Leah K. Matthews, Executive Director (2013 - Present)
Dr. Leah Matthews began serving as the DEAC Executive Director on April 1, 2013. Dr. Matthews comes to DEAC from her previous position as Vice President for Recognition Services at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the national coordinating organization for higher education accrediting organizations. In that role, she managed the CHEA recognition process for 60 accreditors that provide regional, national and programmatic accreditation. Prior to working with CHEA, Dr. Matthews served nearly 12 years on the staff of the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges, of which for seven years she held a senior leadership position. Prior to joining ACCSC, Dr. Matthews worked for five years as a civilian based at the U.S. Army Japan Headquarters in Zama, Japan where she directed family support services and education programs for children and youth and where she directed the Army Family Action Plan advocating for post secondary education opportunities for soldiers and families assigned to the U.S. Army Japan, Headquarters. Dr. Matthews also taught for several years in the Baltimore City Schools system. In her second year of teaching, she was selected to pioneer an innovative curriculum design for reading and math, Success for All, through a partnership with Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Matthews earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Education from Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA; a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and a PhD in Education from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.
Sally R. Welch, Associate Director (1974 - Present)
Ms. Sally R. Welch is the Associate Director of DEAC. Ms. Welch joined the DEAC in 1974 as the Assistant to the Accrediting Program Coordinator. She became Director of Publications in 1976, in 1992 she was appointed Assistant Director, and in 2007 she was named Associate Director. Having worked in the field of distance education for 40 years, she has authored, coauthored, and edited numerous DEAC publications. She has given presentations on distance education before legislative committees, government agencies and other organizations and associations throughout the United States, including DEAC conferences, workshops and seminars. She has served on more than 240 on-site accrediting examinations in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Japan. She received the DEAC’s “Distinguished Recognition Award” in 1984 and 2004, and the “Person of the Year Award” in 2013. Ms. Welch earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland and a Master of Arts from the University of Baltimore.
Nan Bayster Ridgeway, Director of Accreditation (2005 – Present)
Mrs. Nan Ridgeway joined the Distance Education Accrediting Commission as the Director of Accreditation in August of 2005. As Director of Accreditation, Mrs. Ridgeway guides institutions through the process of initial and re-accreditation. She works to assure institutional compliance with the Commission’s published educational and ethical business standards. Mrs. Ridgeway coordinates the work of hundreds of volunteer evaluators who assist the Commission in verifying the standards. Prior to joining the DEAC, Mrs. Ridgeway served as an Accreditation Associate for the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). She earned a Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master of Business Administration from Strayer University.
Robert Chalifoux, Director of Media and Events (2005 – Present)
Mr. Chalifoux joined DEAC in September 2005 as the Information Specialist. He was promoted to Director of Media and Events in August 2006. Mr. Chalifoux received his CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) designation in January 2012 from the Convention Industry Council. Prior to joining DEAC, he worked as an Assistant Editor with PR Newswire in Washington, D.C. Mr. Chalifoux holds a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and a Bachelor of Arts in French from the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.
Lissette D. Hubbard, Manager of Institutional Development and Assessment
(2007 - Present)
Ms. Hubbard joined DEAC in May 2007 and is dedicated to assisting the Director of Accreditation with the day-to-day coordination of accrediting activities and the maintenance of all Commission records. Before joining DEAC, Ms. Hubbard was a Field Director for Informa Research Services and a Researcher for International Quality and Productivity Center in New York City. She holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Bernard Baruch College, CUNY, New York.
Kimberly Cook, Manager of Institutional Review (2014 – Present)
Ms. Kimberly Cook joined the DEAC in May 2014. Ms. Cook is primarily responsible for coordinating and managing the agenda and materials for the Accrediting Commission meetings, including preparing notice to the relevant constituencies and the public of institutions to be considered for accreditation and the resulting accreditation decisions. Ms. Cook is also responsible for the review of institutional submissions and the preparation of documents associated with Accrediting Commission meetings. Ms. Cook has worked in the field of higher education for more than 20 years. Before joining DEAC, she served in the role of Senior Director of Academic Compliance at Delta Career Education Corporation. Ms. Cook has also worked as a Senior Analyst for Compliance and Development at the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) and as a Director of Education for Brown Mackie College. Ms. Cook earned a B.A. and an M.A. in English from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and has studied at the doctoral level at Kent State University.
Brenda Amaya, Accreditation Coordinator (2012 – Present)
Ms. Brenda L. Amaya joined the DEAC as an Accreditation Coordinator in August of 2012. As the Accreditation Assistant, Ms. Amaya works with the Director of Accreditation in guiding institutions through the process of initial and re-accreditation. Prior to joining DEAC, Ms. Amaya worked with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, where she assisted the Patient Services Department by informing and guiding patients battling cancer. She is continuing her involvement with the organization by serving on the Patient Services Committee for the National Capital Area Chapter. Ms. Amaya earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia. During her time at JMU, she studied abroad in Spain and completed a semester in Washington, DC as Congressional Office Intern.
Patrice A. Wall, Accounts Manager (2012 - Present)
Ms. Patrice Wall joined DEAC as the Accounts Manager in October 2012. Prior to joining DEAC, Ms. Wall interned at the United States Embassy in Manila, Philippines for two consecutive summers. In her position at DEAC, Ms. Wall responds to inquiries, requests, and complaints from institutions and the general public. In addition, she is also responsible for handling DEAC’s bookkeeping, invoices, and payments. Ms. Wall earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in International Business with a minor in Business Spanish from James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia and currently is pursuing a Master of Business Administration in Global Business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Elise Scanlon, Legal Counsel (2010 - Present)
Ms. Elise Scanlon is a Principal in the Elise Scanlon Law Group in Washington D.C. Before starting her own firm, Elise was counsel on the Education Team in the Government & Regulatory Affairs Practice Group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. She served as Executive Director of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) that provided accreditation to more than 700 higher education institutions.
Ms. Scanlon interacts routinely with the U.S. Department of Education, key congressional committees, state oversight agencies and regional and national accrediting organizations. She also has experience guiding accrediting agencies through the recognition process of the U.S. Department of Education. In 2007, Ms. Scanlon was appointed by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings to serve on a Negotiated Rulemaking panel charged with revising accreditation regulations. Since then, she has participated, with other higher education professionals, in various national conferences focused on issues including accountability and student achievement. She has written a number of articles on accountability and transparency in higher education and is a frequent speaker on these and other topics related to the changing landscape for higher education and accreditation.
Ms. Scanlon received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude from Dickinson College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Charles (Chip) Baldwin, Chief Financial Officer (2013 – present)
Mr. Baldwin brings over 35 years of senior financial and accounting experience gained from working for firms such as Ernst & Young, Zurich Financial Services, USF&G/St Paul Ins., Response Ins., and NRT/Coldwell Banker.
Mr. Baldwin earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from University of Maryland and Master of Science in Finance from Loyola University of Maryland. Mr. Baldwin is a non-practicing Certified Public Accountant.