Helping Businesses Keep Both ii's On The BIG Picture For Over 13 Years!
2019 Education Finance & Loan Symposium

NOVEMBER 15-16, 2021

Hilton Crystal City,
Washington, DC

Our Executive 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:

Ozzy AkayOzzy Akay, Associate Director, Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets, Guidehouse

Ozzy is an Associate Director in the Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets practice at Guidehouse and leads the Quantitative Analytics and Risk Management team.  His team focuses on the development and independent validation of quantitative models including credit, liquidity, interest rate and stress testing models, and fair lending analysis for large financial institutions and state agencies. His work also involves building early warning systems for clients’ diverse credit portfolios through customized but still scientifically sound solutions. Before Guidehouse, Ozzy worked at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and U.S. Department of the Treasury as a senior researcher. He has a Ph.D. in finance and during his academic tenure as an assistant professor, he published articles on topics covering financial regulation and the impact of specific Fed/Treasury programs on market participants’ behavior and investment portfolios.  Ozzy continuously follows the developments in the financial industry and publishes policy white papers to inform his clients on the evolving regulatory landscape and provide support in assessing and managing risk, dealing with regulatory change and scrutiny, improving performance, and extracting value from data.

James BergeronJames Bergeron, President, National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER)

James P. Bergeron currently serves as President of the National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER), which represents a nationwide network of lenders, secondary markets, guaranty agencies, loan servicers, private collection agencies, schools, and others that assist students, borrowers, parents, and families access, manage, and pay for the costs of postsecondary education. The membership includes education finance organizations that administer and service federal education loans and entities that underwrite, administer, and service private education loans. Prior to joining NCHER, James worked as the Director of Education and Human Services Policy for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. In this capacity, he advised Chairman John Kline, members, and staff, and oversaw policy development on all areas of education and human services programs, including the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Workforce Investment Act, the Head Start Act, and other federal laws governing elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Before joining the Committee in 2006, James served as Legislative Director in California Rep. Buck McKeon’s personal office where he was responsible for developing and implementing the legislative agenda within the House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness. He authored important legislative initiatives on college affordability and financial aid simplification. James began his Capitol Hill service almost 20 years ago as a Legislative Assistant to former Louisiana Rep. Bob Livingston, who chaired the House Appropriations Committee. James also served as Vice President of MARC Associates (now part of Holland & Knight), a government relations firm where he consulted for a number of elementary and secondary education and higher education organizations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Mark BrownMark Brown, Executive Director, Student Freedom Initiative (SFI)

Mark Brown is the Executive Director of the Student Freedom Initiative (SFI). SFI, A 501 (C) provides holistic support through four primary components: (1) Income contingent funding alternative to fixed payment obligations, (2) Internships, (3) Targeted HBCU capacity building, and (4) Tutoring, mentoring, and other student services. On 23 November 2020, SFI announced nine participating HBCUs, who identified the qualified STEM majors for eligible juniors and seniors starting with the Fall 2021 academic year.  Mr. Brown is the Former Chief Operating Officer for the U.S Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). FSA, all Title IV funding (Grants, Work study, Student Loans) is a lending portfolio of $1.5T, 6K partner schools and 43 million customers (students, borrowers, and parents). In the Air Force, Major General Brown led a Continuum of Learning (Education, Training, and Experiences) for 600,000 global learners including two Graduate and Doctoral degree granting universities.  In addition, he has recent Senior Executive level experience in the successful enterprise-wide implementation and cultural change required to implement competency-based education, personalized learning, and a learning ecosystem for over 600,000 Air Force learners.  As a Senior Executive and CFO for $60B portfolio, Mr. Brown implemented enough savings and efficiencies to live within a budget that was reduced by 33% in a single year…received “Best in Air Force” rating. Rated “Best in Air Force” for quality of life and installation excellence, when serving as COO managing 6,013 acre pilot training base (equivalent to college campus).  Brown served in a 32-year Air Force career with over 20 years in senior executive positions encompassing all aspects of operations for diverse organizations ranging in size from 200 to over 200,000 individuals. Retired at the rank of Major General (Two Stars), Mark Brown is highly regarded for his ability to communicate at all levels both verbally and in written form. Security Clearance: TS/SCI

Scott BuchananScott Buchanan, Executive Director, Student Loan Servicing Alliance

Scott Buchanan is the Executive Director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance (SLSA), a trade association that represents more than 40 student loan servicers and their business partners in both federal and private student lending.

Previously, Scott was Senior Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs for CBE Companies, a global provider of outsourced call center and collection services.  Scott has also been Principal Consultant at Merak Associates LLC, where he has advised and counseled clients including financial services and investment firms, institutions of higher education, and BPO companies on legislative, regulatory, and business development strategy.  Before his consulting work, Scott served as Vice President of Business Development, Sales, and Marketing at Navient.  In that role he ran corporate marketing, oversaw brand strategy, directed business development and the sales organizations, while advising the company on corporate strategy.  Prior to Navient, he served as Vice President of Government Affairs and Services with Sallie Mae.  In that role he worked with Members of Congress, government agencies, and other policymakers to inform discussion on higher education, financial services, and tax policy.  He oversaw the state affairs interests of the company and had responsibility for lobbying and political compliance processes. Over the years he also worked at Sallie Mae in various management capacities, has past political campaign experience, and worked for Wachovia Corporation in Atlanta, GA.  Scott holds a Bachelors in Political Science from Davidson College and a Masters in Public Policy from George Mason University.  He currently resides in Alexandria, VA.

D. Grant CarwileD. Grant Carwile, Managing Director, SL Capital Strategies LLC

Grant Carwile currently serves as Managing Director in SL Capital Strategies, a national financial advisory and consulting firm providing services to various participants in the fields of higher education & consumer loan finance, municipal finance, and corporate finance. His client base includes public, non-profit and private finance companies; banks and other lending institutions; loan servicing organizations; loan guaranty agencies; specialty data companies; higher education institutions; loan collections organizations; and small corporations. Mr. Carwile has been active in lending, financial advisory, investment banking and capital markets for over 31 years, including nearly 20 years at RBC Capital Markets. During his banking and financial advisory career, Mr. Carwile has provided a variety of financial services including capital formation; capital markets advisory; securities issuance; asset and company valuation; merger and acquisition advisory; asset sale advisory; lending platform design and development; strategic planning; and management consulting. He has been a frequent speaker at industry associations and asset-backed finance conferences. He is a graduate (BSBA) with high honors of the University of Arkansas and holds a Juris Doctor degree with high honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the UALR Law Journal. Mr. Carwile currently serves on the board of directors for FirstString Research (a bio-pharmaceutical company) and previously served on the boards of directors for the Roper Saint Francis Foundation, the South Carolina Student Loan Corporation and EdVantage Corporation.

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.


Austin ElseyAustin Elsey, Chief Credit Officer, FMS Bank

Austin Elsey serves as the Chief Credit Officer of FMS Bank. Prior to joining FMS Bank, Elsey most recently served as the managing principal at True North Bank Consulting. Elsey also currently serves as an adjunct professor at Grand Canyon University teaching courses on finance principles and managerial finance and is a advisory member for National University on the Banking and Finance Advisory Board. Originally from Aurora, Missouri, Elsey graduated from Missouri Southern State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration and later earned a Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida. Elsey also completed the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin. He also Is a Certified Management Accountant, Certified Fraud Examiner and holds a Credit Risk Certification.

Jeff FritzJeff Fritz, Head of Business Development, Anovaa

Jeff Fritz is Head of Business Development at Anovaa, where he works with banks, credit unions, and state agencies to help launch consumer, student loan, and education refinance programs or streamline existing ones.  He has been in student lending and education finance for over 24 years in management and director roles at some of the nation’s largest student loan providers, such as Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Discover.  He also has experience with credit union lending and education refinance during his time at LendKey, and even experience in the Income Share Agreement space in his time at ISA start-up, Edly.  As a father of three, Jeff also has firsthand experience in financing higher education from the parent perspective.

