Our Team

Charla Long


How does a theme park lawyer with a background in meeting planning and 25 years of higher education experience end up as C-BEN’s President?

It was her love for theme parks (and Disney, in particular) that led Charla into higher education. She first started teaching hospitality law and then broadened her teaching areas. She’s taught in the arts & humanities, science & technology, and business divisions of public and private institutions. As a teacher, she infused project-based, experiential learning into all of her classes. As a higher education administrator, she’s launched a social justice institute, a graduate school for aging services, and a new academic college. Today, she is regarded as one of the nation’s leading experts on competency-based education earning her a name as a top 10 influential people in higher education by The Chronicle.

With an undergraduate degree in Meetings and Tourism Destination Management and experience with Disney and Apple Computer, Charla knows how to plan awesome events. CBExchange was an idea she brought to fruition in 2015 and has led ever since. If you’ve been to CBExchange, you know Charla’s heart. If you haven’t attended the conference yet, you must come experience the magic of our CBE community.

Amber Garrison Duncan

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Amber fell in love with higher education the moment she left her small Texas town and stepped foot on campus at Texas Woman’s University. Her passion for supporting holistic approaches to learning were honed at this “campus with a heart” and led to a career working at institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to support the transformation of the U.S. higher education system to be more equitable and just.

Amber has led work in competency-based education, learning frameworks, assessment, credential recognition, digital learner records, and open data standards, as well as quality assurance. Before her role at C-BEN, Amber spent 8 years as a grant maker at Lumina Foundation and prior to that served as Director of Student Affairs Assessment and Research at the University of Oregon, and various student affairs roles at Florida State University, University of Michigan, Hope College and Texas A&M University.

If you’ve ever caught yourself in a brainstorming session with Amber, you know she thinks about what is possible and how to leverage change to create the most good, for the most people, in the largest way possible. The C-BEN community is a natural home for her as it is full of fun spirited and bright innovators who are focused on what is best for learners.

Lisa McIntyre-Hite

Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer

Whether playing bass in a rock band at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in her home state of Ohio or being featured in songs featured on American Pickers and Pawn Stars, this musician and CBE leader provides the constant rhythm for change.

Lisa’s purpose and passion is rooted in the desire to address inequities in education which she has translated into a career leveraging competency-based approaches to ensure equitable outcomes, drive high-quality learning experiences, and lead to economic and social mobility. While Lisa started her leadership in learning innovation as a high school English teacher and principal, she has experience across K-12, workforce, government, higher education, ed tech, and non-traditional learning providers.

Prior to joining C-BEN, Lisa was Vice President of Learning Innovation at Guild where she led strategy and operations to ensure that high-quality workplace learning counts toward a degree and provides a pathway to mobility. She also led Guild’s Learning Center of Excellence, focused on improving learning outcomes for working adults. She also served as Senior Advisor at Entangled Solutions and Vice President of Partner Strategy and Innovation at Pathstream, a non-traditional learning provider embedding industry certificates into academic and workplace pathways. Prior to these system approaches, Lisa was the Executive Director of Learning Innovation at Laureate Education and Walden University’s founding Dean of Competency-Based Education responsible for developing and scaling the university’s direct-assessment offering. As a scholar, Lisa’s research has been published by the Clayton Christensen Institute and is featured in several peer-reviewed journals.

C-BEN Solutions is a natural home for Lisa, where she can continue to strum and keep the rhythm of change going for a work-learn ecosystem that empowers individuals to live fully in their purpose.

Laurie Dodge

Vice President of Quality Assurance and Accreditation

Since she was little, Laurie has been as curious as they come about the world and sought to understand how things came to be. She turned that curiosity into building and crafting using whatever she could get her hands on at that age- glue, tape, and fabrics were a favorite. Her curious nature led her to study psychology and early in her career she worked as a school psychologist in Indiana, West Virginia, and California. Laurie expanded her work in education by teaching courses at a nearby military base and fell in love with teaching adult learners. This led her to a career shift from K-12 into higher education as professor and progressive leadership roles as dean, vice provost and most recently provost at the University of Massachusetts Global where she has led the development of six CBE direct assessment programs.

In addition to leading on her campus, Laurie has provided leadership on quality, assessment, and accreditation. Namely, Laurie has served as a member of the WASC Senior College Commission Substantive Change Committee and participated in countless accreditation visits both nationally and internationally. Laurie has also served on several association boards, including UPCEA, Credential Engine and is currently on the NC-SARA Board of Directors. Laurie has been a long-time leader in CBE and was “in the room where it happened” for seminal conversations for what would become C-BEN. As C-BEN was formed, Laurie served as the inaugural Chair of the Board.

In 2016 Laurie was named one of “The Sixteen Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly (September/October 2016). She is co-author of “A Leader’s Guide to Competency-Based Education: From Inception to Implementation” with colleagues Deb Bushway and Charla Long.

Laurie is happy to report that she has evolved from building using glue and taping fabric together to now being a garment sewer, CBE program builder, and inspiring others to embrace innovation for learners. To be a part of the beginning of C-BEN and re-joining the team now is like coming home. Laurie is excited to help build and advance CBE, opening more doors to higher education for all.

Grace Fowler

Senior Director of Client Success

Learning systems are under great pressure to change and provide greater outcomes for learners and employers. Throughout her career, Grace has honed a commitment to and expertise in how to leverage these pressures to unlock opportunity for underrepresented learners. Grace started her career coaching high school and college students on successfully navigating through college and beyond. As an experienced education strategist, she understands that the process of change is just as important as delivering on outcomes.

Similar to how she cooks meals for those she loves most, Grace approaches change with creativity, taking whatever ingredients are available in the pantry and crafting a great meal. This mindset informs how Grace approaches C-BEN partners, helping to maximize their differentiating attributes within their unique contexts. Before joining CBEN, Grace was a strategy and innovation consultant at Entangled Solutions and Guild Education, collaborating with learning providers on outcomes improvement, learner experience design, change management, and innovation enablement. She’s excited to leverage this experience to build the capacity of CBEN partners to scale CBE as the Senior Director of Client Success.

Grace looks forward to meeting you and supporting your organization through its next chapter by charting a course, navigating the waters of change, and maintaining grace under pressure.

Lacey McCann

Senior Director of CBE Products & Experience

Lacey McCann is a product leader with 12+ years of experience in the education space, specializing in visioning and operationalizing learning solutions that drive outcomes for working adults. Lacey’s background spans leading end-to-end product experience and operational design, from awareness to completion, for competency-based education learning programs; to strategizing, designing and building front-end and backend solutions that connect adult frontline workers to educational opportunities.

Prior to joining C-BEN, Lacey was Director of Product Management, Student Experience at Guild, where she led the product team responsible for transforming the CRM systems and communication channels used to serve learners. At Strada Education Network, Lacey served as Director of Product Management and Strategy, defining the product and service portfolio and providing strategic consultation to Strada affiliates such as CAEL, InsideTrack, Education at Work, and Roadtrip Nation. As Director of Product Management, Tempo Learning at Walden University, Lacey led the end-to-end customer journey design and launch of one of the early entry CBE programs in the U.S., including messaging, enrollment/onboarding, portal and learning management system, and coaching/support model. Partnering in lockstep with academic leaders and university operational teams to innovate the operational processes, technical frameworks and UX necessary to scale direct-assessment programs, Lacey helped to lay the foundation to support thousands of adult students.

Yedid Minjares

Director of Consulting Services

A sociologist with a love of international travel, languages and food, Yedid pays attention to the details big and small that create the hallmark culture of the C-BEN community. In the same way that she can scratch cook with spices from around the world, Yedid goes above and beyond to create a place where stakeholders can shape the CBE movement from diverse perspectives, locations, and practices to create more access and success for marginalized communities. Prior to joining C-BEN, Yedid was the Office and Budget Manager in the College of Professional Studies at Lipscomb University, a founding C-BEN member. Yedid has competencies in project management, budget management, events, and liaison with consulting clients, vendors, and sponsoring organizations. Yedid has also served as a technical writer and has experience teaching, including serving as an English language teacher in Japan. C-BEN is fortunate to have Yedid bridging communications and processes for our members and partners. While Yedid is the core of C-BEN’s operations, be sure to ask her about her year studying Zapotec as it will give you better insight into her ability to keep people at the center of all we do.

Brenda Young

Director of Community Engagement

Brenda’s passion for service to her community started at a young age. Having grown up in a family where volunteering and being active in community were core values, Brenda is most inspired when individuals become community around a common cause. Her career has included membership management and fundraising for museums and later as program director for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Brenda has witnessed time and again the power of community to change the lives of people and has driven her decades long career in nonprofit leadership.

This passion for community is also fueled by understanding peoples’ stories. Her family vacations involved a lot of museum trips and stops at Midwest antique malls, giving her windows into the past and prompting her to think critically about the future. Brenda uses her unique degrees in public history and nonprofit administration to help organizations understand the past in order to better prepare for the future. Even if this means wearing a historical costume for special events to fundraise, a skill that will be put to use at a future CBExchange!

Brenda is excited to engage as a cheerleader and community builder for the CBE movement and looks forward to talking with you about membership and sponsorships, as well as opportunities for C-BEN to amplify communications about your work.

Ryan Specht-Boardman

Director of Higher Education Solutions

Ryan is a problem solver. He is passionate about finding creative solutions to enduring problems, believing there is always more than one way around a mountain. That’s how he discovered and immersed himself in CBE–an innovative, equitable, & learner-centered approach to improving postsecondary attainment.

Prior to joining C-BEN, Ryan worked for seven years in the University of Wisconsin Flexible Option, one of the nation’s leading portfolios of competency-based education academic programs. He can seamlessly navigate between the strategic bird’s eye view as he advises executive leaders, and the on-the-ground tactical steps necessary to make CBE work as he collaborates with operational units. Ryan co-edited the book, New Models of Higher Education: Unbundled, Rebundled, Customized, & DIY, which won Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature, the top national literature award in the field of continuing education.

An adept project manager, adviser, facilitator, and leader, Ryan’s skillset and deep experience with the nuts-and-bolts of CBE pedagogy and operations uniquely position him to help colleges and universities as they discover, build, and scale CBE programs.

Natalia Mejia

Senior Learning Experience Designer

Natalia Mejia is a passionate learning experience design leader who cares about developing effective learning programs for all areas of the organization. In her most recent positions, she has developed a variety of skills-based, workforce-relevant programs for one of the largest online nonprofit universities in the United States serving adult learners. As a well-rounded instructional designer, she has performed all the jobs related to conceptualization, design, build, maintenance, and oversight of online programs, paying special attention to learning science principles and educational frameworks. Natalia has also hired, trained, and coached instructional designers in a variety of positions and has helped them develop their skills to become proficient designers who deliver results. She has also taught adult students at the college and high school levels. Natalia holds a bachelor’s in Communications and a master’s degree in Education and is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership.

Jake DeSchuiteneer

Senior Learning Experience Designer

Jake is a dedicated learning experience designer with a passion for making education relevant and effective for learners. Jake has over a decade of experience developing workforce-relevant CBE curriculum, learning experiences, and assessments. He has played an integral role in the conceptualization, design, build, and maintenance of several online CBE programs, including the innovative College for America programs at Southern New Hampshire University.

Jake has also hired, managed, and coached teams of instructional designers, guiding them toward using learning science best practices in their courses and assessments. Before his career in learning experience design, Jake worked as a writer and reporter. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English/Journalism and a master’s in Communications.


Learn more about how C-BEN Consulting can make education more flexible, responsive, and valuable for learners and employers.