Higher Education Innovation Fellowship

What it is

Join us for a six-month fellowship where you will learn from over 15 faculty and professional development coaches from a variety of institutions and organizations. Fellows participate in sessions on creating scalable service culture, user experience design, the future of work, digital engagement strategies, social media best practices, branding yourself as a change agent on campus, innovation project design and delivery, tracking metrics that matter, the emerging needs of Gen Z, and other topics.

The program includes six months of curriculum and three days of innovation workshops in Portland, Oregon.

Who it's for

This program is designed for ambitious emerging innovators in higher education who want to learn best practices to scale innovation at their institutions and advance themselves as a change agent on campus. 

There's no experience level requirement; however, most applicants have at least five years of work experience (in education or elswhere). These fellows are action-oriented, collaborative, outcomes-driven, innovative, and seek to learn from models and case studies across campuses and industries. The program teaches fellows to break down professional development silos that exist in higher education and fellows represent various departments and roles in their institutions, staff, faculty, doctoral students, alumni volunteers, and so on.


Meet the HEIF Fellows


Dana Maze Ehrlich

Alumnae Volunteer, Smith College


Madeleine DelVicario

Program Coordinator, Office of Alumnae Relations, Smith College


Yuliya Dennis

Director of Alumni Career Services, Oregon State University Alumni Association


Julia Lapan

Director of Career Development, Center for Engineering, University of Virginia


Kayla McCulley

Director of Alumni Learning and Career Programs, Pomona College


Rachel Finch

Director of External Relations, Oregon State University Career Center


Brittney Paulk

Fellow and Senior Research Analyst, University Innovation Alliance


Greg Flores

Associate Director of Career Services, Portland State University


Andrew Wright

Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Concordia University


Kassie Infante

Alumni Relations Associate, Central Catholic High School


David DeMarkis

Doctoral Intern, Texas Association of School Administrators


Ellen Roof

Program Director of Young Alumni Giving, University of Notre Dame


How it works

Each cohort consists of up to 18 fellows. Fellowship attendance costs $3,500 plus travel and lodging for onsite visits to Portland. We offer an early bird rate of $2,900 for those who register by January 15. Many fellows schedule alumni visits, engage recruiting partners, or arrange other work in tandem with their onsite trips to secure help with costs.

Applicants interview with Switchboard before enrollment. We are currently accepting applications for our 2019 cohort. Contact Chelsea Haring, our COO, for more information: chelsea@switchboardhq.com.


We are currently enrolling for our 2019 HEIF cohort, to begin in winter or spring of 2019.

Month 1: Virtual training: The future of higher education / Introduction to Design Thinking

Month 2: Virtual training: How do you listen? How do you “do” empathy?

Month 3: 3 Day Intensive Onsite in Portland, OR (May-June)

Month 4: Virtual training

Month 5: Virtual training

Month 6: Virtual training & wrap up

Meet the HEIF Faculty

April Rinne

April Rinne

Founder, April Worldwide


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April Rinne is equal parts global authority, advocate, ally and adventurer. She is an independent advisor focused on the new economy, the future of work, and global citizenship. She works with startups and established companies, local and national governments, policy makers, think tanks, investors, and educational institutions, working across for-profit and non-profit models. Her areas of expertise include business model innovation, policy reform, and sustainable development. She is known for her skill in bridging the private, public and social sectors.

In addition to her advisory portfolio, April is a sought-after keynote speaker and regularly contributes to news and media about the themes highlighted above. She's also an inveterate globetrotter, having traveled to more than 100 countries, worked in more than 50, and lived overseas for ten years (including four years traveling with a backpack, shoestring budget, no permanent address, and the goal of seeing how much of the rest of the world lives—in order to understand first-hand how to develop a career of service and social impact).

April holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.A. in International Business and Finance from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a B.A. summa cum laude from Emory University. She is a Fulbright Scholar and has also studied at Oxford University, the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and the European University Institute.

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Amy Sample Ward



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Amy is dedicated to educating and supporting organizations in using technology to create meaningful community engagement and make lasting change. Whether it is by connecting individuals, organizations, campaigns, or possibilities, Amy hopes to facilitate the nonprofit technology sector transitioning into a movement-based force for positive change.