Sharon GoldSharon Gold, Head of Capital Markets, College Ave Student Loans

Sharon Gold is the Head of Capital Markets at College Ave Student Loans, a private student loan fintech lending company. Sharon focuses on College Ave’s student loan securitizations, debt facilities, warehouse lines, loans sales and forward flow agreements. Prior to College Ave, Sharon spent over 20 years in the student loan business in senior level positions at investment banks and rating agencies. Sharon was a senior banker in the Fixed Income Division of Morgan Stanley where she worked on student loan ABS and municipal bond transactions for for-profit, state agency, and not-for-profit student loan lenders. Sharon was also the Head of Student Loan ABS Originations at ABN AMRO managing student loan securitizations and student loan financings through ABN’s ABCP conduits. At the rating agencies, Sharon was the Head of the Student Loan Ratings Group at Moody’s Investor Service. She also spent time at S&P Global developing and writing methodologies for the Structured Financed Group for all securitized asset types, including student loans. Sharon has a B.S. in Accounting from Syracuse University and is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of New York.

Rich HainesRich Haines, CEO, OneLogos

Mr. Haines has thirty years of financial services and technology experience and is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OneLogos, an EdTech and enterprise software company.  OneLogos offers technology solutions to all stakeholders in the financial aid market including lenders, financial institutions, schools, non-profits, foundations and community groups through the Red Kite ( platform.  Red Kite is a digital ecosystem connecting students, parents and job seekers with money to pay for college and job training.  Mr. Haines also serves as co-founder and managing director of Crucible, a not-for-profit company formed to transform future-leaning college and job training organizations. Prior to OneLogos he founded two successful start-up organizations, served as the head of operations for a private education lender and has held senior leadership positions with MBNA America and Bank of America in the U.S., Canada and Europe supporting mergers and acquisitions, credit, customer service, collections and technology. Mr. Haines graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Politics and Finance from The Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania.

Henry HowardHenry Howard, President & CEO, US 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.

Dr. A Wayne JohnsonDr. A Wayne Johnson, Former Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Student Loans, US Department of Education

Dr. Arthur Wayne Johnson is a public servant, accomplished businessman, veteran, student loan expert, and life-long Georgia native. From 2017 to 2019, Wayne was a senior official in President Trump’s Administration, serving as the Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer and Chief Operating Officer for the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. Overseeing the largest provider of student financial aid in the country, Wayne successfully led thousands of employees whose mission was to make college education accessible and affordable for millions of Americans. Prior to entering public service, Wayne amassed over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, senior executive, and CEO of multiple businesses, both domestic and international, in the consumer finance and customer service support industries. Wayne’s professional career has given him first-hand knowledge of how to make higher education more cost-effective, so students and their families receive an education that improves their long-term employment prospects without taking on crushing levels of debt. He knows how to run organizations efficiently and effectively, and wants to continue to bring this solutions-oriented approach to the federal government. Wayne is a U.S. Army veteran, an Eagle Scout, and a product of Georgia’s education system. He holds a PhD in Higher Education Leadership from Mercer University, a Masters of Business Administration from Emory University, and Bachelor of Arts from Mercer. He and his family have long called Macon, Georgia home.

Scott KempScott W. Kemp, Student Loan Advocate, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Scott Kemp serves as the Student Loan Advocate in the Office of the Qualified Education Loan Ombudsman at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV). Prior to this position, Scott served as an Interim VP of Student Services, a State Director for the High School Career Coach Program, a community college Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator, a K-12 State Career Specialist, and a School Counselor. His career has focused on helping students and those who work with students on their career pathway to success. Scott received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia; master’s degrees from Hollins College and Catholic University and an Education Specialist degree in Higher Education from Old Dominion University.

