Faculty and Staff

At Your Service

For over one hundred years, Blackstone has been widely recognized as a leader in distance education. The success of our online certificate programs revolves around our students’ eagerness to learn, and the dedicated faculty and staff who support them. Faculty members are leaders in their field of expertise, and the Blackstone staff has many years of experience in distance education. Our faculty includes instructors with years of practice in teaching and developing distance education programs. Their educational and professional backgrounds, as well as memberships in professional organizations, give them access to the most up-to-date training and changes in the field. Here at Blackstone, online college classes are delivered to your by respectable professionals.

They work closely with our administration and staff to provide timely answers to students’ questions. Blackstone’s support and development team assists in writing and editing our educational materials, as well as updating and reviewing them for accuracy, and helps maintain our electronic databases and the Online Student Center. All of the staff, instructors, and support and development members work under the guidance of a skilled administration that has student satisfaction and course quality as its primary goals.


Kevin J. McCloskey


Kevin J. McCloskey is president of Direct Learning Systems, Inc. (DLS), a Lehigh Valley, PA, based distance education publishing company, which he founded in 1999. DLS owns Blackstone Career Institute (BCI) licensed by the PA Depart of Education, and MGS Trade School (MGS) approved by the DE Department of Education both providing an Internet-based distance learning curriculum. BCI and MGS are nationally accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission, Washington, D.C. and regionally accredited by Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools CESS, Philadelphia, PA. In addition, DLS owns and operates The Institute for Children’s Literature, The Institute for Writers and 123ce.com.

Kevin’s previous experience includes over 15 years in senior management. He was Vice Chairman and managing partner of NLKK, Inc. the former operator of K12 owned Keystone School, a nationally accredited Internet-based secondary school with an enrollment of over 15,000 students. In 2000, he orchestrated the sale of NLKK, Inc. to KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc., a publicly traded firm. Prior to that time, he held various senior management positions in the medical equipment field. Kevin was primarily responsible for marketing, sales, business development and strategic planning throughout this period. He holds a BA degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Professionally, Kevin is active within the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), served on the Business Standards Committee (Vice Chairman), and was Chairman of the International Marketing Workshop of the DETC in 2000. Other professional affiliations include membership in the Mid-Atlantic Association of Career Schools and the Coalition for Student Opportunity and Success. He is currently on the finance committee at St. Thomas More Church and spent several years on the school board as fundraising chairman.

Valerie L. Behrle

Director of Education

Valerie joined DLS as the Director of Education in 2001. Prior to joining, she worked as a teacher, tutor, and reading specialist with students in various educational settings. With over 30 years of experience, she has devoted her career to assisting students to increase their skill set through site-based and distance education.  As the Director of Education, she oversees program research, educational policies, and branded marketing strategies related to educational offerings along with the internal and external faculty. Valerie holds a Master’s Degree in Education and a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.

Philanthropically, Valerie supports Mercy School For Special Learning whose mission is to provide all children and young adults with special needs the best opportunity to reach their utmost potential, both academically and in life, and Cay Galgon Life House whose mission is to provide shelter for homeless pregnant women and their newborns and offer them counseling and education opportunities leading to lives of self-reliance. This charity work reflects some of her core values, which are rooted in supporting community, education, and collaboration to make the world a better place.

Donnita Fisher

Accounting | Finance Manager

Donnita is the Accounting/Finance Manager and joins DLS with over 25 years of experience. A graduate of Franklin University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a Minor in Finance, her professional experience and educational background enables her to coordinate the financial needs and human resources development at Direct Learning Systems, Inc. She is a member of the National Association of Certified Accounting Paraprofessionals (NACAP), Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), and the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP).  In addition to being certified in desktop QuickBooks and QuickBooks online, she is also a certified public notary. Outside of work, Donnita spends time with her cats.

Jacque Irizarry

Manager of Business Operations and Growth

Jacque earned a B. A. in Graphics and Media Arts from Southern New Hampshire University. Since joining Direct Learning Systems in 2015, she has taken advantage of the opportunity to gain knowledge about most areas of the business from Shipping to Student Services, and IT Project Manager to Graphic and Web Design. She is a proponent of self-growth and the building blocks of learning at work and in life. Jacque seeks opportunities for students, coworkers, and community members to have their unique skills, interests, and histories fostered, understood, and celebrated.

As the leader of business operations, she oversees the culture, community work, day-to-day operations, technology, student data, and compliance, to support our mission. Her passion is rooted in leading a team that is fostering change and helping individuals reach their highest potential.  Jacque loves playing basketball, working with craft breweries, traveling, and volunteering within the Lehigh Valley.  She also enjoys photography, painting, and other forms of creative arts.


Maggie McCloskey

Director of Marketing and Development

Maggie brings several years of experience in Customer Service, Management, Brand Awareness, Marketing, Project Management, Strategic Lead Generation, and Administration to DLS. After earning a BA in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida, Maggie spent two years at a law firm in New York City, working in account management & brand research. For the next three years, Maggie worked for Warby Parker, in their CX headquarters in Nashville, as a Customer Experience Lead. She supervised a team of 15 advisors who engaged with nationwide customers to provide solutions and seamless experiences. In her role at DLS, Maggie directs brand, content, design, advertising, and social media managers on their day-to-day projects. In an effort to achieve company growth goals, she collaborates with department directors to develop and strategize business improvement projects, from ideation to implementation.

Stacy Feifel

Director of Academic Programs

Stacy has been with Direct Learning Systems since 2007 in various administrative and educational capacities. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunications from Kutztown University and a Masters’ Degree in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design and Technology from the American College of Education. Her responsibilities include assisting the Director of Education, leading the educational and development team to construct and revise various educational material for the school, and working with the school’s administration to ensure that educational programs meet accreditation standards. She is also the administrator of the school’s online learning management system. Stacy also provides educational assistance to students with a special concentration on our veteran, military, and military spouse population.  In her free time, Stacy enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family.

Michele Long

Director of Regulartory and Compliance

Michele joined Direct Learning Systems as Director of Regulatory & Compliance working with the management team maintaining and ensuring compliance with licensure and accreditation standards. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University, a Diploma in Network Engineering Technology Administration credentialed as a Certified Network Administrator (C.N.A.) and Certified Network Engineer (C.N.E.), and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Strategic Leadership from Messiah University. Michele has held various positions in higher education, responsible for national and programmatic accreditation and compliance, online and residential program development, and leadership of several major programs at a regional college. Michele created a student enrichment program that received national recognition by the College Board and was awarded Educator of the Year by the Optimist Club. Outside of work, Michele enjoys spending time with her family, watching the Phils, and traveling to Cape May, New Jersey.

Anthony Germani

Admissions Advisor | Student Services Lead

Anthony is a Penn State graduate where he majored in Education. Professionally, he has worked in both education in sales.  At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he collaborates with marketing and student service teams to improve prospective student communications. As an Admissions Advisor, he offers guidance and assistance regarding course offerings, career paths, military benefits, payment plan options, and the enrollment process. Anthony also answers questions about the school, accreditation, and certification to help potential students decide whether the school is a good fit for them. Outside of work, Anthony enjoys spending time with his family and enjoys playing/watching sports (especially basketball and golf).

Christine Molnar

Student Services Representative

Christine is a graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. She began with The Institute for Writers in 2005 as a Student Services representative and Admissions Advisor, and then joined DLS in 2020. Christine maintains an expansive customer service background and has assisted innumerable students and prospects with program guidelines to support motivation, independent learning, and goal achievement. She considers herself to be a jack-of-all-trades within the organization; from facilitating daily operational tasks to copy writing, editing, design, and collaborating within IFW brand Marketing and Social Media teams. Outside of business hours Christine enjoys running, photography, hiking, and quality time with her friends and family.

Shannon Jacobs

Social Media & Advertising Manager | Student Services Representative

Shannon is a 2021 graduate of Kutztown University with a bachelor’s in Social Media Theory & Strategy with a minor in communication studies. She also earned an associates in graphic design from Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC). Shannon’s role in her internship at WebFX in Harrisburg was a social media specialist – account manager. There she managed multiple client accounts, created content designs, brand awareness, content calendars, and social media strategies. In Shannon’s free time, she enjoys the gym, listening to music, painting, and spending time with friends.

Madeline Erk

Brand Associate | Student Services Representative

Madeline graduated from Liberty University with a major in Strategic Communication and minors in Graphic Design and Business. She was a member of PRSSA while in college. Madeline interned full-time at Clear Channel Airports as a Marketing & Creative Intern in the summer of 2022. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., her role involves writing and editing content as well as assisting students. On the weekends, Madeline enjoys volunteering in children’s ministry, hiking, and spending time with family.

Tammy Kromer

Mail Room Manager | Student Services Representative

Tammy has over 20 years of experience in customer service and began at Direct Learning Systems in the fall of 2001.  As a seasoned Student Service Representative, Tammy serves as a mentor to the staff.  Her responsibilities include processing student enrollments, exams, payments, assignments, and graduation documents.  She also assures each student has the appropriate course resources. Tammy assists in various duties including finances. Outside of work she enjoys playing games, knitting, and spending time with her family.

Cameron Kilpatrick

Shipping Associate | Student Services Representative

Cameron is a graduate of Lehigh Carbon Community College with an associate degree in Liberal Arts. Currently working on his bachelor’s degree at Bloomsburg University, he is studying to be an Anthropologist. Professionally, he has worked at Staples, Inc. in both sales and customer service. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., Cam’s administrative role includes processing student exams, assignments, proof of education, and student surveys. He also assists in the mail room, processing student shipments and letters. Outside of work, Cam enjoys camping and exploring nature, specifically geology, minerology, and herpetology.

Richard Scutt

Shipping Associate | Student Services Representative

Richard, a Military & Iraq war veteran, brings Direct Learning Systems his hands-on experience in management, logistics, and customer service. While serving in the Army, he was awarded several service and combat medals. He used the GI Bill to attend Lincoln Technical Institute, where he studied electronic engineering. Richard leveraged his military experience and education to secure a position in international shipping at Access Global Logistics Limited. Remaining in the transportation and warehouse industry, Richard took a manager position at National Acoustics. He has also worked for both UPS and the United States Postal Service. At DLS, Richard’s role includes working in two different departments ‑ Student Services and Shipping. In his spare time, Richard volunteers at nursing homes and supports autism charities. In addition to spending time with family and friends, he enjoys traveling.

Denise Di Bernard

Digital Production & Print Specialist

Denise studied Elementary Education at West Chester University and later pursued an Associate’s degree in Graphic Design at Delaware County Community College. She has many years of experience in print and design. At DLS, her duties include printing student learning materials, maintaining warehouse inventory, shipping and receiving. Denise enjoys cooking, craft beer, kayaking, biking, running, and gardening. She also volunteers as a trail steward with the National Park Service.

Morgan Laney

Graphic + Web Designer

Morgan is a Marshall University graduate where she majored in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design. At BCI, her responsibilities include graphic + web design and assisting our Marketing Department with design assets. Outside of work, Morgan enjoys spending time with her family, including her two Boston Terriers, going to the movies (especially the drive-in) and painting.

Adjunct Faculty

Jeffery Hauck, MSc, MOS, JD, Ph.D (ABD) Blackstone Career Institute Paralegal Instructor

Jeffrey Hauck

MSc, MOS, JD, Ph.D (ABD)
Paralegal Adjunct Faculty

Mr. Hauck holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA) in Criminal Justice from DeSales University, a Master of Science degree (MSc) in Criminal Justice from Purdue University Global, a Master of Operational Studies (MOS) from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree (JD) from Widener University School of Law where he graduated from the Law and Government Institute with a concentration in Constitutional and Administrative Law, and is All But Dissertation (ABD) status in a current research Ph.D program in Criminology. Mr. Hauck is a retired Municipal Police Supervisor and retired Licensed Private Detective. In addition to his position as Chief Operations Officer for Hauck Strategic Consulting (HSC), Mr. Hauck is a Field Grade Officer in the U.S. Army. Through HSC Mr. Hauck has consulted with hundreds of clients providing competent paralegal/legal-assistant services either by working with contracted counsel or in-house counsel necessary to the achievement of their individual planned success. Mr. Hauck understands that the law affects nearly every decision and action businesses and individuals make on a daily basis. As such he knows that a skilled paralegal professional can make the difference between success and failure in the legal and/or corporate environment.

Jill Noonan JD, RN Blackstone Career Institute Legal Nurse Consultant Instructor

Jill Noonan

Legal Nurse Consultant Adjunct Faculty

I became an RN in 1975 after graduating from a diploma Nursing Program. I worked in the ICU and/or ER until 1989 when I received my Juris Doctorate degree. After passing the California Bar Examination in 1990, I practiced Medical Malpractice defense law until 2005. I managed all aspects of a case from start to finish (discovery, pre-trial motions, expert witnesses, depositions, alternative dispute resolution and trial). I also served as a Small Claims Court Judge Pro Tem. I developed a passion for organ donation and worked for Donor Network West, an Organ Procurement Organization in Northern California from 2005-2018 where I used my nursing and legal skills to facilitate the organ donation process. I was an adjunct professor in a hybrid BSN to MSN program where I taught Healthcare Law and Ethics for 4 years and have been the Subject Matter Expert and Adjunct Faculty for Medical Law and Ethics and Legal Nurse Consulting Principles and Practices for an online LNC program since 2019.

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Laura Zagnoni

Pharmacy Technician Adjunct Faculty

Laura graduated with both her Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Arizona. Over her career in Pharmacy, she has experience in a variety of roles in several different clinical practice settings. Although most of her experience has been as a pharmacist, Laura was a Pharmacy technician and a Pharmacy intern before becoming a pharmacist, working in a retail pharmacy, as well as the inpatient and outpatient pharmacy of a large community hospital. As a pharmacist, she has worked in a dispensing role in Community Retail, Inpatient, and Outpatient Hospital pharmacies, as well as in a consultant role at Maricopa Medical Center, a large, teaching, county hospital in the Phoenix area. While there, she was an integral member of the clinical teams on the Burn Unit, the Medical and Neonatal Intensive Care Units and covered clinical consultations throughout the rest of the hospital. Additionally, she was also a clinical practice instructor for Pharm.D. students electing a Clinical Pharmacokinetics Rotation in their final year of school. Laura left Maricopa Medical Center to accept an adjunct faculty position at the College of Pharmacy at Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ where she taught Clinical Pharmacokinetics and the Infectious Disease section of the Integrated Pharmacy Practice course. While in this position, she also served as a student liaison and valued advisor. For the last 18 years, Laura worked in a medical position with the Pharmaceutical Industry. She worked as a Medical Science Liaison for Bristol-Myers Squibb in both their Infectious Disease and Cardiovascular divisions. In this role, she educated physicians, nurses, and pharmacists on the company’s medications in venues ranging from one-on-one meetings in an office to presentations at large meetings and clinical congresses. In her retirement, Laura enjoys learning about wine, traveling and is an active volunteer with the Maricopa Medical Reserve Corps.

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Kara Silvers

Medical Billing and Coding Adjunct Faculty

Kara Silvers has a Bachelor’s and Master’s from Auburn University and another Master’s degree from Western Governor’s University. She currently works as an instructor at a couple of other online colleges teaching Medical Billing and Coding courses. She is CPC, CPB and CPC-I certified through the AAPC and CCMA certified through NHA. She calls Auburn, Alabama home and in her spare time enjoys shopping, going to Auburn University Athletics events, as well as spending time with her fur puppies, London and Winston.

Dental Office Assistant faculty

Colette Jesikiewicz

Dental Office Adjunct Faculty

Colette Jesikiewicz joined our Blackstone team in 2020. She is a graduate of the Expanded Function Dental Assisting program at Luzerne County Community College, Nanticoke, PA. Mrs. Jesikiewicz received her national accreditation as a Certified Dental Practice Management Administrator from the Dental Assisting National Board and her Fellowship in Dental Business Management from the American Dental Assistants Association. In 2021 she was named Education Chair for the Pennsylvania Dental Assistants Association. Her experience in the dental profession includes chairside dental assisting, dental receptionist, and dental office manager, as well as an administrative assistant at a dental hygiene/dental assisting school and an administrative service coordinator of a dental program for a non-profit. She currently holds the position of Front Desk Assistant at Affordable Dentures and Implants in Wilkes-Barre.  Colette looks forward to guiding students through their training in our Dental Office Assistant program.

Michael Hoffman. Child Care Provider Adjunct Faculty

Michael Hoffman

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Child Care Provider Adjunct Faculty

My name is Michael Hoffman and I have been working in the profession of Early Childhood Education for over 27 years. I am a graduate from East Stroudsburg University where I obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education Administration.  Before attending ESU I was awarded an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Northampton Community College.  I have also earned the Pennsylvania’s Directors Credential and School Age Professional Diplomas from Northampton Community College. Over my 27 years in the profession, I have held various classroom positions as well as having directed multiple high quality early learning programs.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and volunteering as a youth baseball and football coach. I believe every child is exceptional in terms of life experience, developmental readiness and cultural background. The partnership between family and the learning program is necessary to the development of young children.

Audrey Kirchner, CHDS Medical Transcription instructor

Audrey Kirchner

Medical Transcription Adjunct Faculty

Audrey Kirchner, CHDS, has been involved in the field of medical transcription since the early 1970s.  She lives in the state of Washington and currently works full-time as an MT/editor for a transcription service in Colorado, covering multiple clinics and hospitals across all specialties in all parts of the United States.  She owned a robust MTSO for over 25 years and mentored hundreds of independent contractors of all expertise levels who worked for her.  She also became an MT instructor in about 2012 and has worked for several online schools as well as teaching transcription at a local community college when she lived in Bend, Oregon.  She is also a freelance writer, writing many MT articles on a platform called Hubpages, as well as having written many articles for Plexus Magazine for AHDI.  She enjoys photography, sports, gardening, gourmet cooking and playing piano, cohabitating with her beloved malamutes, and enjoying the company of her grandchildren and husband.

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Laura Switkowski

Licensed Veterinary Technician
Veterinary Adjunct Faculty

Laura graduated from Macomb Community College’s Veterinary Technician Program and became a Licensed Veterinary Technician in 2008. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Science from Sienna Heights University in 2012. After graduating, Laura worked in a small animal hospital for several years. She has previously taught Clinical Pathology at Wayne State University’s Veterinary Technician Program in 2011. She is currently the Head Veterinary Technician at an Ophthalmology Veterinary Hospital in Rochester, Michigan since 2011. Laura has a great interest in anesthesia and pain management.

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Catie Grumbein

Physical Therapist
Physical Therapy Adjunct Faculty

Catie has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, NY.  She graduated with honors, is a member of the Alpha Eta Honor Society, and received an award for the highest rating in clinical performance in her graduating class. She worked as a clinician and later, as a Clinical Supervisor, in an Outpatient Orthopedic Physical Therapy owned company from 2016-2018 prior to moving to Louisville, Kentucky.  In Kentucky, Catie worked for KORT in the outpatient setting. She is a certified dry needling specialist and is certified for an orthopedic weight loss program. She also assisted the Louisville Ballet Company during the holidays. Catie is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and plans to promote evidence-based practice to her future patients. Catie moved back to Pennsylvania and currently works in Kennett Square with ATI Physical Therapy. Catie’s other passions include exercising, going to the beach, walks with her daughter and husband, and having fun with friends and family.

Samantha Upton

B.S. in Nursing, PA Registered Nurse
Staff RN, Bryn Mawr Hospital
Veterinary Adjunct Faculty

Samantha received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Delaware in 2015 and her Master of Science in Nursing from Drexel University in 2021. Samantha has been working in healthcare for nearly a decade in various roles including nursing assistant, registered nurse, nurse practitioner, and most recently nurse educator. Samantha holds certifications in medical-surgical nursing and bariatric nursing. She is also a member of the American Nurses Association, Pennsylvania State Nursing Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

Raul Pernites

Raul Pernites

Home Health Aide Adjunct Faculty

Raul received his Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Leisure Services from Radford University in 1993. He has been a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist for over 25 years and is also a Certified Dementia Practitioner. He is currently the Activity Coordinator and Dementia Care Instructor on the Memory Care Unit at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Virginia Beach, VA. He enjoys surfing and is the Director of Operations for Life Rolls On – They Will Surf Again Virginia Beach.

To learn more about Blackstone Career Institute, please visit our FAQ page! Please feel free to call a Blackstone Advisor directly at 800-826-9228 to jumpstart your education through our online  programs!

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