degree in public policy from the George Washington University.

Email: debaunb(a)

Twitter: @BillDeBaun

Colette Hadley, Director of Consulting Services

As NCAN’s director of consulting services, Colette Hadley helps foundations, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and schools to deploy best practices in college access and financial aid advising services for underserved students, strategic need-based scholarship management, fundraising, and related organizational and board development. Services include program assessment and recommendations for improvement, strategic planning, and technical assistance to implement new approaches.

Ms. Hadley has unparalleled credentials and commitment to help communities increase rates of college-going and completion. She was the executive director of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (SFSB) from 2006 through early 2015, where she had a proven track record of strong scholarship program management and fundraising. Under Ms. Hadley’s leadership, the SFSB increased its net assets by 85 percent to $43.4 million, doubled the number of college scholarships awarded, and increased the average scholarship amount by 35 percent. SFSB program advisors reached more than 37,600 Santa Barbara County students and parents in 2013-14 with rigorous FAFSA trainings, targeted scholarship workshops, early awareness financial aid presentations, and intensive one-on-one counseling sessions. Beginning in 2008, Ms. Hadley also provided nonprofit consulting services to organizations including the Pedrozzi Scholarship Foundation, Scholarship Sonoma County, California College Access Consortium, Storyteller Children’s Center, and the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum on best practices in scholarship development, fundraising, governance, and organizational culture.

Before joining the SFSB in 1992, Ms. Hadley worked as a student affairs officer and then marketing manager for the University of California-Irvine. She studied biological sciences at the University of California-Irvine and has completed certificate programs in nonprofit management and executive leadership. Ms. Hadley has significant nonprofit board experience as the chairman of the Santa Barbara Cal-SOAP (Student Opportunity and Access Program) Consortium and as a board member for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Barbara County (CASA) and the Santa Barbara Special Olympics. She served as an NCAN board member during the organization’s formative years in the late 1990s and early 2000s as well as from 2011 through 2015.

Email: hadley(a)

MorraLee (Holzapfel) Keller, Director of Technical Assistance

Ms. MorraLee Keller serves as Director of Technical Assistance and provides professional development to both direct service providers and managers to help ensure the success and sustainability of new and existing college access programs. She offers consultation services with advice on governance issues, programming, data collection, research and best practices and also develops comprehensive training materials.

Mrs. Keller has a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in higher education administration, both from The Ohio State University. A former financial aid coordinator at OSU, Mrs. Keller has extensive experience in student financial aid. In her time at the Columbus, Ohio-based NCAN member program, I KNOW I CAN, Mrs. Keller developed a program with K-12 early college awareness programming and developed a comprehensive college advising program and last dollar grant program. Mrs. Keller is the past president of NCAN and served as the treasurer of the Board of Directors of NCAN.

Email: kellerm(a)

Twitter: @MorraLeeK

Tong Lee, Database Administrator

As NCAN's Database Administrator, Ms. Lee's responsibilities include managing records in the NCAN database, event registration, and member renewal and billing.

Previously, Ms. Lee served as director of membership services for the Rights Working Group, which promoted civil liberties and human rights in the United States. She has also worked for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, and Hmong National Development, Inc. She is passionate about museums and has many years of experience as a Smithsonian volunteer information specialist. Ms. Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA, and is a proud first-generation college graduate.

Email: leet(a)

Sara Melnick, Deputy Director

Sara Melnick, Deputy Director of the National College Access Network, has nearly 20 years of experience helping schools and communities work together to enhance outcomes for K-12 students. As Deputy Director, Ms. Melnick oversees projects focused on college access and success, manages the organization’s annual conference and provides technical assistance on the development of statewide college access networks.

Prior to joining NCAN, she spent seven years as the Associate Director, K-16 Initiatives with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) where she worked with college access programs across the country, including the federally funded GEAR UP grantees. In that role, Ms. Melnick managed projects, provided technical assistance to communities and co-authored training curricula on developing partnerships to support early college awareness initiatives.

Ms. Melnick has also worked with America’s Promise, the National Association of Partners in Education and as a public school teacher in New York City. She has written publications on the intersection of service-learning and school-to-work, integrating telecommunications technology into education, developing school-to-career initiatives and after-school programs and creating safe learning environments, and has served on the Community and Civic Organization Steering Committee of the United States Department of Education's Partnership for Family Involvement in Education and the board of the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education.