Kelly LipinskiKelly Lipinski, Member, McGlinchey Stafford

Kelly Lipinski advises clients throughout the United States on regulatory compliance matters involving the consumer financial industry. She counsels a full range of financial institutions including depository institutions and their affiliates, mortgage companies, sales finance companies, and lenders partnering with fintech companies, with a special focus serving entities in the motor vehicle finance and private education lending industries. Kelly’s experience includes providing advice to clients on the development of new credit programs and products, negotiation of service contracts and purchase and sale agreements, as well as drafting consumer credit and lease agreements. In support of her national practice, she prepares multi-state research regarding rates and fees, disclosures, and substantive conduct requirements affecting real property and personal property financing. The clients that Kelly works with are highly regulated, and she represents clients in their examination and settlement negotiations. Kelly also advises clients on internal audits concerning adherence to applicable law, and she assists clients performing similar review of their third-party vendor service providers. Kelly has deep experience advising clients on compliance with the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), Servicemember Civil Relief Act (SCRA), Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA). Kelly also provides counsel regarding state compliance issues and represents clients before state regulatory agencies concerning licensing and examination issues.

Tess MichaelsTess Michaels, CEO, Stride Funding

Tess Michaels is the Founder and CEO of Stride Funding, a venture-backed student financing company that offers more flexible alternatives to traditional student loans via income share agreements (ISAs) and Deferred Tuition Agreements (DTAs). She founded Stride from a student-first perspective as an MBA at Harvard Business School. She is a serial entrepreneur that successfully exited her previous mission-drive company while completing her BS & BA degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. Tess worked in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and in private equity at Vista Equity Partners (own EAB, PowerSchool, PluralSight). Tess is also recognized as a member of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for education and believes in driven toward creating more accessibility and affordability for students across the US.

Charles PruettCharles Pruett, Assistant Dean, Student Financial Aid, Georgetown Law Center

Charles Pruett is the Assistant Dean for Financial Aid at the Georgetown University Law Center and has been with the Financial Aid Office since 1997.  The ever-evolving state of the economy ensures that the needs of Georgetown Law’s student body are constantly changing.  He regularly works with students to increase their knowledge of financial planning and illuminate the nuances and pitfalls important to the lives of younger professionals.  For over fifteen years, Georgetown Law’s flagship financial program, “Life after Georgetown Law” has prepared thousands of graduating students to enter the “real world” as informed earners and consumers.  Mr. Pruett earned both his B.A. and J.D. from The George Washington University.

Ian RasmussenIan Rasmussen, Senior Director, ABS, Fitch Ratings

Senior Director in ABS focusing on: ABCP, consumer unsecured loans, credit cards, and student loans. Long standing relationships in asset management, with strong background in commercial paper, money markets and cash management. Also broad exposure to investment products including: closed-end funds, money market funds and local government investment pools and across many asset classes. Earned a B.S. in finance from Southern Utah University and an MBA in finance from Fordham University Graduate School of Business.

Dubravka RitterDubravka Ritter, Senior Industry Specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Dubravka Ritter is an Advisor and Research Fellow at the Consumer Finance Institute at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. She joined the Bank in 2011 and studies how consumer credit markets influence economic opportunity, mobility, and equality. Her research focuses on education finance, discrimination in lending, consumer financial protections, and the effects of identity theft on financial outcomes. Currently, Dubravka is examining the determinants and effects of high student loan burdens, the properties of income-contingent higher education funding, and the repercussions of debt-financed higher education. Prior to joining the Philadelphia Fed, she was an economist at the consulting firm Charles River Associates. While there, she performed statistical and econometric analysis as part of regulatory compliance and risk management support for financial institutions with mortgage, payment card, auto loan, and other portfolios. She also conducted economic analysis in support of litigation alleging antitrust violations and patent infringement, as well as merger and acquisition activity. Ritter has an M.A. in economics from the University of Toronto, and a B.A. in economics, magna cum laude, from Wellesley College.

