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 C. Bovier is CEO of HIGHER DIGITAL, LLC., a company that partners with organizations to create, build, and deliver what we believe are the world’s best digital experiences and products. Wayne 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.
Prior to founding HIGHER DIGITAL, Wayne spent over ten years working in global higher education. Most recently, Wayne led the digital transformation for Laureate Education (LAUR) — building and directing the team responsible for software product management, enterprise architecture, user experience, development automation, and agile strategy and transformation for the Global Products and Services division.
Prior to Laureate, Wayne served as Vice President, Product Management for Ellucian, where he provided strategic and executive leadership for Ellucian’s Mobile, Portal, Analytics, Document Management, and Teaching & Learning businesses and solutions — spanning three educational ERPs, with a global footprint covering 40 countries, with over 2,400 institutions and 20 million students, faculty, and staff. 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. Several of his products have received “Product of the Year” and “User Interface” awards from leading industry publications, and LiveWired was honored with a permanent display in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wayne started his career as a product manager for FreeLoader, a push technology start-up founded by Mark Pincus (CEO & Founder of Zynga) and Sunil Paul (CEO & Founder of Sidecar), where he delivered the web’s first interactive screen saver.
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. Wayne spends his free time enjoying life as a husband and a busy father of four.
Colleen E. Baker is the Chief Operating Officer of Higher Digital, LLC, and has spent the last 20 years in the insurance, education, and healthcare industries, focusing on IT, software, and development transformations and deployments. Strategic and innovative, Colleen has deep experience in software, digital transformation, technology operations, and end-user adoption. She is a strategic thinker experienced in delivering value and results by constantly innovating, evolving, and improving how organizations build products. Her hands-on knowledge and countless successes have enabled her to fully understand all the necessary roles and challenges in making world-class software and digital experiences.
Prior to Higher Digital, Colleen led and architected the digital transformation as Executive Director of Laureate’s Global Products and Services Division — a $1.1B division of over 9,000 employees — where she most notably tailored a customized an agile approach to moving a global development organization of +350 developers, testers, architects, product management, and technology executives from waterfall to scaled agile in 6 months. In addition, Colleen served as the head of Laureate’s primary strategic investment of SalesForce to transform the prospect experience for online schools; a multi-year, multi-phased global development with globally distributed cross-functional teams.
Prior to Laureate, Colleen served as the Associate Vice President of IT operations for Ullico Inc., a ~$800M privately held insurance and financial services holding company, where she directed the execution of Insurance systems and programs, and the launch of several new product lines. She managed all mission-critical technology operations including their agile software development transformation and strategic planning for legacy, retirement, and emerging technologies.
Colleen has certifications as a SAFe Program Consultant (SPC), Agile Alliance Scrum Master (SM), and Project Management Professional (PMP). She has a Bachelors 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.
Michelle Wiss has 19 years of experience in educational technology, over half of which has been spent in higher education. She is passionate about creating intuitive, user-centered solutions to support effective teaching, learning, and administration.
For almost 9 years, Michelle focused on new technology offerings at Ellucian, where she provided a liaison between strategy and execution for student, teaching and learning, and integration solutions. Prior to Ellucian, Michelle supported a relaunch of digital outreach to K-12 and higher education professionals at the College Board. At Blackboard, she collaborated with academic publishers to develop content for use by institutions. Michelle also spent her early career in corporate education, working on a best-of-breed corporate learning management system for Plateau Systems, now SAP SuccessFactors.
Michelle is a Certified Scrum Product Owner, and is enthusiastic about creating effective, engaging technology solutions using the Agile methodology. She has an M.Ed. in Instructional Technology from the University of Virginia, and a B.A. in Literature from Drew 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.
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.
In her role as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Academic Officer for Northwood University, Kristin Stehouwer is responsible for student success, strategy development and deployment, and the university’s quality systems and analytics.
She joined Northwood University in 2009 from Macomb Community College where she served concurrently as Executive Director of Research and Planning and Vice Provost for Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining Macomb Community College, she served as Director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center and Special Advisor to the President at Northwestern Michigan College. She also worked on special assignment to the U.S. Department of Commerce at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and worked in the area of global manufacturing competitiveness, which included a national speaking tour.
Dr. Stehouwer earned her doctorate from Northwestern University in Political Science and International Relations. Her graduate studies include International Law at the University of Strasbourg as a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholar. Her scholarly work has focused on political and economic cooperation. She also earned her bachelor and master’s degrees from Northwestern University. Dr. Stehouwer completed postgraduate work at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management.
Dr. Stehouwer has extensive experience in facilitating and deploying strategy in many types of organizations, including in the financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, education and service sectors. She has entrepreneurial experience and business management experience with large and small organizations, including family businesses. Having worked with organizations in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa, Dr. Stehouwer speaks six languages. She has specialized in the areas of strategic management, performance excellence, process improvement and organization/leadership development.
She serves as peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission. Dr. Stehouwer has served as an examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and in 2017, she was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to serve a three-year term on the Judges Panel for the award.
Community service is important to Dr. Stehouwer and she is an active Rotarian. She serves on the board of the Midland Area Chamber of Commerce. Her prior board service includes the Midland Center for the Arts and the Michigan ACE Women’s Leadership Network.
Lou Pugliese is a Senior Innovation Fellow and Managing Director for the Action Lab at EdPlus, a center for innovation at Arizona State University (ASU). His expertise leads ASU’s efforts to understand, advocate for, and enhance the digital learning environment. Lou also serves as an Advisory Board Member for Educate Global Fund, an impact fund investing in social businesses that significantly improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children.
Mr. Pugliese is an entrepreneurial business strategist, with global vision and demonstrated talent for identifying emerging trends and new business opportunities. He has a history of driving the growth and success of some of the best companies in the educational technology industry.
As former CEO of Blackboard and Moodlerooms, and director of strategy at ETS, Lou has more than 25 years of experience developing a wide variety of technology solutions to radically improve teaching and learning outcomes. He also has many years of turnaround experience with major brands, such as Telecommunications Inc., Scholastic Inc., and Turner Broadcasting.
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?