Helping Businesses Keep Both ii's On The BIG Picture For Over 16 Years!
Virtual Education Finance

APRIL 21-22, 2021


Virtual Event

Our Executive Speaking Faculty

Members of our speaking faculty will be announced as they are confirmed. Please check back frequently for updates. 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:

Bryan AshtonBryan Ashton, VP Community Investment & Community Affairs, Trellis Co.

Bryan Ashton serves as the Vice President of Community Investment and Government Affairs at Trellis Company (formerly TG). In this capacity, Bryan is responsible for leading the organization’s college and university support efforts, student support efforts (including student coaching, financial literacy and college access services) and higher education research efforts.  Bryan is the Co-Founder and Managing Director of the Higher Education Financial Wellness Alliance which brings together organizations interested in removing financial barriers to student completion. Bryan joined Trellis from Ohio State University, where he led the University’s financial wellness efforts. Bryan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting from Ohio State University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Education, with a focus in Higher Education, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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 

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 has volunteered on a number of higher education and non-profit boards and is currently a member of the National Student Clearinghouse Board of Directors.

Joseph CioffiJoseph Cioffi, Partner, Insolvency, Creditors’ Rights & Financial Products, Davis+Gilbert LLP

Joseph Cioffi is a partner at Davis & Gilbert in New York City where he is Chair of the Insolvency, Creditors’ Rights & Financial Products Practice Group, a multidisciplinary practice spanning corporate, insolvency and litigation. He has a unique perspective afforded by his experience in all stages of credit and market cycles, including in subprime lending investments, operations and litigation. Joseph and his group have been deeply involved in disputes and litigation resulting from the last financial crisis. He has written for or has been quoted by numerous publications, including American BankerLaw360Asset Securitization ReportThe Banking Law JournalFinancial TimesThe Journal of Bankruptcy Law, Auto Finance News and WNYC, regarding auto loans, student loans, marketplace lending, subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing. In 2017, Joseph launched Credit Chronometer™, an award-winning microsite dedicated to analyzing the economic, market and political events that shape the legal landscape and impact loan and credit markets. Written from the perspective of lawyers and professionals, Credit Chronometer™ examines the effects of these events on future performance and participants’ exposure to legal and business risk.

Nick Ducoff, Co-Founder & CEO, Edmit

Nick Ducoff has spent his career working on college affordability, student debt, and workforce development. He is cofounder and CEO of Edmit, and coauthor of the bestselling book “Better Off After College”. Previously, he was Northeastern University’s Vice President for New Ventures where his work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. He coauthored “Informational Disclosure and College Choice”, a report published by the Brookings Institution, and has attended two White House convenings for his work in education. His articles have been published in The Washington Post, Barron’s, Money, and CNBC, and he’s been interviewed on NPR, ABC and NBC. He earned his J.D., with Honors, at the University of Texas, and his Bachelor’s at Emory University.

Henry HowardHenry B. 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.

Robert HumannRobert Humann, Chief Revenue Officer, Credible

Robert Humann is the General Manager of Credible, the leading independent consumer finance marketplace in the U.S. Credible provides a unique and personalized experience that enables consumers to compare instant, accurate prequalified rates from multiple financial institutions across student loans, personal loans, credit cards, and mortgages, helping consumers save money and make better financial decisions.  A career to-date in finance and technology naturally led to their intersection upon Robert joining Credible. Previously, he held senior roles in a technology-focused private equity fund and an early-stage medical technology company, and prior to that began his career in professional services consulting. Robert is passionate about bringing transparency, simplicity, and immediacy to the lifecycle of consumers’ financial decisions. A born and bred Australian, Robert followed his wife to the USA and now resides in San Francisco. Robert holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Melbourne and a Graduate Diploma in Applied Finance.

Dr. A Wayne JohnsonA. Wayne Johnson, Former, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer, Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education (DOE) [2017 to 2019]

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.

Charles KelleyCharles Kelley, Executive Director, Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

Charles Kelley joined the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) in April 1991 as Deputy Director and was appointed Executive Director in 1993. Mr. Kelley served on the Board of the Education Finance Council from 1996 – 2002 where he served a two-year term as Chairman. A graduate of Harvard with a MA in Public Administration with a concentration in public finance, he received his Bachelors in Accounting and Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Kelley is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst.


Matt Myers
Matthew (Matt) Myers, President, Goal Solutions

As the President of Goal Solutions Matt leads the broader services business anchored by the wholly owned Launch Servicing subsidiary. From its inception, Launch has been a leader in the servicing of private student loans as well as RICs, and more recently income share agreements, serving dozens of clients including colleges and universities, banks, fintech originators, investment banks, credit unions and others; Launch is exclusively focused on the private credit market. Launch also services loans for its fin tech sister lending companies Ascent and Skills Fund using its unique perspective and capability set, so its services not just for its clients but for its own loans. In addition to traditional financing structures Launch services rated securitizations and warehouses, so it understands the diverse financial landscape private student loans exist in. Matt has also spent the last 10+ years leading the Goal Master Servicing business so has partnerships with nearly all third-party servicers in the student loan industry, with a focus on enhanced default prevention and recovery to help optimize portfolio performance. The Goal Solutions business collectively manages $26b in loans across 100+ entities. Matt has worked at Goal since January 2007, prior to that he worked in Credit Risk at GE Capital for 6 years.

Daniel Pianko
Daniel Pianko, 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.

Aaron Piscane
Aaron Pisacane, Founder, Einstein Higher Edu Solutions

The breadth of Aaron’s immersion in education finance was shaped from experiences over 26 years: Chief Credit Officer of Sallie Mae Bank during the pandemic; Product Lead at Entech, an origination platform technology firm, Senior Management at Laurel Road, where he scaled the refi portfolio from $3.4M/month to $120M+/month of volume; Governor-Appointee for the NYS HESC college loan program; Head of Capital Markets at Education Finance Partners, the 4thlargest private student loan originator in 2006-07; Capital Markets/Operations at Clout Financial Services, originator of college credit cards and student loans, VP of Credit at Ambac Assurance Corporation, bond insurance; and Credit Analyst, Moody’s Investor’s Service, bond credit ratings. Aaron’s journey has culminated in the passion to ‘crack the code’ of originating sustainable student loans based on student risk.  Foundational building blocks will lead to a data driven, Einstein Student Risk Score.

Ian RamussenIan 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, Advisor and Research Fellow, Consumer Finance Institute, 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.

Kathryn (Kate) RockKathryn (Kate) Rock, Partner, Banking, Insurance & Capital Markets, Guidehouse LLP

Kathryn Rock, CPA is a Partner within the Financial Services Advisory and Compliance practice at Guidehouse.  Kate has over 18 years of experience advising banking, consumer finance, and government organizations.  She specializes in providing solutions that help clients transform their business, minimize risk, address regulatory requirements, and solve complex accounting issues.  She is a proven engagement leader with the ability to manage large complex projects in risk management and regulatory compliance, operational strategy and effectiveness, and accounting and auditing.  She has managed teams focused on the industry’s most critical issues such as the Paycheck Protection Program, the Independent Foreclosure Review resulting from the financial crisis, and key litigation cases impacting and shaping our industry.  Kate started her career at Ernst & Young auditing various financial services clients domestically and internationally. Kate is currently President-Elect and serves on the Board of Women in Housing and Finance, Inc. (WHF). WHF is a premiere non-partisan, nonprofit forum for business and policy experts to share their views and insights.

