Enrollment and Financial Aid Consulting

Enrollment and Financial Aid Consulting

Fire Engine RED’s new consulting services can have a significant impact on your school’s enrollment and financial aid operations and marketing and communications initiatives. We’ll provide you with actionable strategies and recommendations and help you implement them.

Here’s what sets us apart.

  • Our consultants are among the most experienced and highly respected practitioners in the industry — no other company has ever assembled this level of talent.
  • Our consultants are supported by Fire Engine RED’s renowned data and creative teams.
  • You define the project; you’re not required to purchase a predefined package of products and services.
  • We take a customized, strategic, organic approach to every project – no templates or off-the-shelf solutions.
  • We’ll provide you with practical strategies and recommendations and help you turn them into results.


Meet our all-star “bench” of enrollment and financial aid consultants.


See the wide range of enrollment and financial aid consulting services we offer.

Angela Payne, Ph.D.

Angela has served as Director of Admissions for Meridian Community College in Meridian, Mississippi, for nearly 20 years. As the chief admissions officer, she leads an enrollment management team that supports the student lifecycle, including recruitment, admissions, orientation, veteran/military services, student life and leadership, international student admissions/services, college placement and assessment services, dual credit/enrollment/early college, college customer relations, and academic/career advising.

Among her many accomplishments at Meridian, Angela has increased early admissions rates by more than 40% in two years and established an organizational culture that’s responsive to students’ needs, yielding a student satisfaction rating over 98%. Plus, she’s integrated technology updates that enhanced performance objectives in the key service portals of admissions and assessment to efficiently progress students and accelerate admissions decisions.

Angela also has extensive knowledge and research experience in statewide articulation policy development and implementation. She works with other state and national leaders on college and career readiness.

Angela is available to consult on:

  • Operations best practices
  • Strategic enrollment planning
  • Data collection and management
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Transfer recruiting

Bill Preble, Ed.D.

Bill has more than 30 years of leadership experience in the higher education field at multiple institutions. He’s served as Executive Director, Enrollment Management at Vanderbilt University; Vice President for Enrollment, Communication, & Marketing at Ohio Wesleyan University, and Dean of Admission at Butler University. Bill is currently the Associate Head of School and Dean of Enrollment Management & External Affairs at Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee.

Prior to joining Brentwood Academy, Bill served as Vice President of Search Strategies and Solutions at Fire Engine RED. He’s also worked as an enrollment consultant for nearly a decade, serving clients such as Hawaii Pacific University, Miami University (OH), Texas Christian University, and Vanderbilt University.

For the past five years, Bill has team-taught a Master’s course in Advanced Enrollment Management with enrollment leader Doug Christiansen, Vice Provost for University Enrollment Affairs, at the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.

Bill is available to consult on:

  • Operations best practices
  • Strategic enrollment planning
  • Staff retreat facilitation
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports
  • Funnel assessment
  • Communications flow

Deb Shaver

Deb served as the Dean of Admission at Smith College from 1995 to 2018; during her 38-year career, she has also worked in admissions at Alfred University, Colgate University, and College of the Holy Cross. She has been called “one of the icons” of the admissions profession.

A frequent speaker at NACAC, The College Board, and regional ACACs, she’s built a national reputation as a dynamic and humorous speaker on topics including the power of women’s colleges and the role of parents in the college admission process.

Deb has served as a director of the Advanced Secondary School Counselor Institute; a member of the NEACAC nominating committee; a faculty member of the Fitzwilliam Emerging Leaders Conference; and a member of the UWC-USA National Selection Committee. She currently serves on the Executive Advisory Board of Meto-Intl, a non-profit organization that works to increase access to higher education for talented international students, specifically in developing countries.

Deb is currently mentoring first-generation/low-income students at Smith – a project she is passionate about, having been a first-generation/low-income student herself.

Deb is available to consult on:

  • Coaching and mentoring

Dick Nesbitt

Dick was the Director of College Counseling at The Haverford School from 1977 to 1985 before starting his 34-year career at Williams College. He served as Director of Admission at Williams from 1999 to 2018, and spent his final year at Williams as the Senior Advisor to the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid.

As Director of Admission at Williams, Dick developed a consistent and transparent reading/evaluation and selection process, designed to achieve institutional goals while adhering to guidelines determined by Supreme Court rulings. He has experience with both traditional and Committee Based Evaluation (CBE) processes.

While at Williams, Dick also created strategies to attract high-achieving, low-income students, resulting in a substantial increase in socio-economic diversity at the college, with a particular emphasis on first-generation college students and veterans.