In addition to serving as NTEN’s CEO, she is a speaker, author, and trainer having worked with groups and spoken at events around the world. In 2013, she co-authored Social Change Anytime Everywhere: How to implement online multichannel strategies to spark advocacy, raise money, and engage your community with Allyson Kapin. She previously co-authored Social by Social, a handbook in using social technologies for social impact, and has contributed to various other publications about social change and technology.

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Iyad Uakoub

Manager, University Recruiting, ThousandEyes


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Iyad works at the nexus of research and practice. He is a Manager of HR & University Recruiting at ThousandEyes, a startup based in San Francisco funded by Sequoia and Google Ventures that provides network intelligence to hundreds of companies including 50 of the Fortune 500.

Before that, Iyad served as a Career Educator and Manager of Branding & Digital Communities at Stanford University where he led large data and technology initiatives. He also led the operations and communications team at Purdue University’s Center for Career Opportunities. Iyad worked as an expert/consultant for the United Nations for five years, and has 14+ years of experience with global organizations. His doctoral research focuses on identity, meaningful work, and social justice in higher education and early stage startups.

 Jess Columbo

Jess Columbo

Founder and Principle Strategist, Med|Ed Digital


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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.

Lowell Reade

UX Researcher


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Jerry Michalski

Founder, REX


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During Jerry's dozen years as a tech-industry trends analyst, he helped shape the dot-com revolution, particularly helping its participants see what we now call social media. He has since worked with the Institute for the Future, the Idea Factory and other organizations focused on innovation and the future, as well as starting his own think-and-do tank around the topic of trust.

His journey to trust started in the mid-90s, when he realized that he didn't like the term "consumer." Over time, he realized that we had "consumerized" every sector of human activity, including education, and that this process had broken trust in many ways. The optimistic insights—and the reasons for his excitement to work with HEIF participants—were that groups around the world are busy rediscovering trust, fixing many of society's problems.

Jerry is a consultant, facilitator, speaker, adviser and writer; he also publishes his Brain online, openly.

 Sheetal Patel

Sheetal Patel

Content and Educational Design Strategist, Stanford Career Management Center

Bio coming soon

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Colleen DelVecchio

Director for Alumnae Engagement, Smith College


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Colleen DelVecchio is the Director for Alumnae Engagement at Smith College, focusing on strategically engaging alumnae with the college through professional development, volunteerism, advancing women’s leadership and connecting with current Smith students.

With over twenty years of experience in organizational change, strategic management, career counseling, women’s leadership, training and staff development, she uses a strengths-based leadership model to guide her work. Her background includes extensive development of curricula for in-person and e-learning experiences around strategic thinking, career choice, board development, volunteer management, public speaking, and developing innovative alumni programming.

Colleen has provided technical assistance to non-profits nationwide on organizational change and start-up program development. She has also taught public speaking at UMass Amherst and volunteer & board management at Bay Path University. Colleen has a BA in psychology from Boston University, a MA in nonprofit management from Bay Path University, and is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach.

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Heather Tranen

Founder, Schtick


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Heather is the founder of career consulting, professional development, and content strategy company, Schtick. She comes with over a decade of experience in higher education, professional development, and content management. Her diverse experience provides her with a deep understanding of what organizations want from employees, the roadblocks that prevent people from achieving their goals, and the strategic steps needed for companies and people to find their value and reach their potential

 Chelsea Haring

Chelsea Haring

COO, Switchboard | Founder, HEIF


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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.

 Mara Zepeda

Mara Zepeda

Co-founder & CEO, Switchboard


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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.

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Julie Neill

Assistant Director of Career Services, University of Maryland Smith School of Business

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Julie is an award-winning career services professional with a diverse background including over 17 years of experience working in higher education, government, and the nonprofit sector in the US and overseas. For the past decade, Julie has worked in the career services field at a wide range of institutions, both public and private including a Big 10 university and one of the world’s leading graduate schools in international affairs. She has a proven track record of developing innovative programs and was previously recognized as a NACE Chevron Award finalist.

A design thinking enthusiast, Julie also designed and taught a MBA elective called "Fearless Impact: Innovative Strategies to Disrupt, Pivot, or Accelerate Your Career."

Julie graduated cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University in New York City and earned a master's degree in international development from the University of London's School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS).


Learn More About HEIF

Download our one pager

Want to learn more about the HEIF curriculum? Looking for something to share with a colleague or your boss to convince them that it's worth investing in? Download our one-page PDF: