Senior Leadership

Joe Patterson

Senior Vice President, Admissions

Joe Patterson has 20 years of experience in business development and contact center leadership in the higher education and pharmaceutical industries. Prior to joining HotChalk, Joe served as the Executive Director of Thunderbird Executive Education at Thunderbird School of Global Management. In his 12 years at Thunderbird, Joe led global student recruitment, was responsible for business development in North America, South America, and Asia, and founded Thunderbird Online, the school’s online certificate and custom corporate programs division which provided innovative online learning solutions to working professionals in over 100 countries. Joe’s work with Thunderbird and corporate clients such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, General Motors, the Red Cross, and UNICEF has taken him to more than 20 countries on four continents.

Before his time at Thunderbird, Joe led several large client support teams for both a start-up pharmaceutical marketing and technology firm and McKesson, where he managed cross-functional implementation teams to launch customer support programs for pharmaceutical companies such as Glaxo Smith Kline, Novartis, Amgen, Janssen, and AstraZeneca. Joe earned his bachelor’s in English from Arizona State University, holds a Global MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management, and is an alum of Penn State University’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning.

Mary Jane Pearson, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Academic Affairs and Curriculum - Education

Mary Jane Pearson, Ph.D., has been involved in “educator education” for more than 30 years. Dr. Pearson’s unique credentials as a teacher educator include chairing the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), the largest educator licensing agency in the U.S. During her nine-year tenure as a commissioner, she co-authored the research on beginning teacher support and assessment that has become the worldwide standard for the support of new teachers. In addition, Dr. Pearson was appointed by the U.S. president to serve as the regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education. In recognition of her service to education, Dr. Pearson was named California Teacher Educator of the Year. Dr. Pearson earned her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

Ed Sirianno

Senior Vice President, Marketing

A forward-thinking leader who approaches each project with determination and drive, Ed works closely with clients and CCA team members. He’s involved with nearly every aspect of CCA’s work, particularly in the realms of strategic brand direction and creative development. Ed has extensive experience in marketing communications. Before joining CCA in 2001, he was senior vice president and managing director of the Wolf Group, Canada’s second-largest marketing conglomerate, where he handled projects for Kodak, Michelin Tires, Haagen-Dazs, Ray-Ban, Zippo, and Bausch & Lomb, among many others. Ed also established and led the Wolf Group’s first office in Atlanta, Georgia.

A strong believer in the power and promise of higher education, Ed draws on a deep understanding of consumer advertising to help colleges and universities advance their missions and build effective, integrated brands. He also strives to help client institutions cultivate lifelong relationships with current students, alumni, and other key stakeholders. Ed earned a BA in English Literature and Education with honors at Saint Mary’s College of Maryland, and pursued graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. When he’s not inspiring his team’s creative efforts, Ed can often be found at his cottage on Chautauqua Lake, collecting and restoring antique boats. He also serves on the boards of several theater and arts organizations.

Nicholas Smith

Senior Vice President, Learning Products

Nicholas Smith has spent more than 25 years in education and technology. Most recently, he was President of Macmillan Labs for Higher Education, an R&D group dedicated to building innovative technology products that solve problems for students and teachers in elegant ways. Prior to joining Macmillan, Nicholas spent nine years at Aplia, a leading provider of online homework for higher education, where he helped to grow the company from start-up to profitability and finally to successful acquisition by Cengage Learning in 2007. Nicholas remained with Cengage Learning as Vice President of Software Products until 2009. His experience also includes work at SRI Consulting, Pensare, and Agile Mind, as well as a decade teaching middle school students. He earned his master’s at Brandeis University.

Micah Arnold

Vice President, Portfolio Strategy

Micah Arnold comes to HotChalk with over 13 years of experience in strategy, marketing, and market research within the entertainment, high tech, and education industries. Prior to HotChalk, Micah served as Senior Director of University Strategy for the University of Phoenix, overseeing program research and launch planning. As part of the Apollo Education Group, Micah held multiple other roles in Product Marketing, Digital Media and Global New Ventures and was recognized for his contribution to the Strategic Initiatives Division in 2009. Before that, Micah held senior-level media management positions at several digital media agencies in San Francisco, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon. Micah earned his bachelor’s of science in Economics and Communication Studies from Northwestern University and holds an MBA from the University of Arizona.

Alberto Chullen

Vice President, Finance

Alberto Chullen joined HotChalk in 2016, bringing expertise in international corporate finance, controlling, M&A and venture capital. Prior to HotChalk, Alberto served as VP of Corporate Development and Director of Mergers and Acquisitions for Bertelsmann Education Group in U.S. and Bertelsmann in Germany, managing more than a dozen M&A transactions across Europe and U.S. in higher education, education services, music publishing, book publishing, and printing. Alberto holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (Peru), a MSc. in Finance and Accounting from Leipzig Graduate School of Management (Germany), and a postgraduate degree in International Business from Grenoble Graduate School of Business (France).

Todd Keithley

Vice President, Legal and Compliance

Todd Keithley has 20 years of professional experience in law and in publishing. He advises HotChalk in a number of areas, including compliance, contracts and licenses, employment matters, and day-to-day legal issues. Prior to HotChalk, he was a litigator at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, focusing on complex business disputes in a wide variety of contexts. Previously, he clerked for Judge Amalya Kearse of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum of the Southern District of New York. Todd holds a bachelor’s in English from Yale University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was the executive notes editor for the Columbia Law Review.

Julia A. Smith, Ph.D., RN, CNS

Vice President, Academic Affairs and Curriculum - Nursing

Julia A. Smith, Ph.D., RN, CNS, has a distinguished career in healthcare management and higher education, specializing in strategic planning, program development, and leadership of complex, multidisciplinary organizations. In addition to executive leadership roles in community health and university administration, Dr. Smith has served as a dean of nursing, graduate faculty member, doctoral mentor, and peer reviewer of scholarly publications. A registered nurse for over 25 years, she earned her BSN and MSN from San Diego State University and her Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of San Diego.