Assistant Vice Provost, Executive Director
Jim Lowe was appointed as Assistant Vice Provost, Executive Director for the Center for Career Development of the University of Connecticut in February of 2013. Prior to his appointment to the Provost Office, Lowe served as Assistant Dean, Executive Director, External Relations and Outreach, of UConn’s School of Business, overseeing the Undergraduate and MBA populations’ career development programs and initiatives, Veteran Affairs, Diversity Initiatives, Marketing/Communications, and External Relations Departments. Before joining UConn, Lowe spent 10 years with Lee Hecht Harrison, a human capital solutions firm, primarily in their Manhattan, NY offices. During that time he was a Senior Vice President and General Manager overseeing all operational, financial, HR and marketing/sales functions at the firm’s international headquarters practice office and was SVP, Regional Sales Manager where he developed and executed strategic sales initiatives for the firm’s professional services, focusing on Fortune 1000 and mid-tier companies.
Lowe held senior level executive positions at a number of international companies such as: Leslie’s Poolmart, controlling all sales and operational functions of $350 million national business; Warner Bros., where he was Director of Training and Organizational Development addressing the talent needs that came with an expansion from 26 domestic locations to over 100 domestic and 16 international locations; and Linens ‘N Things, where he created sales, leadership and management development programs.
Lowe has been a frequent guest lecturer at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business Administration, New York University’s Stern School of Business, and Fairfield University, from which he received his BA degree. He is also a Certified Career Management Professional, and is certified in multiple individual and 360 organizational assessment tools.
Nancy Bilmes is currently the Director of the Center for Career Development. Some of her responsibilities include supervising staff, overseeing the day to day operations of the department and managing all departmental activities. Previous to being director Nancy was responsible for departmental programming, supervising the Peer Career Advisors, developing new programming initiatives, and overseeing experiential learning opportunities. She also works one-on-one with students and presents workshops and presentations on all career related topics. Some of Nancy’s previous roles in the Center for Career Development (formerly Career Services), included Associate Director, Assistant Director for Experiential Learning, Career Counselor and Cooperative Education Coordinator.
Prior to coming to UConn, Nancy received her Master of Arts Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Higher Education from Central Connecticut State University where she worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Alcohol and Other Drugs. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communication from Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York where she was a Peer Career Counselor. Nancy developed her passion for Career Services while serving in this role as an undergraduate and has devoted her life’s work to helping students manager their careers and find their own passions.
Associate Director, Programming & Internal Relations
Amelinda Vazquez (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director, Programming & Internal Relations at the Center for Career Development. Amelinda leads the Center’s strategic vision for in-person and virtual career readiness programming for UConn Nation. In addition to career development programs, Amelinda oversees internal relations, which focuses on building and sustaining relationships with internal organizations within UConn’s community. Through internal relations, Amelinda manages communication, outreach, and partnership with over 70 internal university constituencies including academic departments, student organizations and activities, cultural centers, and student support departments.
Amelinda earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master of Science in Communication from Central Connecticut State University. Amelinda has worked in Higher Education in various capacities. Prior to her beginning at UConn, she worked at both Eastern Connecticut State University and Assumption College in Residential Life and served as the Communication Chair for the NASPA Region I Latino Knowledge Community.
Ana Clara Blesso
Associate Director, Career Coaching & Experiential Learning
Ana Clara Blesso (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director for Experiential Learning and Career Coaching at the Center for Career Development. In her role, she serves as the department lead for internship and cooperative education programming and career coaching oversight and direction. Ana Clara provides leadership on various internship-related activities; including facilitating the center’s internship classes and administering the Center’s annual Internship & Co-op Week.
Prior to her role at UConn, Ana Clara served as Assistant Director of Fairfield University’s Career Planning Center. Ana Clara is a trained salary negotiation facilitator through the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and a National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) mentor. She received a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from Wake Forest University and a Bachelor of Science degree from Assumption College.
Beth Settje has been working in higher education for close to 30 years and at UConn since 2001. She has held a few different roles in the department, currently serving as the Associate Director, College to Career Transitions and Alumni Engagement. Her efforts will focus on students finishing their experience in college or graduate school and preparing for what is next. She will also address transitioning into the first year of a graduate program or work. Lastly, her work will include reaching out to alumni regarding their career development needs as well as ways they want to support current students with mentoring, networking and general career support. Beth is the instructor for the department’s Senior Year Experience course, a one credit class open to graduating undergraduates; she also organizes and schedules small and large programming to prepare students for life after graduation.
Beth is a strong advocate for students figuring out their academic and career paths, understanding the route is not always clearly marked and that detours often lead to new, unexpected discoveries. Her favorite career theory is Planned Happenstance, which emphasizes creating or taking advantage of the different opportunities that present themselves each day. She encourages students to trust and believe in themselves, as they figure out their choices.
