Academic Advising

Meet Your Advisor


Connect with your advisor! Locate them by major or check out their bios below.


Acoustics Becky Sass 312-369-7977
Audio Arts (with concentration) Paula Brien 312-369-7935
Acting Will Casey 312-369-8623
Acting with International Study Will Casey 312-369-8623
Advanced Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Advertising Art Direction Dave Sagehorn 312-369-7238
Advertising Lorain Ambrocio  312-369-7649
Animation Kamillah Ong  312-369-3233
Art and Materials Conservation  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
Art History  Dave Sagehorn 312-369-7238
ASL & English Interpretation  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
Audio Design and Production Paula Brien 312-369-7935
Cinema, Filmmaking/Film & Television Arts James Alford 312-369-8353
Cinema, Filmmaking/Film & Television Arts Stephanie Barnes 312-369-7648
Cinema and Television Arts Jill Sultz 312-369-7372
Cinema, Filmmaking/Film & Television Arts Salena Tucker 312-369-7734
Comedy Writing and Performance Jessica Jensen 312-369-7645
Communication Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Creative Writing  Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Cultural Studies Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
Dance  Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
Design Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Early Childhood Education Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
English Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Exploratory Paula Brien 312-369-7935
Fashion Design Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Fashion Studies Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Fiction Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Filmmaking/Film Jill Sultz 312-369-7372
Fine Arts Dave Sagehorn 312-369-7238
Game Art Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Game Design Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Graphic Design
Illustration Meg Elliott 312-369-7113
Interdisciplinary Keith Lusson  312-369-7283
Interdisciplinary Documentary Jill Sultz 312-369-7372
Interior Architecture Dave Sagehorn 312-369-7238
International Arts Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Live and Installed Sound Paula Brien 312-369-7935
Live and Performing Arts Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Marketing Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Media Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Journalism Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Photojournalism Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Music Business Lauren Targ 312-369-8626
Music (Composition, Performance, CUP) Becky Sass 312-369-7977
Music Technology Becky Sass 312-369-7977
Music Theatre Jessica Jensen 312-369-7645
Photography Meg Elliott 312-369-7113
Programming Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Public Relations Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Radio Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Social Media and Digital Strategy Lorain Ambrocio 312-369-7649
Sports Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7935
Television  Salena Tucker  312-369-7734
Theatre Design Will Casey 312-369-8623
Theatre Technology Will Casey 312-369-8623
Theatre Will Casey 312-369-8623
Theatre Directing Will Casey 312-369-8623
Visual Arts Management Jessica Horwitz 312-369-7801
Writing for Performance Will Casey 312-369-8623



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


Becky Harlow Sass

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!

Assistant Director 312-369-7977

cpeak-copy.jpgChris 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

picture1.png Dave Sagehorn

Dave is a graduate of Northwestern University (Ph.D. and M.A. in Screen Cultures, emphasis on amateur/outsider film production) and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee (B.A. in Film Studies, minor in Journalism/Mass Comm).  He has worked with students and higher education for over a decade.  He has taught courses at DePaul and Northwestern University, and has also worked in a campus library, writing center, fellowships office, and university housing.  When not working, he is a film enthusiast, fan of theater and live comedy, record collector, and consumer of too many podcasts.  

Academic Advisor 312-369-7238

james.jpg James Alford

James is a proud Trio Alum and got his BA in Political Science/ minor in Black Studies and a M.S.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education from Northern Illinois University. While in undergrad James had the opportunity to study abroad in Beijing, where he studied Leadership, Service and Culture. In his free time you can find him volunteering, BBQing, playing video games, hanging with friends, and being Super Uncle.

Academic Advisor 312-369-8353


Jessica Horwitz

As the academic advisor for 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

Jessica Jensen-3.jpgJessica Jensen

Jessica Jensen "JJ"is the Advisor for Musical Theatre and Comedy Writing! Jessica is thrilled to be a part of Columbia College Chicago. She moved to the area from Indiana where she worked as the advisor for the Department of Theatre and Dance at Ball State University. She also happens to be an alum of the Ball State musical theatre program. After undergrad, Jessica went on to earn her MFA in Acting and Directing at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Jessica, long with her husband, has lived the life of a traveling artist,working as an actor, director, and educator in New York City, Nantucket, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and more. Jessica is excited to call the Chicago area her new home!  When she is not helping students, you can find her baking, cooking, camping, crocheting, and walking with her two golden retrievers! She is excited to guide students on their individual journeys! 

Academic Advisor 312-369-7858


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


Jill Sultz

Jill works with Cinema and Television Arts students. She has taught in Cinema and Television for 15 years. She is a filmmaker and passionate cinephile. Jill’s other interests include military history, baking and fashion.

Assistant Director 312-369-7372


Kamillah Ong

Kamillah is one of the academic advisors for Animation 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




Keith Lusson

Director, and Interdisciplinary Advisor, Keith Lusson reads U.S. History and taught it, too. He also digs, hoops, golf, good movies, musicals, and being a dad. As the Director of Academic Advising, I encourage all Columbia undergraduates to work with their advisor to maximize their educational experience and create a clear and timely path to graduation.

Director 312-369-7283


Lauren Targ

Lauren is a certified Life Coach and an interdisciplinary artist whose passion is nurturing students. Lauren understands what her students are going through as they build good lives in the arts.  She is the quintessential collaborator. She has worked in theatre and film as an actor, director, and writer, and has co-authored a book called The Ever Loving Essence of You. 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


Lorain Ambrocio

Lorain has worked in higher education for 5 years, where she has helped military service members and their families, LatinX youth, and older adults pursue their college degree. Lorain received her bachelor's degree in psychology and multimedia journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso. During this time, Lorain was the editor-in-chief for the university's student-lead newspaper and magazine, the Prospector and Minero magazine. Lorain also participated in the Semester in Washington program where she attended with the Scripps Howard Foundation as a news reporter. Lorain is currently pursuing her master's degree in Higher Education Administration, and spends her free time reading, dreaming of her family's next camping trip, and writing fiction stories. 

Academic Advisor 312-369-7649


Meg Elliott


Meg is the advisor for Illustration and Photography students. She’s delighted to have the privilege of working with students pursuing their creative passions. She comes to advising as an experienced museum educator and holds an MAT in Museum Education from The George Washington University. She’s also a working actor and has an MFA from The Theatre School at DePaul. When she’s not teaming up with other artists to pursue world domination through art, she reads voraciously, plays guitar terribly, and is stealthily perfecting her rock-skipping skills

Academic Advisor 312-369-7113


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 


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


Salena Tucker

Salena is the one of the College Advisors for Cinema and Television students. She is a Chicago native and Iowa will always be her second home. She attended Grinnell College and Iowa State University prior to joining the Columbia family. Outside of supporting your academic and graduation goals, Salena enjoys eating empanadas, watching YouTube videos, and attending concerts. She’s thrilled to meet and work with you!

Academic Advisor 312-369-7734


Stephanie Barnes


Stephanie (she/her) arrived in Chicago by way of Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York. She sang opera until she realized she didn’t want to audition for a living, and now she loves to help students figure out what they want (or don’t want) to do with their lives. A musician, writer, improviser, and educator, Stephanie earned her Masters of Music in Music Theory, which in many ways is the math of music, which she promises is super fun once you get through all the boring and hard stuff. She’s passionate about curriculum, comedy, and composting, and she is thrilled to help you navigate your Columbia journey!

Academic Advisor 312-369-7648


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