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
Art and Art History  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
ASL & English Interpretation  Karen Smith 312-369-7646
Audio Arts & Acoustics Kamillah Ong  312-369-3233
Business & Entrepreneurship (Music Business, Marketing, Live & Performing Arts)  Bess Fuertes 312.369-7929
Business & Entrepreneurship (Arts, Design, Visual Arts , Advanced, Sports, International, and Media Management) Brian Ritchard 312-369-7734
Cinema Art + Science Jill Sultz 312-369-7372
Cinema Art + Science Gabby McCadd 312-369-7648
Cinema Art + Science (Animation) Kamillah Ong  312-369-3233
CMI - Advertising  Contact our Front Desk 312-369-7645  
CMI - Multimedia Journalism  Contact our Front Desk 312-369-7645  
CMI - Public Relations  Contact our Front Desk 312-369-7645  
Creative Writing  Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Cultural Studies Bess Fuertes 312.369-7929
Dance  Chad Wilson  312-369-8353
Design (Advertising Art Direction) Karen Smith 312-369-7646
Design (Interior Architecture, Graphic Design) Erin Mallory  312-369-7649
Design (Illustration) Sneha Reddy  312-369-7554
Education  Karen Smith 312-369-7646
Fashion Business  Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Fashion Design  Lynda Roddy 312-369-7557
Interactive Arts & Media  Lauren Targ 312-369-8626
Interdisciplinary Major  Keith Lusson  312-369-7283 
Music Becky Harlow  312-369-7977
Photography Sneha Reddy  312-369-7554
Radio Paula Brien  312-369-7935
Television  Paula Brien  312-369-7935
Theatre Will Casey 312-369-8623


Alexis Kowalsky

Bio coming soon!

Assistant Director, 312-369-3257,

Art & Art History, Art & Materials Conservation

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!

College Advisor, 312-369-7977,



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!

College Advisor, 312-369-7929,

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.

College Advisor, 312-369-7734,

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


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,



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.

College Advisor, 312-369-7649,

Design (Interior Architecture, Graphic Design)


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!

College Advisor, 312-369-7648,

Cinema Art + Science


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.

College Advisor, 312-369-7801,

Fashion Business


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.

College Advisor, 312-369-7372

Cinema Art + Science


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.

College Advisor, 312-369-3233,

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


Karen Smith


Karen Smith, advisor to Advertising Art Direction, ASL-English Interpretation, and Early Childhood Education students, is sure she knows the best pizza places in Chicago. With a city known for its slice, that’s saying something. Karen is constantly involved in the city- whether it’s going to concerts and plays or cheering on the Bears win or lose (like a true Chicagoan does.) Karen is awed by the talent of her students and is quite confident she’s seen some of the best art directors and graphic artists walk through her door.

College Advisor, 312-369-7646,

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


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,



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,

Interactive Arts & Media


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,

Lynda Roddy


Bio coming soon!

College Advisor, 312-369-7557,

Fashion Design


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.

College Advisor, 312-369-7935, 

Radio, Television, TV Executive Producing & Entrepreneurship


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).

College Advisor, 312-369-7932,

Creative Writing


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.

College, Advisor, 312-369-7554,

Photography, Design (Illustration)


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.)

College Advisor, 312-369-8623,



Student Persistence:


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,


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,