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 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.
Ivan Gomez is the Vice President of Customer Engagement at Higher Digital, LLC. He is an entrepreneur minded sales leader with a keen eye for sales and business development, team leadership and above all, proven results.
With over 20 years of Sales Management and Leadership, Ivan has grown sales team from the ground up in various world class companies, from VC to IPO (small and medium) to Fortune 1,000 companies and Private Equity organizations. He has worked with leading technology companies in Higher Education. In his last venture with Ellucian, Inc., (Private Equity) a company with $800M in revenue, he was instrumental in launching and successfully running their inside sales organization.
He has cultivated top-performing teams with technology companies, growing markets, and penetrating new territories in both the United States and abroad. At Echo360 Inc. (Private) Ivan implemented a winning sales strategy that led to revenue growth. At QlickTech, Inc. (NASDAQ: QLIK) a venture backed company that went IPO, He implemented and grew the inside sales operation team, fueling the sales engine for growth from VC to IPO. Rosetta Stone, Inc. (NASDAQ: RST) Ivan implemented the Commercial Sales Division spread across two offices; At Compuware Inc. (NASDAQ: CPWR) now Private he helped establish their technology sales team.
Ivan brings strategic ability to line up corporate goals with actionable metrics and results. He is able to see and drive the best potential and results from all team members. Using business plans, metrics, analytics and KPI’s to manage business, improve performance and drive revenue. Superior skills working with internal, external stakeholders and partners, teaming up to foster collaborations and drive top revenue.
He is also the founder and president of NextStage, LLC. A consulting and advisory firm focused on implementing and improving Inside Sales organizations performance and results. He is also the chapter President of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) in DC. A chapter that under his leadership, has won Rookie Chapter of the Year and Excellence in Execution. During his time off he dedicates time for family adventures, travel, hiking, running and Church activities. He resides with his family in Loudoun County Virginia. Ivan holds a B.S. Marketing and a Master’s in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.
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.
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.
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?