Founder & Managing Partner
A first-generation college student and lifelong entrepreneur, Kevin has founded four companies and helped launch a student-athlete mentoring program at his alma mater Northwestern University. A two-sport athlete at Northwestern in football and baseball, Kevin supports higher education by empowering schools and parents with expert college admissions and guidance on paying for college while inspiring students to achieve their potential through goal-oriented mentoring programs.
Mr. Dan Farnesi
Executive Vice President
Dan’s expertise includes over 30 years of professional experience in financial planning, strategy, management, operations and marketing. His background in finance has provided a great foundation for him to work with families to understand the financial implications of their college options. Additionally, his varied professional experience brings a broad view to help facilitate student growth, develop strategies and a plan for success.
Dan loves his job and the way PFA/HelloCollege is changing lives every day.
Terri C. Houston
Terri Houston is a trainer, partner and mentor of students, college administrators, and business professionals around the country. “Ms. H”, as affectionately known by students she has guided and mentored, most recently served as an independent consultant designing customized inclusive leadership training for colleges and universities.
Terri shares Partners For Achievement’s goals of helping students and parents navigate the complicated college planning process. Terri’s unique and extensive experience working with college students and universities provides PFA families with unparalleled insight into higher education. For more than 13 years, Terri served as senior director for recruitment and multicultural affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she partnered with admissions, financial aid and orientation departments overseeing pre-enrollment and retention programs for high school juniors, seniors, college freshmen and their parents.
Additionally, she managed diversity, equity and inclusion efforts for Portland Oregon’s largest behavioral healthcare organization and directed recruitment, student leadership and career development programs at Iowa State University, Ferris State University and Chicago’s Robert Morris University where she began her higher education career. And although a proud Chicago native, she traveled around the world through the internationally renowned Semester at Sea Program.
Terri holds a Bachelors from Loras College and a Masters from Central Michigan University. She is a certified Life Coach, Safe-zone® trainer and professionally accredited through the Central Association of College and University Business Officers. Terri’s commitment around making college accessible and achievable for students and parents is her number one goal.
Allyson has unique experiences working with students of all ages and varying abilities and talents over the years. She has worked in all avenues of the school counseling field and has been on all sides of the desk. Allyson's favorite part of her job is connecting with families and be able to help students realize and achieve their full potential. She has worked with students pursuing a wide variety of colleges and universities and feels that finding the perfect fit for your child is the most important aspect of all. Having been raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Allyson is very in tune with what parents and families are looking for in their student's continuing education.
Allyson's journey to becoming a School Counselor started with a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She then continued on to receive her M.Ed in School Counseling from Cleveland State University. Since moving back from Cleveland, Allyson has been a School Counselor and 504/IEP Coordinator at multiple schools in the area giving her extensive knowledge on student's with different learning needs. She has also previously been a private Executive Function Coach, traveling to student's homes and helping them learn the skills to be successful in high school, college, and beyond.
Allyson lives in Bucktown with her husband and goldendoodle Scarlett. She enjoys traveling, Ohio State Football, spending time with her family, trying new restaurants, and of course creating relationships with her students.
Will, a graduate of Knox College with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing, has nearly three decades of professional experience as both a writer and an editor. He has worked in virtually every facet of publishing, from newspapers and national magazines to websites. In addition, he authored a book about the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Blues, published in 2004 by Taylor Trade.
For Will, being an essay coach for PFA is as gratifying as any of his previous endeavors. Will, the father of a 20-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter, welcomes the opportunity to pass on what he knows about writing to the “next generation.” The finished products from the PFA students—thoughtful, carefully crafted essays—never fail to put a smile on his face.
Jody Paige has been writing as long as she can remember. Creating her own neighborhood newspaper as a child, she turned her passion into her profession. She has spent 18 years in various writing and editing positions from a hometown paper to a major daily. Jody is a mother of tween triplet boys and understands the value of helping each student’s unique qualities and gifts shine through in an essay designed to stand out.
Jody holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago and her experiences span from investigative work to specializing in education and local government coverage as well as content writing and editing for papers including the Kane County Chronicle and Chicago Tribune.
Cheyanne is an avid reader and literary critic with an extensive background in analyzing, assessing and critiquing a wide range of academic-level essays. Cheyanne is a tutor in English, meeting weekly with college students to provide guidance in academic writing. Additionally, Cheyanne grades and provides academic feedback on student essays for college professors.
Crafting a college application essay requires an authentic approach and genuine self-analysis. Cheyanne coaches students to achieve an authentic, compelling essay with introspective questions about a topic sincerely important to the student.
Since he was a child, Chris has known he wanted to teach. Whether it be in his classrooms at the University of Chicago or Roosevelt University or the hundreds of students he’s worked with in his decade of essay coaching, Chris loves helping students find their voice on the page. “It’s an amazing privilege,” he reports, “seeing a student learn who they are as a writer. You’re really watching them discover themselves.”
In his free time, Chris is an avid cook. He particularly enjoys preparing Mexican food, even growing his own chiles for salsas and moles, and every Fourth of July, he throws a pig roast for his friends. An Eagle Scout, Chris also enjoys camping, backpacking, and paddling. He has gone trekking in Glacier, King's Canyon, Yellowstone, and Gates of the Arctic National Parks. When he’s relaxing, Chris loves music and record collecting, and he’s always excited to learn what’s in his students’ earbuds.
Chris received his A.B. in English Language and Literature from Kenyon College and his M.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago.
Sara has worked as a high school English teacher for the past 14 years. She began her career at The Dwight School in New York City, where she guided students in their preparation for the International Baccalaureate diploma. Sara later served as both an English teacher and dorm parent at EF Education New York, an international boarding school, where she taught students from more than 49 different nations—a highlight of her life so far! While at EF, she also helped prepare students with their college application essays. Currently, she works at Fusion Academy in Oak Brook, where she holds the position of English and yoga teacher. Sara is a graduate of The University of Notre Dame and holds an MA in English from the State University of New York at New Paltz. She has been published in The Washingtonian, The Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, and Chronogram.
Jeannine has more than 20 years of customer service and sales experience. She has an extensive background in administrative services including budget management and personnel support. Her organizational skills, attention to detail and pleasant personality ensure each family has a successful start in the PFA program.
Additionally, she volunteers with Hope for the Journey, a company that assists senior citizens with organization, decluttering and staging as they prepare to move to a smaller living environment.
Jeannine lives with her husband and youngest son in Chicago, Illinois. She enjoys time with her family, her three grandchildren and her older son and daughter-in-law.
She loves being a part of the PFA Team and believes that taking care of the families is the number one priority.
Rasha Myers is a former teacher, and program manager. With more than 10 years experience in educational management, Rasha has instructed students through distinct individualized teaching methods, aimed at improving their overall performance. Myers is a dynamic thinker who focuses on identifying individual strengths to apply her findings in the most effective and efficient manner. Rather than apply forced, quick fixes to potential areas of struggle, Rasha opts to build upon areas of skill and excellence through which she guides students and professionals towards logical practices and endeavors.
As a program coordinator for Partners For Achievement, Rasha orients new students and families to PFA, making sure students meet program milestones throughout the college planning process.
Rasha holds a Master of Science (M.Ed.) in Curriculum and Instruction and a Bachelor’s of Science (B.S) in Biology from Tuskegee University. As a Chicago native, she enjoys joining friends and family to try new restaurants, attending musicals, and traveling off the beaten path.
CTO, Investor & Board Manager
Kevin is a coder and entrepreneur who lives in the Chicago area, where he makes things out of words, bytes, scarce resources, and even flour, water, salt and yeast.
As an entrepreneur and investor, Kevin has so far had two successful exits. In 2011, Obtiva was acquired by Groupon and in 2014, MadMimi was acquired by GoDaddy.
As a CEO, Kevin has earned several awards. In 2010, he was nominated for “CEO of the Year” by the Illinois Technology Association. Also, in 2010 and 2011, Obtiva was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the country’s fastest growing private companies, growing 99 percent and 142 percent over a three-year period, respectively.
As an educator, in 2011, Kevin was awarded a Coleman Fellowship by the Kaufman Foundation for innovation in teaching Entrepreneurship.
Kevin has suffered from a lifelong obsession with entrepreneurship and is an angel investor and advisor for early-stage start-ups. He has a current interest in businesses that improve, and even turn on their heads, tired business models, ones that are ripe to receive exponential boosts by properly leveraging technology, operational, and business model innovation.
He also consults with dev shop, design firm, and other tech service business leaders who want their businesses to be amazing. His software development company, Obtiva, demonstrated that there is plenty of room for creativity and innovation in tech services.
He has formally advised, mentored, and consulted for dozens of startup and small to medium-sized business founders and management teams in diverse industries.
He is a co-founder of the Software Craftsmanship North America conference and has organized and presented at numerous technology and entrepreneurship conferences and events.
Investor & Education / Technology Advisor
A technology investor, Mark is the former Chief Operating Officer of Fastweb, the nation’s leading college scholarship search aggregation site, which was acquired by Monster; he stayed on to run the business as its General Manager for five years.
Investor & Finance Advisor
A former CFO for Berkshire Hathaway’s The Pampered Chef, Jim is currently the CFO at THI, (owned by TA Associates) and is currently prepping the company for an IPO in 2016.
Investor & Advisor
Currently CEO of Cavan Capital, Jim has 30 years of investment experience having served as Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager of AllianceBernstein Large Cap Growth Strategies ($25-45B in AUM) and has personally managed over $10B in AUM in LCG for separately managed accounts and hedge fund clients.