2017 SLRC Speakers
Advisory Committee & Faculty
Martie Adler, Indiana University
Jason Beard, Professional Development Group*
Laurie Beets, Oklahoma State University*
Sheri Cox, Ivy Tech Community College*
Myriam S Elefant, Higher Education Consultant*
Judith Flink, University of Illinois (Retired)*
Mark Goodman, Temple University (Retired)*
Geri Landwehr, University of Northern Colorado*
Carla Perez, University of Wisconsin - Madison*
Sandra Plenski, UC Hastings College of the Law*
Vincent A Simonelli, Boston University*
* denotes advisory group
Margarita Gurri, PhD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist and Keynote Speaker
Founder, Red Shoe Institute
Bring out the best in your people!
Harness the power of conflict, enhance communication, and navigate ethical dilemmas with Dr. Margarita Gurri, CSP. A seasoned consulting psychologist, Dr. Gurri is trusted by leaders and teams around the world to educate and motivate them through motivational keynotes, coaching, and training to gain renewed vision, attitude, and skill. Audiences embrace her humorous, interactive approach to serious topics as she facilitates workable solutions for everyday challenges.
Author of The Ethical Speaker, Trilogy of Anger, La Trilogia de la Ira, Anglican Prayer Beads, co-author of The Happiness Recipe.
Credentials: Fluent in English and Spanish, Dr. Gurri is a licensed psychologist with a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Kansas and has earned the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from National Speakers Association.
Clients Include: Atkins Global, Dialysis Treatment Teams, Estrella Insurance Franchise, Femwell Health, HHI Canada, HSBC, Latin American Association of Insurance Agencies, LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Maestro Dubai, Montessori Schools, National Kidney Foundation, Professional Athletes, Student Loans Receivable Collections, Women in Business Organizations, Ultimate Software, UPS Stores, US Department of Defense, US Department of Homeland Security, and Xerox Dubai.
The Red Shoe Story started when the Gurri family escaped Cuba. Fleeing with little more than the clothes on her back, mother Beba wore impractical red shoes as a quiet defiance to Castro. Shortly after arriving in the USA, a woman walked up to Beba and declared, "Those shoes make you look loose." Beba stiffened in anger, but quickly relaxed and proudly said, "Jes! I can dance!"
Those red shoes transformed the power of conflict with courage, humor, and grace. With a Red Shoe attitude, Dr. Gurri turns the negativity of life into positive thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Professional Membership Highlights:
- CSP Committee, National Speakers Association
- University Dean and Member BOD, Florida Speakers Association
- Member BOD, Florida Psychoanalytic Center and Foundation
- Member BOD, FIU Communication Arts
- Member, American Psychologist Association
- Member, Association of Applied and Therapeutic Humor
OD Consultant, Indiana University
Martie Adler joined Indiana University, Organizational Development as an OD consultant in January 2011. Martie has spent over 35 years in higher education administration and academia, and has focused her professional career in the areas of organizational development, leadership, professional development, and change management. As the owner of her own consulting firm, Martie has also provided consulting services to clients globally for twenty years, and is a certified professional coach.
President & CEO, Professional Development Group II, Inc.
Jason is currently President and CEO of Professional Development Group located in Bloomington, Indiana. Mr. Beard graduated from Indiana University in 1994 with a BS in Marketing from the Kelly Business School. He also graduated with a Minor in Spanish and still enjoys using his Spanish.
Mr. Beard started at PDG in 1996 as the General Manager. He managed all aspects of PDG’s largest annual events including: hotel contract negotiations, web site development, sales, brochure design and production, registration management, on-site logistical support, and event presentations and facilitation. Jason became the Vice President in 2000 and facilitated the development of the association and event management departments of PDG. In 2004, Jason purchased PDG and is currently managing all aspects of event management, staffing, sales, web production, literature production, event logistics, finances, and administration.
Mr. Beard previously worked at the worlds largest held private medical manufacturer Cook Group Incorporated. Jason worked at the Cook Urological Division. Starting in 1992 where he developed Marketing strategic data management systems and pricing structures for this billion dollar company. Later he was promoted to Quality Assurance Manager reporting directly to the president of the division. In this position he managed the production of technical product manufacturing specifications and FDA compliance for the plant.
Professional Development Group was started in 1986 by Jason’s father. Jason attended the first meeting at the age of 13 and assisted in event management over the entire life of the company. PDG currently owns and manages almost 50 annual and monthly meetings all around the United States with over 7,000 attendee registrations."
Bursar & Director of Debt Management/Student Loans, Oklahoma State University
Laurie Beets is currently the Bursar/Director of Student Loans & Debt Management at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater with 23+ years of experience in higher education. She is a CPA and has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership Studies with a higher education emphasis. Laurie is also a Certified Fraud Examiner.
She has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organization (COHEAO). Laurie is a graduate of the SACUBO College of Business Management Institute and is a recipient of the OSU Staff Advisory Distinguished Service Award.
Prior to joining OSU in 1994, Laurie worked in the banking industry and with the Resolution Trust Corporation.
Assistant Director of Accounts Receivable, Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington
After spending two decades in human services as the Executive Director of a not for profit organization that ran two food pantries and paid rent and utilities for its clients, Sheri transitioned to a job in the education world. She is currently the Assistant Director of Accounts Receivable at Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system. The positions that she has held and having owned her own business for close to thirteen years have given Sheri a passion for sharing with others the things that she has learned about leadership and customer service.
Executive Director of University Student Financial Services (Retired)
Judith Flink has served as a senior-level higher education administrator for over 30 years with nationally acclaimed expertise in student financial services operations including bursar/cashier operations; student loan repayment improvements and student retention and government relations. She possesses an unusual blend of strategic thinking and operational savvy with proven experience in creating process improvements that accelerate cash flow and increase student satisfaction and retention. Judith has a keen insight for identifying untapped talent and building high-impact teams that conquer difficult goals. Judith is recognized nationally for the establishment of best practices and for making a positive impact on legislation relevant to all aspects of student financial services.
In her leadership role as Executive Director of University Student Financial Services and Cashier Operations for all three University of Illinois campuses (combined full-time student population of over 70,000), Judith managed a staff of 80 with an annual budget of $5.5 million.
She facilitated and shaped the legislative agenda for the University of Illinois Office of Business and Financial Services, identifying the highest priority changes and proposed means of accomplishing optimum and strategic change. As a part of this role, Judith examined proposed legislation to determine possible effects and intended outcomes for the Office of Business and Student Financial Services and the University of Illinois system. It was a part of Judith’s fiscal DNA to initiate and lead strategic alliances with peer schools and industry experts to promote legislation favorable to students, the higher education community and the University of Illinois system.
Judith established and administered the Illinois College Advising Corps (ICAC), a mentoring program promoting college access for low-income high school students across Illinois. She conceived the concept and implemented the program which raises seed funding for low-income high school students. The Illinois College Advising Corps has expanded and grown by 400% throughout the K-12 system of the State of Illinois since Judith’s inception of the initiative.
Judith served on a number of National Higher Education Committees (NHEC) including serving as the President Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations (COHEAO). Judith was a member of the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) Committee on Veteran Affairs and Committee on Third Party Billing Systems. She has held leadership responsibilities and presented professional papers for the National Council of Higher Education Loan Programs (NCHELP); the Illinois Student Loan Association (ISLA); the Illinois Bursars Organization (IBO); the Big Ten Bursars Association; and the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) where she was a Board Member from 2000-2007.
As a Consulting Director for focusEDU Judith looks forward to offering her expertise and services to the leadership of the higher education community in all aspects of student financial services. Judith also works as a sales consultant with OnPlan U a leader in higher education payment processing.
Judith holds a BS in Business Management from Northeastern Illinois University and has completed coursework toward her graduate degree in Management. She has been selected to participate in several leadership development programs through the Harvard Institute for Management and Leadership. Judith has been married for 34 years and has three grown children.
Western Union Business Solutions
Ben Kavalec is responsible for the Higher Education and Medical Tourism Verticals for Western Union Business Solutions across the United States. Ben has 23 years of experience in foreign exchange and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the areas of payment platform integrations and foreign exchange hedging strategies. Prior to Western Union Business Solutions, Ben held the role of Country Director US where he was responsible for all US sales at Travelex. Ben holds a Business degree from the University of Nebraska Omaha.
