Office of Engagement
The Office of Engagement is a collaborative team dedicated to engaging meaningfully with students, alumnae and friends of Stephens. The Office of Engagement is responsible for Stephens College admissions, financial aid, alumnae relations, institutional advancement, and marketing and communications.
Vice President for Engagement
Associate Vice President of Engagement
Director of Undergraduate Residential Admissions
"It takes guts to go after the life you want." I'd add, "and a little bit of luck." I have been lucky to have women role models throughout my life. Some are mentors, others are people I learned from. A powerful turning point in my lifepath was when a colleague shared a job post with me. When I got the new position, she was the first person I told. I asked her why she'd shared the job with me, and she replied, "We women have to stick together, and help each other up." I see that every day at Stephens College. Alumnae are leaders. Our students are leaders. The women looking at Stephens to find their dream college resonate with Stephens because they are already leaders or know they can be. Every day, I am grateful to the women who have inspired me to be a thoughtful parent, to be bold in my professional pursuits, and to carry enthusiasm to my family, friends and hobbies. I have a B.A. in geography with a minor in anthropology from Mizzou and an M.A. in Geography from the University of Kansas because my love for people, maps and travel is the compass for my curiosity.
Alexandria (Alex) Miller, M.B.A.
Senior Director of Financial Aid and Graduate, Online and Transfer Admissions
Alex received her Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a minor in business administration in 2014, and in 2016, graduated with her Master of Business Administration from William Woods University. Since 2013, she has been working in Financial Aid, starting her career as a work-study student. Higher education just feels right and it brings Alex great joy each day to come into the office. Alex has grown a deep passion for helping students navigate the difficulties of the financial aid world to help them pursue their dream degree here at Stephens. Alex loves to travel, spend time with family and friends, and always looks forward to her “dance-mom” experiences with her daughter.
Madison Burke ’17
Madison graduated from Stephens College in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development. She currently is a graduate student at Stephens in the Master of Education in Counseling program. Her entire family is proudly associated with Stephens: both of Madison’s parents attended Stephens and graduated in 1986, and her younger sister recently graduated in 2019. Madison was the Class of 2017 President at Stephens and was involved in several other student organizations. Madison loves that she is able to share her own Stephens experiences with prospective students and show them why attending a women’s college is so great.
Sydney grew up in Libertyville, Illinois, before graduating with a degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri in 2017. In college, Sydney was involved in Greek Life, Residential Life and Mizzou Alternative Breaks. After graduating, she taught fifth grade for a year before returning to higher education. Sydney knew she wanted to work at Stephens because of its strong sense of community and excellent academic programs! When not talking to prospective students, you’ll find Sydney eating pizza at Shakespeare’s, attempting a DIY project, or watching Veronica Mars.
Senior Admissions Counselor
Transfer students, online programs and pipeline partnerships
Xander is a strong proponent of education, and specifically a Stephens College education. He received his bachelor’s degree from Truman State with a double major in English and theatre and a Spanish minor. His first master’s is in creative writing from the University of Southern California. He earned his Master of Education in Counseling from Stephens College in 2016. Xander is also an advocate of traveling as much and as often as you can (he’s been to Guatemala, Spain, South Africa, New Zealand, El Salvador, Ireland, South Korea, and The Gambia among many others) and will happily connect you with the Stephens Study Abroad office. Xander is a veteran of the admissions office, having started in 2008. He loves working with his transfer students and getting to know them personally. He has also stayed active on campus by spending time as the head soccer coach, teaching composition classes, and acting in students’ films and plays. He is proud to be one of the few honorary “Stephens Men."
Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Born and raised in Missouri, Jason spent time at several different institutions of higher education as an athlete before ultimately graduating from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies. He almost immediately took the opportunity to enter higher education as a profession with Columbia College as a financial aid specialist, working five and a half years in various roles with his alma mater. Jason brings a passion for higher education and the role it can play in shaping students personal and professional life as they transition in the years beyond high school. In his spare time, Jason enjoys attending local sporting events; spending time with his wife and son; and assisting his wife, who is an equine veterinarian, on farm calls.
Financial Aid Counselor
Suzanne, a Northeast Missouri native, moved to Columbia to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Missouri. After graduating in 2015, she married her now husband and they decided to call Columbia home. At Stephens, Suzanne works closely with all student populations to ensure they have an understanding of their financial aid, and the funding they need to pursue their education. Being able to help students go after their Stephens dream brings her great joy! In her free time, you can find Suzanne at home with her fur-babies, working on her M.Ed. in Counseling degree at Stephens or spending time with her husband in their garage gym.
Data Systems and Administrative Support
Director of Admissions-CRM Operations and Enrollment Management Analyst
Joe Enright is a Columbia native, but he has lived in five different states. He received both his Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Master in Business Administration from Columbia College. Joe has worked in enrollment management for nearly ten years and believes education is a key component to a full and well-rounded life. His dad and both of his brothers work in higher education, as well. Joe is excited to join the Stephens’ community and he looks forward to sharing the legacy of the second-oldest women’s college in the country with students who are seeking to build a strong foundation for the future. Joe enjoys walking, learning about history, gaming, and spending time with his wife, Amber, and son, Cayden.
Associate Director, Gift Processing, Stewardship and Advancement Systems
Jacob has been with Stephens since 2018. He serves as the associate director of advancement services and assistant secretary for the Stephens College Board of Trustees. He is a 2018 graduate of the University of Missouri, and had worked in the sports and entertainment industries prior to joining Stephens. Away from campus, Jacob is a big soccer (football) fan, and even owns a small share of AFC Wimbledon in the English Football League. He also enjoys playing the saxophone, building computers and gardening. Jacob and his wife live in Columbia with their two cats, Cosmo and Sharky.
Coordinator for Admissions Data Management
Born in Kirksville, Missouri, Chelsee moved to Columbia in 2017 after receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English from Truman State University, and loves being a part of the Stephens College community. Chelsee enjoys watching movies (her favorite being Jurassic Park), following dogs on Instagram, traveling with her boyfriend, and trying out new recipes to cook. Though Chelsee is more behind-the-scenes in the Admissions office, she loves getting the chance to talk with those who stop by!
Marlena Thompson ’18
Engagement Office Coordinator
Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Marlena received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Communication from Stephens College in 2018. During her time at Stephens, Marlena held several leadership positions on campus, including resident director of Wood Hall, Class of 2018 president, and membership chair of Mortar Board. Marlena is excited to be able to share her Stephens experience with students while encouraging and supporting them to create their own.
Philanthropy + Engagement
Director of Philanthropy and Engagement
Jenny serves Stephens College as a director of philanthropy and engagement. She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing. After many years in the pharmaceutical industry as a hospital sales representative, Jenny stayed at home for several years to raise her children as well as volunteer for several organizations. Upon returning to the workforce, she worked at Columbia Public Schools for four years and then for the University of Missouri for six years. Her experiences in sales and education are a perfect fit for Stephens. Jenny enjoys engaging with alumnae and obtaining gifts to advance the mission of Stephens College. When asked, she will say, “This is the best job I’ve ever had.”
Director of Philanthropy and Engagement
Chris Rigby joined Stephens College as a Director of Philanthropy in October 2014 following a 25-year career as a leader in international recruitment and career services. For the past six years he has enjoyed developing relationships with our alumnae supporters and fostering stronger ties with the College.
A native of Newcastle, England, he graduated from the University of Birmingham and had an early career as an officer in the Royal Navy culminating with three years in Oslo, Norway, as Head of Protocol for NATO in Northern Europe. Thereafter he helped build a legal recruiting business.
His work after immigrating to the United States in 1998 centered on leading recruiting programs, often with a multinational dimension — describing himself as a commercial ambassador. More recently he assisted the development of a rapidly growing woman-owned recruiting business in St. Louis. In his spare time Chris is an active member of Rotary and enjoys both travel and sports. He called Columbia his home until his recent move to San Francisco.
Ruth Ann Burke
Director of Philanthropy and Engagement
Executive Director, Okoboji Summer Theatre
Ruth Ann Burke serves as the executive director for the Okoboji Summer Theatre, where she plans to help the Company celebrate 63 seasons in the Iowa Great Lakes region during her 24th season next summer. During the school year, she is a Director of Philanthropy and Engagement, connecting with Stephens College supporters and overseeing marketing and corporate sponsorships for the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Before returning to Columbia in 2007, Burke worked in marketing and public relations in Seattle. She is a proud alumna of Stephens College, where she earned her B.F.A. and M.B.A. She also received an M.A. from Drake University.
Assistant Director of Engagement
Lori was born and raised in Iowa, but has lived in Missouri since 1986. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business education from Northeast Missouri State University (now Truman State) and immediately began her career in the graduate office for her alma mater. She spent seven years in the health care arena, then returned to higher education where she has held several roles since 1994. Lori is passionate about Stephens and engaging with alumnae, students, families and donors. She is an avid reader and enjoys watching sports, fitness, road trips, and spending time with her sons and granddaughters.
Marketing + Communications
Jennifer grew up in nearby Glasgow, Missouri. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Commercial Art with an emphasis in Graphic Design from the University of Central Missouri. Jennifer started her career in higher education and hasn’t looked back. She joined the University of Missouri Press where she was a designer and collaborator in the publication of books. She enjoyed the details involved in composition and typesetting, as well as bringing an author’s vision to fruition in the cover design. As an added bonus, she was able to read many manuscripts while typesetting, combining her love of design with her love of reading. Jennifer joined Stephens in 2012, where she implements the visual needs of the College through print and digital media. She thrives on the energy Stephens creates and loves to see the campus come alive with Stephens women each fall. On her down time, you will find Jennifer spending every second with her family, whether it be sporting events or lazy evenings watching the storm roll in from her back porch.
Ellen was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, and holds a B.A. in creative writing from Valparaiso University. She has served in higher education communications roles since 2011, including alumnae relations at the University of Montana and the School of Art at the University of Tennessee. She volunteers as the nonfiction editor for the Best of the Net anthology by Sundress Publications and participates in writers groups based in Knoxville and Columbia. Her husband, Jeremy, teaches creative writing at Westminster College in nearby Fulton, Missouri.