Dick has extensive experience in the realm of athletics at highly selective colleges, having developed a system of checks and balances to promote both academic and athletic excellence at Williams. He also helped establish a conference-wide system of reporting and accountability among the members of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

Dick is available to consult on:

  • Operational best practices
  • Strategic enrollment planning (with particular expertise in diversity recruitment)
  • Athletic recruiting

Jeff McLaughlin

Jeff is Executive Vice President of Enrollment Data, Strategy and Analytics at Fire Engine RED, where he leads a data services group that’s earned a reputation for helping clients achieve outstanding results.

Jeff currently oversees strategy, data management, as well as reporting and analytics for 65-plus clients, including the College of William and Mary, Hamilton College, Seattle University, Southern Methodist University, and Whitworth University.

Prior to joining Fire Engine RED in 2014, Jeff spent 20-plus years in admissions and enrollment. He served as the Dean of Admissions & Financial Aid at St. Olaf College, where he led all aspects of enrollment management. In addition, he served as the Interim Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at Antioch College, and as an enrollment consultant for over 20 institutions, including Butler University, the College of the Atlantic, Millsaps College, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago.

Jeff is available to consult on:

  • Operational best practices
  • Strategic enrollment planning
  • Data collection and management
  • Travel optimization and planning
  • Vendor optimization
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports
  • Funnel assessment
  • Communications flow
  • New market identification
  • List purchase strategy and optimization

Katherine “Kitty” McCarthy

Kitty is currently Vice President for Enrollment Management at Radford University. She works closely with programs and services associated with new student recruitment and transition to university life. Kitty also led the integration of the enrollment offices of Radford University and Jefferson College of Health Sciences (now Radford University Carilion) when they merged in 2019.

Prior to coming to Radford, Kitty served for four years as Vice President for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at West Virginia State University. There, she was one of the co-chairs of the University’s strategic planning initiative (Vision 2020).

Kitty has also served as Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management at Northern Illinois University and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Marketing for The State University of New York (SUNY) System Office in Albany, NY. Before joining SUNY, Kitty was Director of Admissions at Alfred University and Siena College. She began her career in admissions at the University of Rochester.

Kitty is available to consult on:

  • Data collection and management
  • Travel optimization and planning
  • Enrollment office mergers
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports
  • Transfer recruiting

Kristine Butz

Kristine has more than 25 years of experience in financial aid.

Since 2013, she has been the Associate Director of Financial Aid at the University of Notre Dame, where she works closely with the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research on behalf of the Office of Financial Aid. Kristine has a significant role in a financial aid office at a university that’s known to be a model of efficiency and effectiveness in serving students, parents, and campus partners.

While Kristine was at Butler University, Kristine helped develop strategies for using financial aid to influence the size and shape of the freshman class, which contributed to the substantial growth in enrollment at Butler between 1997 and 2006. She also established fiscally responsible guidelines for academic deans, athletics, and other campus departments to use when awarding scholarships, and developed an office vision statement to reflect the role of financial aid in enrollment management. She served as a Financial Aid Administrator at Purdue University from 1990 to 1993.

Kristine is currently the chair for the NCAA Division I Degree Completion Committee. She has also served on national and regional councils for The College Board, and has presented at numerous professional conferences.

Kristine is available to consult on:

  • Financial aid advising

Leo Munson

Leo’s career in higher education has spanned more than 40 years. He spent the past 34 years at Texas Christian University (TCU), most recently as Associate Provost for Academic Support. He also served as Director of Scholarships and Financial Aid and Dean of Undergraduate Admission at TCU.

“Leo the Legend” is a founding member of the National Council of Enrollment Planning and Policy, a former Trustee to The College Board, and previously served as a member of the NASFAA Board of Directors. Additionally, Leo served as a founding member of the Board of Directors of Tuition Plan Consortium from 1998-2002 and again from 2007-2015.

Leo is available to consult on:

  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports

Linda Glover Barnett

Linda has worked in the education field for nearly 40 years. From 2007 to 2017, she served as Associate Vice President, Educational Outreach and Student Services at Arizona State University. She’s also worked as Dean of Admissions at Stetson University; Director of Enrollment Advancement for James Madison University, and Director of Admissions at Bridgewater College.

In addition, Linda has worked as an admissions and enrollment consultant for more than two decades. Her clients have included a variety of public and private colleges and universities (both undergraduate and graduate), professional schools, and education service providers.

She’s also held leadership roles for several professional organizations, including the NACAC, AACRAO, and The College Board (national and regional).

Linda is available to consult on:

  • Operational best practices
  • Strategic enrollment planning
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports
  • Funnel assessment
  • Communications flow
  • New market identification

Martha Merrill

Martha is the rare professional who’s served in both admissions and advancement.

During her 30-year career (1988-2018) at Connecticut College, Martha served as Dean of Admission and Financial Aid; Acting Dean of Admission; Director of Admission; Director of International Admission; and Associate Director of Admission.