David has made his mark in the billing and payment processing industry with his unmatched technical knowledge, transparent and direct approach to customer communication, and innovative software solutions that consistently exceed expectations.
In 1997, David co-founded infiNET Solutions, Inc., which in 2000 became one of the first companies to deliver software-as-a service to the higher education market. David was the CTO of infiNET, responsible for the architecture and management of an automated tuition billing and commerce system for colleges and universities. David sold infiNET to Nelnet in 2006 where he served as president of the higher education division.
David has re-entered the higher education market with his new and innovative platform OnPlanU that is focused on automating and improving receivables management for higher education.
David holds a master’s degree in physics from Miami University. He served as an advisory member to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards Council (PCI-DSS). He also served as a member of the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) Council for Electronic Billing and Payments.
Educational Services Consultant, Mega Returns Consulting, Inc.
Mark Goodman has been working with Colleges, Universities and Collection Professionals providing Higher Education Consulting services from his base in Las Vegas, Nevada since 2009 when he retired as the Associate Bursar for Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At Temple (a school of 36,000 students) he managed the Credit and Collections Department responsible for handling Perkins, Health Professions, and Institutional Loans, as well as the collection of tuition and fees. Mark has helped schools develop and refine procedures and policies and has been a presenter at Conferences throughout the Country. He has also developed and presented webinars and facilitated online and on campus training.
Bursar, University of Northern Colorado
Geri Landwehr is the Bursar at the University of Northern Colorado. She has been in higher education for sixteen years, five years as the State Fund Accountant at the University and the last eleven as the Bursar. Prior to that she worked in the K-12 environment. She has implemented Banner, eBilling, and payment plans at UNC as well as being the first university to waive out of the State of Colorado’s collection system to be able to use outside agencies to collect Perkins and AR accounts.
Assistant Director, Office of Student Accounts, Georgia State University
Darrnell Long is the Assistant Director responsible for Student Loans, Collections, and Outreach within the Office of Student Accounts at Georgia State University. A native of Atlanta, Darrnell is joined GSU in 2014 after a career in the banking sector where he served as Financial Center Operations Manager for Guaranty Bank. His entire career has been in the service industry in one manner or another. While a banker he utilized his knowledge of federal regulations to ensure compliance for his and other financial centers. At Georgia State Darrnell works daily to offer a world class experience for students (and parents) who typically only see the bursar staff when experiencing financial troubles. A soft approach to collections in an already difficult time can mean the difference between a student completing their degree or not. And it is with a soft touch that Darrnell strives to make students and parents comfortable, opening the lines of communication, and seeking to find a resolution that works for both the family and the university.
Darrnell holds a Bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a Masters of Accounting and Financial Management degree from Keller Graduate School. Currently Darrnell is completing his seminary degree, Master of Divinity, at Mercer University in Georgia. He serves as associate pastor at his home church in downtown Atlanta. He and his wife of five years Shaleece just welcomed their first daughter, Serenity, in August. They enjoy sports (Falcons, Braves, Hawks, Atlanta United FC…anything Atlanta) and music as Darrnell also plays the drums at church as well as four other instruments ranging from woodwinds like alto sax to the lower brass like the tuba – smooth jazz is his favorite. An open book and willing to step in and help out whenever and wherever he is needed, Darrnell is a true southern gentleman!
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Carla Perez is the Assistant Director of Student Loans and Collections within University of Student Financial Services and Cashier Operations at the University of Illinois. She is responsible for the operational activities of past due Accounts Receivables and Loan Receivables for all 3 campuses in the UI system. Carla has over 20 years of Higher Education experience of which 16 were spent in the California State System. Since leaving California she has worked for Bates College in Maine, Brown University in Rhode Island and presently the University of Illinois.
Associate Director of Fiscal Operations, UC Hastings College of the Law
Sandra Plenski is the Associate Director of Fiscal Operations at the University of California-Hastings College of the Law. In her role at the college, she is responsible for billing & collection of student tuition and fees accounts, campus apartment rent, Federal Perkins & other Institutional loans, and adherence to Federal Perkins guidelines, as well as the full Accounts Payable cycle and managing staff. Sandra is a native of the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Temple University, majoring in Accounting & Marketing. Sandra has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for over 9 years.