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 in 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 in College Counseling, UCLA Extension, 2014

With a Master's Degree in Social Work and a College Counseling Certificate from UCLA-Extension, Barb’s experience as part of the Riley Baker team since 2012 make her an ideal consultant for getting the job done thoroughly and efficiently. Her calm, yet enthusiastic manner assists in guiding students through the college search and application process with ease. Barb loves to travel and visits 25-30 college campuses per year. She has experience working with a variety of students, including artists, musicians, engineers, business majors and recruited athletes, along with international students locally and abroad. Barb focuses on the individuality of each student and loves finding that perfect fit for them. Barb also specializes in the college transfer process and is a professional member of the IECA. In her free time, Barb's favorite activity is spending time with her family boating on Lake Michigan.

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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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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.

Susan Brady

Susan Brady
B.A., Economics, Miami University, 1992
Certificate in College Counseling with distinction, UCLA Extension, 2021

As a former financial planning and services professional, Susan is a resourceful project manager with the proven expertise to synthesize moving parts into a methodical college plan. Most recently, Susan completed her practicum with a national independent education consulting group and has worked with a wide spectrum of high school juniors and seniors to navigate all facets of the college admissions process. Highly organized and well-grounded, Susan exudes positivity and finds fulfillment in bringing out the best in students. With a great appreciation for the power of education, Susan also provides pro bono college advising to first generation students. In her free time, Susan loves to corral her four teenagers for all types of family outings (with bonus points for trips which weave in a college visit).

Hilary Holder

Hilary Holder
B.S.J., Journalism/Political Science, Northwestern University, 1994
M.A., Communication Sciences & Disorders, Northwestern University, 1999
Certificate in College Counseling, UCLA Extension, awarded with distinction, 2022

Hilary has more than a decade of experience as the Director of Admissions & Financial Aid at two independent day schools in the Chicagoland area. She is committed to developing meaningful relationships with families, understanding learning organizations, and working tirelessly to find that “just right” fit for students. Hilary began her career in education as an LD Resource Teacher following the completion of a master’s degree; she also holds a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University and draws on that experience to help students brainstorm, develop, and revise their written work. In her free time, Hilary enjoys spending time with family, taking long walks with friends, cheering on the Wildcats, and exploring new destinations. An associate member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), Hilary specializes in college counseling and independent day school admissions.

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Kim Bell, Consultant & Essay Specialist
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 teenagers how to express themselves and their ideas in writing, Kim specializes in guiding students through the college process. She especially enjoys helping students with the essay writing portion of the application. She has won several awards for her teaching and writing, including being named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction and Teacher of the Year (more than once). More importantly, she has devoted her life to working with adolescents. With warmth, patience, and enthusiasm, Kim helps students identify potential schools that will provide opportunities for personal growth, intellectual exploration, and skill development. She also teaches them how to 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 college search process or they are ready to draft essays. When she is not writing or editing, Kim likes to run, play tennis, read really long novels, and challenge her husband and two daughters, Charlotte and Amelia, to fierce ping pong matches.

Kendell Anderson

Kendell Anderson, Essay Specialist
B.A., Rhetoric, University of California, Berkeley, 1991

After many years in the fields of marketing and career coaching, Kendell is passionate about the art of communication. As a dedicated essay specialist, she works with students to showcase their strengths in their personal statements and supplementary essays. Kendell recognizes the challenges placed on today’s teens, to know what they want at such a young age and to articulate that vision in a succinct and meaningful way. It can be a daunting task. Kendell helps clients evaluate their experiences, both successes and setbacks, to convey how they intend to grow in their college years. She is committed to helping students craft genuine essays that accurately reflect who they are and what they can contribute to a college or university. Kendell loves writing, editing, cooking and winemaking. She and her husband recently launched their eldest to college and still have a high schooler at home.