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) is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a private licensed school and provides an Internet-based distance learning curriculum. BCI is 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.

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 the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators. He has also served on the school board of St. Thomas More School as fundraising chairman.

Casey McCloskey
Manager of Business Operations

Casey McCloskey is the Manager of Business Operations. Mr. McCloskey graduated from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) and a Master of Education in Counseling & College Student Affairs (M.Ed.). In addition to his two degrees, Casey also earned his Teacher Certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). Previous to his role at Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he worked in Higher Education within Student Affairs. This included working and collaborating with Orientation, Admissions, Housing & Residence Life, and Career Development. After several years in Higher Education, Casey shifted to the world of Business and worked in Sales. During his time in Sales, Casey exceeded his quota, earned Sales Rep of the month several times, and attained President’s Club.

Mr. McCloskey’s background in Secondary and Post-Secondary Education along with his experience in business brings strong leadership to manage and support a team in the operational functions at Direct Learning Systems, Inc. In his current role, Casey works closely with school directors in his oversight of day-to-day operations, budgeting, technology, student data, compliance, and academic operations to support our mission and help students reach their personal and professional goals.

Valerie L. Behrle
Director of Education

Valerie, Director of Education since October of 2001, has devoted her career to assisting individuals increase their skill base through both site-based and distance education. Prior to joining Blackstone Career Institute, she worked as a teacher, tutor and reading specialist in various educational settings. Her 20+ years of experience includes students ranging in ages from K-12 to post-graduate. As the Director of Education, she oversees the internal and external faculty/instructors and is responsible for program research, editorial revisions and branded marketing strategies relating to BCI educational offerings. Valerie holds a Masters in Education and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education, both from Bloomsburg University.

Donnita Fisher
Accounting / Finance Manager

Donnita is the Accounting/Finance Manager and joins DLS with over 25 years of experience. She graduated from Franklin University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a Minor in Finance. Her professional experiences and educational background in Accounting, Finances, and Human Resources 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 Assocation 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.


Maggie McCloskey
DLS Marketing Manager

Maggie brings several years of experience in Customer Service, Management, Brand Awareness, Marketing, Strategic Lead Generation, and Administration to DLS. In 2015, she graduated from the University of South Florida, earning a BA in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. After graduating, 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—supervising a team of 15 advisors engaging with nationwide customers to provide solutions and seamless experiences. In her role at DLS, Maggie manages the day-to-day aspects of all DLS brand endeavors. She leads collaboration of the DLS brand teams on various projects, from ideation and strategy to implementation and reviewing results, in an effort to achieve company growth goals.

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.

Michele Long
Director of Regulatory 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.

Lori Ritch
Operations / Marketing

Lori’s career began at the Institute of Children’s Literature. As a recent graduate, she worked with upper management to build and implement marketing plans as well as budgets for cash flow and purchasing. While at the Institute, Lori held various positions including managing daily processes, operations, IT projects, print production, systems management, and communicating with students. Lori joined DLS in 2021, bringing over 30 years administrative and marketing experience. Along with coordinating creative designs, the annual market directories, and other administrative tasks, Lori is responsible for market research, implementation, measuring, and reporting results. Outside of work, Lori enjoys the great outdoors and spending time with her family.

Tammy Kromer
Student Services / Mail Room Manager

Tammy has over 20 years of experience in customer service and began at Direct Learning Systems in the fall of 2001.  As a Sr. Student Service Representative, Tammy serves as a mentor to the staff.  Her responsibilities include processing student exams, assignments, and graduation documents.  She also assures each student has their appropriate course resources. Tammy assists the General Manager in various duties including printing processes.

Jacque Irizarry
Graphic + Web Design / Project Manager

Jacque is a graduate of SNHU where she majored in Graphics and Media Arts. At BCI, her responsibilities include graphic + web design, project management, and assisting our Marketing Department with design assets. Jacque loves playing basketball, touring craft breweries, and volunteering within her community through various food and clothing drives. She also enjoys dabbling with photography, painting, and other forms of creative arts.

Denise Di Bernard
Digital Production & Print Specialist

Denise studied Elementary Education at West Chester University and later pursued an Associates 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.

Matthew Schoch
Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Matt is a 2021 graduate of King’s College and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Writing and Mass Communication. At King’s, Matt worked with the Scop Literary Magazine, The Crown campus newspaper, held an internship with The Daily Caller, and also served as a captain for the cross country and track and field teams. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he focuses on internal operations and assists the Development Team in curriculum updates. In his free time, Matt likes to run, play disc golf, watch sports, and spend time with friends and family.

Anthony Germani
Student Services Representative / Sales Development

Anthony is a Penn State graduate where he majored in Education. Professionally, he has worked in education and as a sales representative. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he is responsible for continuously evaluating and developing our processes in order to grow our business and provide quality experiences to attract and retain our students. Outside of work, Anthony enjoys spending time with his family and enjoys playing/watching sports (especially basketball and golf).

James McCloskey
Admissions Advisor / Student Services Representative

James brings his experience in management, communications, and sales to the DLS team. After studying Communications & New Media at Coastal Carolina University, James started his career in an industry he’s passionate about: pro-golf management. James served as a leader at five country clubs in four different states, gaining a vast knowledge of excellent customer experience, sales, management structures and team building skills. In 2020, he left the golf industry to work in the mortgage industry. As a loan officer at AmRes Mortgage Company, James worked with insurance companies, banks, and title companies to ensure mortgagees were taken care of. In his role at DLS, he manages day-to-day prospect relations, collaborates with marketing to enhance long-term strategy & communications, and drives the optimization of the admissions department.

Jamie Klaum
Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Jamie graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in English/Professional Writing and a minor in Criminal Justice. She has work published in Shoofly Literary Magazine and she wrote for the Keystone Newspaper for two years. Jamie interned at the Rohrbach Library Archives where she designed and published her own research magazine. At Direct Learning Systems Inc., she works in the education department developing, editing, and writing content. Outside of work, Jamie enjoys hiking—so much that she lived in a converted bus while traveling the country to hike in National Parks. She is also an avid reader and is slowly building her own home library.

Christine Molnar
Student Services Representative

Christine is a graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. She has over 20 years of customer service experience starting out in the retail sector. Christine’s main role is to assist prospective, current, and former students, answering administrative questions as well as providing guidance with lessons. In addition to spending time with her family, Christine enjoys photography, running, crafting, and savoring the great outdoors.

Shannon Jacobs
Student Services Representative / Social Media Coordinator

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.


Cameron Kilpatrick
Student Services / Shipping Associate

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
Firearms / Student Services / Shipping Associate

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.


Antonio Smith
IT Systems Technician

Antonio graduated from the trade school Lehigh Career & Technical Institute with a computer and networking technology degree while attending high school. Afterward, he pursued his associate’s degree at Lehigh Carbon Community College as a computer specialist in networking technology while working in the field of IT. At DLS, his role is to manage all IT systems and foresee all future IT projects and roles, ensuring that DLS has superb technology systems in place and working properly. Outside of DLS, Antonio likes to play video games and spend time with his friends and family.


Adjunct Faculty

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

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.

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.

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 facultyColette 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.


Kerry Regan

Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Child Care Provider Adjunct Faculty

Kerry received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Special Education from the University of Delaware in 2015. She minored in Disabilities Studies and Human Development and Family Studies. Kerry has worked with children from birth-second grade. Currently, Kerry is an Early Childhood Special Education teacher in an inclusive setting. She works in Williamson County Schools outside of Nashville, TN. Once a week, she volunteers in the playrooms at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.


Patricia Ireland

Medical Transcription Adjunct Faculty

Patricia Ireland has been active in the field of medical transcription, both as a multispecialty practitioner and as instructor of medical terminology, basic anatomy, and medical transcription since the mid-1970s. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, working also as a freelance medical/technical author and editor. She has taught medical terminology for the Northside Independent School District (adult education) and has submitted a proposal to teach it again in Fall 2022.
She has co-authored four medical transcription textbooks for Cengage Learning: Hillcrest Medical Center, Forrest General Medical Center, Quality Medical Editing, and The Dictated Word. She enjoys volunteering at the Center for Refugee Services. She advises refugee students on English grammar and punctuation, editing and revising their high school and college papers. She is an animal lover who shares her home with 2 indoor cats—Barbara and Sam E.

Laura Switkowski - Vet Assistant FacultyLaura 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.

Catie Capuzzi

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 for 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.

S. Upton - Medical Office Assistant FacultySamantha Upton

B.S. in Nursing, PA Registered Nurse
Staff RN, Bryn Mawr Hospital
Medical Office Assistant 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. After working as an inpatient nurse with medical-surgical, oncology, and telemetry patients for nearly 7 years, she transitioned to the outpatient setting a nurse practitioner. She is a member of the American Nurses Association, American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society.

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.


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