Our People

The team of professionals at Riley Baker is passionately committed to your academic success. Together, we represent more than 95 years of experience with college preparation and admissions. And we’re ready to get to work for you.

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Stacey Riley Baker
B.A., English/Creative Writing, DePauw University, 1991
M.S. Ed., College Administration, Northwestern University, 1992

From her undergraduate days as a peer advisor and student admissions counselor at DePauw to her professional experience evaluating and selecting candidates for admission to Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Stacey has spent virtually her entire life in the world of admissions, where her successes led her to pioneer the unique four-year program that is now Riley Baker's hallmark. Students and parents alike find Stacey to be eminently relatable, warm and trustworthy, an attentive listener who can be counted on for straightforward assessments and recommendations. Stacey's skill at navigating the college journey means students typically choose to begin work with her in the freshman year of high school.

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Matt Baker
B.S., Education, University of New Hampshire, 1994
M. ED., Special Education, University of New Hampshire, 1998

As a former teacher (in Westport, Connecticut, and Northfield, Illinois), college counseling intern (at the Francis Parker School), and Division I athlete and assistant coach (lacrosse), Matt has an experiential understanding of the pressures students confront in school as well as in selecting a college, stresses that are often multiplied for the student-athlete. Matt's calm nature and play-by-play approach prove very reassuring to students as they formulate and execute winning application strategies. Still a competitor at heart, Matt spends his free time running, skiing, coaching soccer and teaching his daughters to conquer the black diamonds. Students usually team up with Matt beginning in the freshman year of high school.

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Dan Hales
B.A., Economics, Hillsdale College, 1993
Certificate, College Counseling, UCLA Extension, 2010

Since Dan joined the Riley Baker team in 2010, he has logged thousands of miles exploring and assessing colleges across the country--often as many as 50 a year. An astute observer and intuitive communicator, Dan interacts with students on each campus to gather their true impressions and experiences so he's confident in the recommendations he makes to each of our students, whether they're seeking a targeted pre-professional education or an enriching liberal arts experience. An associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants' Association (IECA), Dan has a talent for working with international students and those interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs.

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Barb Perce
B.S., Political Science, Miami University, 1989
M.S.W., Loyola University, 1993
Certificate, College Counseling, UCLA Extension, 2014

With a Master's Degree in Social Work and a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA-Extension, Barb's five years of in-the-trenches experience at Riley Baker make her an ideal consultant for getting the job done quickly and efficiently. Her calm, yet enthusiastic manner assists in guiding students through the college search and application process with ease. Barb visits 25-30 college campuses per year and has experience working with artists, musicians, engineers, business majors and athletes, along with international students locally and abroad. Barb also specializes in the college transfer process.

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Carolyn Duffy Marsan
B.A. English Literature/Speech Communications, Boston College, 1986
M.S.J. Journalism, Northwestern University, 1987
Certificate in College Counseling, UCLA Extension, 2016

Carolyn’s goal is to help minimize anxiety around college admissions by helping students find a variety of schools that are a good fit academically, socially and personally. An award-winning journalist, Carolyn enjoys working with students on their college essays and views this part of the process as an opportunity to teach them how to write engaging stories about their experiences, opinions and goals. She loves tapping into the creativity of her students-- not just those applying to arts programs but also those who are pre-med, pre-law, business-minded or still undecided. Carolyn is one of the few IECA members who is qualified to work with graduate school students. She has experience helping successful applicants draft personal statements for medical, law, business school and other Master's and PhD programs.

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Liz Riggs
B.S., Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 1994
M.Ed., Community Counseling, Loyola University Chicago, 2000

Liz has over 20 years of experience in the field of educational counseling. In addition to working as a financial aid advisor and a life skills coordinator for college athletes, she served as a school and college counselor at Loyola Academy as well as an independent educational consultant, both in the Chicagoland area and on the East Coast. In Liz’s work, she embraces the philosophy, "Be who you needed when you were younger." As such, Liz always tries to lead with empathy; she wants her students and their parents to feel respected, supported and encouraged throughout the process. Liz’s broad knowledge base of higher education, the college search, application and admission process allows her to work with students of varying backgrounds and interests. After living in Fairfield, CT for almost eight years, Liz and her family recently relocated back to the North Shore and are thrilled to be home.

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Ana Costello
B.S., Psychology, Villanova University, 1997
M.A., Counseling, University of San Diego, 2000

Ana has extensive experience in the college application review process after working at Villanova University for 14 years, originally serving as the Western Regional Representative and more recently as an Associate Director of Admission. With a background in counseling and college student development, Ana began her career in higher education working in the California State University system and Scripps College. Ana is an attentive listener and shows compassion and patience while working with students. A mother of four, Ana enjoys family road trips and time spent at the beach.

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Kim Bell, essay editor

B.A, English, The University of Iowa, 1996
M.ED., English Education, The University of Minnesota, 1998
M.A, Creative Writing - Poetry, Boston University, 2003

After twenty-two years of teaching middle school, high school, and college students how to express themselves and their ideas in writing, Kim specializes in helping students with the essay writing portion of the admissions process. She has won several awards for her teaching and writing, including being named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction in 2013 and Teacher of the Year (more than once) at Lake Forest Country Day School. Kim loves guiding students through every aspect of the writing process. With warmth, patience, and enthusiasm, she helps students identify and shape their most meaningful experiences and attributes into richly detailed, polished admissions essays. She is happy to meet students at any point on their journey, whether they are just beginning the Common Application or they are zeroing in on completing final essay drafts. When she is not writing or editing, Kim likes to run, play tennis, read YA novels, and challenge her husband and two daughters to fierce ping pong matches.

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Tuffy

Not quite a therapy dog, but awesome at providing comfort and calm during the college application season, Tuffy is our 10-year-old toy poodle and just maybe the number one reason our students love working with us.