Meet the HEIF Faculty

Jess Columbo

Jess Columbo

Founder and Principle Strategist of Portland-based digital marketing shop, Med|Ed Digital

Jess brings more than a decade of experience developing award-winning digital and social programs for clients in regulated industries. Her team's expertise lies at the intersection of creative brand storytelling, business strategy, and digital analytics.

Jess holds a Masters in Digital Journalism and teaches content strategy, web writing, and PR at Portland State University. In her spare time, she manages a Pro Bono Partnership Program, connecting non-profits in need with talented creative and digital professionals.

Michael Gursha

Michael Gursha

CEO, Rookie Road, Inc.

Mike Gursha is an entrepreneur, executive, board member & startup advisor.

Gursha is currently the Chairman & CEO of Rookie Road Inc., a digital media technology company focused on creating unique and engaging educational content. He became CEO in 2016 after serving as a special advisor to the founder. Previously, Gursha was appointed as the inaugural entrepreneur-in-residence at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, one of the nation’s top schools of communications. At Newhouse, he worked with students, faculty & staff on entrepreneurship & innovation, lectured at Newhouse and other schools on Syracuse University's campus and helped administration and senior leadership with new strategic ideas around innovation. He also co-taught a class called New Ventures.

In addition, Gursha has been a founder and early team member at several startups and has extensive experience in technology, media, education, biotechnology, and healthcare. He currently serves on the board of directors of New York On Tech and the dean's advisory council of the Whitman School of Management.

Gursha graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with a dual degree in both the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications & the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.

Andy Shaindlin.jpg

Andy Shaindlin

Vice President, Switchboard

Andy Shaindlin is Vice President at Switchboard, providing strategic guidance and leadership development to partner institutions. Andy has worked in and around education since 1986, when he received his bachelor's degree in International Relations from Brown University. Since 1989 he has focused on alumni communities of all kinds, with a special interest in the role of technology. He has served as an alumni professional at Brown, the University of Michigan, the California Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University. 

For the last several years, Andy has worked as an alumni strategy expert with global philanthropic consultants GG+A. He is the founder and author of the Alumni Futures blog and has presented more than 100 keynotes, professional development workshops, seminars and training sessions in a dozen countries. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Mara Zepeda

Mara Zepeda

Co-founder & CEO, Switchboard

Switchboard was born from Mara's background working in higher education administration, at places like Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania, as well as her experience in alumni leadership as a member of the alumni board at her alma mater, Reed College. Her background as an economic reporter for National Public Radio, where she reported on the impact of student debt on the nation's economy, also informed the need for the solution.

Mara graduated with honors from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism where she focused on digital media, business, and network theory. 

Chelsea Haring

Chelsea Haring

Director of Partnerships, Switchboard

In her role, Chelsea works with institutions to assess their technology, training and professional development goals and develop solutions to meet their needs. She specializes in bringing front facing teams together to create workflows for engaging alumni across the institution to drive alumni career education and recruiting initiatives.

Chelsea brings 14 years of experience in higher education and technology. She spent time at Johns Hopkins University, Wingate University, and Portland State University in career services and alumni career services roles. She has spent the past few years bringing her wealth of experience to ed tech startups. She has partnered with over 150 institutions as a consultant and has spent time at startups like Handshake and Switchboard.