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.

Zeke Stout
Director of Marketing

Zeke Stout received his Bachelors of Science in Biology from Middle Tennessee State University. After several years on the clinical side of the medical field he transitioned into the sales side. This is where he found his passion for marketing after seeing some weakness in that aspect of medical sales. Zeke started his own medical supply company and grew it to the largest local owned in Middle Tennessee. He then went on to serve as an executive at a large conglomerate of businesses in Nashville, TN where he honed many aspects of marketing to different demographics. After being the Chief Administrative Officer and sharpening new marketing skills, Zeke moved on to help build one of the largest online gunsmithing schools in the nation as an Executive Vice President of Product and Positioning. In that role, he was certified as a Higher Education Professional in leadership through the DEAC. He was also the host and gunsmithing subject matter expert for the Discovery channel show Master Of Arms.

Zeke brings his expertise marketing business to Blackstone. Mr. Stout is a strong leader that is also a visionary for the school’s growth. Responsible for maintaining the creative consciousness of Blackstone, Mr. Stout will create marketing campaigns and implementation methods, with the input from students and staff, while maintaining a consistent reputation and standard that Blackstone Career Institute is striving to achieve.

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.

Michael McCloskey
Director of Operations and Production / MGS Coordinator

Michael graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business (B.S.), specializing in Project/Supply Chain Management. In addition to his degree, Michael earned an SAP certificate which focuses around ERP systems. Prior to his role at Direct Learning Systems, Michael worked in sales for Sysco, the world’s largest broad-line food distributor. While at Sysco he was involved in marketing and distributing food products, small wares, kitchen equipment, and tabletop items to restaurants, healthcare, and educational facilities, hospitality businesses like hotels and inns, and wholesale to other companies that provide foodservice (like Aramark and Sodexo). Before Sysco, Michael spent 8 years working in hospitality management for Ruby Tuesday INC. As General Manager, he was responsible for a 3 million dollar restaurant and 50+ employees. Michael’s background in business, sales, and management help bring strong leadership to the team and day-to-day functionality at Direct Learning Systems. In his current role, Michael works closely with other DLS Directors along with vendors and outside providers. He is responsible for handling inventories, budgeting, implementing new technologies, quality assurance, and supervising financial management.

Stacy Feifel
Director of Academic Programs and Compliance

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 maintain and comply with licensure and 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.

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
Student Services Manager / IT Project Manager

Jacque is a graduate of SNHU where she majored in Graphics and Media Arts. At BCI, her responsibilities include: graphic + web design, IT projects with our programmers, and providing assistance to students through inbound and outbound calls, correspondence, and educational assistance. Jacque loves playing basketball and volunteering within her community through various food and clothing drives. She also enjoys dabbling with photography, painting, and other forms of creative arts.

Jamie Nerenberg
Student Services Representative / Shipping Associate

Jamie spent four years as an Operations Specialist on board USS Taylor, FFG-50. A Public Safety Management graduate of Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ), Jamie has interned with the City of Orlando’s Office of Emergency Management. Jamie also acted as the Chapter President for FSCJ’s Student Veterans of America Club, advocating for student veterans and their future personal, and professional goals. Jamie has several years of experience in Inventory Management and Warehouse Operations with over 10 years in customer service and Public Safety. Jamie is currently pursuing a B.A.S. from Penn State in Information, Science and Technology, with a Minor in Security and Risk Analysis. His interests are in public health and safety, emergency management, security, and information technology. He enjoys reading, fishing, hunting and traveling.

Rhiannon Harwi
Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Rhiannon graduated from Muhlenberg College’s School of Continuing Studies in May of 2020 with a double major in Media & Communication and Studio Art. While a student there, she worked as a Presidential Assistant in the Language Department for 2 years, where she assisted students, professors, and staff regularly with technological inquiries. Before transferring to Muhlenberg, she attended classes at LCCC and served as a student editor for the college newspaper during her last semester. She additionally has 8 years of retail experience. At DLS, she works with the Education, Development, and Marketing teams to improve course content and support brand awareness. Outside of work, Rhiannon enjoys spending time with her family and friends, beachcombing at the Jersey Shore, and creating art (especially painting and embroidery).

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).

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.

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.

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.

Cheyenne DeThomas
Shipping Associate / Administrative Assistant

In the shipping room, Cheyenne assists in daily inbound and outbound production and shipping. As an administrative assistant, her daily responsibilities include grading, data entry, preparing graduate documents, and relaying student survey feedback to administration and staff. Cheyenne is currently enrolled at Cedar Crest College pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in hopes of one day becoming a Civil Rights Attorney. Interests outside of work include true crime television, investigative journalism, and mass communication through media. In her spare time, she enjoys researching emergency preparedness, finding and making new recipes, and playing with her three cats.

Adjunct Faculty

Jeffrey Hauck

Chief Operations Officer- Hauck Risk Management
Paralegal Adjunct Faculty

As COO Mr. Hauck oversees the functions that support all cases and programs at Hauck Risk Management (HRM), a solution consulting firm where organizations are guided to turn risk and compliance efforts into opportunities to drive sustainable business value.  HRM clients have included the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, PA, and the Wal-Mart Corporation.

Mr. Hauck holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree (J.D.) from Widener University School of Law where he graduated from the Law and Government Institute with a concentration in Constitutional and Administrative Law.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) in Criminal Justice from DeSales University.  Mr. Hauck is a retired Municipal Police Supervisor and is a Licensed Private Detective.  In addition to his position as COO Mr. Hauck holds a Commission as an Officer in the U.S. Army and is the Company Commander for a USAR CBRN Unit.  Through HRM 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 pursue 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.

Mr. Hauck has been certified as a police academy instructor and as a law enforcement trainer.  He has been a Professor of Criminal Justice since 2005.  In addition, Mr. Hauck has been recognized as a qualified expert witness in the Pennsylvania State Court System.  He is an author and has been published several times in the Administrative Law Journal of the PA Bar Association (among others).  Mr. Hauck is certified in many law enforcement disciplines such as police firearms training, close-quarters combat, and defensive and control tactics.  He holds Shodan rank in Karate and is a proponent of self-defense and situational awareness.

Mr. Hauck maintains or has held membership in numerous professional organizations such as the American Bar Association, Police Executive Research Forum, American Society for Law Enforcement Trainers, Council of International Investigators, American Society of Industrial Security, and others.

Mr. Hauck is an active volunteer in his community counseling various veterans organizations.  He donates time and resources to the Child Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.  His leisure activities include spending time with his wife and family, chauffeuring kids to sports and functions, attempting to cook in the kitchen and on the grill, reading multiple books at one time, and generally pursuing balance in a hectic modern world.


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 is an instructor in the Medical Billing and Coding Department. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Master’s degree in Vocational Education, both from Auburn University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from Western Governor’s University and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Ottawa University. She currently works as an instructor at a couple of universities teaching Medical Billing and Coding classes, as well as independent coding for various companies. She is CPC and CPC-I certified through the AAPC.


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.  Her past experience in the dental profession includes chairside dental assisting, dental receptionist and dental office manager. She currently holds the position of Dental Administrative Assistant at Fortis Institute, Scranton, PA. and Administrative Service Coordinator for the DentalCare program at Jewish Family Service, Scranton, PA.  She 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 A. Ireland has been active in the field of medical transcription, both as a multispecialty practitioner and as an 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 co-authored four medical transcription textbooks for Cengage Learning: Hillcrest Medical Center, Forrest General Medical Center, The Dictated Word, and Quality Medical Editing. She enjoys volunteering at the Center for Refugee Services where she teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) and helps refugee students with written English. She is an animal lover who shares her home with 3 indoor cats—Barbara, Sam E., and Julie.

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 Grumbein

Physical Therapist
Physical Therapy Adjunct Faculty

Catie graduated from a Doctoral program 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 has completed various clinical affiliations, primarily focusing in the field of pediatrics in acute care, outpatient, and school-based settings. Additionally, Catie has obtained clinical affiliations in orthopedics and cardiac rehabilitation. She completed research while obtaining her doctorate on patients with Parkinson’s disease, where she, along with her research group, were selected to present at an annual Research Symposium. Catie is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and plans to promote evidence-based practice to her future patients. Catie’s other passions include dancing and exercising, going to the beach, 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. She has worked as a nurse with medical-surgical, oncological, and telemetry patients in Bryn Mawr, PA for five years. Samantha is a certified Medical-Surgical registered nurse through the MSNCB. She is currently enrolled in Drexel University’s MSN program. She is also a member of the American Nurses Association 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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