Loeb Center Advisory Council

The Loeb Center for Career Exploration and Planning Advisory Council consists of a dynamic group dedicated to expanding the Center’s reach and ability to connect students with experiential opportunities in order to translate their Amherst educations into a future career.

Council members 2023–2026


Daniel Alter serves as Managing Director of Partnerships for Braven, leading the organization’s efforts to engage companies in the strategic use of their people, expertise, and resources, with the goal of supporting the career success of tens of thousands of college students from all backgrounds. In addition to leading these cross-sector partnerships, Daniel is deeply involved in the development and expansion of Braven’s innovative program model. Braven’s mission is to empower first-generation college students, students of color, and those from low-income backgrounds by equipping them with skills, networks, experiences, and confidence to secure strong first jobs and lead lives of impact.

Prior to Braven, Daniel had been a high school teacher for half a decade. At Perspectives Charter School (Chicago) and King’s Academy (Jordan), he taught history, math, and special education. He also coached varsity basketball for both boys and girls and led various leadership programs. He is an alum of City Year and Teach For America. In addition, Daniel has served as a member of the board at Wells Community Academy High School, sitting on the Local School Council.  

Daniel graduated from Amherst College in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Black Studies. He has also received a Master’s in special education from Dominican University.


Catherine Epstein has been Amherst’s dean of the faculty since 2014, and became the college’s first provost and dean of the faculty in 2019. The provost and dean of the faculty is the chief academic officer of the college and has primary responsibility for matters of academic policy and for the academic budget. 

A professor of history at the college since 2000, Epstein is a scholar of German history and the author of four books, including Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Nazi Occupation of Western Poland (Oxford, 2010) and a textbook, Nazi Germany: Confronting the Myths (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015). Provost Epstein has taught a wide range of European history classes, including courses on the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and World War II. 


Chip Garner is a strategic communications and marketing executive who, most recently, was an Executive Vice President at BerlinRosen, leading the Digital Advocacy practice in creating and implementing integrated communications and thought leadership strategies for leading non-profits, foundations, racial justice organizations, and progressive coalitions.

Before BerlinRosen, Chip had senior executive roles at MWW, Ogilvy, and Rubenstein and was the VP of PR at British Airways, overseeing all corporate and creative campaigns, media relations, and crisis communications in the Americas. Chip also co-founded Bizprov, a leadership and communications coaching consultancy.

Chip’s communications background includes digital marketing at Showtime Networks, and the New York Times, news production at ABC News with Peter Jennings and Barbara Walters, and a memorable stint producing infomercials in Florida. 

Chip graduated from Amherst in 1989 with a degree in English, where he was a co-president of the BSU, and earned his MBA in Media and Communications from Fordham University in 2009.


Christopher Gillyard is a seasoned Federal contracting professional with over a decade of technology sales experience within the Department of Defense. Currently Chris is a Senior Account Development manager at NEC National Security Systems promoting biometric and Identity Management solutions. He also performs as a Master of Ceremonies at weddings, mitzvahs, and corporate events with NYX Entertainment and Events. 

Chris graduated from Amherst in 2008, a double-major in Asian Languages & Civilizations and Theater & Dance. He was captain of the football team, a member of the Zumbyes, and the 2008-2009 Amherst Doshisha fellow, teaching about African American Music History during his time in Kyoto, Japan. He has been volunteering for Amherst since shortly after graduation, previously serving as the Amherst Alumni Association President in DC as well as the President of the Amherst Society of Alumni Executive Committee. He now serves as President of the Amherst Society for Black Alumni.

Chris Lives in Washington D.C. with his wife Anne and their two children. 

JEFF GLASS ’90, P’26

Jeffrey Glass is the co-founder and CEO of Hometap Equity Partners, a data-driven, residential real estate platform that is changing home ownership financing by providing homeowners with a financial alternative to debt. A serial entrepreneur, business operator, and investor, Jeff started his first company during his first year at Amherst College, and since then has been the founder and CEO of multiple successful technology-driven companies over the past 3 decades. He’s led businesses through difficult survival moments, as well as through periods of award-winning hyper growth. He has also been an investor in a broad set of businesses during his tenure as a Managing Director at Bain Capital Ventures.

Jeff sees entrepreneurship as the “liberal arts” of business and credits his enthusiasm for starting companies to the critical thinking he learned at Amherst and a desire to help talented and driven people perform at their best. This passion has made its way into the nonprofit world, where he helped create BUILD Boston, an organization that teaches entrepreneurship to at-risk students as a way of motivating them to excel in high school and go on to college.

Jeff majored in Political Science and Economics at Amherst College. His love and appreciation for his time at Amherst has led Jeff to hold a number of alumni roles over time, including Class Agent, Class President, Reunion Chair, Regional Capital Campaign Committee Member, Student Mentor and others. Jeff earned a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he later served as an Entrepreneur in Residence. He and his wife, Amy, live in Brookline, Massachusetts, and have three children.


Brad Goldberg took a serendipitous path that began in Tokyo, leading to global leadership roles spanning technology, consumer internet, finance, sports, fintech, and wine. He is actively engaged as an advisor, collaborating with CEOs and investment firms to identify and build transformative, high-growth businesses. Brad brings diverse experience as an operator, advisor, investor, and public company board director. Brad is an investor and Board Member at CellarTracker, the most trusted global community for anyone passionate about wine. Brad is a Limited Partner Advisor at NYCA, investing in and building early-stage fintech companies. While at PEAK6, he scaled OptionsHouse through a sale to General Atlantic and later founded and built Apex Clearing. He also evaluated and invested in a diverse portfolio, from the Arizona Coyotes to proprietary options trading to women’s fashion. He led multiple businesses at Microsoft through strategic transformation and growth, including Developer Tools, Server Platform, Windows, and Search. Brad started his career at a tech startup in Japan and then worked in strategy and M&A consulting at A.T. Kearney. Brad graduated from Amherst College with a B.A in Economics and later from Harvard Business School, where he was awarded second-year honors. Immediately after Amherst, Brad studied at the Inter-University Center, where he passed the highest level of the Japanese Proficiency Test, certifying fluency in Japanese.

DOUGLAS C. GRISSOM ’89, P’22, P’27

Doug Grissom is a Managing Director on the Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP) Business & Government Software and Services team. Prior to joining MDP, he was with Bain Capital in private equity, McKinsey & Company, and Goldman Sachs. Doug currently serves on the Boards of Directors of BlueCat Networks, CoVant Technologies II and Fleet Complete. In addition, he was formerly on the Boards of Directors of @stake, Aderant, Asurion, Cbeyond, Fieldglass, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, Intelsat, LGS Innovations, Lightspeed Systems, LinQuest Corporation and Neoworld. Outside of MDP, he is a Board Member at Amherst College, the Harvard Business School Fund Council, the Lincoln Park Zoo, METROsquash, the Museum of Science and Industry, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and Churchill Downs.


Robert Kwak is the Chief Operating Officer of Benchmark Arts, an art production firm serving artists, galleries, cultural institutions, and themed entertainment companies. The firm’s clients include the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), the Rose Kennedy Greenway (Boston) and Walt Disney Imagineering. Robert has also taught public art production as visiting lecturer at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Prior to Benchmark Arts Robert founded Muu, a contemporary furniture company committed to sustainable design and domestic production. A finalist for the Industrial Design Society of America’s Design Excellence Awards, the company received media coverage from Dwell, the Los Angeles Times, and California Home + Design among others. He began his career at Sony Music and also worked in fundraising and event production on state and national political campaigns.  

Robert holds a B.A., magna cum laude, (Interdisciplinary/Cultural Studies) from Amherst College and a J.D. from Georgetown University.  In addition to his work at Benchmark Arts, he is a mentor for the New Museum/NEW Inc. cultural incubator and a trustee of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and the Massachusetts Historical Society.


Melissa Lawrence graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Amherst in 1991, receiving the George A. Plimpton Fellowship from the Board of Trustees. While at Amherst, she also received a Forris Jewett Moore Fellowship for work at Yale Law School.

After Amherst, she studied philosophy as the French department’s fellow at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris for one year and then at Cambridge University as Amherst’s Evan Carroll Commager Fellow, where she earned an M.Phil. Melissa then attended Harvard Law School pursuant to Amherst’s John Woodruff Simpson Fellowship. 

After clerking for a federal judge (S.D.N.Y.) and working at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C., Melissa worked as a senior corporate attorney for HBO and then, throwing caution to the wind, turned to the internet video space. She is now the CEO of Cloudmom, an internet video resource for pregnant women and new moms that has over 21 million YouTube views and enjoys a large social media following. Cloudmom has worked with Amazon, MasterCard, United Healthcare, Chicco, Inglesina, and various other brands in the parenting space and had the pleasure of employing a talented Amherst student during the summer of 2020 through the Loeb Center. 

Melissa has appreciated opportunities to volunteer at Amherst as a Class Agent and member of the Annual Fund Committee. She also enjoys tailgating as the Co-President of the Class of ’91. A mom of six, Melissa resides in Barcelona, Spain.



Mike Levy is the Deputy Director of the Office of Compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). Prior to that, he served in several different roles in CDER, including Acting Senior Counsel, Acting Director of the Office of Drug Security, Integrity, and Recalls, and, from 2006 -2011, Director of the Division of New Drugs and Labeling Compliance.  Before joining CDER, he worked since 2000 as an Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement in the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. Mike is participating in his personal capacity, and his views do not represent those of the FDA or the government. Before coming to FDA, he was an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia. Mike graduated cum laude from Duke Law School in 1997 and magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1993.


Charles (Chuck) Ashby Lewis is chairman of the Lewis-Sebring Family Foundation. He was Vice Chairman, Investment Banking, of Merrill Lynch & Co.

Chuck was educated at Amherst College and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He received honorary degrees from Grinnell College and Amherst. He is a Life Trustee of Amherst and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Board of Directors of Chicago Public Media, and a member of the Advisory Board of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University. He is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

Chuck was a Trustee of the University of Chicago.  He helped to create the UChicago Urban Education Institute (UEI) and is a life member of the College Advisory Council. He was a Trustee of the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Chuck was a member of the National Finance Committee for both Obama presidential campaigns. 

He is married to Penny Bender Sebring, PhD, the Co-Founder of the UChicago Consortium on School Research, a principal component of UEI. They have three children and five grandchildren. Chuck and Penny have jointly received awards from the McGaw YMCA; the Second Baptist Church of Evanston; OneGoal; and the Golden Apple Foundation, and they received the key to the City of Evanston. He is a member of the Shaker High School (Latham, N.Y.) Sports Hall of Fame.


Michael Loeb is a serial entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Loeb.nyc.

After starting his career at Time, Inc., Michael co-founded the Synapse Group with partner Jay Walker. Under Michael’s direction, Synapse grew to become the largest seller of consumer magazine subscriptions worldwide, with its revolutionary and patented Continuous Service Model. Michael and Jay went on to form and incubate Priceline.com together at Synapse, leveraging a shared team of operators and capital.

When Synapse Group was sold to Time Warner in 2006, Michael formed Loeb Enterprises with partner Rich Vogel to ideate and develop new business concepts. The largest of those ventures was ScriptRelief, a pharmacy discount provider that has a membership in excess of 12 million Americans.

In 2019, Loeb Enterprises rebranded to Loeb.nyc and now boasts a portfolio of over 18 direct investments, most of which execute from Loeb.nyc headquarters in Manhattan. Under Michael’s visionary leadership, Loeb.nyc has established a new model for startup investments. By pairing exceptional strategic and executional talent with passionate founders, Loeb.nyc significantly de-risks startup launches.

Michael sits on the board of several non-profit organizations and is an avid philanthropist. He currently resides in New York City with his wife and children.


Jason Spero is Vice President, Global Business at Google. He is the Global Business Lead for Search, Display, Shopping, Analytics, and Google Marketing Platforms offerings. Previously, Jason was Global VP of Mobile, where he drove strategy and operations for Google’s Mobile offerings on Search, Display, and YouTube. Jason is passionate about the transformative influence of mobility and connectivity.

Jason joined Google in May 2010 as part of the company’s acquisition of AdMob, where he was Vice President and General Manager of North America, responsible for strategy and operations. In this role, he also led the company’s Sales, Business Development, and Marketing teams. 

Jason has more than 20 years of experience in product, marketing, and general management functions in mobile at Google, AdMob, Digital Chocolate, and Openwave. He was also an Entrepreneur in Residence at Redpoint Ventures.

Jason holds a B.A. from Amherst College and an M.B.A. from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He serves on the Board of Directors of GirlsWhoCode. He is an advisor to Google’s growth equity investment fund CapitalG. Jason lives in San Francisco with his wife and two daughters.


Linda Steele is the Founder and CEO of ArtUp, an idea incubator and business accelerator that breaks down barriers to the creative economy; nurtures ideas that drive social change; and launches artists into creative entrepreneurship. ArtUp initially began as a grantmaking initiative under Steele’s leadership as Chief Engagement Officer at ArtsMemphis. Additional accomplishments during her tenure include creating an arts-based, community development grant portfolio, the Engagement Transforms Communities (ETC ) grants, and launching a Community Engagement Fellowship to build the capacity of Memphis artists and neighborhood leaders in the field. She is the driving force behind the transformation of an abandoned storefront and former liquor store into an art gallery and community flex space called OMG in Orange Mound, Memphis, TN. This work has allowed her opportunities to present on the power of arts, creativity, and innovation to revitalize disinvested communities at conferences and workshops across the country and around the world.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Linda has used her entrepreneurial expertise in the past to help open a first arts-based private pre-school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She has served in leadership positions at Urban Gateways: Center for Arts Education, the Art Institute of Chicago, and Cool Culture, Inc., and has an extensive background in youth development and education. She is a graduate of both Amherst College and Harvard University.

Her work at ArtUp and ArtsMemphis has received numerous honors and awards, including: the inaugural Robert E. Gard Award from Americans for the Arts; 2016 and 2017 Artworks grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; membership in the 2016-17 PlaceLab Salon Sessions in Chicago, Illinois; and 2017-18 membership in New INC in New York City, the first museum-led incubator dedicated to supporting innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship across art, design, and technology. She is a 2020 City of Memphis Housing and Community Development Trailblazer Award winner. Steele is the host of The Artivism Podcast on the OAM Network, where she interviews artists, activists, and creatives who work at the intersection of art and social activism.


Adrianna M. Turner is a senior team manager consultant for Blueprint Talent Group LLC. Following graduation, she served as an Amherst College post-graduate fellow for diversity and inclusion as well as served as interim director for the Multicultural Resource Center (MRC). In 2016, she served on the College’s Presidential Task for Force for Diversity and Inclusion. Adrianna majored in neuroscience with a specialization in culture health and science and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Crystal Valentine, Ph.D., has a career that has spanned industry, academia, and investing.  She is currently a Partner at Cross Creek, a venture capital firm in Salt Lake City where she invests in companies that are using data and machine learning to disrupt large industries.  Prior to joining Cross Creek, Crystal held various executive roles within the technology industry.  Most recently, she was the Chief Data Strategy Officer at Eventbrite (NYSE: EB) where she oversaw all technical and operational aspects of data and analytics. Her role included leading a global team of data scientists, architects, data engineers, and analysts who used data to improve operational efficiencies at Eventbrite and to integrate data-driven insights into the Eventbrite platform.  Prior to Eventbrite, she served as the VP of Technology Strategy at MapR Technologies, a venture-backed big data platform company.

A celebrated technology leader, Crystal was named a Tech Executive Who Matters by HMG Strategy; Data Innovator of the Year by the Women Tech Council; a Person to Watch by Datanami, and won a Silver Stevie awardee for Female Executive of the Year in the computer software category.

Before working in industry, Crystal established a reputation as an accomplished researcher and professor. After completing her B.A. in computer science at Amherst College, she received a Fulbright to study theoretical computer science in Padova, Italy, and then went on to complete her M.A./Ph.D. in computer science at Brown University.  She served as a research assistant at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and then spent two years as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of computer science at Amherst College where she taught courses on big data, databases, and computational biology.  She’s authored several academic publications in the areas of big data, algorithms, computational biology, and high-performance computing.  She also holds a patent for Extreme Virtual Memory.


Nic Zhou is a Managing Director and Partner at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in their Nashville office. He joined BCG out of Amherst in 2010, starting in the Singapore office, and subsequently moved to New York in 2012. In 2022, he moved to Nashville with three other partners to found BCG’s office there. At BCG, he is a core member of the consumer and people, and organization practices. He is an expert on the wine, beer, and spirits industry in the U.S. and globally. He has experience working in a wide array of other consumer-facing industries, including beauty, food and nutrition, luxury goods, travel and tourism, and durable goods, specifically furniture, and outdoor equipment. His work focuses on innovation, strategy, and large scale change. He is a leader in the firm’s Asian Diversity Network and leads recruiting for BCG’s Nashville office. 

Outside of BCG, Nic is a member of multiple Chambers of Commerce across the markets where he serves clients. He is also a member of Gold House, a non profit focused on supporting Asian Advancement in Media and Business. At Amherst, Nic was an AAS Senator, President of the Debate Society, and an avid competitive debater. He majored in Political Science and Psychology. Nic lives in Nashville with his wife, Priyanka.