Meet the Team

Joan Casey, President


Joan Casey founded Educational Advocates in 2004. She earned a master of education degree in Mind, Brain and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education and a BA in economics from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Joan is a certified educational planner, signifying that she has achieved the highest level of professional standards in the field of educational consulting. 

AICEP-LogoShe is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) where she most recently chaired the learning disability committee, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), and the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA).

Joan serves on the undergraduate economics advisory board for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the humanities department advisory board at Lasell College. 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.HECALogo During Joan’s visits to more than 250 college campuses, she meets with admissions officers, student activities directors, academic deans and faculty and talks directly with students for an insider’s view of campus life. Prior to founding Educational Advocates, Joan had a 20-year career as a marketing and public relations consultant and has received several marketing and writing awards. She resides in Brookline, Massachusetts and is the mother of two sons who attended both independent and public schools before college. 

Rebecca Kenney, College Consultant


Rebecca cares deeply about getting to know the students and families with whom she works.  While she is experienced and talented in supporting students to present their very best selves in their college applications, she believes identifying schools where that particular student will thrive is equally, if not more, important. 

Rebecca earned a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Duke University earning a Bachelor’s with Distinction in Psychology. She conducted alumni interviews of undergraduate applicants to Duke University for ten years. Rebecca successfully completed the Independent Educational Consultant Certificate Program at the University of California-Irvine, representing 150 hours of evaluated learning. She is a Professional Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), as well as a member of both the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA) and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). Rebecca was a presenter at both IECA’s May 2016 national conference and at NACAC’s September 2017 national conference. 

Before joining Educational Advocates, Rebecca Kenney was a guidance counselor in the Quincy (MA) Public Schools. In that role, Rebecca served as a consultant to teachers and parents in support of students with special needs. She also supported students directly by providing individual and group counseling. Rebecca has also worked as a therapist in both outpatient and residential settings with an emphasis on children and families.

Rebecca resides in Milton, MA with her family. She is the mother of four children and has been actively involved in their public, parochial and independent schools. She has served as a board member, parent liaison, fundraiser and volunteer. Rebecca’s educational, professional and personal experiences create an excellent platform for supporting students and their families as they seek the best-fit college. We are excited to have someone with Rebecca’s depth of experience be another resource for our clients and families.

Cathy Costa, College Consultant

Cathy Costa is a college consultant who advises high school and transfer students as well as graduate students pursuing MBA and finance graduate programs. Cathy shares the belief that with proactive planning, the college search and application process can be enlightening and even enjoyable for students and families. Her goal is to help each student explore options and find their personal best fit—academically, socially, and financially.

Before joining Educational Advocates, Cathy was a special projects consultant at the Acera School for gifted and talented students in Winchester, MA. She was also an independent educational consultant advising students and parents about the college preparation, search, and application process.

Cathy gained an inside perspective on admissions through her role in the Boston College MBA admissions office. Her early career experiences at a top direct marketing agency, a Wall Street investment bank, and a management consulting firm honed her communication, organizational, and industry evaluation skills that translate directly to advising college applicants.

Cathy earned a BS in Commerce from the University of Virginia, and an MBA in Finance from New York University. She resides in Winchester with her husband and has four sons, including a computer software engineer, an investment banker with a liberal arts degree, a rising college freshman whose major is completely undecided, and a high school runner/soccer player.

April Penn, Office Coordinator

aprilApril Penn joined Educational Advocates College Consulting in May 2016 as a part-time office coordinator. She will be helping the office run smoothly behind the scenes and be a resource to clients related to administrative needs. April is coordinating publications such as the blog and newsletter and posting college information to social media.

In addition to her work at Educational Advocates, April is also an extended day teacher at the John D. Runkle School in Brookline. Previously, she managed the office at the Boston Common Frog Pond and, prior to that, served in Americorps as a site-coordinator for Leaps in Literacy at the Raymond Elementary School in Brockton.

April received a BA in English from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She is passionate about writing poetry and has performed at the Cantab Poetry Lounge, Out of the Blue Gallery, and UMass Amherst. She has poems published or forthcoming in The FemThe OffingProvocateur, and other literary journals. 

Meet our Writing Specialists


Christina Shea

Christina Shea

Christina Shea is an experienced teacher of writing and a published novelist. She holds a BA from Kenyon College and an MFA from the University of Michigan as well as a Massachusetts teaching certification in ELA.

She began as a TEFL instructor in the Peace Corps in the 1990s and, subsequently, became coordinator of language teacher training programs for the Peace Corps, fueling an interest in service through education and cross-cultural experience that has never gone away. As Director of Writing in the Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program at New England School of Law from 1999 to 2002, Christina supported minority student writers in the critical first year of law school. She worked as writing consultant to Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in the Needham school’s first years of operation in 2002 and subsequently held the post of visiting writer for four years, teaching creative writing to young engineers. Since 2003, she has been a core faculty member of the low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Lesley University. For the past four years she has also worked in the Boston Public Schools with WriteBoston, as a teacher coach, improving writing instruction across the disciplines. Christina’s first novel, Moira’s Crossing, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2000 to national acclaim. Her second novel, Smuggled (Grove Atlantic) was published in 2011, and she is now at work on a third novel. She is also the co-author of numerous travel books on Hungary.
Caitlin McGill

Caitlin McGill

Caitlin McGill is a 2016 St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award winner and Bread Loaf Writers’ conference scholarship recipient. She was also the 2014 winner of the Rafael Torch Nonfiction Literary Award. Her essays and flash fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, Short, Fast, & Deadly, The Southeast Review and several other magazines. Currently, she is working on a memoir-in-essays in which she journeys to uncover her family’s hidden past. Throughout this pilgrimage to exhume her identity, she grapples with the cost of ignoring our pasts–of ignoring history itself. One essay from her book was named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016. Caitlin McGill joined Educational Advocates in September 2013. A Florida native, she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English, a specialization in creative writing, and a dance minor. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at Emerson College, where she teaches literature and writing courses.
(617) 734-3700
1678 Beacon Street
Brookline, MA 02445