Arthur RotatoriArthur Rotatori, Member, McGlinchey Stafford

Arthur is a Member in McGlinchey Stafford’s Cleveland office. He handles consumer finance and regulatory matters relating to electronic records and signatures, private student loans or other unsecured loans, as well as personal property direct and indirect financing for banks, marketplace lenders, and other FinTech companies, loan program administrators and marketers, and finance companies. His practice involves advising those clients on how to create and manage multi-state consumer lending programs. Arthur has significant experience representing education loan program marketers and administrators in connection with licensing compliance, negotiation of loan program agreements, and general consumer credit compliance matters. He has helped numerous clients develop the documentation and procedures to create and execute consumer credit contracts online. Arthur has developed and maintained multi-state consumer credit programs for such clients as Buy-Here, Pay-Here used car dealerships, start-up online lenders, and student loan providers such as banks, credit unions, and non-bank companies that market and buy the loans in partnership with a bank. He works with a variety of clients who offer purchase money and alternative financing secured by motor vehicles and other personal property, and has assisted such clients with state and federal compliance reviews, portfolio acquisitions, and licensing matters. Arthur received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.

Ken RuggieroKen Ruggiero, CEO, Ascent Funding

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.

Brad RustinBrad Rustin, Partner & Chair, Financial Regulatory Group, 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.

Andrew Smalley
Andrew Smalley, Research Analyst, National Conference of State Legislatures 

Andrew Smalley is a Research Analyst I at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), providing research assistance to state legislators and staff as part of the Postsecondary Education Team. Andrew also conducts extensive legislative tracking and maintains many of NCSL’s resources on student loan debt, including the Student Loan Bill Tracking Database. He has written several publications on topics related to student loan debt forgiveness and student loan oversight. Prior to joining NCSL, Andrew was a legislative intern for three sessions at the Colorado General Assembly, working with a state senator and at a lobbying firm. Andrew holds a MPP from the University of Denver and a BA in Political Science, also from the University of Denver.

Will ShaffnerWilliam (Will) C Shaffner, Director of Businesss Development and Government Relations, Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA)

Will Shaffner has over 39 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 collections management, government relations, as well as marketing, e-commerce, and public relations efforts. Mr. Shaffner currently serves on the Education Finance Council (EFC) Board, and serves on its Government Relations Committee. Prior to MOHELA, he worked with American Student Assistance 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 Infinite Scholars. Mr. Shaffner holds a B.A. in business administration from the University of Central Florida.

Lance TeinertLance Teinert, 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.


Mark WeadickMark Weadick, Managing Director, SL Capital Strategies, LLC

Mark Weadick has more than 30 years’ finance, management and consulting experience and now specializes in providing consulting and financial advisory services.  Mark joined SLCS in June 2008.  Before joining SLCS, Mark was the co- head of Citigroup’s Student Loan Investment Banking Group, and has worked for both Citigroup (originally joining Smith Barney in 1996) and William R. Hough & Co. Mr. Weadick has served as project lead and primary contact for over 20 different entities.  Mr. Weadick has also completed numerous strategic projects and M&A transactions for clients. Mr. Weadick also previously served as the chief financial officer for Student Loan Funding Corporation.   Mr. Weadick has also worked as a certified public accountant for Arthur Andersen and as a corporate/securities lawyer at Taft Stettinius & Hollister.  Mr. Weadick is an honors graduate of both Bowling Green State University (B.S. in Accounting) and the University of Cincinnati College of Law (J.D.). Mr. Weadick was a founding board member of the Education Finance Council in 1993 and served as Treasurer, and Vice Chairman


Melvin ZhouMelvin Zhou, Director ABS Consumer, Kroll Bond Ratings Agency

Melvin Zhou is a senior director on the ABS consumer team at Kroll Bond Rating Agency, LLC. Prior to joining KBRA in December 2018, Melvin was a director at Fitch Ratings focusing on FFELP and private student loan ABS new ratings and surveillance. Prior to joining Fitch Ratings, Zhou worked at The Student Loan Corporation, a subsidiary of Citibank, responsible for asset securitization and financial analysis. Zhou holds a BS in Mathematics from Peking University and an M.B.A. from Baruch College, City University of New York.


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
International Institute for Business Information & Growth LLC is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit. Complaints regarding registered sponsors may be submitted to the National Registry of CPE Sponsors through its website: