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.

Stacy Feifel
Education and Development Manager

A graduate of Kutztown University with a BS in telecommunications, Stacy has many years of experience in the administrative field and has been with Direct Learning Systems since 2007. Her responsibilities include working with the development team to construct and revise various educational, marketing, and web-based material. 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 Lehigh Carbon Community College where she majored in General Studies/Arts. She has over 8 years’ experience in Customer Service working for Telerx Marketing where she was responsible for several accounts including, M&M Mars. At BCI, her responsibilities include: inbound and outbound calls, student correspondence, providing educational assistance to students, and creating/coordinating various IT projects with our programmers. Jacque loves basketball and enjoys dabbling with black and white photography in her spare time.

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.

Carolyn Nasto
Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Carolyn is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education, with a concentration in Community Health. Some of her professional experience includes previously working for Lehigh Carbon Community College as a Program Coordinator. While at LCCC, she created curriculum, instructed courses and assisted students with career development. At Direct Learning Systems Inc., she works with the education department in development, editing and content writing. Carolyn provides educational assistance to students and completes daily business operation tasks. In her spare time, Carolyn enjoys singing, cooking and spending time with her 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).

Michael McCloskey
Student Services Representative / MGS Coordinator

Michael is a Senior at Penn State University where he majors in Supply Chain Management and will earn his bachelor degree in 2020.  He has over 8 years’ experience in Restaurant Management and Food Sales working for Sysco Corporation and Ruby Tuesdays where he was General Manager responsible for the complete operations of a 3 million dollar restaurant.  At BCI, his responsibilities include: inbound MGS student calls, student correspondence, providing educational assistance to MGS students, and ordering inventory items related to the MGS line of business. Michael loves going to the shooting range and is a member of the Ranger Rod Club.  He also enjoys staying fit by running and spending hours at the gym in his free time.

Laura Conaway
Student Services Representative / Writer / Editor

Laura graduated from Kutztown University in May 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, with a degree in Library Science B.S. Ed., with an add-on English teaching certificate, and a minor in Professional Writing. She has a few published works with various companies including Sadie Robertson’s organization, Live Original. At DLS, she works with the education department and will be implementing a library database for the courses offered, in addition to being a content writer and editor for blogs and social media. Outside of work, Laura enjoys writing creatively and maintaining a blog while dabbling in music and continually adding instruments to her repertoire of skills, which thus far includes violin, guitar, and piano. She also enjoys spending time outdoors with friends and family and volunteering with community events.

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.


Andrew Wilson

Pharmacy Technician Adjunct Faculty

Andy Wilson is a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy and has been serving on Active Duty for over 17 years. He has been a Pharmacy Technician for 15 years. He has served as a Pharmacy Technician with the Navy in operational units, As Pharmacy manager of a Branch Medical Clinic and Overseas Hospital. He has deployed to Iraq and Africa. Additionally, his most recent duty station as a Pharmacy Technician was at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas as an Instructor for Military Pharmacy Technician School where he taught Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy personnel and was selected as Instructor of the Year in 2014. Currently, he is a Medical Officer Recruiter stationed at NRD Minneapolis.

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.


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!