We believe that to thrive amid accelerating global disruption, successful organizations will need to cope with the speed of change, acknowledge digital trends, and build modern experiences to deliver world-class services and inspire results.
We are a pioneering breed of experienced, hands-on practitioners, who combine sound strategy with innovative delivery processes to guide organizations through the journey of digital transformation and increased competition.
HIGHER DIGITAL partners with companies looking to get out ahead and establish themselves as a digital leading company. We partner with you to create comprehensive, bold digital strategies, identify value, and lead the necessary organizational changes to execute and deliver world-class results.
Wayne Bovier has over 20 years of experience leading global product teams and organizations that consistently deliver strong results — revenue, adoption, and customer experience — across the media, education, internet, and telecommunications industries. Wayne spent over ten years working in global higher education. Most recently, Wayne led the digital transformation for the Laureate Education (LAUR) Global Products and Services division.
Prior to Laureate, Wayne served as Vice President, Product Management for Ellucian, leading their Mobile, Portal, Analytics, Document Management, and Teaching & Learning businesses, which served over 2,400 institutions and 20 million students, faculty, and staff in 40 countries. Wayne also served as the director of international product strategy at Blackboard, the global leader in learning management systems for higher education, K-12, and professional education.
Wayne has held product management roles with Wired in San Francisco, and with four start-up companies on both coasts – receiving “Product of the Year” and “User Interface” awards – and LiveWired was honored with a permanent display in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Wayne holds a B.A. in English from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and an M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a concentration in international business.
Colleen E. Baker has spent the last 20 years transforming IT and software development in the insurance, education, and healthcare industries, optimizing teams and aligning organizations across departments and functions. She is an innovative thinker, creating a new framework (Simplified Enterprise Agile ™); has deep experience in software development, digital transformation, strategic planning, program management, technology operations, and end-user adoption; and fully understands the challenges involved in improving how organizations build products, enabling them to create world-class digital experiences.
Prior to Higher Digital, Colleen served as Executive Director of Laureate’s Global Products and Services Division — a $1.1B division of over 9,000 employees — where she directed and architected their digital transformation. She tailored an agile approach to transitioning over 350 developers, testers, architects, product management, and technology executives from waterfall to scaled agile; created a cohesive institutional readiness and change management plan across 84 campuses; and oversaw Laureate’s strategic investment in SalesForce, transforming the user experience for online schools prospects — a multi-year, multi-phased deployment employing globally distributed cross-functional teams. Before Laureate, Colleen served as the Associate Vice President of IT operations for Ullico Inc. — an ~$800M insurance and financial services holding company — where she directed the execution of insurance systems and programs, launched several new product lines, managed all mission-critical technology operations, and oversaw the first full-enterprise waterfall-to-agile realignment.
Colleen has certifications as a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC), Agile Alliance Scrum Master (SM), ITIL 4.0 Professional, and Project Management Professional (PMP). She has a Bachelor’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Maryland, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Paul Hyland is a digital transformation consultant, specializing in product management, user experience, and software development. Previously, Paul spent over a decade overseeing the web technology infrastructure and software development for Editorial Projects in Education, which publishes Education Week, the leading news source covering K-12 education in the United States. He led a team of software developers responsible for developing content management systems, registration and access control functionality, and integrating subscription fulfillment, advertising, web analytics, social media, and mobile web services. Paul also managed relationships with hosting and other 3rd-party service providers, orchestrated the production of web video streaming of our conferences, and wrote articles and blog posts covering educational technology.
Prior to Education Week, Paul worked as information architect for NASD’s web site redesign/content management system implementation; developed the user registration and alert subscription system, as part of the launch of the first DC Government web portal; built web applications for digital studios Adrenaline Group and Exit1; and spent several years as an online producer for the Education and Music channels at America Online. He has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Yale University, and an M.A. in Science, Technology and Public Policy from the George Washington University.
Amy Shaw has nearly 20 years of experience in design and user experience leadership. 17 of those years have been spent in the higher education field. Amy has extensive experience in strategic planning, research and product design. She has a passion for providing user-centric experiences that embody the needs and wants of end-users through research, testing, inspired design and new technology innovations.
Prior to joining Higher Digital, Amy managed a UX team responsible for the entire digital user-experience of the Ellucian digital ecosystem for 60+ products with 4 large ERPs, 3 CRMs and native Mobile applications. In less than 5 years, Amy grew a team of 9 to over 30 global, multidiscipline members including UX Designers, Analysts and Researchers, to address the demands for user-driven software.