Beth earned her Bachelor of Science in Business (Marketing major/English minor) from Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and her Masters of Education in College Student Personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her favorite undergraduate course was Business Writing and she uses elements of that course in her daily work at the CCD. She is also a proud mom to a UConn student and wife to a UConn alum.
Assistant Director, Corporate Partner Relations, Fairfield County
With a focus on Fairfield and New Haven Counties, Chrys is committed to creating effective engagement opportunities between employers and the diverse, work-force ready UConn-Stamford and Storrs based students. From her professional experience as a Director at several Fortune 1000 companies overseeing global brands like Dannon, Nabisco and Playtex and Save the Children (nonprofit), Chrys has extensive first-hand experience in business management and leadership of global, culturally diverse teams. With this insider’s understanding, she is able to guide employers to recruit their teams for today and tomorrow. Chrys also taps into her longstanding volunteerism with education, arts and service organizations to develop internship opportunities for nonprofits.
Assessment & Technology Coordinator
Darlene Reynolds works on Assessment & Technology, this includes being the main administrator for multiple Center for Career Development technologies such as HuskyCareerLink and the Husky Mentor Network. She assists students, employers and alumni in utilizing these platforms effectively.
Darlene came to the university in 2000 and began as the front desk receptionist in the Center for Career Development. Then worked with many of the department programs such as Co-op program, and Human Services Career Fair now known as the Careers for the Common Good Career Fair.
Career Consultant, School of Engineering
Eran Peterson is a Career Consultant, assisting students in all colleges in both major and career decision making. With expertise in job and internship search strategies, résumé and cover letter development and interview preparation, Eran can help identify and tailor career development to meet individual needs. Additionally, Eran regularly provides workshops to classes and campus organizations on all career related topics.
Francesca Crivello is the Operations Coordinator for the Center for Career Development. Francesca manages and assists in the performance of programs and events; evaluates supplemental resources; supervises student employees; assists in the preparation of budgets and monitors expenses; and directs departmental workflow. Prior to her role at the Center for Career Development, Francesca worked for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, compiling application materials and processing them through the online system. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, Linguistics, and Psychology and a Minor in Business Administration from UConn.
Kay Kimball Gruder
Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Programs and Services
Kay Kimball Gruder (she|her|hers) joined the Center for Career Development in 2014 and has over 30 years of experience in career development. Kay leads career programs and services for graduate students, postdocs, and alumni of graduate programs, and she works with faculty, department leadership, and colleagues within and beyond UConn to support graduate student and postdoctoral scholar success. Within UConn Kay serves on the Graduate Student and Postdoc Affairs team at The Graduate School, is a member of the University Senate Student Welfare Committee, and partners on a variety of initiatives with International Student & Scholar Services. Kay meets with graduate students and postdocs as they explore and prepare for careers, engage in job searches, and consider options and opportunities to apply their skills, knowledge, and training.
Prior to working at UConn, Kay worked at both private and technical institutions and has additional experience in admissions, parent relations, and whole-student advising. Kay has a M.Ed. from Lesley College and a B.A. from Bennington College.
Kelsey Keefe (she/her/hers) joined the Center for Career Development in 2017 and has worked at the University of Connecticut since 2013. As part of the programming team, Kelsey plans, implements, and evaluates the Center for Career Development’s programming initiatives, specifically with respect to webinars and other virtual programming. Additionally, she provides one-on-one career coaching, facilitating major and career exploration and decision-making and career readiness skill development.
Kelsey earned her Master of Arts in Adult Learning from UConn and Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences (Major: Psychology) with a minor in Architectural Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Associate Director, Operations
Lee Hameroff is an Assistant Director in the Center for Career Development (CCD). Lee joined the CCD team in August of 2014, his primary focus is in the area of Assessment and Technology. This includes responsibility for managing all aspects of department technology as well as assessment of internal services, programs and first destination data.
Lee earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. Previous to UConn, Lee worked as Director of Career Services at Goodwin College in East Hartford, CT helping to establish and grow all functions of the department. Prior to beginning his career in higher education, Lee worked in various roles for an education management firm in the Washington DC area.
Lisa Famularo (she/her/hers) is a Career Consultant with a focus on the physical, life, and behavioral sciences within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (CLAS). Lisa works closely with many CLAS offices and departments to provide programming and resources to meet the career-related needs of CLAS students. Lisa also meets one-on-one with students to discuss many career-related topics, including major and career exploration, career planning materials and resources, post-graduation opportunities, and general career development.
Prior to her current role, Lisa served as a Graduate Assistant in the Center for Career Development for two years, where she coordinated the Practice Interview Program, supported the CCD’s internship and co-op courses, and delivered tailored presentations to student groups. She has also completed internships with both the UConn Women’s Center and Learning Communities program, each with a focus on the career development needs of a specific student population.
