Opening Speaker: Joe Garcia
President, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education
Joe Garcia was appointed president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) in June 2016. He served both as the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado and as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education from 2011-2016. He previously served on the WICHE Commission for nine years, including serving as its chair in 2011. During his time as Lieutenant Governor and as the SHEEO for Colorado, Garcia focused on increasing equity for outcomes for all students, particularly those from low income backgrounds and communities of color. Prior to being elected Lieutenant Governor, Garcia served as president of Colorado State University-Pueblo, which was named an Outstanding Member Institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities during his tenure. He also served as President of Colorado’s second largest community college, Pikes Peak Community College, where he was twice named President of the Year by the State Student Advisory Council. His previous public service positions include serving as a member of the Cabinet of Governor Roy Romer and as a White House appointee under President Bill Clinton at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He also was employed in the private practice of law for 10 years at the law firm of Holme Roberts & Owen where he became the first Hispanic partner in the 100 year history of the firm. Garcia earned his BS in Business at the University of Colorado Boulder and his JD from Harvard Law School.
Director of Financial Assistance
Kathy has been at Bentley since December 2016, but has been in financial aid since 1992 when she started as a counselor at the University of Georgia. Kathy moved back to New England in 1997 to be the Director of Financial Aid at Suffolk University Law School. From there she transitioned over to the financing side of financial aid, working at both Access Group and the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA). At MEFA she learned not just about paying for college, but also about college savings vehicles. She likes to say she has a 360-degree view of college financing. After realizing that she missed working with students, she got back into the college side of financial aid in 2012 and hasn’t looked back.
At Bentley Kathy manages a staff of 14 and a financial aid budget over $75 million. She is also very involved with professional associations. She was the president of the Massachusetts Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA) from 2014-15, has chaired a number of committees, and has served as faculty for the MASFAA Boot Camp. She has also been active on the national level participating on a National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) task force and in the NASFAA’s Advocacy Pipeline.
Kathy has an undergraduate degree from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Brenau University in Gainesville, GA. She has also literally just completed the Ruffalo Noel Levitz Certificate in Enrollment Management through Bay Path University. Kathy lives in Belmont, MA with her husband and son.
Assistant Vice Provost for Student Financial Services
University of San Francisco
Mary Booker began her career in higher education as an admissions counselor at Gustavus Adolphus College in 1995. She moved into financial aid as a verification specialist and continued to work in both admissions and financial aid until 2001. Mary has held various professional positions with progressive advancement in financial aid. Her previous institutions along with Gustavus include Oberlin College, Dartmouth College, and Pomona College where she was director of financial aid for eight years.
As a member of the provost’s senior staff, Mary has a unique blend of both operational and high-level, strategic responsibilities. She balances the day-to-day management of the student financial services office with the demands of confidential university business and work that falls outside the scope of traditional financial aid management. She is responsible for the oversight of both financial aid and student accounts offices which awards over $300 million in funds from all sources to approximately 6,600 undergraduate and 5,500 graduate students. This includes more than $90 million in scholarships and grants for undergraduate and graduate students funded by the University of San Francisco and over $200 million in federal direct loans for graduate and undergraduate students. Federal work study, federal and state grants, and outside grants and scholarships are also awarded to students. A two-term independent segment representative of the California Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (CASFAA), Mary has been instrumental in advocacy work on behalf of California independent schools.
Mary received her undergraduate degree in Organizational Management from Gustavus Adolphus College and her master’s degrees from Minnesota State University, Mankato and Dartmouth College. Her only son is currently a rising senior at the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA majoring in environmental studies. In addition to her professional responsibilities on campus, Mary has been active on several College Board, Consortium on Financing Higher Education (COFHE), and 568 Presidents Group committees.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and Director of Financial Aid
University of Denver
After spending a short time on the plains of North Dakota as a community organizer, John began his higher education career as an admission officer at Colorado College in 1988 and served as the Associate Director of Admissions until 1995 when he became the Associate Director of Financial Aid. He moved to Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut in 2011 and served as the Director of Financial Aid and the Associate Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid until 2015. He is now the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment and the Director of Financial Aid at the University of Denver. John has an undergraduate degree from Colorado College and a master's degree in public administration from the University of Colorado. John served for a total of 12 years on two urban boards of education in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Raising children, choral singing and other musical interests, community activism, and political engagement have all occupied important parts of John’s life outside of the career commitment to greater access and affordability in postsecondary education.
Dean of Financial Aid
University of Southern California
Thomas T. McWhorter has worked at the University of Southern California (USC) since 1985. He began his career in admission and financial aid and served for many years as the Associate Dean of Finance and Administration with responsibilities for budget, human resources, technology, and facilities in the enrollment services division.
Thomas was appointed Executive Director of Financial Aid in November 2010 and Dean of Financial Aid in July 2011. He is responsible for awarding over $1.3 billion in funds from all sources to approximately 19,000 undergraduate and 24,000 graduate students. This includes more than $280 million in scholarships and grants for undergraduate students funded by USC and over $600 million in federal direct loans for graduate and undergraduate students, as well as federal work study, federal and state grants, and outside grants and scholarships.
Thomas has earned two degrees from USC: an undergraduate degree in international relations and German and an MBA. He is active in university governance and professional associations. He served two terms as president of the Staff Assembly at USC, chaired various committees, and served on the board of the Western Association of College and University Business Officers (WACUBO). He also has been active in the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA).
One of his major interests is making the financial aid process easier for families and students to navigate. He is committed to working with students to help make their USC education possible.