Meet the Team

Jennifer Tabbush

Founded Headed For college to help families in need of expert educational consulting, college and graduate school counseling, and academic planning. Ms. Tabbush received a B.A. in Economics/Business from UCLA, graduating Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude. After graduating from UCLA, Jennifer worked as a Financial Analyst for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets Investment Banking Division in New York and Los Angeles. Jennifer earned her MBA from the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management, graduating Summa Cum Laude. Ms. Tabbush worked for Walt Disney Television during business school in International Television Marketing. After graduating, Jennifer joined Nissan North America as a Senior Financial Analyst working in the strategy group. Ms. Tabbush began her admissions career in 1990 as a volunteer student reader of applications to the MBA program at UCLA Anderson. From 1990-2008, Ms. Tabbush worked in graduate admissions for the UCLA Anderson Graduate School of Management where she was Associate Director of MBA Admissions. She read thousands of essays, interviewed hundreds of candidates, and represented UCLA Anderson at events in the U.S. and abroad. Jennifer was also a member of the UCLA Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools admissions read team and read applications for UCLA’s freshman class for three years.

Jennifer earned the Certified Educational Planner designation and holds a certificate in college Counseling from UCLA. She has advised high school and college students in the U.S. and abroad regarding academic planning and successful college search and application strategies since 1994, and has helped hundreds of students on a volunteer basis. She relies on her extensive admissions experience and knowledge of the admissions and academic landscape, as well as her ability to connect with teens, to help students navigate high school and find colleges that are a great fit. Ms. Tabbush loves every minute spent working with students! Jennifer served a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the Independent Educational Consultants Association from 2016-2019, where she also was a member of the Finance Committee from 2013-2019. She is a member of the following professional organizations:

Kimberly Byron

She has worked in college counseling for the past 10 years. She has helped hundreds of students find, and attend, their dream college. She works with all types of students from all types of backgrounds. Kimberly has the added expertise of working with performing arts students. She counsels her students, strategizing on college selection and the audition process. In addition, Kimberly works with students who have learning differences, ensuring that they receive all the support they need when preparing for college.

Kimberly Byron brings a unique and varied skillset to Headed for college. As a 25-year veteran of the corporate world, she has a distinct perspective and global vision for what it takes to be successful in today’s business environment. Working for global and multi-national conglomerates such as Toyota Motor Corporation and Wickes Companies Inc., Kimberly served as Public Relations Manager and Advertising Manager for both companies. She created media campaigns, authored speeches, and oversaw corporate imaging. It was in this capacity that she developed her expertise in both corporate and creative writing. Now, as a seasoned professional writer, she brings her knowledge, guidance, and insights into working with high school students as they find their authentic voice in their college essays.

Kimberly was also a principal partner in her own public relations company, KB Associates, where she represented clients in such diverse industries as entertainment, food services, healthcare, retail, and education. It was in this capacity that she began to nurture her interest in the education field and working with kids. She began assisting with essay writing and ultimately merged into counseling. After personally counseling her two daughters through the college process, she realized her true calling.

Kimberly received her Certification in college Counseling from UCLA. In addition, she is a UCLA volunteer alumni representative at college fairs, educating high school students, and their families, about UCLA. Kimberly is a UCLA graduate with a dual bachelor’s degree in Communications and Sociology. Kimberly is a member of the following professional organizations: 

Chelsea Harder

Throughout her career, Chelsea has been supporting and advising students from a variety of backgrounds. Working with students across the United States and abroad, Chelsea is invested in her students’ success and passionate about her work as a college counselor. After ten years as a Director at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, Chelsea joined the Headed For college team to assist students and families through high school and the college admissions process. Chelsea graduated with a B.A. in Sociology and a minor in Communications from UC San Diego in 2006. Chelsea mentored students throughout her time at UCSD and after three years working in the music industry, she transitioned to a role at UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate to pursue her passion for student affairs. Chelsea worked closely with MBA, law, and undergraduate students to provide career coaching, mentorship opportunities, and academic guidance. After four years in the role, Chelsea pursued an M.Ed in Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs, earning her degree in 2013. Later that year, she became the Executive Director of the UCLA Anderson Applied Management Research Program – a 6-month MBA capstone consulting project – where she recruited companies and non-profits to work with teams of MBA students. She has since worked in education technology at Trilogy Education Services and 2U, Inc.

Chelsea brings not only her expertise in college counseling but also her passion for education and working with teens to Headed For college. Chelsea earned a Certificate of General Management from the UCLA Anderson Executive Education Program and has taken classes in the college Counseling Certificate Program at UCLA.

Marissa Matthew Leitner

Marissa Leitner is passionate about helping students reach their academic potential. As a college consultant and licensed educational psychologist, she helps students and their families navigate high school, and find and apply to colleges that are the best fit for her student’s unique goals. Marissa enjoys helping students appreciate their accomplishments and supporting them through what can otherwise feel like a daunting process. Marissa has worked as a school psychologist for seven years, both at public and private schools. More recently she has served as the Director of Student Support Services at a private school in Los Angeles. Marissa is an effective communicator who brings enthusiasm and compassion to her work with families. As an Alumni Scholar, Marissa serves as a Cal Alumni Association essay reader and evaluator for scholarships awarded to UC Berkeley undergraduate students. She has extensive experience supporting students with learning differences and provides testing to evaluate and assess each student’s unique learning styles, using psychoeducational assessment tools such as the WISC, Woodcock Johnson, BRIEF, Conners, BASC, etc. She advises families regarding Individualized Education Programs and 504 Plans and serves as an advisor and advocate for families pursuing accommodations both in schools and in standardized testing.

Marissa earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, a Master’s Degree in School Counseling from California State University, Northridge, and an Independent Educational Consultant Certificate from the University of California, Irvine. In addition, she reads and scores essays for the UC Berkeley Alumni Scholarship program

Marissa and her husband Andy live in Los Angeles with their three children. She is a member of the following professional organizations:

Lisa Liss

Lisa Liss is dedicated to helping students find colleges with the best fit – academic, social, and financial – so families can be confident in their success. Lisa works closely with each student to understand their personal, educational, and professional goals. She believes that reaching those goals begins by taking full advantage of the high school academic and extracurricular experience.

Lisa earned her BA in Economics at Occidental college in Los Angeles and her MBA in Finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she worked in admissions as an application reader. She worked for many years in Financial Services, conducting analysis, managing development and marketing for retirement products, and supporting product sales and service teams. When she had more children than arms, she pivoted to focus on education and family. Lisa served as PTA President and Executive Board Member of the Booster Club at her local public school before returning to business, managing a multi-location health clinic serving families of school-aged children.

After enjoying the experience of guiding her own three sons and several of their friends to college, Lisa committed herself to helping young people through the college journey. She is completing the UCLA college Counseling Certificate Program and has advised high school students and nontraditional students returning to college or starting for the first time. Lisa volunteers as a college advisor for high-achieving, low-income high school students.

Parents often find the college journey daunting. Lisa knows the path and enjoys helping students find the right fit in colleges, express themselves authentically and competitively on applications, and manage competing timelines and priorities to reduce anxiety. She works with students on interview skills and with families on maximizing financial aid. She will help families evaluate offers and make the transition to college. While applying to college is a student’s job, Lisa is there to guide, encourage, give a push when needed, and celebrate at the end of it all!

Allison Kelly

Since her sophomore year of college, Allison has been interested in the education system in the United States. Her interest and undergraduate studies in education developed into a passion for working with and helping students get into and find success in college. Allison graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in History and went on to earn her single subject teaching credential in mathematics and Master’s of Education from UCLA. She worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a secondary math teacher for 14 years.

During her time with the district, she served in school site leadership roles as a department chairperson, senior class faculty sponsor, and instructional coach. As an instructional coach, she supported the implementation of curriculum and instructional strategies and designed professional development for teachers.

She is a member of the National Board Certified teachers, having earned her certification in Adult/Young Adolescence Mathematics in 2013. Allison brings her wealth of knowledge and experience working with high school students and her desire to help them succeed to Headed For college. She is currently taking classes in the college Counseling Certificate Program at UCLA.

Jennifer Hannon

Jenny loves supporting students and families to help them with their college journey. She enjoys working with high school students, helping them define their interests and embrace their passion as they embark on their next adventure. Jenny is a skilled communicator and trainer, with a background in marketing and communications. This allows for a unique understanding of the application process: helping students learn how to market themselves to colleges. Jenny understands that the path to college is unique for each student. Whether the focus is on exploring interests, developing activities, building college lists, planning college tours, or working on essays, she supports families throughout the process.

Jenny holds her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and her MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. She is on the faculty at UCLA Extension, where she also earned her Certificate in college Counseling. As an alumni volunteer for the University of Pennsylvania for many years, she has interviewed numerous applicants. Jennifer also volunteers as a college advisor helping first generation students apply to college. She has twins currently attending MiT and Boston college.

Jackie Zakowski

Jackie graduated from UC Santa Barbara Cum Lude from the college of Letters and Science Honors program with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. While at UCSB, Jackie worked at the Career Center as a career coach where she enjoyed helping students choose a major, search for internships, create resumes and write cover letters, apply for jobs, network with recruiters, and prepare for interviews. She earned her MBA from USC’s Marshall School of Business studying marketing and entrepreneurship.

Jackie spent 15 years in biopharmaceutical companies including Johnson & Johnson and start-ups. Throughout her career, Jackie has had extensive experience helping with recruitment, interviewing, hiring, and training. She now uses this expertise to support her students throughout high school and with all aspects of the college application process.

She has always enjoyed helping individuals reflect, grow, and present themselves using their strengths and interests. Jackie thinks the college application process is an incredible time to explore students’ abilities and goals for the immediate and long-term future. Jackie’s mission is to help all of her students find the colleges that will suit their passions and help them achieve their goals.

Alana Rose

Having truly loved the college application process herself, Alana is passionate about helping students find the right university for them. With a BA in Psychology from USC, she enjoys learning about people, what they are interested in, and how she can create solutions and situations to better their future and allow them to achieve their goals.

Alana has spent her entire career in education technology, working for companies such as 2U, Trilogy Education, and Emeritus. She has expertise in relationship and client management with numerous universities from liberal arts colleges to the Ivy League and has a wide breadth of knowledge of the inner workings of institutions across the U.S. and globally.

She brings to Headed for College her energy and enthusiasm regarding the endless possibilities that await students and relishes in opening their eyes to new and exciting opportunities.

David Cooley, Career Coach

David Cooley joined Headed for college in 2014. His background includes more than seven years as an award-winning Career Coach for UCLA Anderson School of Management’s full-time MBA program. His experience also includes five years as a Career Coach and trainer for Drake Beam Morin, an international career consulting firm. He has worked with clients of all ages and experience levels, from recent college graduates to senior-level company executives. His client list includes E! Entertainment, Synopsys, the Walt Disney Company, Gilead Sciences, the IMAX Corporation, L.A.’s Metrolink and Lumend Technologies.

He received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and holds a certification in General Management from UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is certified in Career Coaching by the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, California.

Kimberly, As you remind us to thank our teachers and those who helped us in our journey, I was able to reflect on my own journey; I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed, been challenged, (sometimes) dreaded, but been as excited and confident throughout the process if it wasn’t for your compassionate help when I needed it most! I think today marks the end of Teacher Appreciation Week, and I certainly appreciate you. I’m happy to report I’ll be staying in Southern California pursuing a BFA at USC!!, something I know I wouldn’t be able to say if it wasn’t for your strong, supportive, and kind guidance.
Attending USC
Chelsea’s experience and knowledge of colleges, her prompt advice at every step of the way, and the kind manner with which she was able to convey key messages to our son were more than we could have asked for.
Attending UCLA
Thank you, Kim, for all of your help and support with Adrianna through this process. I believe at the beginning she did not think she was going to be able to get into college. Through your patience and coaching, she was able to identify a number of colleges to apply to and successfully get into a majority of those colleges. You gave her the confidence she needed during this process we are extremely grateful for all that you did.
Mary, daughter attending St. Mary's College
Thank you so much for all of your help with my myriad of college applications… for never letting me lose hope in Michigan, and for showing me some of the great things Michigan had to offer me on campus. I truly would not have been able to do it without you, Jennifer. Go Blue!
Attending the University of Michigan
Marissa carefully assessed our individual situation and then provided streamlined, easy to use information. She was patient, positive and supportive, but also held our son accountable to weekly tasks and milestones. She was knowledgeable, up to date, and asked the right kinds of questions to help us find the schools that would be a genuine fit for our son. Marissa’s calm, smart, confident style truly eased the anxiety we were feeling about the college application process. She helped turn what could have been a daunting task into a manageable, exciting challenge that we were eager to master.
Attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Lisa, I am happy to say that Sarah has found her home for the next four years and potentially beyond. She has committed to the University of Utah Honors College. She is so excited to be a Ute! Thank you for all of your efforts in helping her get to this wonderful place. We truly could not have done it without you!
Allison, daughter attending the University of Utah Honors College
Kim, Thank you so much for all your help and assistance through this stressful college process… You helped me stay on track and organized while still remaining positive the whole time. Every time I left your office, I felt stress-free and like a burden was lifted off my shoulders ... seriously.
Attending Williams College
Jennifer, I just wanted to say thank you for your guidance, expertise, and confidence in Ben and for finding him the college that is right for him… You have been an amazing force in his life and we are forever grateful.
Attending Vanderbilt University
Marissa, We adore you and are so grateful for your kindness and generosity of time and spirit. You went way above and beyond and gave my daughter a feeling of buoyancy with your incredible personality, positivity and warmth. Thank you again for everything!!!
Daughter attending Princeton University
Jennifer, You guided me from the first step to the last step, with all the frantic emails in between, and still were willing to help me past the last step when I needed it. I sincerely feel that without your help, I would never have heard of Wash U, which is definitely the perfect school for me and at which I know I will thrive ...
Attending Washington University in St. Louis
Chelsea, Words cannot express my gratitude. Thank you for your time, patience, and for keeping me on track and focused, and organized. I have said it to my parents but I also want to be sure that I make it clear to you - The best gift they gave me was the time and help I received from you. I truly appreciate your coaching, advice, and availability at all hours of the day. I will think of you fondly as I walk onto the Emory campus in August! You're the best.
Attending Emory
Thank you so much for your guidance and mentorship Jennifer. Thank you for the last-minute one-on-one meetings, thank you for being understanding when I failed to meet early deadlines because of the stress that I was going through, thank you for everything that you put yourself through to make my application the best it could have possibly been! All of the success that I have experienced during this crazy application process would not have been possible had it not been for your expertise. Because of you, I can now pursue my passion in the best art school in the country!
Attending RISD
Thank you again Jennifer for all of the help with Thomas over the last 18 months. He is very excited about Pitzer!! We appreciate your patience and guidance through the whole process, starting in the summer before junior year and through all of those essays and applications. The essays, recommendations, and the strength of his application were really important. He was ready and able to execute all of that because you had him well prepared in advance, which was key to him being able to apply and get accepted during Early Decision. He could not have done it without you!
Kim - I just committed to UT!! Thank you so much for everything. The journey would not have been possible without you. I'm so thankful for your guidance.
Attending the University of Texas, Austin
While trying to juggle the pressures of work, being a full-time college student, and all the extracurriculars I was involved in, I felt reassurance that my transfer applications would excellent because of Chelsea. Chelsea was very thorough and pushed me to open up about the story I had to tell. She gave me tons of information that I would never have known without her help.
Transferred to UC Berkeley
Thank you for always being there for me, Kim. I would probably have broken apart without your help. True story!
Attending UCLA
The words "thank you" feel utterly inadequate to convey our appreciation for all of the support, guidance, and wisdom you have shared so generously with our family over the past two years. As two college professors, it has been truly humbling to learn how complex, labor intensive, and emotionally charged the college application process has become. Beyond your incredible knowledge, we have been truly in awe of your ability to connect in a meaningful way with both our kids and to guide them not just in "getting in" to college but finding their voices and learning who they are. We are so grateful and will truly miss working with you.
Attending Cornell University
Marissa, I can’t thank you enough for all of the help throughout this crazy process! I truly could not have done it without you. You are so kind and wise, and I have greatly enjoyed getting to know you….Once again, you are absolutely amazing.
Attending Dartmouth College
Jennifer - Thank you so much for holding our hands and being the very best through this entire college process! We could not have done it without you. We are so proud of Sarah. She had incredible choices!! The school she got most excited over was Berkeley, so her choice is made. As happy as I am not to have to go through the crazy college process again, I am sad to not be able to work with you. It really has been an absolute pleasure. You are amazing!
Lisa, daughter at UC Berkeley
Lisa, thank you for all of your help and for the great advice. I have fallen in love with USC! It feels so right being here.
International student attending USC
Marissa, I just wanted to send you a note to thank you for helping Lily last year. She is so happy at Cal Poly and just thriving there. It really is the perfect place for her and I think she is enjoying Communications too! I believe your advice for taking college classes and the dual enrollment courses and keeping the rigor last year really did make a difference.

Thank you so much for helping guide Julie. I'm forever grateful!
Daughter attending Cal Poly SLO
Working with Chelsea was a wonderful experience! She was incredibly helpful throughout the whole application process, but beyond sound advice, she was really invested in my success and because of her help, I’m at the school that is actually perfect for me!
Attending Tulane University in the Honors Program
Hi Kim: I wanted to let you know that I've made my choice and am officially enrolled at the University of Notre Dame. After visiting, I know that Notre Dame really does fit all of my criteria. Thank you for all the help and guidance you've given me throughout the college process. I couldn't have done it without you. All those long nights toiling over essays definitely paid off. Once again thank you for everything Kim.
Attending Notre Dame
Thank you, Kim, from the bottom of my heart. You are sincerely one of the most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of getting to know. Thank you for everything that you've done for us.
Twins attending UCLA
Lisa, I honestly wish I could thank you in person. I don't know where I would be right now had I not met you and had your guidance throughout this admissions process. As a first-generation Latina coming from a low-income immigrant background, higher education was something that felt unattainable for a long time. But with your guidance and support, I will be attending an institution I would have never imagined even applying to had it not been for you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. (Pro Bono Client)
Attending Dartmouth College
Thank you Jennifer for your invaluable insights into our son and for being so courageously forthright from the beginning. He needed that dose of reality. Your program, philosophy, and guidance are outstanding.
Helen, Son attending USC
I don't know what I would have done without your expert advice, Jennifer. I am going to Penn partly due to your unwavering support, and for that, I can never thank you enough.
Attending the University of Pennsylvania
Kim, I wanted to say thank you for all of the support and encouragement you've given me over the last 12 months. I know it definitely wasn't easy, but Michigan Ross is an amazing place and I'm really happy to be attending the Ross School of Business. Thank you so much! I don't think I could have done it without you!
Attending the Ross School of Business at Michigan
Words cannot express our gratitude, Jennifer. Your advice gave us direction, confidence, and comfort during the crazy college process. We are very grateful for your patience with us - you always had an answer to our questions and concerns. Thank you for helping facilitate our daughter's Cornell dream!
Donna, daughter attending Cornell University
While working with Chelsea I was able to get a complete understanding of the college application process and amazing help along the way. I would not have been able to go through this process without her consistent guidance and reassurance.
Attending Northwestern University
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