She also held the position of Acting Executive Director of the Alumni Association, having served the prior five years as Director, and then Senior Director of Alumni Programs. She finished her career at the College in the Advancement Office where she served for three years, most recently as Executive Director of Leadership Gifts and Campaign Director.

Prior to her tenure at Connecticut College, Martha served as Advertising Manager of the Scudder Funds at Scudder, Stevens & Clark in Boston, Massachusetts.

Martha served two terms as the Chair of the NESCAC Deans of Admission Committee and a five-year term on the Board of Directors of the Common Application, where she served as President.

A frequent contributor to The New York Times’ “Choice” blog, Martha shared advice with students and parents ranging from managing waitlist decisions to the role of parents in the admission process through various media outlets. She has presented at numerous conferences on topics ranging from “International Diversity on Campus: Is it Worth the Cost?” to “Effectively Counseling the College Essay.”

Martha is available to consult on:

  • Operational best practices
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Board meeting preparation and reports

Mike Steidel

Mike is a ‘life-er’ at Carnegie Mellon University, having begun his admission career as a tour guide there in 1974; he became Carnegie Mellon’s youngest Director of Admission at age 29 in 1986, and currently serves as the Dean of Admission. In addition to his role in undergraduate admissions, Mike leads the Enrollment Strategy Group at Carnegie Mellon and also works with the Office of Admission for Carnegie Mellon’s Education City campus in Doha, Qatar.

Mike has also served as a member of the ECIS Committee for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and chair of the ECIS Americas Committee; president of PACAC and a faculty member of the PACAC’s Bucknell Summer Institute; a member at large of ETS’s TOEFL Board; a board member for The Common Application; a reader for the ETS College Scholarship Service Sponsored Scholarship Program; and co-chair of the NACAC National Task Force on Technology in Admission and Counseling.

Mike also helps to organize and lead the Fitzwilliam Conference, an annual gathering of secondary school and college admission deans and directors, as well as the Fitzwilliam Emerging Leaders Conference, a similar conference that helps develop and encourage young leaders in the profession.

Mike is a frequent presenter at PACAC, NACAC, The College Board, ECIS, CIS, and CASE Conferences. He has also worked as a consultant on college and university admission operations, and is a regular international traveler.

Mike is available to consult on:

  • Coaching and mentoring

Consulting Services.


Operational best practices.
We’ll audit your operational processes, look for opportunities to improve efficiency and productivity, and help you implement best practices.

Strategic enrollment planning.
We’ll help you build a strategic enrollment plan that aligns with your school’s mission and academic vision, and advise your team on class size, class composition, and financial goals.

Data collection and management.
We’ll help you improve your data-related processes and practices, so you’re able to make better, more data-driven decisions.

Staff retreat facilitation.
We’ll facilitate your summer planning retreat and then help you operationalize the strategies and recommendations that come out of it … so you’ll have more time to focus on yielding this year’s class, while we focus on getting your team ready to recruit next year’s class.

Travel optimization and planning.
We’ll help you optimize your travel strategy, so you’re not just basing decisions on habits or hunches; we’ll assess your current travel ROI, and provide you with recommendations on adding/eliminating markets, designing territories, and planning activities.

Vendor optimization.
We’ll audit your vendor relationships, identify overlap, help determine the ROI you’re getting from each, and advise you on how to optimize your vendor budget.

Enrollment office mergers.
We’ll assist your enrollment office throughout a merger with the integration of operations, consolidation of data, and coordination of combined strategic enrollment goals.


Financial aid.

Financial aid advising.
We’ll help you integrate and optimize your financial aid and enrollment strategies, operations, and communications.



Coaching and mentoring.
We’ll set your new leadership (and/or new hires) up for success by providing mentoring, ongoing guidance, and operational assistance to ensure they hit the ground running.

Board meeting preparation and reports.
We’ll help you gather the right data for your board meetings, and put it into context with regard to industry trends. We’ll also assist you in preparing your reports and presentations so your message is effectively communicated.


Marketing and Communications.

Funnel assessment.
We’ll assess your student funnel for inefficiencies, responsiveness, and opportunities and then help you put those opportunities into practice.

Communications flow.
We’ll help you optimize your communications flow by ensuring you’re delivering the right message, to the right audience, through the right channels, at the right time.

New market identification.
We’ll assess your existing markets, and identify opportunities and strategies for expansion that align with your school’s goals.

List purchase strategy and optimization.
We’ll help you optimize your list purchase strategy to ensure you’re purchasing the names of the students who are most likely to apply and enroll at your school.

Transfer recruiting.
We’ll work with you to create and implement a transfer recruitment plan.

Athletic recruiting.
We’ll help facilitate and optimize the working relationship between your admissions office and your athletics department.