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Executive Biographies

Pedro De Guzman, President/Chief Executive Officer

Pedro De Guzman is an experienced CEO & President recognized for building and revitalizing higher educational institutions. Pedro has over 40 years of higher education experience, which include 26 years of executive management experience overseeing college operations from conception to institutional maturity. He continues to demonstrate success in improving academic viability and prioritizing student outcomes while adhering to the highest regulatory standards.

Before HCI College, Pedro was the CEO & President of a Florida-based ten-campus  College group. During his seven years there, the College expanded its program offerings, improved student outcomes, and added 5 additional campuses. Also, during this period, the College obtained and renewed institutional and programmatic accreditations to enhance the quality of the College as well as several of its program offerings.  

By focusing on academic quality and growth, Pedro has been able to put the knowledge and experience he has gained to good use. Over the years, he has increased program offerings, obtained and renewed programmatic and institutional accreditation, and led multi-campus expansions for several academic institutions.  Pedro may spend his days at HCI College, but it’s the straightforward charge to put students first and providing them with an excellent education, that gets him up in the morning.

Ryan Miller, Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Miller is responsible for HCI’s core financial functions including ensuring the security, accuracy, confidentiality, and maintenance of all accounting and financial functions.
Prior to joining HCI, Mr. Miller served as the controller of Rybovich Boat Company. There he led the firm’s financial department and was a key contributor in a variety of corporate transactions and capital activities. He developed, implemented, and maintained strategic financial policies and procedures throughout the organization.
He also served as the Director of Finance and Administration of Minnesota Swarm Professional Lacrosse Club. Mr. Miller earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration from Bemidji State University and he is a certified public accountant.

David Shelpman, Jr., Group Campus President/Chief Operating Officer

David Shelpman, Jr. is a higher education professional with more than a decade of experience in campus operations, admissions, and marketing. David has worked in both private non-profit and private for-profit colleges and universities over the course of his career. David has worked with accreditations ranging from national, regional, programmatic, and state licensure. David has earned his Associates Degree in Business Administration in 2008 from Daymar College, he has earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Technical Management with an Emphasis of Human Resources Management from DeVry University in 2012 and he has earned his Master of Human Resources Management from Keller Graduate School of Management in 2015. David has also been a member of the Society for Human Resources Management since 2012.
David has been the recipient of multiple awards such as the Gold Key Award in 2008 and 2009, the President’s Award in 2010 and Campus of the Year in 2010 and 2011. Additionally, David received a 2-year and 5-year in service award for one of his most recent organizations in which he was promoted from the smallest campus to the largest campus within the collegiate system. David was instrumental in leading his campus through a 10-year reaffirmation process with regards to the regional accreditation with the distance learning and student support services. As a result, David was selected to be nominated as an accreditation site reviewer for distance education. David has also been a Designated School Official for SEVIS for multiple schools and a VA Certifying Official. In addition, David has been promoted on several occasions due to his student-focused mentality which resulted in the growth of several campuses.
David is 100% student-focused and committed to changing lives … one person at a time!

Celeste Blackwell, Chief Academic Officer/Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs

Mrs. Celeste Blackwell serves as the Chief Academic Officer/Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, overseeing both campuses Academic Departments. Mrs. Blackwell has over a decade of experience with post-secondary education and has served in many roles including Faculty, Career Services, Campus President, and the longest as a Dean of Education. She has a master’s degree majoring in Adult Education, with a minor in Faculty Training and Developing. Mrs. Blackwell holds a bachelor’s degree in Alternative Medicine which allowed her to become a Board-Certified Holistic Practitioner and included extensive studies in Advanced Anatomy and Physiology. Her passions include supporting the Deans and faculty in their roles by ensuring that teachers have the resources needed to be successful in the classroom as well as supporting students through their educational journey.

