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


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
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 and Television Arts Jill Sultz 312-369-7372
Cinema and Television Arts Salena Tucker 312-369-7734
Comedy Writing and Performance Cameron Carrara 312-369-7649
Communication Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Creative Writing  Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Cultural Studies Alexis Kowalsky 312-369-3257
Dance  Becky Sass 312-369-7977
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 Lynda Roddy 312-369-7557
Fiction Ritch Barnes 312-369-7932
Filmmaking 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
Game Programming Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Graphic Design Karen Smith 312-369-7646
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
Mobile Media Programming Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Multimedia Journalism Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Multimedia Photojournalism Chris Peak 312-369-7494
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 Cameron Carrara 312-369-7649
Photography Meg Elliott 312-369-7113
Programming Jessica Socarras 312-369-7858
Public Relations Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Radio Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Social Media and Digital Strategy Chris Peak 312-369-7494
Sports Management Paula Brien 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,


Cameron Carrara


Cameron received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Music Education from Augustana College in 2012. From there, he went on to pursue a Master’s degree in College Student Affairs at Eastern Illinois University, where he helped to guide and develop underrepresented populations on campus. Cameron comes to us with a variety of student-focused experiences, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the past, Cameron served as an Admissions Counselor and Student Support Counselor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP). He also served as the Admissions Assistant for The Chicago Academy for the Arts, a private arts high school here in Chicago. When he is not at work, you can typically find Cameron involved in a variety of musical endeavors, singing Tenor 1 with the Chicago Chamber Choir or Cor Cantiamo, a professional chamber ensemble based out of DeKalb, IL.

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7649,

ChrisChris 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,

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,


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 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,


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,


Karen Smith


Karen completed her 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 she completed a double Master’s degree program at DePaul University and the Institute for Psychoanalysis earning her Master’s degree in Human Development and Learning. After leaving the University of Chicago she 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." 

Academic Advisor, 312-369-7646,


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,

Lynda Roddy


Academic Advisor, 312-369-7557,

Meg Elliott

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,


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,


Student Persistence:


Bess Fuertes

Bess is the Coordinator of Student Persistence. 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!

Coordinator of Student Persistence, 312-369-7929,


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


Rachel Horton is the Director of Student Persistence. One of her greatest joys is helping students get back on track toward graduation, after they have experienced a personal or academic setback. Rachel earned her B.A. in Rhetoric at the University of Illinois, her M.A. in English from Loyola University Chicago and her M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago, where she has continued to work since graduation. Rachel has previously served Columbia as a graduate assistant, adjunct faculty and an academic advisor. Rachel's main creative passion is poetry and she hopes to release her first book in 2018.

Director, 312-369-7621,