Lisa earned her Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs in 2018 from the Neag School of Education at UConn. She graduated from Ithaca College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, concentrating in Management.
Assistant Director for Corporate Partner Relations
Lisa McGuire is the assistant director responsible for corporate partner relations, connecting employers to UConn students and alumni. She manages the external relations and corporate functions and is responsible for maintaining and expanding the hiring of UConn students and alumni; and supports fundraising efforts for career-related events and programs. She recruits and consults with employers on best strategies for establishing and developing effective recruitment programs for both full and part-time employees.
She joined UConn after spending more than 25 years with the business community in Connecticut. Most recently, she was with the Ct. Business & Industry Association (CBIA), working with large and small businesses on public policy, communications, and community relations. Prior to joining CBIA she was with People’s Bank, managing their community relations and public policy programs, which included working extensively with small businesses and other lenders to maximize business potential in the state. Lisa has also been active in the UConn Alumni Association, serving on the Board of Directors for 2 terms and she is currently the Vice President of the Greater Hartford Chapter. She lives in South Windsor with her husband and daughter, and is also the proud parent of their son, a recent UConn grad living on his own.
Corporate Partner Relations Coordinator
Marisa Tatiwong is the Corporate Partner Relations Coordinator at the Center for Career Development, and focuses on providing administrative, logistical and technical support for on-campus interviews and special events, including UConn’s career fairs. Working with employers to ensure their visits to UConn are successful, Marisa assists with marketing on-campus interviews to students and serves as the main contact for employers while they are on campus.
Marisa graduated from UConn in 2008 with a B.S. in Business Administration, and worked with socially-minded enterprises in southeast Asia for eight years before joining the Center for Career Development.
Monique Cooper (she/her/hers) is currently a Career Consultant at the Center for Career Development. As a consultant, she meets with undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students on a variety of career-related topics, including but not limited to, major/career exploration; résumé and cover letter writing; internship, job search and graduate school search, and additional career development topics. In addition, she coordinates the CCD Student Internship Program and oversees the recruiting, hiring, training, and supervision of 25+ interns. Specifically, she works closely with approximately 15+ Career Interns, who are student paraprofessionals providing résumé critiques to undergraduates and presenting career development workshops to students. Monique is also the Chair of CCD’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which strategically assesses and implements career programming and services to serve students and employers from diverse populations. Monique is a strong advocate for providing culturally responsive career development practices to meet the needs of an ever-growing, diverse student body.
Monique received her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from UConn and earned her Master’s degree in School Counseling from Cambridge College. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Learning, Leadership, and Educational Policy with a concentration in Adult Learning from UConn’s Neag School of Education. Her research interests include examining the lived experiences of students across the African and Latinx Diasporas, particularly women who are pursuing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as well as identifying culturally-responsive career development practices for Black and Latinx students. In addition, she is currently working on a study to examine how career educators know, understand, and practice intercultural and global fluency. She is also a member of the UConn Microaggressions Research Team, which seeks to understand to experiences of students of Color at UConn.
Administrative Services Specialist
Pamela Zagami is the Administrative Services Specialist to James R. Lowe, Assistant Vice Provost / Executive Director of the Center for Career Development and Fiscal Officer for the department. She focuses on budgetary, personnel, and business operations and is the department’s Security Liaison for Human Capital Management and a Readiness Council Member for new university initiatives and programs / platforms / processes. Pam provides department-wide support including project development and management, event planning, and travel. As Fiscal Officer, Pam is responsible for budget management, procurement, annual budget construction, as well as annual GUF submissions. She is a departmental liaison to the Provost Office, Human Resources, Labor Relations, Contracts, Procurement, Budget, Accounting, Cash Operations, UConn Foundation, among others.
Prior to joining UConn, Pam was a Senior Manager with Deloitte’s Office of National Immigration, overseeing the Tax Practice’s immigration program and was the Firm’s I-9 Specialist for Human Resources in the United States. She received her Bachelor of Music degree from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, MA.
Career Consultant, College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources
Paul Gagnon is a Career Consultant embedded within the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources. Paul advises and counsels students and alumni on selecting an academic major, gaining admittance to graduate school, searching for internships and jobs, and the career planning, development and management process.
Paul earned an AS in turf management and BS in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst; an MBA at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY; and an MA in public policy from Trinity College in Hartford. The first ten years of Paul’s career were devoted to learning everything he could about the golf industry, and that experience included holding positions of assistant greens keeper and assistant golf pro. Then, after earning an MBA, for the next 14 years he worked in strategic planning, financial research and analysis, new business development, mergers and acquisitions and product marketing for three Fortune 500 international food, beverage and agri-genetics organizations.