Dana Moritz, Executive Assistant for Academic Affairs

Dana joined HCI in 2018 as a Senior Admissions Representative. In 2019, Dana led the Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges (FAPSC) Membership Drive recruiting several new member schools for the organization. That same year she received an award for her contributions to the higher education sector. In 2020, Dana switched roles to Academic Administrative Assistant. In March of 2022, Dana was promoted to Executive Assistant for Academic Affairs. Dana is responsible for assisting the executive team, with a primary role in assisting the Vice President of Academic Affairs. Her duties include: the preparation and maintenance of all necessary accreditation materials in preparation for on-site review/annual accreditation audits, the creation/revision of executive materials including official documentation, company literature, and meeting materials at the request of the Senior Leadership Team, discretion of highly sensitive and confidential company information, informational research and data comparison, maintenance of schedules, accommodations, and connecting with vendors. Dana holds a BA in Psychology from Hofstra University and is also a Florida State Notary Public.

Theresa Cowan, Vice President of Financial Aid

Theresa Cowan serves as the Vice President of Financial Aid. Theresa comes to HCI with over 25 years of financial aid experience and has helped thousands of students through the maze of federal and state aid, scholarships, and private funding sources. Theresa has worked with the public as part of her work in financial aid and this includes such agencies as Dream. Us, Broward County, YMCA, and South Florida BRACE advisors. Theresa services as a Consultant with the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) and has earned her undergraduate and graduate degree from Indiana Wesleyan University in Accounting, Magna Cum Laude. Her desire for all students is to remove the complexity of the financial aid process so that students can focus on what matters… academics and obtaining a career.

Deb Ferrari, Campus President – Fort Lauderdale

Deb Ferrari is a seasoned professional in the field of higher education with an impressive track record spanning over 30 years. Deb embarked on her journey as a Medical Assistant and later pursued her passion for nursing, earning a Bachelor’s degree from California State University – Hayward, now known as Cal State – East Bay.

Throughout her career, Deb’s innate love for teaching has been a guiding force. Her commitment to education deepened as she embraced the opportunity to instruct and train aspiring nurses. She excelled as an instructor for Medical Assistants and LPNs, subsequently ascending to positions of greater responsibility such as Director of Education, Campus President, and ultimately, Senior Vice President of Operations. Her extensive background encompasses a wide range of experiences, including overseeing the establishment of new campuses as well as managing large-scale institutions with up to 2,400 students.

Deb’s true passion lies in transforming campuses, nurturing their growth to reach their full potential while upholding the highest moral, legal, and ethical standards. She derives immense satisfaction from witnessing her students achieve their aspirations and evolve into skilled professionals in their chosen fields. She firmly believes in the profound impact they will make as productive members of their communities. Undoubtedly, her students and their personal development are her top priority. Among the highlights of her academic calendar, graduation day stands out as her favorite, having presided over more than 90 commencement ceremonies throughout her remarkable career. With an extensive background encompassing seven different colleges and career schools across the nation, Deb brings a wealth of diverse experiences to the table.

Roxana Caceres, Systems Registrar – Fort Lauderdale

Roxana Caceres is a highly skilled and dedicated registrar with over 10 years of experience in the field. With a strong background in education administration and a passion for supporting students and faculty, Roxana has consistently demonstrated exceptional organizational and communication skills. Throughout her career, Roxana has successfully managed student records department, ensuring accuracy and confidentiality. Roxana has a deep understanding of student information systems and is proficient in utilizing various software applications to streamline processes and improve efficiency.

In addition to her technical expertise, Roxana is known for her exceptional interpersonal skills. She has a proven ability to build strong relationships with students, faculty, and staff, providing them with the necessary support and guidance. Roxana is committed to fostering a positive and inclusive environment, always striving to bring out the best in others and herself.  

As an education registrar, Roxana is dedicated to ensuring the smooth operation of academic processes and supporting the success of students and faculty. Her strong attention to detail, exceptional organizational abilities, and commitment to excellence helps her make a difference in education. 

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