Meet the Team
Joan Casey, President
Joan helps students develop the mindsets that allow them to create the life they want–for high school, college and beyond. She founded Educational Advocates College Consulting in 2004, and works with a wide range of high school and transfer students who are considering colleges at all levels of selectivity throughout the USA, Canada and Western Europe. She also provides services for prospective college athletes and visual and performing artists. Joan is committed to her students and her priority is to help them achieve their goals through a supportive and thoughtful approach.
Joan also has expertise in working with adolescents with Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), learning differences and those with therapeutic needs. She has completed an advocacy-training program sponsored by the Federation for Children with Special Needs and is trained in AD/HD coaching through the American Coaching Association.
Joan is a certified educational planner, signifying that she has achieved the highest level of professional standards in the field of educational consulting, a distinction held by only 25 percent of consultants. She is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) where she previously chaired the learning disability committee, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). She serves on the undergraduate economics advisory board for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the advisory board at Landmark College. Joan, along with a group of colleagues, won the IECA Katz award in recognition of pro bono work for The Possibility Project. She earned a master of education degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and holds a BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Joan has visited more than 250 college campuses to meet with admissions officers, student activities directors and academic deans and spends time informally talking with students for an insider’s view of campus life. She also draws upon the expertise of a network of colleagues across the country. Prior to founding Educational Advocates, Joan had a 20-year career as a marketing and public relations consultant, working for a national public relations firm and managing her own consulting practice. She has received several marketing and writing awards, and applies the creative-thinking strategies used in her marketing career in advising students on their essays, overall presentation, and interviewing skills. Joan resides in Brookline, Massachusetts and is the mother of two now grown sons who attended both independent and public schools before college. When not meeting with students and families, you might find her cooking, reading, running or meditating.
Laurel Weijer, College Consultant
Laurel Weijer is an experienced teacher, counselor and admissions professional who has worked in both secondary and higher education for more than a decade. She is passionate about helping students grow throughout the college admissions process, tell their own unique stories, and find the right college fit. She has experience working with students from a variety of backgrounds as well as students with language-based learning differences. She believes that great college counseling is not only about results but also about building strong relationships with the student and their family to help everyone involved in the process navigate this important life step with confidence.
Laurel holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors from the University of Chicago and a Master of Arts in Nonfiction Writing from Johns Hopkins University. She is an award-winning writer and editor whose work has been recognized by organizations including the University of Chicago, the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals, the Public Relations Society of America and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.
Laurel began her career in the University of Chicago’s career advising center before transitioning into secondary education at a private school in Baltimore, Maryland. While working as a communications professional, she also served as an advisor for high school students and a journalism teacher. Her communications and advocacy skills, combined with her love of working with students, made a transition to full-time college counseling a natural fit, and she was lucky to land her dream job working as a college counselor at a private Catholic school in Baltimore.
When Laurel’s husband was offered a faculty position at the University of Florida, she took the opportunity to transition to a position in the UF admissions office to learn more about the other side of the admissions process. As an assistant director of admissions, Laurel’s responsibilities included managing a large recruiting territory, reviewing thousands of applications, and sitting on the decisions committee for more than 52,000 applicants. She is thrilled to join Educational Advocates and return to working with students and families full time.
Laurel lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two children. When not working with students and families, she enjoys bicycling, spending time with her children, drinking great coffee, and exploring all that Gainesville has to offer. She is also pursuing her passion for education and scientific research through the Master of Science in Epidemiology program at UF and expects to earn her MSE degree in 2024.
Rachel Schneider, College Consultant
Rachel Schneider is an admissions consultant, school counselor, and educator who has worked extensively in a variety of school settings. Her passion is fostering academic and social-emotional growth, as well as college and career readiness in all of her students.
Rachel graduated Phi Alpha Theta from Boston College with a BA in History and Summa Cum Laude from Boston University with a Masters of Education in Counseling Psychology, specializing in School Counseling. While at BU, she was a member of two research teams exploring college and career readiness programs in elementary and middle school students, and the impacts of childhood trauma.
Prior to joining Educational Advocates, Rachel was selected as one of 250 corps members from 1200 candidates for 10 months of national service through City Year AmeriCorps in Dorchester, MA. She worked in Special Education in the Wellesley Public School system, where she developed her passion for school counseling. During her Master’s Program, she interned at her alma mater Brookline High School. She holds both Elementary Education 1-6 and School Counseling PreK-8 and 5-12 Licensures through DESE.
Rachel has experience working as a school and college counselor at a private Catholic school and finds great joy in accompanying students and families through the college admissions process. She also teaches a Positive Psychology course, engaging her students in both the science and practice of mindfulness. She believes deeply in the mind-body connection, incorporating meditation and yoga practices in both her professional and personal life. Rachel is a member of several professional organizations including NEACAC, NACAC, and MASCA. She continues to reside in Brookline with her fiancé.
Emily Freeman, College Consultant
Emily has worked as both a counselor and teacher in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and has experience with students from a variety of backgrounds, school settings, interests, and abilities. Her interest in college counseling began during high school when her own college counselor helped her to understand that there were dozens of schools at which she could be happy. This led her to discover Davidson College where she earned an Honors B.A. in Sociology and an Education concentration. After two years of teaching, Emily earned an M.Ed. in School Counseling from Vanderbilt University, becoming a licensed professional school counselor and National Certified Counselor. At Vanderbilt, Emily served as a graduate teaching assistant for undergraduate students in the Human and Organizational Development. She also served as a college counseling intern at the University School of Nashville, where she was mentored by phenomenal college counselors, furthering her interest in this path.
Upon graduating from Vanderbilt, Emily spent four years at the Marist School in Atlanta as both associate director of college counseling and a personal/academic counselor, and, in the past year, as a social emotional school counselor and independent college consultant. In addition to her work at Educational Advocates College Counseling, she is also a part-time school counselor at an independent elementary school in Boston.
In Emily’s view, college counseling is more than just helping students get into college. She believes in taking a developmental approach through the college search by helping students to more fully understand themselves, what they want out of the college experience, and what they hope to accomplish in the future. She sees learning how to make important decisions and set goals as a key part of the process.
Emily resides in Roslindale, MA with her husband and Goldendoodle. She loves to run, play tennis, sing, travel, and cook.
Katie Bacon, Writing Specialist
Katie Bacon is an experienced writer, editor, and interviewer who worked for The Atlantic in Boston for ten years before the magazine moved to Washington, DC. She has written everything from profiles to personal essays to reviews to scientific critiques, and her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and Harvard’s Ed. magazine, among other places. As an editor, she specializes in helping writers express themselves clearly, logically, and eloquently—whether the writers are established professionals or students looking to find their voice. As an interviewer, she loves talking to people and listening to their stories and ideas, and then figuring out how to shape them into a coherent narrative. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Amherst College, where she majored in American studies
Katie lives in Brookline with her husband and two children, who are in high school. She is on the Board of Overseers of the Brookline Education Foundation, where she supervised their grants and programs for four years. She volunteers for Beacon Academy, coaching students through the application process for independent schools; and for 826 Boston, helping students in the Boston public schools craft their college essays. She loves reading both fiction and nonfiction, playing tennis, and hiking with her family and their dog.
David Cataruzolo, Athletic Consultant
David Cataruzolo, a native of Watertown, Massachusetts, brings over 20 years of experience helping students navigate the athletic recruiting process. Dave served as an assistant professor of physical education at Trinity College for over 13 years where he spent time as the head men’s ice hockey coach and assistant coach/recruiting coordinator for the Bantam Baseball team. In his time at Trinity, the hockey team won 2 NESCAC Championships and reached the NCAA Final Four in 2003, while the baseball team won three league titles earning two trips to the Division 3 World Series. Dave has also worked in the athletic department at Harvard University as director of hockey operations directing the day-to-day operations of the Crimson men’s and women’s Division 1 ice hockey programs.
Dave graduated from Bowdoin College, class of 1998, with a degree in government and legal studies, and earned a master’s degree in public policy from Trinity College in 2001. While at Bowdoin, he captained both the hockey and baseball teams. He is a member of both Bowdoin’s 100-point club on the ice (126) and 100-hit club (128) on the diamond.
Mialana Mak, Office Coordinator
Mialana Mak, our office coordinator, has over 20 years of office administration and customer service experience. Mia received her high school diploma and secretarial assistant training in Hong Kong, and continued her business administration education at Seneca College in Toronto, Canada. Her initial work experience in the USA was as regional coordinator for SilverPlatter Information, Inc. in Norwood, MA, providing information to libraries in universities throughout Asia. From 2011 to 2018, between Boston and Florida, Mia worked as a loan officer assistant in the mortgage business, entering data, tracking documents for timely closings, keeping client records, and marketing. She was also a licensed realtor in Florida. Mia is a resource to clients for questions about contracts, billing, and general inquiries.
Mia is a volunteer ESL instructor at an Asian senior center in Brighton, MA. She practices Qi Gong and other Healing Arts. Mia and her husband currently live near Roslindale Square.