RPA - Key Persons

Amanda O'Donnell - VP

Job Titles:
  • Senior Consultant
  • Vice President
Amanda O'Donnell joined the RPA Inc. team in 2011. Since that time, she has provided comprehensive recruitment efforts, exemplary search facilitation services, and expert counsel to her clients as a Search Manager and Search Consultant. In 2019, she was promoted to Vice President and Senior Consultant in recognition of her great work and limitless abilities. Amanda enjoys establishing and building dependable relationships with clients and candidates by guiding them through a search process that honors collaboration, responsiveness, and integrity. With an eye toward quality and fit, Amanda has recruited robust candidate pools for clients including Howard University, Keystone College, Lock Haven University, and Northern Virginia Community College, among many other fine institutions. Amanda is a graduate of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Political Science.

Anne Huot

Anne Huot's set of skills comes from experience marked by both successes and challenges. Throughout her 30-year career in higher education as a faculty member, senior administrator, provost, and college president, Huot has focused on the development of human capital at every level of the organization through recruitment, retention, and professional development. She brings to that work extensive experience in developing systems and programming that encourage and support student learning and success; depth and breadth in crisis and fiscal management; and a successful track record in advising, coaching, consulting, and facilitating the professional development of people. Built on a track record of impactful leadership, Huot has turned her attention to working with mid- to senior-level leaders and executives in a consulting capacity. That work includes an individualized approach to the challenges and opportunities facing leaders through a combination of advising, coaching, consulting, and facilitation. Huot's experience in strategic planning and implementation position her for short- and long-term engagements that are project based with the goal of supporting the work of leaders in meeting the needs of the organization and students they serve. Areas of expertise include building effective organizational structures, fiscal alignment with priorities and performance management, senior leadership development, strategic directional change and planning, academic and student life integration, and crisis management.

Bob Griesemer

Bob Griesemer joined RPA Inc. bringing decades of experience in secondary and higher education, as well as for-profit and nonprofit management. A native Pennsylvanian, Bob received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Lafayette College. Prior to his career move to academia Bob worked for Scott Paper Company in several engineering and managerial roles. Bob has worked in academia/nonprofits for over 25 years. His first position was as Executive Officer (CFO) of the Laboratory of Nuclear Studies at Cornell University where he managed all non-academic functions of the facility, including operation of a high-energy physics, particle accelerator, supported by the NSF's largest contract. At Dartmouth College he served as Executive Officer for the Arts and Sciences, managing faculty personnel activities and facilities coordination for that cost center. During his last year at Dartmouth he was part of a five-person task force that developed a comprehensive, ten-year facilities plan for the College. Bob spent a collective 10 years in private secondary education as CFO of The Hotchkiss School and the Ross School & Institute, where he played a major role in over a dozen major capital projects that completely changed the appearance of both campuses. Long-range planning and multi-year budgets were initiated at both, schools, during his tenure. He returned to the College environment in June 2001 when he became the Vice President and Treasurer at Lycoming College, retiring in 2007 to join RPA Inc. With broad based management experience, Bob stands ready to bring top expertise to the service of RPA Inc.'s clients.

Brenda Wilson-Hale

Brenda Wilson-Hale brings 30 years of experience in the nonprofit world. Prior to Development and Advancement consulting beginning in 2013, Brenda served as Vice President for Development at Rensselaer Polytechnic University (RPI) in Troy, New York. Brenda also served as Chief Executive Officer of the Washington State University Foundation, where she led a team of 150 staff raising more than $500 million in the first three years of a seven-year, $1 billion campaign. In addition, Brenda served as Senior Director of Development at the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, leading a $125 million component of MSU's $1.4 billion campaign. As Vice President of DePaul University in Chicago, her tenure was marked by more than tripling annual fundraising results. She also has served in leadership roles at the Morehouse School of Medicine, the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, the University Cultural Center Association at Wayne State University, and the Museum of African-American History in Detroit. Brenda is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She has presented at the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) and CASE conferences, and volunteered her skills to nonprofit organizations in Detroit, Lansing, Atlanta, and Chicago. Brenda served on the 2017 conference planning committee for CASE's African American Development Officers Network. "I have always believed that recruiting the right leadership is crucial to motivating the team to its best possible performance. The role of recruiter to help teams deliver the successful outcomes the organizations need is incredibly rewarding."

Dana John Cohick - President

Job Titles:
  • President
Beginning his career at RPA Inc. and then rejoining the firm in a leadership role in 2015, Dana combines direct experience in both executive recruitment and higher education. He has successfully facilitated searches for chancellors, presidents, senior leadership and cabinet officers, as well as many other senior-level administrative positions. His executive recruitment work spans public and private four-year institutions, two-year community and technical colleges, public education systems, as well as nonprofit organizations across the nation and provides Dana with the practical knowledge necessary to better match client needs with candidates' skills, values, and experiences. Prior to 2015, Dana held positions at Occidental College in Los Angeles as a Director of Major Gifts and at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania as a Development Officer. Dana's bi-coastal experience grants him access to a broad, nationwide network of professionals, and his high capacity for meaningful and effective communication, combined with a dedication to building the deepest candidate pools, allows him to lead results-driven searches effectively and efficiently. A graduate of the Schreyer's Honors College at Pennsylvania State University, Dana's combined history as a recruitment specialist, front-line fundraiser, and executive recruitment consultant enables him to align institutional goals with candidates' abilities, delivering a nuanced, experience-driven perspective. Through both executive recruitment and fundraising, Dana has spent his entire professional career advocating for the value of higher education, fostering relationships that result in the successful commitment of time, talent, and treasure to meet the needs of colleges and universities.

Dr. David L. Soltz - President

Job Titles:
  • President
Dr. David L. Soltz President Emeritus, retired in July 2017 after a decade of service as the 18th president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. His career of 43 years was devoted to public higher education; half as a faculty member and half as an administrator. As President of Bloomsburg, Soltz concentrated on fiscal stability and sustainability as well as building academic programs and infrastructure for today's students and those who will follow. The university's strategic plan, Impact 2015: Building on the Past, Leading for the Future, was developed under his leadership and introduced in fall 2010. Under his leadership, the university exceeded the ambitious goal of the first major fundraising campaign: It's Personal: The Campaign for Bloomsburg University. A strong advocate for high-quality, affordable, public education, Soltz appeared before the state legislature in support of adequate funding for BU and the entire Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. He was the presidential liaison on the State System collective bargaining team with the faculty union. He actively engaged in service and leadership in higher education as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and vice-chair of the AASCU Policies and Purposes Committee. He served frequently as the leader of an accreditation site visit team for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Soltz also served for seven years as Chair of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, the largest conference in NCAA Division II. His goals as Bloomsburg's president grew from his broad and deep higher education background as Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Central Washington University, Dean of Natural and Social Sciences at California State University, Los Angeles, and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach. Soltz earned a bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctoral degree in Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Active in the local community and the region, Soltz served on the Geisinger Health System Advisory Council, Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and the Board of Directors of DRIVE, a regional economic development non-governmental organization.

Dr. George F. (Jody) Harpster

Dr. George F. (Jody) Harpster brings 42 years of experience at public universities in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Most recently, he served as the 16th President of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, during which time he concluded a record-setting comprehensive campaign that exceeded its $45 million goal by over 50% for a grand total of $69.1 million, revitalized admissions and enrollment services, and gained approval from the PA State System of Higher Education Board of Governors to offer the System's first Electrical Engineering major. Prior to his appointment as President, Dr. Harpster served Shippensburg as its Executive Vice President, Executive Vice President for External Affairs, and Vice President for Student Affairs. Other significant accomplishments during his time at Shippensburg include overseeing several multimillion dollar construction projects and helping the University secure initial accreditation by ABET for its Computer Science Department. Before serving Shippensburg, Dr. Harpster held several Student Life positions with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and at Charlotte, including the Dean of Students and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UNC Charlotte for eight years. Dr. Harpster has also consulted with business, government, and education on organizational and leadership analysis, development, and training activities. He has been a member of more than a dozen community boards, councils, and committees as well as numerous other professional organizations, including the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Juniata College, his Master of Science degree in Counseling and College Student Personnel Administration from Shippensburg University, and his Ph.D. in Adult and Higher Education with emphasis on organizational development and small group studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Harpster has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses, advised graduate students, and served on doctoral dissertation committees. He has also written on higher education-related topics and presented to professional organizations at the state, regional, and national levels.

Dr. James Barnes

Dr. James Barnes, former President of Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) for 19 years, brings to RPA Inc. an entrepreneurial spirit and the transformational leadership skills that facilitated Indiana Wesleyan University in becoming one of the national leaders in both online and adult education, while at the same time increasing its on-campus enrollment from 1,750 to over 13,000. Jim's achievements at IWU include building an entirely new $250 million debt free campus, conducting two successful, high-goal capital campaigns, launching new and innovative curriculum offerings, and growing the overall institutional budget from $6 million to $130 million annually. In addition, Jim initiated IWU's seven online degree programs which enroll over 2,300 students, launched the University's first doctoral program, and increased adult and professional studies enrollment from 750 to nearly 9,300. An alumnus of Indiana Wesleyan, Jim earned an M.Ed. in History from Kent State University, an Ed.S. from Vanderbilt University, and an Ed.D. from University of Georgia. He taught at Wesleyan Academy in Puerto Rico and Southern Wesleyan University, and previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs at Houghton College, Dean of the College at Indiana Wesleyan, as well as several other positions at IWU. Jim, a minister in The Wesleyan Church, has been committed to educational mission work since he and his wife served as educational missionaries in Puerto Rico after graduation from college. He is a past member of the national board for the Association of Christian Schools International and currently serves on the board of Leadership Development International (LDI), a mission organization based in Beijing, China. LDI's International Schools of China, the country's oldest international school system, integrates academic rigor with moral development, while LDI's Integrity Training and Consulting is the longest established international training and consulting operation in China.

Dr. James Heffernan

Job Titles:
  • Senior Associate at the New York Campus Compact
Dr. James Heffernan is Senior Associate at the New York Campus Compact (NYCC), and its former Executive Director. His career spans over 50 years in higher education as administrator, researcher, faculty member, and consultant. Academic leadership and organizational development, campus/community partnerships, and student affairs are among his areas of expertise. Prior to NYCC, Dr. Heffernan was Vice President for Student Affairs and Educational Services at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, where he also served as Vice President for Institutional Advancement. Previous work experience includes serving as Executive Director of The Washington (D.C.) Center for Learning Alternatives; Visiting Professor at the Institute for Higher Education in New South Wales, Australia; Associate Professor in the Syracuse University Department of Higher and Adult Education; Assistant Director of Institutional Research at Dartmouth College; and Research Assistant at the University of Michigan Center for the Study of Higher Education. In addition, Dr. Heffernan was a member of the AAHE task force for The Search Committee Handbook - A Guide to Recruiting Administrators. Dr. Heffernan earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Higher Education and a Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan; a Master of Arts in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from Columbia University Teachers College; and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Lafayette College.

Dr. Melvyn Schiavelli

Job Titles:
  • Interim President
Dr. Melvyn Schiavelli most recently served as the interim President of Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), which was the second time he served in this role. Previously, Dr. Schiavelli served as the Executive Vice President of NOVA, overseeing Academic & Student Services. Dr. Schiavelli also served as the President of Harrisburg University of Science and Technology in Pennsylvania, an institution he founded 10 years after serving as Professor of Chemistry and Provost at the University of Delaware and, before that, Professor and Provost at the College of William and Mary. He also previously served as the interim President of the College of William and Mary. Besides his extensive higher education leadership experience, Schiavelli brings distinctive capabilities in the area of STEM education. A champion of making a science and technology-focused education accessible to traditionally underserved students, Schiavelli committed Harrisburg University to increasing the number of students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Under his leadership, Harrisburg University was recognized by the Wall Street Journal, US News & World Report and others as being a national leader in applied science and engineering technology education. Schiavelli earned his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Michael Fiorentino

Dr. Michael Fiorentino joined RPA Inc. bringing with him a career in higher education that spans 44 years and culminated in his appointment as President of Lock Haven from 2011 until 2018. During his presidency, Mike oversaw several major projects to advance the University, including the construction of Lock Haven's Science Center and University Commons and the establishment of three colleges to house the University's academic programs. Under his leadership, the University also developed new academic programs and an academic plan that resulted in the implementation of a new general education curriculum and program review process. Prior to his appointment at Lock Haven University, Mike served as Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at Fitchburg State University and held leadership positions at Framingham State University. In addition to his administrative roles, Mike has taught at the secondary school and university levels, and he has served on several American State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) national committees. He also has extensive experience in international education and has worked with International American schools in Central and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Middle East. Dr. Fiorentino earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Administration from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; a Master of Education in Special Education from Boston University; and a Bachelor of Science in Special Education from Fitchburg State University.

Dr. Norman Stewart

Job Titles:
  • Consultant
Dr. Norman Stewart has served as consultant to hundreds of presidents, officers, administrators, and trustees of higher educational, cultural and charitable institutions in the United States, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Prior to his consulting career, he served as President of several independent universities including Rockford University, Post University, Mount Senario College, Regent's University London (United Kingdom), and the Near East School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. He also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs of Mount St. Joseph University and Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs of Maryville University of Saint Louis. He has been Managing Director of the Higher Education Practice at Harvard Group International and the CEO of Brakeley, John Price Jones, Ltd., one of the world's leading firms of fundraising and management consultants. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Sigma Nu, Norman received a B.A. from Wheaton College, an M.A. and Ph.D. from Saint Louis University, a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Bonn (Germany), and an honorary LL.D. from Kobe Jogakuin University (Japan). President Reagan invited him to serve on the White House Advisory Committee on Funding of Higher Education. Norman has been a trustee or director of numerous educational, cultural, and civic institutions in the United States, Great Britain, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kosovo.

Gary Lowe

Gary Lowe was chief advancement officer and senior development officer at three colleges and universities for more than 30 years. He served 15 years at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, 11 years at Tufts University, and most recently, seven years as Dean and Vice President for Advancement at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). During his tenure at MMA, he also served as Executive Director of the MMA Foundation, an independent, 501(c)(3) corporation with a board of trustees devoted to the advancement of the academy. At MMA, Gary convened summits of the chief advancement officers of all the state colleges in the Commonwealth to share best practices, pool resources, and inspire mutually beneficial collaboration. Each of the three schools Gary served saw increased giving during his tenure ranging from four-fold to sixteen-fold. Having run five comprehensive campaigns from concept to successful conclusion, and having had substantial roles in other campaigns raising anywhere from $2 million to $1.2 billion, Gary is a skilled campaign planner, manager, and fundraising consultant as well as a search leader. He offers clients of RPA Inc. special skills and experience in institutional visioning, board development, international fundraising, and gift planning. Gary was the architect of MMA's inclusive Commission for the Future of the Academy. He was also one of three architects of Tufts Institute for Leadership & International Perspective (TILIP) in Beijing, Boston, Hong Kong, and New York City. Gary earned a bachelor's degree from Denison University and a master's degree from Miami University, in addition to graduate work at the Universities of Maine, Guam, and Indiana. He acquired a U.S. Coast Guard 100 Ton Master License. Before entering the field of educational advancement, Gary served in the United States Air Force as a commissioned officer with posts in Maine and Southeast Asia. He also held educational posts in admissions, student life, and the office of the president.

Isaac Karaffa - VP

Job Titles:
  • Senior Consultant
  • Vice President
Since joining RPA Inc. in 2010, Isaac has managed nearly every aspect of the executive search process, from identifying prospective applicants, fielding initial inquiries, and screening candidates to leading campus-wide listening sessions, drafting high-impact job postings, and conducting in-depth candidate interviews and reference checks. Thanks to this broad experience, Isaac provides his clients with a high-level perspective of the search as well as a firm grasp of the finer details, both of which are critical to search success. He has managed more than two-dozen searches on behalf of a diverse array of institutions, from research universities and community colleges to faith-based schools and regional public institutions, and for a variety of positions, including faculty, deans, directors, cabinet members, and presidents. In addition to consulting on searches, Isaac also manages marketing strategy, promotional campaigns, and sales. Prior to joining RPA Inc., Isaac held positions in the non-profit and retail sectors, experiences that cultivated in him a strong sense of mission and a commitment to providing excellent service to clients. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in English, and he sees his work with RPA Inc. as an opportunity to advocate for and advance colleges and universities by helping them to identify and recruit high quality leaders dedicated to student and institutional success.

Jamie Larson

Job Titles:
  • Project Manager, Search Marketing & Communications
Jamie Larson joined the staff at RPA Inc. in 2015. During her time here, she has assisted with virtually every aspect of the RPA Inc. search process and quickly grown into her current role as Project Manager. Jamie's primary responsibilities at RPA Inc. include management of candidate application materials, development of informational materials used by RPA Inc. consultants and client institutions throughout the recruitment and interview process, graphic design, proposal creation, and client website management. Jamie's organization skills, attention to detail, eye for design, and ability to learn and adjust on the fly are integral in meeting our candidates' and clients' needs. She comes to RPA Inc. with a background in marketing and market research stemming from her work with the national advertising agency GWA Inc. as well as customer service experience with Marriott Hotels. Jamie graduated in 2011 from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) in Marketing. Jamie can be contacted at jlarson@rpainc.org

Kendra Mozug

Job Titles:
  • Search Consultant
Kendra Mozug joined the team at RPA Inc. in 2013. Through her work as a Search Manager, Kendra has become an invaluable member of our team. As a Search Consultant since 2018, she works with our clients to deliver tailored search services, recruit exceptional candidates, and provide fulfilling search experiences. Kendra's dedication to candidates and clients goes beyond measure, and she brings a strong relationship component to the search and interview processes. Her commitment to the work of executive recruitment stems from a desire to enhance the impact of higher education through matching the values and qualifications of candidates to the needs and aspirations of the institutions she serves. She has partnered in successful searches for clients including Truman State University, Howard University, and institutions within the State University of New York System. Kendra is a graduate of Lycoming College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Managerial Economics.

Kira Heath

Job Titles:
  • Search Manager
Kira Heath joined the RPA Inc. staff in 2019. In her role as Search Manager, Kira meaningfully engages with prospective applicants and candidates through every aspect of the search process to best serve our clients. Her valued skills include high-quality recruitment and networking, in-depth preliminary telephone interviewing, and thorough reference checking. Being fully invested in the mission of our clients, Kira brings an eye for detail, a can-do attitude, and high emotional intelligence to her work. Kira has successfully worked on numerous senior-level executive searches for cabinet-level positions. Prior to RPA Inc., Kira enjoyed a successful career in the hospitality industry as a Front of House Manager and previously studied at Mansfield University. Kira can be contacted at kheath@rpainc.org

Lois Gateley

Job Titles:
  • Information Specialist
Lois Gateley joined the staff at RPA Inc. in 2010 with a background in data analysis, database maintenance, and product management. Bringing a keen eye for detail, her primary responsibilities include ensuring the accuracy and ongoing maintenance of our network of leaders, experts, and professionals. To meet and exceed our clients' needs, Lois works in consultation with RPA Inc. search consultants for every search, assuring outreach to appropriate potential candidates across the U.S. and abroad, forming the basis for each client's unique and original candidate pool. She also provides updated information on higher education and nonprofit leaders, researching and adding additional records as new leaders emerge. Her thoroughness and dedication create the necessary foundation for every successful search. Lois earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and taught for five years at Ebensburg State School and Hospital. Prior to joining RPA Inc., Lois served Brodart Company as a Product Manager/Senior Data Analyst for 23 years. Lois can be contacted at lgateley@rpainc.org

Richard Allen - Founder

Job Titles:
  • Founder
Richard Allen founded RPA Inc. in 1988, for the express purpose of helping colleges and universities to identify and hire the best possible new team members. Establishing RPA Inc. as a national firm by utilizing proactive recruitment techniques and state-of-the-art technology, Richard designed a search process that is modeled on his own history as a highly successful fundraiser, linking client mission and needs with candidate values, skills, and qualifications to confirm the harmonies of shared purpose and aligned interests. By providing unparalleled levels of information and professional discernment, RPA Inc. offers clients the opportunity to make hiring decisions with maximum confidence, and to achieve outstanding results. Richard graduated from Lafayette College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and completed Harvard University's program in Institutional Educational Management. Prior to founding RPA Inc., Richard enjoyed a successful career in higher education administration, serving as the Vice President for College Relations at Gettysburg and Franklin & Marshall Colleges. In addition, he held senior level positions at Lafayette College and Bucknell University. Richard can be contacted at email@rpainc.org