Room of people at a FLVC 2020 conference



Scott Cheney

Scott Cheney

Executive Director, Credential Engine

Scott Cheney is Credential Engine’s first Executive Director where he leads the organization’s efforts to bring transparency to credentials and reveal the marketplace of credentials. Scott has over 25 years of experience in and brings a multi-faceted perspective to, developing the skills of the U.S. workforce to meet the needs of the economy.

Prior to Credential Engine, he served as the Policy Director for Workforce, Economic Development, and Pensions for Senator Patty Murray and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. He led the reauthorization of the country’s central workforce development legislation, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. Scott also led the Senator’s work to reauthorize Perkins, expand registered apprenticeships, provide training for ex-offenders to support successful re-entry, formalize research and evaluation standards at the Department of Labor, enhance services and resources for dislocated workers, modernize unemployment insurance, and better align workforce and economic development in distressed regions around the country. Previous positions with the Senator’s office include serving as a Senior Advisor on the Senate Budget Committee, and as her Staff Director for the HELP Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety.

Before going to Capitol Hill, Scott formed his own consulting firm, working with a number of states, companies, foundations, and think tanks on a host of education, training and employment issues. He also held positions with the National Alliance of Business the American Society for Training and Development, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and worked with foster-care, homeless youth, and adult literacy programs. His first paycheck in this career path came from Dr. Seuss.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Carleton College, and a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University.

Phil Hill Headshot

Phil Hill

Co-Founder, MindWires

Phil is co-founder of MindWires. In this role, Phil is a consultant, advisor and writer specializing in educational technology strategy and organizational change management. He has assisted multiple colleges, universities and systems of higher education in technology-enabled change initiatives, with an emphasis on application of educational technologies for both virtual and physical spaces. Along with the team at MindWires, Phil has helped several statewide systems of colleges and universities to select and implement educational technology solutions, guided many colleges and universities with their own educational technology decisions, led the organizational change management efforts at one of the largest higher education ERP deployments in the past five years, led the strategic planning and organizational design efforts for several educational technology programs, and provided guidance on educational technology markets.

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Eric Kelderman

Senior Reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Eric Kelderman, a senior reporter at The Chronicle of Higher Education, focuses on federal and state policy, the future of public higher education, and accreditation, and he occasionally covers legal issues and music. He makes regular appearances on broadcast media and has spoken at many higher-education conferences on these issues.

Kelderman joined the Chronicle in 2008 from, a project of the Pew Center on the States. He has also covered education and state politics for the Gazette newspapers in Montgomery County, Md. In 2010, he was part of a team of Chronicle reporters that won first prize from the Education Writers Association for a series on philanthropy’s influence on education.

Kelderman holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park; a master’s degree in music theory and composition from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; and a bachelor’s degree in music from Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa.

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Doug Lederman

Editor and Co-Founder, Inside Higher Ed.

Doug Lederman is editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed. With Scott Jaschik, he leads the site's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives with his wife, Kate Scharff, in Bethesda, Md.

Leah Matthews Headshot

Dr. Leah Matthews

Executive Director, Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Leah Matthews currently serves as the Executive Director of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission located in Washington, DC. She has over twenty years of experience in higher education accreditation. Her expertise in higher education policy led to her selection as a non-federal negotiator for the U.S. Department of Education’s 2014 and 2019 Rulemaking Sessions that addressed areas that included distance education state authorization. In addition, Dr. Matthews is currently serving on the Executive Council for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and as a board member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). She is also active in international quality assurance serving as Vice President of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE).

Leah began serving as the DEAC Executive Director on April 1, 2013. She came 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, she served nearly 12 years on the staff of the Accrediting Commission for Career Schools and Colleges. She 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.

Russ Poulin Headshot

Russ Poulin

Executive Director, WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies

Russ Poulin leads WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, which focuses on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET’s members hail from all fifty states and a few from Canada. As WICHE Vice President, he advises on policy and projects for the regional higher education compact. Russ represented the distance education community on federal negotiated rulemaking committees and subcommittees. He has received recognition from the Presidents’ Forum, Excelsior College, and the National University Technology Network for his contributions to policies for technology-enhanced postsecondary education. Russ received a bachelors from the University of Colorado Denver and a masters from the University of Northern Colorado. He is also partial to movies, cats, and his wife, Laurie. Contact him at: or @RussPoulin.

Burck Smith

Burck Smith

CEO and founder of StraighterLine

Burck Smith is the CEO and founder of StraighterLine. Founded in 2009 and based in Baltimore, StraighterLine helps colleges offer innovative pathway programs that improve enrollment and retention by helping their prospects and students reduce the price and risk of pursuing a degree. Ten years before launching StraighterLine, he co-founded SMARTHINKING (now a Pearson company), the largest online tutoring provider for schools and colleges. Burck has written chapters for three books on education policy for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and is a former independent consultant and journalist. Burck also serves on the Boards of several education companies and two K-12 schools in Baltimore. He is a Pahara/Aspen Institute Fellow, and holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. from Williams College.

Terri-Lynn Thayer Headshot

Terri-Lynn Thayer

Vice President, Team Manager in Gartner Research and Advisory

Terri-Lynn Thayer is a Vice President, Team Manager in Gartner Research and Advisory, where Ms. Thayer's research area is higher education technology strategies, including higher education business models, administrative and enterprise systems, student information systems (SIS), research administration systems, customer relationship management (CRM), advancement/fundraising solutions, CIO, and IT management issues in higher education.

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Dr. Belle Wheelan

President, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Dr. Wheelan currently serves as President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity. Her career spans over 40 years and includes the roles of faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and Secretary of Education. In several of those roles she was the first African American and/or woman to serve in those capacities.

Dr. Wheelan received her Bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas (1972) with a double major in Psychology and Sociology; her Master’s from Louisiana State University (1974) in Developmental Educational Psychology; and her Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin (1984) in Educational Administration with a special concentration in community college leadership.

She has received numerous awards and recognition including six honorary degrees; the Distinguished Graduate Award from Trinity University (2002), and from the College of Education at the University of Texas at Austin (1992); Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, DC (2001); the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award (2002); the Suanne Davis Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s Distinguished Lecturer Award (2007); the John E. Roueche National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development’s International Leadership Award (2010); and the AACC Leadership Award (2011); the John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education for outstanding leadership in higher education; the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Terry O’Banion Prize in Education from the League for Innovation in Community Colleges; and in 2017, Central Virginia Community College named her President Emerita.

She holds and has held membership in numerous local, state and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the American College Testing, Inc., Board of Directors; American Association of Community Colleges, Board of Directors; the Lumina Foundation for Education, Board of Directors; the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs; the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, Board of Directors; Excelencia in Education, Board of Directors; National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Community College Honorary Board; Next Generation Learning Challenges, Advisory Panel; Project GOALS (Gaining Online Accessible Learning Through Self-Study); and the National Student Clearinghouse, Board of Directors.

Dr. Wheelan attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity, and being in the right place at the right time. She recognizes that prayer and support from family and friends make anything possible.

Dr. Wheelan is the mother of an adult son named Reginald.