The 2017 Education Finance & Loan Symposium
Growth Through Learning: The future of Investing & Servicing Student Loans in a Rapidly Evolving Industry

May 24 - 25, 2017

The Westin Alexandria (in Old Town, VA)

Washington D.C.

Join Our Speaking Faculty:

Applications are now being reviewed from executives who wish to become members of our Executive Speaking Faculty. If you have extensive knowledge of education finance/student loans and would like to apply for a position on our speaking faculty, please complete our online JOIN OUR FACULTY application or contact:

Don Buford, Founder & CEO, iiBIG
Phone: 212-300-2521  |  Email:

Event Details
What: Education Finance & Loan Symposium
Why: Growth Through Learning: The future of Investing & Servicing Student Loans in a Rapidly Evolving Industry
Where: The Westin Alexandria (in Old Town, VA), Washington D.C.

Speaking Faculty:

Marilena BotoulasMarilena Botoulas, Asst. Dean for Financial Aid, Columbia Business School
Marilena Botoulas joined Columbia Business School in 2005 as the Director of Financial Aid and is now Assistant Dean. Her responsibilities include overseeing financial aid counseling and processing for students in the school’s full time, Executive MBA and MS programs. Prior to her current position, Marilena was the Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at the Leonard N. Stern School of Business and a Fund Accountant for the asset management company Lord, Abbett, & Co. Over the last 15 years, she has also held several NYC Executive Committee positions for the not-for-profit, Minds Matter of NYC, Inc. Marilena received her B.S. in Finance from St. John’s University, her M.A. in School Counseling from New York University and her Executive MBA at Columbia Business School.

Debra ChromyDebra Chromy, EdD, President, Education Finance Council (EFC)
Debra Chromy is the President of Education Finance Council (EFC), the national association representing nonprofit and state-agency student loan organizations. At EFC, Dr. Chromy leads EFC’s advocacy efforts on regulatory and legislative issues related to student loans and higher education. She collaborates with all EFC members, EFC’s Board of Directors, staff, the Administration, Congress, and other industry groups, facilitating and promoting EFC’s goals and initiatives. In addition, Dr. Chromy works to develop and implement member services and operational and communications strategies. Dr. Chromy has worked in the student loan industry her entire career, for a student loan lender of both private and federal loans, a student loan servicer, and a federal loan guarantor. Prior to EFC, Dr. Chromy served as Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for American Student Assistance (ASA), where she was a leader in ASA’s corporate strategic planning process and managed ASA’s external relationships and partnerships, including federal and state governments, colleges and universities, higher education associations, and other student loan industry organizations. Dr. Chromy received an A.B. in economics from Smith College, an M.B.A from Boston University, and an Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Chromy currently volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors of the Smith College Club of Washington, DC; a member of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education Executive Doctorate Alumni Advisory Board; Chair of the Legislative Task Force for the Municipal Bonds for America Coalition; and is President of the College Club of Boston Scholarship Fund, Inc.

David CooperDavid Cooper, Chief Investment Officer, Purdue Research Foundation
Mr. Cooper is the Chief Investment Officer of the Purdue Research Foundation and is responsible for overseeing investment assets totaling $7 billion including endowment, operating funds, and retirement assets for Purdue University and the Purdue Research Foundation. Previously, Mr. Cooper was the Chief Investment Officer of the $30 billion Indiana state pension plan, the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS). Before his time at INPRS, Mr. Cooper was a Senior Investment Consultant for Anthem, Inc., one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies. Mr. Cooper holds an undergraduate degree from Purdue University and a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Butler University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charterholder and a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) designee. In 2015, Mr. Cooper was presented the Sagamore of the Wabash Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Governor of Indiana.

Tonio DeSorrentoTonio DeSorrento, CEO, Vemo Education
As CEO, Tonio DeSorrento leads the team at Vemo Education, where he focuses on income-based product development and policy issues. Tonio has contributed to the development of ISAs in the United States since 2007. Before Vemo, he held legal roles at SoFi and Pave, and practiced law at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Tonio holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he is also an adjunct professor of law, and a B.S. from the United States Naval Academy.

Rob FiteRob Fite, VP, Business Development & Marketing, Telerock Systems, Inc.
A Credit & Collections Industry veteran who has compiled over twenty five years of deep domain knowledge in technology and data driven solutions for improving workflow processes, increasing automation, and enhancing credit & collections decisions. Rob has held product and market leadership positions with the industry’s leading solutions providers; Experian, FICO, and Lexis Nexis. He is currently a part of the executive team at Telrock Systems, an emerging leader in digital channel customer engagement capabilities, and serves on the advisory board for several technology start-ups. Rob holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Old Dominion University.

Pamela HornePamela Horne, Vice Provost for Enrollment Management, Purdue University
Pam Horne serves as Vice Provost for Enrollment Management at Purdue University, managing strategy and operations for admissions, financial aid, early college outreach, the registrar’s office, and enrollment analysis and reporting. With more than 40 years in higher education, her career has encompassed positions at Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and the University of Kansas. A former president of the Association of Chief Admission Officers of Public Universities, Horne also served as a Trustee for the College Board and continues to serve on a number of College Board committees. She has also served on committees of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers. For many years she has facilitated NACAC’s two-day pre-conference workshop for Chief Enrollment Officers, and presents frequently at state, regional, and national meetings on such topics as the gap between college aspiration and preparation, the future of enrollment management, effective use of business intelligence and technology in enrollment management, the parent role in the college admissions process, college admissions and the media, and the impact of changing demographics on higher education.

Henry HowardHenry Howard, President & CEO, U. S. Education Finance Group
Henry B. Howard began his banking career in 1978 at Maryland National Bank in Baltimore, Maryland. Subsequently, he held officer or management level positions at National Bank of Washington, Student Loan Marketing Association (“Sallie Mae”), American Security Bank of Washington, Marine Midland Bank (Delaware), CenTrust Savings Bank in Miami and BAC International Credit Corporation in Miami. Henry founded U.S. Education Finance Group in 1999 (assets of $2.75 Billion as of 12/31/10). He has been continuously involved with education lending since 1981. Henry Howard has 30 years and $7 Billion of education loan origination and financing experience.

Steve KohlesSteve Kohles, President, Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation
Steve Kohles, President, first came to SLFC in 1989 and was with the company until 2005 returning July 2010. From 2005 to 2010, Mr. Kohles worked in venture capital and private consulting. During his previous tenure at SLFC he served as both CFO and COO. Prior to Student Loan Finance Corporation, he was employed by First Bank Systems where he held Vice President and Controller positions. Mr. Kohles is a CPA and has also been employed by Ernst and Young and Midland National Life Insurance Company. He served on the Board of Directors of the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs, and has been active with the Education Finance Council and various other state financial aid associations. He has served as President of United Way, President of Rotary, President of the Roncalli Foundation and President of the United Way Foundation. He also served on the school board for the Aberdeen Catholic School system and the Northern State Foundation Board. Mr. Kohles has a BS degree from Iowa State University and post graduate studies at the University of South Dakota, University of Minnesota Carlson School of Management, Harvard and Babson College.

Dan MeyersDan Meyers, Chairman & CEO, First Marblehead Corporation
Mr. Meyers is Chairman & CEO of First Marblehead Corporation.Mr. Meyers has been working in finance for 35 years. From 1980 to 1991, Mr. Meyers was involved in arbitrage and derivatives trading. He began working on ABS financings in 1986. He currently serves as the Chair Emeritus of the Board of the Curry School of Education Foundation, and sits on the finance committee of the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia, the Council of Foundations and the President’s Advisory Group. He also serves on the Board of the Forum for the Future of Higher Education. He is the Chairman of the Board of Steward Medical Group, a system of eleven hospitals in Massachusetts. Mr. Meyers also serves on the Board of TRACO, an offshore insurance company, where he chairs the finance committee. Mr. Meyers received an A.B. in Economics from Brandeis University and completed the Owner President Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Matthew MyersMatthew Myers, COO, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Matt has 12 years experience in credit risk, modeling, forecasting and asset management. As head of GS2’s Private Loan services business he is currently overseeing $3.6B in private student loans for clients ranging across colleges and universities, hedge funds, investment banks, insurance companies and asset-backed entities. Matt also runs GS2’s debt purchasing business that makes opportunistic acquisitions of pools of charged-off student loans. Prior to joining GS2 in 2008 Matt worked for GE Capital as a Senior Risk Analyst covering HELOCs, retail credit cards and power sports where he was twice the recipient of the GE Americas Award for excellence in analytics driving profitable growth. Matt holds a BA in Economics from Macalester College and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

Joel PetersenJoel Petersen, President, University Accounting Service (UAS)
Mr. Petersen has over a decade of experience in financial services and capital markets. He joined UAS from Allstate Investments where he managed a number of large fixed income portfolios and reported directly to the Chief Investment Officer. Prior to Allstate, he held senior investment banking roles in London and New York. Mr. Petersen holds both a BS and an MBA.

Daniel PiankoDaniel Pianko, Co-founder and Managing Director, University Ventures
Daniel is a co-founder and Managing Director of University Ventures, a leading higher education focused investment fund with approximately $300M under management. Daniel started his career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs, but quickly realized that he wanted to combine private capital with the creation of a next generation of socially beneficial education companies. Since leaving Goldman, he has invested in, founded, advised, or led in a number of education related businesses that led to the creation of University Ventures. Daniel currently sits on the boards of Ponce School of Medicine, Synergis Education, Galvanize, Qubed and EDEX. Daniel is also involved in his community, serving on the Board of Trustees of Harlem Village Academies and the Alumni Council of Horace Mann. Daniel graduated from Columbia University and holds an MBA and Masters of Education from Stanford University.

Joe PopevisJoe Popevis, President, Nelnet Diversified Solutions
Joe Popevis is President of Nelnet Diversified Solutions (NDS), a division of Nelnet, Inc. (NYSE: NNI). NDS provides technology and processing solutions for businesses, lenders, educational institutions, and government entities. With more than 20 years of student loan experience, Joe provides strategic direction and leadership for Nelnet’s federal and private loan origination and servicing operations, including the servicing of U.S. Department of Education-owned loans, commercially owned FFEL loans, guarantor servicing, and default management. Joe is an expert in organizational process improvement and operational efficiency.

Jonathan RiberJonathan Riber, Vice President, DBRS, Inc.
Jon Riber is a Senior Vice President for DBRS and manages the company's student loan ratings team. In addition to rating student loan transactions, Jon has developed and maintains methodologies for FFELP and private student loan securitizations. Jon joined DBRS in 2010. From 2003 to 2010, Jon was a Vice President within Citigroup’s investment banking group focusing on the origination and structuring of mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities. From 1997 to 2003, Jon worked at Prudential Securities and Wachovia Securities focusing on the origination of structured finance transactions. Jon hold a BS from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an MBA from Bentley University.

Ken RuggieroKen Ruggiero, President & CEO, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Ken has more than 20 years of management, finance, and business development experience as an integral part of management teams that grew companies in fast-changing environments. Prior to becoming Chairman and CEO of GS2, Ken served Goal Financial, LLC for five years as CFO and then one year as President and COO. During his tenure at Goal Financial the company originated over $8 billion in student loans, becoming a top 10 student loan provider. Prior to joining Goal, Ken was CFO of eAssist Global Solutions, a $70 million venture-funded call center software company. Previously, he was CFO of INTERVU, a NASDAQ listed company that merged in 2000 with Akamai Technologies in a $2.8B transaction. Earlier in his career Ken held management positions with NBC’s Internet Division and Arthur Andersen. He received his CPA in New York, an MBA from Columbia University and a BBA in Accounting from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts.

Randy SchmidtRandy Schmidt, General Counsel & SVP Business Development, Goal Structured Solutions (GS2)
Randy has over 24 years of experience with the last 18 years being in the education finance industry. He has led legal and compliance departments, created and managed sales organizations and managed client relations for national servicing firms like AES/PHEAA and secondary market clients. He is responsible for the business development and marketing activities of GS2 focusing on school, bank and other third-party client relationships. Prior to working in student loans, Mr. Schmidt handled commercial real estate transactions in private law practice with an emphasis on municipal ordinance compliance and financing of municipal improvements. Mr. Schmidt graduated from Juniata College and then received his J.D. from Widener University.

eff SimendingerJeff Simendinger, COO, SIMM Associates
Jeff Simendinger began his career in the collections industry as a part time collector at MBNA while in his freshmen year at the University Of Delaware Lerner School Of Business. A second generation collection executive Jeff currently holds the position of Chief Operating Officer of SIMM Associates, Inc. and is also a principal and co-founder of the company. SIMM is a nationally recognized ARM (Account Receivables Management) company that provides call center solutions for debt buyers, financial institutions, healthcare facilities and both Private and Federal Student loan companies. For the past 24 years Jeff has overseen all of SIMM’s day to day operations including its First Party and Probate Divisions.

Manu SmadjaManu Smadja, CEO, MPOWER Financing, Public Benefit Corporation
Manu is the Co-Founder and CEO of MPOWER Financing, a marketplace lender focused on high-caliber international students at top US universities. Prior to MPOWER, Manu worked at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on Global Financial Inclusion and U.S. mass-market banking. He has worked with top financial institutions in the U.S., Europe, and Africa. Before McKinsey, Manu worked in marketing strategy and operations at CapitalOne and Vistaprint. Manu holds an M.B.A. from INSEAD, as well as an M.S. in Systems & Information Engineering and a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Virginia.

Steve WinnieSteve Winnie, President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Counsel, CampusDoor
Steve Winnie is the President, Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel of CampusDoor. He also serves as the Corporate Secretary and Security Officer and heads the company’s business development efforts. In his various roles, Mr. Winnie oversees all operational, legal and regulatory matters and manages intake and implementation of new clients and loan programs. After graduating from Cornell Law School, Mr. Winnie worked in private practice in the Commercial Litigation Department of Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton, LLP. He then served as General Counsel to Campus Door, Inc. from 2006-2008. Mr. Winnie then worked as Associate General Counsel at Sallie Mae where his practice focused on private student loan originations, specifically marketing and advertising, new product development and regulatory compliance. Mr. Winnie rejoined CampusDoor in 2009. Mr. Winnie earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Cornell Law School. He is also a graduate of the ABA National Compliance School held in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Winnie is admitted to practice law before the state and federal courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Mr. Winnie’s community involvement includes participation on the Board of Directors of the Carlisle Family YMCA and the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel as well as serving as a certified youth coach for the Cumberland Valley Youth Basketball Association and the Cumberland Valley Youth Lacrosse Program.

Jack  ZoellerJack Zoeller, Founder & CEO, Purefy
Jack founded Purefy in 2014 as a student loan refinancing platform and has led its growth as an award-winning financial technology partner to financial institutions. He began his career on Wall Street where he was an innovator and leader in the early years of the U.S. derivative markets. Over three decades he built his reputation as a start-up and turnaround CEO at E.F. Hutton Indemnity, ComFed Bancorp, Bank of Virginia, Cordia Bancorp, Capital Risk Management, North American Health & Life Insurance, and AtlantiCare Risk Management. Jack has launched 5 new companies, served on 23 boards of directors and is a Visiting Professor at George Washington University. In 2010 he was appointed to the Defense Business Board, a volunteer board at the Pentagon. Jack also served in the U.S. Army as a Ranger and company commander in the 82nd Airborne Division. He earned degrees from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Harvard University and Oxford University where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar.