Meet Our Staff

Meet Our Staff

Director of TC NEXT

Ashley Pinakiewicz is the Director of TC NEXT. In this role, Ashley works alongside the team to bring to life TC NEXT's vision of student-centered, holistic career and professional support.

Ashley comes to TC with 15 years of experience in education, human-centered design, and strategy. Most recently, Ashley ran a consulting practice called Looking Glass Strategy,  where she consulted with educational institutions and mission-driven organizations to bring human-centered strategy, messaging, and processes to their work.

Ashley began her career in consulting at creative firms IDEO and Clear USA, where she managed key client relationships as well as business development. She was one of the first 60 employees at fast-growing startup Tough Mudder, where she led the Creative Team.

In 2014, Ashley left her private sector career to pursue one in education. In 2015, she graduated from Harvard's Graduate School of Education with a Masters in Education, specializing in Learning and Teaching. After graduating, she spent two years as a 7th grade English teacher at Girls Prep Bronx Middle School, a formative experience that led to her forming her consulting business to support students and the adults who serve them.

Associate Director, TC Next

Heidi Gifford is Associate Director of TC NEXT. She has worked in TC's Career office for four years and is dedicated to helping guide students along their personal and professional pathways. Heidi has twenty years of professional experience in corporate, non-profit and higher ed institutions. She is a graduate of Yale University, Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and TC’s Higher & Postsecondary Education program.


Associate Director of Employer Relations

Laura Coleman is the Associate Director of Employer Relations at TC NEXT. In this role she develops opportunities for students and alumni to connect with hiring managers and employers across a variety of industries. Previously she was the Associate Director of Alumni & Employer Relations at Sotheby’s Institute Art (New York, NY) where she spearheaded new alumni engagement initiatives, oversaw campus recruitment programs, produced professional development events, and collaborated with talent acquisition teams to provide career opportunities for students and alumni. Laura began her career in higher education at Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN) as the Associate Director for International Admission, leading strategic planning for international student enrollment and overseeing application review and scholarship awarding. Laura holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, from Bucknell University with majors in Art History and Spanish, and has studied at the Universidad de Granada in Granada, Spain.

Operations and Data Manager

Ryan Cheng is an effective team player and self-motivated professional who has been working at TC's Career Office for the past two years. With his managing experience and awareness of the ever advancing sociocultural media environment, Ryan specializes in maximizing company profits and branding needs through media outreach and efficient team management. Having received his M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University with a focus in Instructional Technology and Media, Ryan is knowledgable of diverse computer coding languages and interactive programming, as well as media marketing strategies in print and digital productions.  


Career Advisor

DrHilary Berger, Career Counselor at Teachers College, Columbia University and founder of Work Like a Mother®, has 30 years of experience as a licensed professional counselor and career transition specialist, educator and innovative entrepreneur, assisting individuals through the tactical and emotional challenges of professional transitions at any career stage. As the founder of Work Like a Mother®, a full-service career counseling and job search service, she has counseled and educated back to their full professional potential, over 2 thousand professional women who elected to be at home to raise children. She has throughout her career, developed innovative courses, career academies, and skill-building series for job seekers of all ages and stages including college students, young professionals, women relaunching their careers, retraining, and navigating expected or unexpected job loss. She has forged powerful partnerships with the #1 job search site ( and presents her work nationally on Connecting Education, Parenting, and Professional Purpose - Re-Writing the Script for Counseling Women Across the Lifespan.

Career Advisor

Dr. Chloe Dawson is a talent development advocate who facilitates effective blended learning programs, high-performance coaching and customized learning journeys. Her specialties include user experience design, talent re-alignment coaching, and intercultural professional development. Her academic qualifications include a Doctor of Education in Organization & Leadership and an Education Masters in Adult Learning & Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, along with a variety of certification accolades in assessment, leadership and coaching.

Career Advisor

Missy Lafferty has worked in human resources and recruiting for over a decade, touching nearly every aspect of the people function including corporate recruiting, people analytics, people operations and product management of HR systems. She’s worked at companies in financial services, retail and technology. 

Missy is passionate about applying her recruiting experience to advise students and professionals seeking their next role. She has presented career and negotiation workshops at Columbia Business School, Wharton alumni groups, and Lee Hecht Harrison, among others. Missy has a BA in Policy Management from Dickinson College and an MBA from Columbia Business School.


Strategic Partnerships Advisor

Originally a Florida native, Rachel holds both B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and a M.A. in Counselor Education awarded by The University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL.

As Strategic Partnerships Advisor, Rachel supports the management of all relationships between TC NEXT and its partners, both within the College and beyond.

Rachel has 5+ years combined experience across the Higher Ed and EdTech sectors. In addition to partnership management, she also brings with her 4 years of Career Coaching experience to TC NEXT. Her passion for the expansion of the TC network of partnered employers is rivaled only by her enthusiasm for interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation within the College.

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