Ms. Melnick holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Vassar College and a Master of Business Administration degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Baruch College. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Email: melnicks(a)

Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

Elizabeth Morgan is Director of External Relations for the National College Access Network, where she oversees fundraising and communications.

Previously, Ms. Morgan was director of youth programs at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, where she oversaw the development and management of up to $7.5 million annually in grants to other nonprofit organizations as well as the foundation's scholarship program helping low-income students attend highly selective colleges and universities. Through the foundation’s grants, Elizabeth helped to launch or grow several NCAN member programs, including the University of Virginia College Guide Program, the National College Advising Corps, CollegeTracks, SoMD CAN, and the Rappahannock Career and College Access Program. She has significant expertise in college access and success issues, nonprofit management and evaluation, out-of-school-time programs for youth, and communications.

Before joining the foundation, Ms. Morgan was a grant officer for the Michigan State Bar Foundation, which awards more than $8 million annually to provide civil legal assistance to the poor. Ms. Morgan has also worked as a journalist and editor for the Bureau of National Affairs, the World Bank, and the alumni magazine of the Washington College of Law.

She served on the NCAN board of directors from 2008 to 2010 and on the board of the Duke Student Publishing Company, the nonprofit owner of Duke University's daily student newspaper, from 2008 to 2016. She holds a J.D. from the Washington College of Law at American University and an A.B. in history from Duke University.

Email: morgane(a)

Twitter: @Elizbeth_Morgan

Jack Porter, Advocacy Associate

As NCAN’s Advocacy Associate, Jack Porter supports NCAN’s federal policy and emerging state policy agenda. He develops resources for NCAN members’ advocacy efforts, tracks relevant legislative action, and contributes to official communications from NCAN to the executive and legislative branch. Additionally, Mr. Porter assists in the grant management for state policy grantees, represents NCAN at convenings and meetings, and authors official NCAN memoranda such as Request for Comments.

Prior to joining NCAN, Mr. Porter served as an Interim Policy & Communications Advisor for Mrs. Obama’s higher education access campaign, Better Make Room, where he authored blog posts for Forbes, assisted with grant writing, and helped establish and sustain partnerships for the campaign’s evidence-based text messaging platform, Up Next. Mr. Porter completed his undergraduate degree at Springfield College as an American studies major, and received minors in education and political science. He also holds a master’s degree in higher education policy from the University of Texas at Arlington, where he founded a student organization that later achieved nonprofit status.

Email: porterj(a)

Kim Szarmach, Communications Intern

Kim Szarmach is the Communications Intern at NCAN for the fall 2017 semester. Her role is to seek out and share the stories of students impacted by changes in higher education policy, and the work of advocacy organizations such as NCAN's members. She also contributes to the network's weekly newsletter, writes blog posts and editorials, and crafts social media posts.

Before NCAN, Kim has worked as an Editorial Intern for Street Sense, D.C.'s newspaper on homelessness and poverty. Kim will graduate in May 2018 with degrees in Journalism and Political Science.

Email: kim(a)

Twitter: @kim_szarmach

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Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy

Ms. Carrie Warick is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the National College Access Network. She leads NCAN’s policy and advocacy work to promote policies that support students who are low-income, first-generation, or of color access and succeed in higher education. This includes managing NCAN's policy priorities at both the federal and state level.

Joining NCAN in May 2008, Ms. Warick has also served as a Program Associate, the Director of Member Services, and the Director of Partnerships and Policy. In these positions, she managed NCAN's technical assistance to statewide and regional networks, developed and disseminated resources and training to NCAN members as well as managing membership events, communications, recruitment, and renewal.

Ms. Warick holds a Masters of Public Policy, with a concentration in education policy, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and History, both from The George Washington University. While pursuing her Masters, Ms. Warick was a Presidential Administrative Fellow and worked in various areas of communication within GW.

Warick is a five year member of Women in Government Relations and currently serves as co-chair of the Education Taskforce. She lives with her husband and daughter in Northeast DC.

Email: warickc(a)

Twitter: @CarrieWarick