Since that time and over the past 20 years he diversified into roles in higher education where he has designed curricula for and taught numerous college courses in entrepreneurship, business and management, advised executives of small businesses, counseled students on career management, helped launch Wesleyan University’s Social Entrepreneurship Center – which supports students and alumni as they create organizations that address a public need in areas such as healthcare, education and sustainable agriculture – and even served as the interim associate dean at Central Connecticut State University’s School of Business. Additionally, Paul holds a U.S. patent and established and operated for a decade a management consulting firm where he helped initiate business process redesign and revenue-generating services for a wide variety of private sector firms, NGOs, and government agencies.
Program Director - Regional Campuses & CPR
As Program Director, Bob Volle leads both the Regional Campus Career Service and Corporate Partner Relations teams. The CPR team is focused on building strong relationships with our employer partners getting them to post jobs on HuslyCareerLink, attend career fairs on all campuses, particitpate in career panels and hire our students for internships, co-ops and full time jobs. The Regional Campus team focuses on building out robust and effective career services programs at UConn’s regional campuses.
Before coming to the Center for Career Development, Bob spent four years developing and delivering career services programs in UConn’s School of Business working with students in the MBA, MS HRM and the MS BAPM programs. Prior to joining UConn, Bob spent his career working in various corporate roles which focused upon career management, leadership development, team building and executive coaching.
Assistant Director (Hartford Campus)
A Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and student advocate who has worked in higher education for over 30 years, and at UConn since 2010. Robin transitioned from the UConn Hartford Counseling & Wellness Center to the UConn Center for Career Development on the Hartford campus in 2017. Currently, she manages the CCD-Hartford office, providing comprehensive career services/workshop programs to a diverse population of undergraduate and graduate students. Robin also supports CCD programs/events at the Storrs campus and encourages Hartford students to attend these career opportunities through the ‘Take the Bus’ campaign. In addition, Robin supports the CCD Corporate Partner Relationship team as she welcomes employers to the Hartford campus to meet students and inform them about current/future internship, co-op and employment opportunities. Robin develops and maintains connections with colleagues from diverse Hartford campus academic departments in an effort to promote CCD services/programs and events.
Assistant Director, Career Development, Stamford Campus
As a Nationally Certified and State Licensed Counselor, Tara brings close to 20 years of experience in career development and higher education with a passion for working with diverse populations. Tara manages the Center for Career Development at the Stamford regional campus providing comprehensive career services and programming for all students. Prior to coming to UConn, Tara began her career in the Federal TRIO programs, supporting first generation college students in achieving their academic and career goals. Throughout her career, she coached numerous college students in their professional development, initiated innovative career programming, and developed impactful opportunities for experiential learning. Tara has made meaningful contributions to the career development field through conference presentations on best practices and lectures at colleges, universities and community organizations. She is the recipient of the Guiding Light Award for Student Services, the Eastern Association of Colleges & Employer Diversity Advancement Award, and Alva C. Cooper Award for Best Practices in Career Development. Tara holds a Bachelor of Science in Speech Communication with a concentration in Advertising from Emerson College and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from Fairfield University.
Kristen (she/her/hers) is a Career Consultant and one of two liaisons to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS). With a primary focus on the Humanities and Social Sciences, as well as the Cultural and Ethnic Centers and Institutes, Kristen partners with faculty, staff, and the CLAS Alumni Association to develop and coordinate career-related programming and events that help CLAS students explore career options and feel confident in the unique skillsets they develop in their academic coursework. In addition, Kristen is a Certified Professional Resume Writer through the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches and meets one-on-one with students for coaching on various topics including, resumes, cover letters, career/major exploration, interviewing, and general career development.
As a UConn CLAS alumnus (Journalism, ’04), Kristen particularly enjoys assisting this population of students in their career exploration process, as well as, helping all students recognize the power of networking as it relates to finding and growing their career. Kristen also managers the Center for Career Development’s Practice Interview program and is consistently looking for innovative ways to help students prepare to make their best first impression on an employer. Before returning to UConn, Kristen worked in many different industries but spent the majority of her career working in Human Resources/Talent Acquisition in the insurance industry.
Assistant Director, Corporate Partner Relations, NYC
With focus on the New York Metropolitan Area, Christina connects employers with UConn talent. Her experience includes partnering with employers across diverse industries to develop an on-campus presence and recruitment strategy through employer engagement initiatives including career fairs, workshops, and networking events at Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to working in higher education, Christina was a school counselor in the Stamford Public Schools where she helped high school students achieve their academic, college, and career goals. In addition, she worked with first generation college bound students through college access programs to help them be successful in higher education. Christina also has more than five years of experience in international staffing, recruitment fairs, and cultural exchange. Her extensive experience in working with students in transitions helps provide employers insight on expanding access to full-time and internship roles to talented candidates. Christina has a BA in Psychology and Italian from Binghamton University and a MA in School Counseling from Fairfield University.