Our Team

Debbie Schwartz Founder Road2College

Debbie Schwartz

Founder and CEO

Debbie Schwartz founded Road2College in 2016 to educate families about college admissions and empower smarter college financial decisions. She has a background in personal finance, marketing and analysis, including management roles at Chase, Vanguard and Fidelity Investments. She’s also a parent who has put three children through college.

Melissa T. Shultz

Partnership and Premium Marketing

Melissa T. Shultz has extensive writing, editing, and management experience that traverses video, TV, books, magazines, newspapers, and marketing. Her previous titles include acquisitions editor, director of creative services, and manager of video production. She’s a published author; her articles and essays are featured in The NYT, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, AARP, and more.

John Schlander

Managing Editor and
Director of Essay Coaching

John Schlander is a veteran journalist and media consultant. His 40-year career includes various editing and executive roles, including digital general manager of the Tampa Bay Times and managing editor of The Penny Hoarder personal finance brand. He now owns JJS Content Services and serves as managing editor for Road2College.

Becca Blauch

Digital Marketing Manager

Becca Blauch is a digital marketing specialist with experience working with Hubspot, GetResponse, Airtable, Canva, WordPress, and Stripe. She previously worked in financial aid, helping students and their families at Chatham University. 

Ana Pelayo Connery

Ana Pelayo Connery

Content Consultant and Essay Coach

Ana Connery is a content strategist whose work has appeared in USA Today, CNN, Oprah Daily, Reader’s Digest, Women’s Health, Real Simple, and more. Previously, she spent nearly 20 years as Content Director or Editor in Chief at top magazine brands, including Parenting, Cooking Light, Florida Travel and Life, and more. 

Melissa Batai

Marketing Assistant

Melissa Batai has been an online freelance writer and marketing assistant for 14 years. Previously, she taught English at a community college for ten years.

Mindy Trotta

Community Manager

Mindy Trotta has experience in all facets of publishing, copyediting, writing, and social media. She has been a freelance writer covering travel, relocation, family, and food. 

Ellen Whalen

College Counselor and Essay Coach

Ellen Whalen attended Wellesley College, majoring in economics and Spanish. Since 2017, she has guided hundreds of families through the college admissions process. Prior to this, Ellen worked in sales and marketing at Fortune 500 companies and was a professional writer. She has edited over 1000 college essays. Her area of focus is working with students interested in applying to selective colleges.

Kyle Debatte

College Counselor and Essay Coach

Kyle Debatte is a school counselor with experience in college admissions, teen psychology, and conflict management. He has experience working with students applying to a range of colleges from state honors programs to selective colleges.

Jennifer Liepin

College Counselor and Essay Coach

Jennifer Liepin is an admissions coach and lead essay editor to students applying to highly selective colleges. She is also an application reader at the University of Southern California.

Monica Ware

College Counselor and Essay Coach

Monica Ware is a college counselor and an application reader at UC Berkeley. She previously worked at Arizona State University as a career advisor and assistant director. 

Anne Franzblau

College Counselor and Essay Coach

Anne Franzblau is a college counselor with a certificate in college counseling from UCLA Extension. She has a law degree from University of Maryland, where she was part of the Law Review. She has also been a seasonal applications reader for New York University and professional editor. She enjoys guiding students and parents through the college admissions process!

Valerie Zell

Essay Coach

Valerie Zell is a senior writer, editor and proofreader with more than 20 years of experience of content creation in the technology, nonprofit, small business, and hospitality markets. She started her career as a newspaper reporter and taught mass communications in college.

Michael Yessis

Essay Coach

Michael Yessis is an editorial leader with more than 15 years of experience in media. He has proven skills across digital, social and print, and specializes in developing and improving content.

Shannon Croom

Shannon Epps Croom

Essay Coach

Shannon Epps Croom is an editor with 15 years of experience at the Washington Post and other newspapers.


Jenny Rollins

Essay Coach

Jenny Rollins is an editor, writer and content strategist with seven years of media experience. She also has taught editing at Brigham Young University.


Donna Richter

Essay Coach

Donna Richter is an editor and team leader with 28 years of experience at the Tampa Bay/St. Peterburg Times.