Staff

Get to know your college advisors! Use the list below or skip ahead and read our bios.

 
Advisors listed by major
Art & Materials Conservation  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257 akowalsky@colum.edu
Art and Art History  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257 akowalsky@colum.edu
ASL & English Interpretation  Karen Smith 312-369-7646 ksmith@colum.edu
Audio Arts & Acoustics Kamillah Ong  312-369-3233 kong@colum.edu
Business & Entrepreneurship (Music Business, Marketing, Live & Performing Arts)  Bess Fuertes 312.369-7929 efuertes@colum.edu
Business & Entrepreneurship (Arts, Design, Visual Arts , Advanced, Sports, International, and Media Management) Brian Ritchard 312-369-7734 britchard@colum.edu
Cinema Art + Science Monica Cano 312-369-7503 mcano@colum.edu
Cinema Art + Science Gabby McCadd 312-369-7648 gmccadd@colum.edu
Cinema Art + Science Jill Sultz 312-369-7372 jsultz@colum.edu
Cinema Art + Science (Animation) Kamillah Ong  312-369-3233 kong@colum.edu
CMI - Advertising  Chris Peak 312-369-7494 cpeak@colum.edu
CMI - Multimedia Journalism  Chris Peak 312-369-7494 cpeak@colum.edu
CMI - Public Relations  Chris Peak 312-369-7494 cpeak@colum.edu
Creative Writing  Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932 rbarnes@colum.edu
Cultural Studies Bess Fuertes 312.369-7929 efuertes@colum.edu
Dance  Chad Wilson  312-369-8353 mcwilson@colum.edu
Design (Advertising Art Direction) Karen Smith 312-369-7646 ksmith@colum.edu
Design (Interior Architecture, Graphic Design) Erin Mallory  312-369-7649 emallory@colum.edu
Design (Illustration) Sneha Reddy  312-369-7554 sreddy@colum.edu
Education  Karen Smith 312-369-7646 ksmith@colum.edu
Fashion Business  Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801 jhorwitz@colum.edu
Fashion Design  Lynda Roddy 312-369-7557 lroddy@colum.edu
Interactive Arts & Media  Lauren Targ 312-369-8626 ltarg@colum.edu
Interdisciplinary Major  Keith Lusson  312-369-7283 klusson@colum.edu 
Music Becky Harlow  312-369-7977 rharlow@colum.edu
Photography Sneha Reddy  312-369-7554 sreddy@colum.edu
Radio Paula Brien  312-369-7935 pbrien@colum.edu
Television  Paula Brien  312-369-7935 pbrien@colum.edu
Theatre Will Casey 312-369-8623 wcasey@colum.edu
Theatre Jessica Socarras 312-369-8623 jsocarras@colum.edu

Bios:

Alexis Kowalsky


Alexis worked with the Art & Design department and then the Design department as an Academic Coordinator for 7 years before joining the College Advising Center as an Assistant Director.  She earned an M.A. in Art History with a specialization in Material Culture and Decorative Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  Prior to working in higher education she worked as a gallery and research assistant as well as an decorative arts appraiser at an auction house here in Chicago.  She loves working with creative students and helping them to find their path here at Columbia.

Assistant Director, 312-369-3257, akowalsky@colum.edu

Art & Art History, Art & Materials Conservation
becky

Becky Harlow


Becky has been working with the students in the Music Department since 2012. She is a trumpet player and lover of show tunes and power ballads. Originally a downstate Illinois girl, Becky has been calling Chicagoland “home” for more than 10 years, after earning a BA in Communication from Millikin University and an MS.Ed. from Illinois State University. You’ll usually see her with a Starbucks in her hand, a new crockpot recipe in her planner, and a Pinterest board full of crafty projects she’ll never get around to doing. She can’t wait to meet you and help you navigate your college journey!

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7977, rharlow@colum.edu

Music

 bess

Bess Fuertes

Bess advises Business & Entrepreneurship and Cultural Studies students. She earned an M.A. in Art History with a concentration in contemporary African and African diaspora photography (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). After grad school, she began coursework in Adult & Higher Education and a rewarding career in academic advising. As a first-generation college student, she is keenly aware of the challenges related to navigating higher education. Bess looks forward to being part of your journey as you pursue your ambitions at Columbia!

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7929, efuertes@colum.edu

Cultural Studies and Business & Entrepreneurship (Music Business, Marketing, Live & Performing Arts

brian r

Brian Ritchard

 

Brian is a painter, curator, advisor and educator with over twenty years of experience working in the art world and at Columbia.  He can help you to pick the best degree program at Columbia and to get it completed on time and on budget.  Portfolio development, career outcomes and academic planning are all a part of the discussion.  Set up a meeting with Brian to plot your next move at Columbia and beyond.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7734, britchard@colum.edu

Business & Entrepreneurship (Arts, Design, Visual Arts , Advanced, Sports, International, and Media Management)

chad

Chad Wilson

 

Chad Wilson worked in the dance department as Academic Coordinator for five years before joining the College Advising Center as an Assistant Director. He is known on Facebook for his Friday Office Dance Parties, where he repeats the same five dance moves he knows to music each week. He hopes to learn more from the students he advises. In his spare time, Chad enjoys volunteering and occasionally dabbles in playwriting.

Assistant Director, 312-369-8353, mcwilson@colum.edu

Dance

Chris

Chris Peak

 

Chris Garcia Peak has an MFA in Directing from The Theatre School at DePaul University.   He previously worked in Columbia’s Fashion Retail Management Department and has now created a unique niche for himself as an educator, artist and arts marketer.  He was the Executive Director for Theatre for Young Audience USA, and the marketing director for The Illinois Shakespeare Festival/ISU School of theatre.  Before moving to Chicago, Chris was an entertainment reporter for the British Sky Broadcasting covering red carpet events, press junkets and interviewing an incredible amount of celebrities.  He loves working with students and has taught at The Theatre School at DePaul, Columbia College and Illinois State University.  Chris is writer, director, dog whisperer  and self-proclaimed gourmand. 

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7494, cpeak@colum.edu

CMI-Advertising, Multimedia Journalism, Public Relations

erin

Erin Mallory

 

Erin Mallory has been advising students at the college level in various design disciplines for over 7 years.  She recently joined Columbia as the College Advisor to Illustration and Interior Architecture students.  Prior to her career in higher education she worked as a Visual Merchandiser in Chicago arranging window displays and in-store displays.  She describes herself as a design enthusiast and enjoys being surrounded by creative people.  In her spare time she enjoys walking along the lake, going to the zoo and eating cookies.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7649, emallory@colum.edu

Design (Interior Architecture, Graphic Design)

gabby

Gabby McCadd

 

Gabby is a graduate of DePaul University with a B.S. in Management and a M.Ed. in Counseling. She is a coffee connoisseur and loves all things art & entertainment. She is also an avid reader, writer and movie enthusiast. One of her favorite mantras is “Good things come to those who hustle.”  You’re here at Columbia because of your talent & passion, but a strong work ethic coupled with your education and training will make you go the distance. Gabby is looking forward to helping you build a successful road map to your academic and professional goals!

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7648, gmccadd@colum.edu

Cinema Art + Science

jessica

Jessica Horwitz

 

As the college advisor for Fashion Business students, Jessica is continuously awed by the talent and commitment her students exhibit. She is passionate about helping her students reach their full potential while at Columbia. When not advising her students, Jessica likes to spend time reading, doing crossword puzzles, and trying new restaurants throughout the city. She is excited to welcome you to Columbia and looks forward to getting to know you.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7801, jhorwitz@colum.edu

Fashion Business

Jessica Socarras

Jessica Socarras

 

Jessica received her Bachelor's degree from DePaul University in Secondary Education with a History concentration and her Master's degree from Kansas State University in Academic Advising. After working in various roles in the education field as a teacher and tutor, she is excited to move into her new role at Columbia as an Academic Advisor and to be back in the city once again. Outside of advising, you can find Jessica playing tons of video games or trying out new recipes and crafts she found on Pinterest. She looks forward to working with such talented and creative students and being able to help them on their educational journey at Columbia. 

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7858, jsocarras@colum.edu

Theatre

jill

Jill Sultz

 


Jill works with Cinema Art + Science students. She has been teaching in CA+S for 15 years. She is a filmmaker and passionate cinephile. Jill’s other interests include military history, baking and fashion.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7372 jsultz@colum.edu

Cinema Art + Science

kamillah

Kamillah Ong

 

Kamillah is one of the college advisors for Film & Video students. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from DePaul and a master’s degree in higher education from Loyola University, she’s spent years studying, working, dreaming and exploring in Chicago. She strongly believes college is a catalyst, an opportunity to challenge yourself to discover what you love and what you do well, and define how you will use your creativity to impact your community. Her favorite part of her job is helping students figure out how to do that and more.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-3233, kong@colum.edu

Audio Arts & Acoustics, Cinema Art + Science (Animation)

karen

Karen Smith

 

I completed my Bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in Elementary Education then taught for CPS a few years before landing my ideal teaching job at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. While teaching there I completed a double Master’s degree program at DePaul University and the Institute for Psychoanalysis earning my Master’s degree in Human Development and Learning. After leaving the University of Chicago I became an academic advisor at Morton Community College in Cicero, IL before coming to Columbia as an advisor. I love what I do, I love working with my students and I can boast that I work with a great team of academic advisors in the College Advising Center. I work with Advertising Art Direction, ASL – English Interpretation/Deaf Studies, and Early Childhood Education majors.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7646, ksmith@colum.edu

ASL - English Interpretation/Deaf Studies, Education, Design (Advertising Art Direction)

keith

Keith Lusson

 

Director and Interdisciplinary Advisor, Keith Lusson, reads U.S. History, and teaches it, too. He also digs hoops, golf, and perhaps most ironically—a good musical. Keith looks forward to helping you explore, find, and articulate your passion, and enjoying it along the way.

Director, 312-369-7283, klusson@colum.edu

Interdisciplinary

lauren

Lauren Targ

 

Lauren is the quintessential collaborator. She has worked in theatre and film as an actor, director, and writer, and, most recently, has co-authored a book. As an interdisciplinary artist whose passion is nurturing students, Lauren understands what her students are going through as they build good lives in the arts. Stop in the College Advising Center to see her, and share your vision of your future. You can work with her on making it a reality.

Assistant Director, 312-369-8626, ltarg@colum.edu

Interactive Arts & Media

lex

Lex Thompson

 

Alexis “Lex” Thompson is the Administrative Assistant in the College Advising Center where she helps College Advisors be awesome and flawless. Previously she worked as an Orientation Leader and a Resident Assistant before graduating from Columbia in May 2015 with a BA in Journalism. If she could have any super power, Lex would choose to control the weather so that the temperature in Chicago never drops below 30 degrees.

Administrative Assistant, 312-369-7986, athompson@colum.edu

Lynda Roddy

 

Bio coming soon!

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7557, lroddy@colum.edu

Fashion Design

Monica Cano

Monica Cano

 
Monica is one of the advisors for Cinema Art + Science students. Prior to Columbia, Monica worked in many areas, including Diversity & Inclusion, Social Justice Education, and International Education. When she is not advising students, she is usually trying to find the best restaurants in Chicago. Monica also loves learning about different cultures, she has studied and worked abroad, visiting 12 countries/territories. She is excited to help you create your our path at Columbia!

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7503, mcano@colum.edu

Cinema Art + Science

paula

Paula Brien

 



Paula has had two careers -- as a journalist and as a college advisor to media students. Both are rooted in a similar, and critical, set of skills: understanding the audience, asking the right questions, and finding the best answers. Paula is your source, from what classes to take to what connections to make. Paula's education background includes a Master of Science degree in Journalism from the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Policies & Public Issues (interdisciplinary major) from Mills College, Oakland, CA.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7935, pbrien@colum.edu 

Radio, Television, TV Executive Producing & Entrepreneurship

ritch

Ritch Barnes

 

Ritch Barnes is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago in Film & Video. He has worked on several Hollywood features, he is a passionate poet, fiction writer and Jazz enthusiast. Ritch enjoys meeting with students to share his knowledge and to hear their creative stories. According to Ritch, he lives in the best of both worlds because he can help young people find their dreams, while he pursues his own. Stop by the CAC and don’t hesitate to tell Ritch your story (or stories).

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7932, rbarnes@colum.edu

Creative Writing

sneha

Sneha Reddy

 


Sneha Reddy advises Photography and Illustration students. She is thrilled to work with such a creative and diverse student body. Aside from her interests in student development and work as an advisor, Sneha is a visual artist. She has illustrated published children’s books, paints, draws, sculpts, and simply enjoys making “stuff”! Sneha is a graduate of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she completed her B.A. in Art & Design and M.A. in Higher Education. She looks forward to getting to know her students and working with them from orientation through graduation.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7554, sreddy@colum.edu

Photography, Design (Illustration)

will

Will Casey

 

Will Casey is a fellow lover of the theatre, and after many years as a professional actor, has the connections and insight that will guide you on your way to a life on stage. He’s also a wiz at the bbq (with a dry rub that will knock your socks off) and will be more than happy to help you find that killer monologue you’ve been looking for (and also give you a great toast, just in case.)

Academic Advisor, 312-369-8623, wcasey@colum.edu

Theatre


 

Student Persistence:

rachel

Rachel Horton Smith

 

When not giving you advice (and keeping you sane), Rachel is probably out writing poetry. Rachel describes Columbia students as some of the most interesting, and well-rounded people she knows. With compliments like that, why wouldn’t you want to see her?

Director, 312-369-7621, rhorton@colum.edu

maryrachel

Mary Rachel Fanning

 

Mary Rachel has worked all over the creative spectrum from photographing communities to digital storytelling in refugee camps to translating geek speak. She channels her love of tech, stories, and advocacy into advising tools and communications. A southern ex-pat residing in Chicago, Mary Rachel is a fan of slow bike rides and urban agriculture.

Associate Director, 312-369-7344, mfanning@colum.edu