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. 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. Dr. Matthews also taught for several years in the Baltimore City Schools system.
Dr. Matthews frequently speaks on the topic of accreditation and distance education. She served as a non-federal negotiator for the U.S. Department of Education's 2014 and 2019 Rulemaking Sessions on multiple areas that included distance education and state authorization. Dr. Matthews served on the steering committee and executive council of the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) from 2016-2019, and as vice president of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) board of directors from 2018-2020. She currently serves as a board member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and serves on the SHEEO Digital Learning Advisory Group and the NASAA Advisory Council.
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 Higher Education from George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
Director of Accreditation (2005 - Present)
Ms. Nan Ridgeway joined the Distance Education Accrediting Commission as the Director of Accreditation in August of 2005. As Director of Accreditation, Ms. 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. Ms. Ridgeway coordinates the work of hundreds of volunteer evaluators who assist the Commission in verifying the standards. Prior to joining the DEAC, Ms. 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.
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 Events Industry Council. Prior to joining DEAC, he worked as an 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. Lissette Hubbard joined DEAC in May 2007. In her current role as Manager of Institutional Development and Assessment, she primarily oversees the curriculum review process for DEAC institutions undergoing renewal of accreditation as well as initial applicants. Ms. Hubbard also manages institutions' requests for substantive and non-substantive review associated with degree level and vocational programs. In addition, Ms. Hubbard recruits and mentors volunteer subject specialists who conduct off-site curriculum reviews for DEAC. Ms. Hubbard is responsible for coordinating and managing materials for the Academic Review Committee's quarterly teleconferences including agenda preparation and transmitting specific committee actions to the institutions relating to the review of curriculum. Ms. Hubbard earned her Bachelors of Business Administration from Baruch College, City University of New York.
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.
Accreditation Coordinator (2019 - Present)
Martina Soares-Knize joined DEAC in September 2019. Prior to joining DEAC, she worked as a Maritime Transportation Analyst in the Office of Marine Environmental Response Policy at the United States Coast Guard. Ms. Soares-Knize has also done work as an Accreditation Analyst at the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences (NACCAS). Ms. Soares-Knize attended Pepperdine University, and Texas A&M University at Galveston where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Maritime Studies with a concentration in Environmental Maritime Policy, and minor in Anthropology. Ms. Martina Soares-Knize has also studied at a graduate level at SUNY Maritime College.
Academic Review Specialist (2018 - Present)
Dr. Leslie Urofsky joined DEAC in March 2018. In her role as Academic Review Specialist, she primarily handles the analysis of institutional submission of curriculum and academic units for accreditation review, with a specific focus on the delivery of curriculum and instruction provided via distance education. Dr. Urofsky brings over 20 years of teaching experience and specifically over 10 years of distance education teaching experience in applied ethics at both the undergraduate and graduate collegiate level. Dr. Urofsky's graduate studies in ethics, theology and culture, afforded her the opportunity to study and work in comparative religious ethics as well as in applied ethics areas such as biomedical, advertising, and business. She served DEAC as a Degree Subject Specialist from 2009 to 2018. Dr. Urofsky earned a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton College, Northfield, MN; a Master of Arts and PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia.
Office Administrator (2017 - Present)
Ms. Jessica Lucey joined DEAC in February 2017. As Office Administrator, Ms. Lucey provides technical support and administrative assistance to the DEAC team and oversees operational aspects of the DEAC office. Ms. Lucey also serves as the initial point of contact for accreditation inquires. Her prior experience includes serving as a market research assistant and business development team member. Ms. Lucey is involved with several local theater companies, including the Shakespeare Theater Company, supporting various productions as Stage Manager, Teaching Artist, and Run Crew member. Ms. Lucey received a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University, where she was awarded the David McCord Prize for exceptional talent in drama and/or the fine arts.
Charles (Chip) Baldwin
Chief Financial Officer (2013 - Present)
Mr. Baldwin brings more than 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.
Accounts Specialist (2016 - Present)
Mr. Campbell brings over 30 years of experience in bookkeeping, finance and accounting. His experience covers working with both governmental and non-profit organization as well as public and privately held corporations. Mr. Campbell is primarily responsible for maintaining DEAC's system of accounting for all financial transactions. His various positions in the field over the years include Accounting Manager for the Eurasia Foundation in Washington, DC and at the Golden Queen Mining Company in Mojave, California.
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.