Brad RustinBrad Rustin IV, Partner, Nelson Mullins LLP

Brad Rustin is a Partner at the firm, Nelson Mullins LLP.  His career began as a litigator focusing on consumer financial services litigation and defense of regulatory claims against chartered and non-chartered financial institutions, finance entities, and money services business. Following in the wake of the fiscal crisis, he began working with financial institutions, money transmitters, non-traditional lenders, check cashers, and mortgage brokers on issues of regulatory compliance. As the regulatory environment facing financial institutions has changed and increased, he now spends most of his time counseling financial institutions in regulatory matters, including strategic agreements, product development, and operational compliance. Mr. Rustin regularly works with clients on issues relating to: state and federal consumer protection laws, fraud monitoring, anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act compliance, state and federal regulation of money transmission, stored value strategies, ACH compliance and traditional and non-traditional lending. He is a frequent speaker at professional conferences, and in addition to iiBIG’s Education Finance & Loan Symposium – WEST, his speaking engagements have, in particular, focused on changing federal regulation of the money transmission and the lending space in the post-Dodd Frank environment.  Brad received his B.A. from Furman University, in Political Science and History, cum laude, and he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, JD, magna cum laude.

Will ShaffnerWilliam (Will) Shaffner, Director, Business Development & Government Relations, Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA)

Will Shaffner has over 37 years of experience in the student loan and higher education finance arena and currently is the Director of Business Development & Government Relations at the Higher Education Loan Authority of the State of Missouri (MOHELA), serving in this capacity since 2004. In this role, Mr. Shaffner participates as a member of the Executive Management Team at MOHELA and is responsible for all sales activity within the Authority, including school and lender channels, private loan management, government relations, as well as marketing, e-commerce, and public relations efforts. Mr. Shaffner currently serves on the NCHER Board, and serves as Chair of its Government Relations Committee. Prior to MOHELA, he worked with American Student Assistance from as Director of Lender and Strategic Partnerships. He also held various sales and training positions at USA Group/SLMA from 1990 – 2001, most recently as Regional Director Central Region USA Funds Services. Prior to working within the FFELP industry, Mr. Shaffner was the Associate Director of Student Financial Aid at the University of Central Florida, where he worked for over eight years. He currently serves on the Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation Board, and the board of Stray Dog Theatre. Mr. Shaffner holds a B.A. in business administration from the University of Central Florida.

Aaron SmithAaron Smith, Co-Founder, Savi

Aaron Smith is a long-time student loan expert and advocate with over a decade of experience in the intersection between higher education and financial technology. Aaron co-founded and served as the original Executive Director of Young Invincibles, one of the largest and most impactful youth advocacy and policy non-profits in the country, with a focus on engaging 18 to 34 year olds. Aaron started YI in 2009 while still a student at Georgetown Law School (from which he still has substantial student loan debt). Through his work at YI, Aaron worked with the Department of Education, the White House, and Congress to make concrete fixes to higher education funding and the student loan process. Aaron has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

Lance TeinertLance Tienert, CEO, CURevl LLC

Lance is a 30-year veteran of consumer and education finance, having worked in executive positions since 1995 when he became the founding student loan operations executive with LoanStar Education Loans.  He has held senior and executive level positions with Cology, First Marblehead Corporation, Education Credit Management Corporation, and ReliaMax Holdings as well as co-founding FUTR Corporation.  Lance not only brings executive experience, but also an entrepreneurial spirit, having founded or co-founded several successful ventures including a nationally recognized education finance consulting firm and private education entity that partnered with several investment banks to originate, service, and securitize federal and private education loans.


Continuing Education Credits (e.g. CLE, CPE, CME, etc.) may be available for iiBIG conference attendees. Upon request conference attendees will be provided with a “Certificate of Attendance” and a copy of the conference agenda, showing topics, length of sessions, and name(s) and professional affiliation(s) of presenter(s) for each session. Attendees wishing to apply for continuing education credits for attending this conference may submit this documentation to the relevant organization in his/her state when applying for such credits.

CE Credits
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