Before joining Ellucian, Amy worked for several strategy and technology companies such as Booz Allen Hamilton, VCampus and General Dynamics designing web-based, animated training modules and websites. She also taught evening courses for design certifications in continuing education at Northern Virginia Community College for over 7 years.
Amy has a BS in Graphic Arts and Imagining Technology from Appalachian State University in North Carolina.
Barry Hill has over 20 years of experience in software design and development. He has led the design, development, and maintenance of web sites and single-sign-on solutions; implemented content management systems, revision control systems, and databases; utilizing mainframes, servers, and cloud hosting technologies; for large and small organizations and a variety of clients. He is adept at learning new technologies; managing, training, and mentoring developers; and leading agile software development projects.
Prior to joining Higher Digital, Barry was a senior systems developer for data visualization provider Qlik, and has worked for such companies as Weidenhammer, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Tyco, and QVC. He is proficient at the full range of Microsoft technologies, a variety of Web development stacks, database technologies, project management and source control systems, and SiteCore content management systems.
Barry has a B.A. in Philosophy from Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.
Emily Kennedy has spent the last four years facilitating strategic communications, in both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) environments. Her skills in event planning and social media marketing have helped Higher Digital improve its market exposure and brand awareness. Before joining Higher Digital, she helped expand the Cape Cod Times Youth Hawker Program and contributed to the marketing efforts of the Yarmouth Dennis RedSox of the Cape Cod Baseball League.
Emily graduated in 2019 from Providence College, earning a B.S. in Marketing. and currently pursues her MBA with a concentration in Data Analytics, also at Providence College. She joins Higher Digital LLC for her second year, while also successfully applying her research skills and ability to work with a variety of data as the graduate assistant on the Providence College Annual Giving Marketing and Communications Team.
Jason Pyle has over 17 years of experience as a software developer/architect, leading both small and large product development organizations, almost entirely in the higher education domain. He has overseen server-side technology efforts involving integration, data modeling, APIs, SDKs, identity management, and more. Additionally, Jason led a joint effort between front-end development and user experience teams that introduced design systems to an organization. He has a wide array of expertise both leading and building on-premise software and implementing SaaS solutions.
Prior to joining Higher Digital, Jason managed a large development organization at Ellucian that focused on building out core technologies supporting the Ellucian Ethos Platform, including Ethos Integration, Ethos Identity, the Ethos Data Model, and Ethos APIs for two very different ERP products. Jason has also spent a great deal of time as a developer and architect leveraging both Java and .NET technologies to build web applications and middleware to support various software platforms.
Jason is a Certified Scrum Master who has led many teams transitioning from waterfall to agile methodologies. He is passionate about solving customers’ problems and incorporating their feedback into the product development lifecycle. He has an M.S. in Software Engineering from George Mason University and a B.A. in Mathematics from McDaniel College.
Kelley Bradder has spent her entire career working for or supporting higher education. She recently wrapped up over 20 years as CIO and VP of Information Technology Services at Simpson College – a key member of the senior executive team that set the mission and vision of the institution and drove its strategic technology initiatives. While at Simpson, Kelley managed multimillion dollar budgets and a large IT staff deployed over three campuses; formed a Learning Environments Committee; successfully navigated federal compliance and HLC accreditation processes; and oversaw multiple deployments of ERP, LMS, and other technology platforms.
Kelley also founded the successful Midwest Ellucian Client Association (MECA); served as President of the Datatel Users Group (DUG); served on Ellucian’s Mobile and Portal Advisory Boards; and was a participant on the EDUCAUSE CIO Panel determining the Top 10 IT Issues of 2016. Prior to Simpson College she served as Director of Information Services for Grand View College, and in software application development and database management at Quodata Corporation (now Jenzabar Software Company).
Kelley earned a B.A. in Business Management and Management Information Systems at the University of Connecticut, and has multiple certifications from Datatel Corporation, and in customer service from the Disney Institute for the Council of Independent Colleges.
Michael Agnew has over 25 years of experience as an international software development executive. He has lived and worked across Europe, and overseen product teams from Australia to California. Michael has a proven business background, running development organizations with over 200 employees, managing budgets and payroll, securing governmental subsidies, and generating revenues. He combines his deep technical ERP and CRM skills with a truly global understanding of higher education.
Most recently, Michael was Vice President International at Ellucian, managing numerous large distributed development groups. These centres focused on international customer requirements, internationalization and localization, and were funded either internally or by securing new product development capital from customer consortia. He has presented at international conferences and seminars, on topics such as The 4th Industrial Revolution at the Education Strategy Forum, and on Higher Education Data Models at Ireland’s HEAnet Conference.
Michael is a Certified SCRUM Product Owner who is passionate about Agile methodologies. He has an MBA from University of Bradford/TIAS NIMBAS and a B.Sc. (Hons) in Computer Science from the University of Strathclyde. Michael speaks English and Dutch fluently.
Jeff Butera has more than 22 years of experience working with technology systems and processes, exclusively in higher education. He has helped several colleges with large-scale enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, and supported the rollout of new technologies including virtualization, application programming interfaces (APIs), and data warehouses. His experience encompasses both on-premise implementations and cloud/SaaS migrations for various enterprise applications. He is passionate about helping colleges find ways to improve, by documenting business processes, streamlining technical procedures, and redefining how staff members work with those procedures.
Prior to joining Higher Digital, Jeff served as Executive Director of Information Technology at Becker College, where he oversaw Help Desk, Servers and Networking Infrastructure, and Enterprise Applications and Web Services. Before Becker, he spent 16 years at Hampshire College, where he managed Applications and Web Services for nearly a decade—he directed the entire software development life cycle for large-scale custom applications that served Hampshire College’s unique academic program. He began his career as a faculty member at High Point University, teaching both Mathematics and Computer Science, while also helping the IT Department implement a new campus-wide ERP.
Jeff has experience working with agile development methodologies, and loves to call upon his roots in education to help customers implement new or improve existing systems and business processes across campus. He has a Ph.D. in Computer and Applied Mathematics from North Carolina State University, and a B.S. in Mathematics from Clemson University.
Alan Hansen has over 30 years of software industry experience leading both engineering and product management teams, with over 20 years of that servicing higher education. He served as director of product management at Western Governors University and was previously director of product management at BYU Pathway Worldwide, where he created an English language learning solution, EnglishConnect. Alan served as the vice president of product management at Ellucian for many years, where he led the Banner product line, an ERP system used by more than 40 percent of the U.S. higher education market.
Alan has a wealth of experience and proven leadership in software and IT. Alan began his career as a software engineer, and then worked his way up to architect, manager, director, and then vice president of software development at WordPerfect, Novell, Inari, and Campus Pipeline. He then switched to product management and has led both product and technical teams to success at Ellucian, Symantec, BYU Pathway Worldwide, WGU, and SecurityMetrics.
Alan is steeped in lean and agile. He is a Certified Scrum Product Owner and is Pragmatic Marketing Certified. Alan holds a B.S. in Electronic Engineering Technology from Brigham Young University and an M.B.A. from the University of Utah. Alan speaks English and Spanish fluently.
Joy Yamasaki has over 10 years of experience in software development. As a full stack developer, she has completed new warehouse packaging processes, order processes, and escalation processes from start to finish, while also maintaining and adding functionality as the only developer on these projects. She is also experienced at working on small teams to complete large-scale projects. She enjoys learning about the businesses she develops for, and she’s excited to learn more at Higher Digital.
Prior to joining Higher Digital, Joy worked at Paychex as a software developer. She’s also worked at Complemar, Home Properties, University Tickets and AOL. She’s worked with Microsoft technologies for the last 6 years.
Joy has a B.S. in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology.
Natasha Weiner has 3 years of experience in software engineering and over 4 years of experience in customer service. Prior to Higher Digital, she was an IT Technician at The University of Maryland Engineering Help Desk. As an IT Technician, Natasha completed computer imaging, hardware maintenance, and software troubleshooting for professors at UMD. Natasha joined the Higher Digital Software Engineer team as a Junior Software Engineer the summer of 2019, working on key features and capabilities and maintaining code/development environments.
Natasha has experience in multiple different coding languages including Java, C#, C++, SQL and Ruby. In her free time, she has explored Cryptocurrencies and creating Smart Contracts.
Natasha is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and minor in Technology Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Henry DeVries has over 44 years of experience in higher education, in positions ranging from graduate teaching assistant to faculty member to Chief Information Officer. Most recently he was as a Management Consultant, Principal at Ellucian, an international higher education software company. His client-facing activities included business process modeling, departmental governance planning, IT organizational assessment, reporting review, data governance, performance metrics, and business analytics reporting. He was also a regular presenter at client user groups and national conferences.
