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PFA Team
Leadership Team

 

Kevin Krebs

Founder & Managing Partner

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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.

Kevin Taylor

CTO, Investor & Board Manager

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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.

Dan Farnesi

Executive Vice President

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Dan has more than 30 years experience from owning and operating his own businesses to working in large corporations. Dan’s expertise includes finance, sales management, operations and marketing. His background in finance has provided a great foundation for him to work with PFA teammates to develop tools that help families understand the financial implications of their college options. Additionally, his varied professional experience brings a broad view of issues and opportunities helping develop operational policies and procedures to facilitate PFA growth while delivering on commitments to our families.

 

Dan loves his job and the way PFA is changing lives every day.

Julie Daniels

CPA & Controller

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After attending a PFA workshop in 2012, Julie was intrigued with the convergence of financial planning, academic counseling and career development as key elements for a successful matriculation to the undergraduate collegiate experience.  PFA afforded an ideal opportunity to leverage her business expertise with a passion for helping people realize their dreams of affordable higher education.  Upon joining PFA as Controller in 2013, Julie also became a client.

 

Julie attended Central Michigan University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration (Accounting) and graduating Cum Laude from the University Honors Program in three years.

 

Julie began her career with Deloitte & Touche, providing audit and business advisory services to large, multinational corporations in a variety of industry sectors.  She then transferred to the mergers and acquisitions practice, specializing in corporate tax.  Julie later joined the tax practice of Coopers & Lybrand, specializing in expatriates/inpatriates, estates and trusts and high net-worth individuals. Prior to joining PFA, Julie worked with a smaller accounting firm providing a variety of tax and accounting services to her clients. She brings a wealth of public accounting and professional services experience to her role at PFA.

Janet Heath

Director of Operations & Education Programs

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Janet joined PFA as the company’s first employee and now oversees operations and education programs. She is the mother of three children all currently attending college with a plan for them to be debt free. With a background in customer service and operations, Janet enjoys connecting with students and parents and helping guide families through the college planning maze.

 

Counselors

 

Ann Somers

Counselor

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Ann’s interest in college counseling evolved through her personal involvement as she guided her eldest child through the process. With her experience, PFA’s proprietary tools, assessments and other resources, Ann helps students and their parents develop a college list and determine possible majors based on career interests. With a balance of reach, target and guaranteed schools, students should consider colleges that have the right academic fit, social fit and more importantly, the right financial fit for their family. Ann also assists students through the application process, including the Common Application, school specific applications and the FAFSA.

 

Ann’s focus on her children’s college planning, motivated her to run for the Board of Education for Community High School District 155, serving Crystal Lake and Cary in the Chicago Northwest suburbs, in 2005. She has been re-elected twice since then. Ann went on to complete a two-year program earning the well respected Certificate in College Counseling, with honors, from UCLA. After a practicum at Trinity Oaks Christian Academy in Cary, Illinois, Ann joined Partners For Achievement as a college counselor.

 

Ann graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in interior architecture and design. She worked in contract design for many years until she took time to raise her six children, now all college graduates, scattered from New York to California. She and her husband, Todd, have lived in Trout Valley, Illinois for 37 years. Ann enjoys playing piano, knitting, painting, making wine, gardening and participating in Questers, a national history and preservation organization.

Kendall Hayes

Counselor

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Kendall has enjoyed working with students of varying academic abilities and talents over the years. She has extensive experience working with students pursuing their dreams of admission to highly selective schools. Likewise, Kendall works with students who were initially challenged within the college search process. Ultimately, students have identified and achieved their goals of attaining admission to the colleges of their choosing.

 

Kendall’s journey to becoming a college counselor began in college admissions where she worked for two years as the Assistant Director of Admission for her alma mater, DePauw University. Since then, she has worked for two remarkable high schools, both citing nearly 100 percent of their graduating classes attending four-year institutions. Kendall’s most recent and longest experience as a college counselor has been at Benet Academy where she guided students of all academic abilities and levels of motivation, student athletes, performing artists and their families to navigate the college search and application process.

Georgia Boepple

College & Career Counselor

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Georgia brings her knowledge of the corporate world to PFA college students and parents, helping them navigate their way through the matrix of collegiate academic planning and career launching.

 

Georgia’s background includes communications, advertising, insurance, financial services, in addition to developing her own financial software company. Her interest in working with high school and college students stems back to volunteering in local high schools developing programs in college admissions, scholarships and job shadowing that introduced high school seniors to different industries throughout the Chicago area.

 

Georgia counsels students on college and career planning, helping college and career-bound students with resume development, interview preparation, business etiquette, as well as networking within various industries.

 

After recognizing a trend that college students are not graduating in a timely manner and are failing to find jobs in their career fields, Georgia felt impassioned about helping students with college and career planning.

 

Essay Coaches

 

Jennifer Taylor

Essay and Editorial Director

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A seasoned news reporter, Jennifer’s 13 years of professional journalism experience spans small, mid-size and large daily newspapers. A mother of two teenage children, Jennifer empathizes with PFA college-bound students experiencing anxiety over college application essays. Sit-down, exploratory interviews with students help draw out authentic stories and positions them to craft compelling and polished college application essays.

 

Jennifer is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered education, higher education, business, and local government for news organizations including the Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star and the Daily Herald.

Cameron Gearen

Essay Coach

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After earning an MFA in writing, Cameron taught middle school, high school and college for 15 years. She has taught essay writing to undergraduates at Yale University and Indiana University. She also worked on the team that helped set up Yale’s first new study abroad program in forty years: The PKU program to Beijing. Cameron has two teenaged daughters, a fact which makes her feel quite empathetic to families and students applying to schools. Cameron has also worked as a private tutor and college counselor with middle school and high school students.

 

After leaving teaching, Cameron worked as a full-time freelance writer for corporate clients such as JP Morgan Chase, Kellogg (cereal), Rand McNally and many others. These experiences working with companies to tell their “stories” have helped Cameron further earn her writing chops. Along the way, she has written advertorials, articles for print and web, social media copy, and has ghost written the blog posts of executives, to name just a few. Along with her PFA colleagues, Cameron helps students shape and edit their essays in an effort to beautifully and clearly express the student’s “story.”

 

Cameron has published her poetry, fiction and essays widely. In 2005, US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky chose her poetry chapbook, NIGHT, RELATIVE TO DAY, for publication. Her first full-length book of poems, SOME PERFECT YEAR, was just released by Shearsman Press and is available on Amazon. Cameron is a native of Oak Park and an alum of Oak Park and River Forest High School, Wesleyan University (Connecticut) and Indiana University (graduate program).

Will Wagner

Essay Coach

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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.

 

Staff

 

Kim Anderson

Director of Community Outreach

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Kim joined Partners For Achievement in late 2015 after an extensive search to find the right company to assist her high school age daughters with the college search and application process. PFA demonstrated that they were large enough to have the breadth and depth of knowledge in these areas, but still small enough to care. She liked that the program is structured in such a way that each student receives individualized attention and a unique plan meeting their needs as they work to find the right collegiate experience.

 

As Director of Community Outreach, Kim is excited to share PFA’s message with school districts and businesses throughout the Chicago area through free workshops that educate families about the most important steps to college planning and career success. Kim’s passion for education began as an undergraduate where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, and continued into her 15-year career in the financial services industry where she trained, mentored and managed hundreds of employees in the areas of underwriting, marketing and client services. Kim received her MBA from Northwestern University with an emphasis in marketing and management strategy.

 

Kim is married with three children, the youngest who will be part of the class of 2024. She has been a dedicated volunteer to numerous philanthropic and educational organizations from Hinsdale Junior Women’s Club and Robert Crown Center for Health to chairing numerous committees on the PTO at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. Most recently, she served as PTO president. Kim enjoys tennis, travel, reading and time with her family.

Julia Farnesi

Senior Program Coordinator

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A graduate of Western Illinois University, Julia oversees students through the steps of the PFA program making sure timelines are met. Prior to joining PFA, Julia served as a guerilla-marketing specialist for a major, national restaurant chain overseeing and tracking the development of marketing in locations across the country. She also brings to PFA students an experienced perspective of studying abroad. Julia understands selecting a college is one the biggest life decisions students will make and enjoys ushering them through a smooth process.

Jeannine Palhegyi

Administrative Assistant

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Jeannine is the first person you meet at PFA, greeting our families with a smile. Her extensive background in administrative services includes specialties in client interactions, budget management, and personnel support.

Gail Behun

Program Advisor

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Gail is passionate about empowering & enabling success. In her 20+ year career in sales and leadership, she has worked to create success paths for her clients and her team members. She is an advocate of ongoing training and is herself a lifelong learner. Gail spent the bulk of her career working in experiential marketing for trade shows, meetings and events. Transitioning to PFA, Gail brings that same passion to working with students in negotiating the biggest step in their young lives. Gail is also a PFA parent, with a high school senior in the program and a 7th grader not far behind.

 

Advisors

 

Mark Ward

Investor & Education / Technology Advisor

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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.

Jim Bresingham

Investor & Finance Advisor

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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.

Jimmy Reilly

Investor & Advisor

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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.