Prior to Ellucian, Henry served as the first Vice President for Information Services/CIO at Calvin University, directing operations of IT, the library, the college archives, and instructional/AV resources; he eventually assumed responsibility for the Administration and Finance Division of the college as its CFO, overseeing all financial services, physical plant, the college architect, human resources, and auxiliary services. Before that, Henry served on the faculty in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, as well as Director of its Extension Electronic Technology Group; and previously spent time as an Assistant Professor of Agriculture at Dordt University.
Henry has served on several EDUCAUSE Expert Panels. and on the Boards of Directors of the Central Association of College and University Business Officers (CACUBO) and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO).
Henry DeVries received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Calvin College with a major in biology and minor in chemistry. He then received a Master of Science degree in Agronomy and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture from Cornell University.
Fran Eckert has spent the last 15 years helping Higher Education institutions solve business problems and realize value in technology investments. She has implemented solutions in areas such as Student Information Systems, Customer Relationship Management, Business Intelligence, and Performance Management, and has a thorough understanding of the Higher Ed marketplace.
Prior to Higher Digital, Fran was a Solution Engineer at Unit4, working on proposals, presentations, webinars, and sales strategy; executing discovery, software configurations, demonstrations, and client workshops; and supporting product management with real-world information to inform future features. Before that, she successfully supported Ellucian’s eCRM and Colleague products as a Senior Solutions Consultant. She also held senior sales engineering roles at Oracle, promoting its PeopleSoft CRM, and at the SAS Institute, championing data and business intelligence products.
Fran has a Bachelor of Science degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and has received extensive training in such areas as Solution Selling, Value Selling, Demo-to-Win, Power Messaging, Executive Presence, Command of the Message/Command of the Demo, and Shark Finesse.
Charles (Chuck) Spence has a career in education spanning 50 years, with 30 of those years as a CEO. He was instrumental in founding and leading a group of higher education CEOs committed to transforming higher education into more responsive institutions. His leadership in marketing, strategic planning, faculty development, and implementation of technology has been recognized nationally.
Dr. Spence has an extensive background in teaching board effectiveness and managing the creation of outcomes for board focus. He also led an international human rights organization for six years following his retirement as chancellor and has been recognized for his leadership in assisting people with disabilities and minority student success. He was a founding board member of Datatel and assisted in the transition to a global company: Ellucian. He is currently an emeritus board member.
Chuck now resides in Lake Arrowhead, California , where he is attempting to improve a golf game and master bike riding in the mountains. He has just become the proud owner of a SuperPedestrian wheel which blends technology and biking in the mountains.
Mojdeh Mehdizadeh is President of Contra Costa College. Ms. Mehdizadeh, who once was student in the community college district and later taught speech classes, has been an administrator at the districtwide level since 1998. She oversees changes to district policies and procedures as they pertain to instruction at the district’s three community colleges as well as to their student services and the work they do helping students transfer to four-year institutions or go straight into a job after graduation.
Ms. Mehdizadeh holds a similar role in the colleges’ information technology, grants management and their data-driven research that tracks matters like student racial diversity and attrition. In addition, she wears multiple hats at the state level, serving on a committee of the Community College League of California and other groups to help shape the directions that community colleges take.
Ms. Mehdizadeh also co-chairs the Contra Costa County Adult Education Consortium, which brings K-12 districts and the Contra Costa Community College District together to come up with ways of providing the adult education courses that they all offer more cost-effectively.
Headquartered in Martinez, the multi-campus college district is one of the largest of its kind in the state of California, serving a region with a population of just over 1 million people. Ms. Mehdizadeh earned a bachelor’s from San Francisco State University and a master’s from California State University, East Bay.
Brian Kraff founded Market Hardware, Inc. and serves as its Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Kraff was the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of eStudentLoan.com, the world’s largest comparison marketplace for student loans, which partnered with national lenders such as Citibank, American Express and Bank of America to serve over one million users. He also served as Division President of the EDU and ScholarAid divisions of Student Advantage. He was also founder of Advanced Network Systems, an IT services business headquartered in Washington, DC and served as its Chief Executive Officer from 1991 to 1995.
Mr. Kraff was also a Partner at Hearthstone Vanguard Group in Washington DC, where he placed and managed venture capital investments in numerous start-up ventures. In addition, he served as the Director of Network Services for the American Bankers Association where he managed the Telecom, Training and Technical Services teams. He was a founder and Chairman of the Board of 13 Colonies Software, Inc. Mr. Kraff serves as Director of Pivotry Corporation. He served as Member of Advisory Committee at Transactis, Inc. He has a Bachelors of Arts degree from Cornell University and a Masters in Business Administration in Finance from Columbia Business School, where he focused on Managing New Ventures and Transactions.
Jonathan Kaplan has served in a variety of leadership positions in higher education, business, and the public sector. In addition to working with Higher Digital, he currently advises private equity firms, education technology companies, and other organizations on market trends, investment opportunities, strategy, digital learning and operations. Jonathan also is a lecturer at Georgetown University in higher education leadership and ethics.
Jonathan previously held a number of senior executive positions over a 16-year career at Laureate Education, the leading global higher education company. Most recently, he served as President & CEO of Walden University and CEO of the Laureate Online division. Earlier in his career, Jonathan served in the White House as special assistant to the President for economic policy under President Bill Clinton, and he practiced law as an associate at Covington & Burling, a leading international law firm.
Jonathan graduated cum laude from Harvard College with a BA in government. He received his J.D. from Boston University School of Law, where he was an editor of the Boston University Law Review. He resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with his family.
President Emeritus, University of Charleston
Dr. Edwin H. Welch is a native of Maryland and earned degrees from Western Maryland College, Boston University School of Theology, and Boston University Graduate School. He studied International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Higher Education Administration at the Harvard Institute for Educational Management. His Ph.D. is in Social Ethics and he is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. Dr. Welch served in the Executive Office of the President at The White House from 1961 until 1971 in the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon.
Dr. Welch began his teaching career at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Prior to coming to Charleston, he served for eight years as the Provost at Wartburg College in Iowa. Dr. Welch has been President of the University of Charleston since 1989. He has led the institution in raising more than $100 million, quadrupling full-time student enrollment, redefining the institution’s mission, transforming its academic program, adding graduate schools in pharmacy, physician’s assistant and business, constructing 9 of the 12 buildings on campus and renovating two others, and acquiring national recognition for UC’s leadership in outcomes-based learning and student assessment. He added athletic venues and oversaw the most successful program in the Mountain East Conference, including a national championship in men’s soccer. He led the creation of a central administrative computing corporation (i.e., ICE) which serves ten colleges and universities in five states and the expansion of the University into Beckley and Martinsburg, West Virginia as well as into online education. Finally, he led the embedding of innovation as a signature for the University through programming and the construction of an Innovation Center.
Dr. Welch has served on many boards, including BB&T Corporate Board of Directors, Chairman of the Quality Committee for the Charleston Area Medical Center Health Systems, Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents, Council of Independent Colleges Board, West Virginia Financial Education Foundation Board and BB&T-West Virginia’s Advisory Board and the CAMC Health, Education and Research Board.
In May 2006, Dr. Welch was given the first-ever Charles L. Foreman Award for Innovation in Private Higher Education by the Foundation for Independent Higher Education. A year later, Dr. Welch was the recipient of the 2007 YMCA Spirit of the Valley Award in recognition of his exemplary community service, and his selfless concern and care for the Charleston community. He has the unique distinction of having a tug boat named for him.
I’m pleased to serve as Chair for the Higher Digital Advisory Board. We want to assist in a meaningful way to ensure Higher Digital reaches its full potential. Having spent a career in higher education spanning over 35 years, and working diligently on boards, commissions, and nonprofits, I’ve been fortunate to meet many visionary leaders. Wayne Bovier is a gifted, energetic, strategic, and honest visionary, whose deep knowledge of higher education will make Higher Digital a leader in transformative education.
Wayne and the rest of the Higher Digital team combine hands-on experience with sound strategy that help guide organizations through the journey of digital transformation and increased competition. I’m excited to help advise Higher Digital through this amazing journey.
We have entered a new period for the educational CIO and the institutions they support, not unlike the decentralized disruption caused by the move from mainframes to PCs over 30 years ago. The power of new digital technologies and services is very exciting. However, they are often easily available to those with just a credit card or purchasing authority. Herein lies the challenge for enterprise IT groups like ours.
As new digital services pop up all over the campus, it is becoming challenging for the IT team to support and integrate these solutions to fully leverage the benefits we can derive from them. Before the complexity gets unmanageable, we thought it wise to review where we are and where we want to be.
The pathway between the two is enabled through a digital strategy. The selection of HIGHER DIGITAL to help us develop our digital strategy has been a great decision for our university. They helped us to identify gaps in our thinking and processes and chart a path forward that will help us to meet our long-run goals and objectives.
Did you know that digital disruption is happening to every company and industry and most are not addressing the impending competitive pressures and financial risks? As technology and innovation continue to accelerate, you can expect revenue and profit pressures to grow. Are you where you want to be strategically and operationally to handle these market forces?
Get in touch and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can. We look forward to hearing from you