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Home > Degree Programs > Office of Career Advancement > About the Harvard Kennedy School Office of Career Advancement (OCA) > About the OCA Team
As your career continues to develop, you will find OCA is happy to help with advice and resources.
Our office includes a team of career professionals dedicated to providing individualized support and services that include employer outreach, job search skills workshops, and an online job bank.
Having coached Harvard Kennedy School students and alumni since 2000, Mary has a wealth of knowledge and experience with the range of careers of interest to Kennedy School students and alumni. She has worked extensively with thousands of Harvard Kennedy School students, helping them maximize their energy, talent and passion towards solving the world’s most pressing public problems.
Before coming to the Harvard Kennedy School, Mary served for seven years with the nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government in Washington, D.C. As Vice President for Leadership Development, she created education programs for federal government managers and executives. Mary also developed the Council’s first leadership development program for state government leaders. She served as a leadership coach to individuals and teams and co-edited The 1992 Prune Book, 50 Jobs that Can Change America, which is a guidebook to top federal positions.
Before joining the Council, Mary headed her own writing and communications consulting business in Atlanta, Georgia and was a contributing author of the volume, Contemporary Entrepreneurs. She has also held communications, marketing communications and public relations positions with Computervision Corporation, Prime Computer, Inc., Towers, Perrin Forster & Crosby and the Boston Visiting Nurse Association. Mary earned a Master of Arts in Communications Management from Simmons College and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science/Public Relations from Syracuse University.
In her free time Mary enjoys going to the gym, riding her bicycle and rooting for Boston sports teams. She is a very proud mom of boy/girl twins, who are currently attending college in the U.S. Midwest.
Judith Coquillette, Senior Associate Director and Coach
Judith manages the OCA program for graduates who plan to pursue careers in international development, international security policy and human rights. The program includes individual coaching, on-campus panels and workshops, plus the annual career exploration trip to Washington. Judith builds networks with a diversity of employers and alumni from organizations across all sectors including, the US government, international institutions such as UNDP, UNV, The World Bank, IADB, and major nonprofits and private sector firms with public sector clients.
A graduate of Oxford University with a master's degree in modern history, Judith also holds a Master of Education from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and has taken additional coursework in counseling psychology at Boston College. Judith holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. and has traveled extensively in Europe and Africa.
Before joining the Harvard Kennedy School in 2000, Judith held positions in career services at the Fletcher School, Tufts and Brandeis University, and also worked at Harvard College. Judith is a trustee and treasurer of the American Friends of St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University.
Judith advises on careers in international development, international affairs, and human rights, in all sectors. Judith is knowledgeable about recruitment programs and hiring processes in international organizations, including The World Bank Group and other IFIs, UN, and EU.
Kate Kavanagh, Career Coach
Kate has extensive experience career counseling graduates, undergraduates and alumni of selective universities around Boston including MIT, MIT Sloan and BC Carroll Graduate School of Management. She also brings a corporate perspective to her work from having worked as a Human Resource Development Coach in high tech and as an outplacement trainer/coach for Keystone Associates, servicing multiple industries throughout New England.
Kate is very knowledgeable in resume/cover letter writing, self-assessment, interview prep, job search strategy, offer negotiations and networking (online & off).
She holds a BA in Psychology from UConn, an MEd in College Student Personnel from BGSU, with extensive doctoral level coursework in Group and Organizational Behavior from UMass Amherst.
Kate has a private practice in career coaching in her hometown of Concord, has led the "Challenge Day: Be the Change" anti-bullying program at Concord Carlisle High School for years - and facilitates a program in Emotional Literacy/Alternatives to Violence at Concord MCI Prison.
Kate has 3 grown children, the last of whom will be completing college this year. Whenever possible, Kate enjoys being outside, hiking, swimming, sailing and playing tennis. When forced inside, she enjoys yoga, dancing, writing, independent cinema and watching Newsroom & Homeland.
Kate advises on careers in consulting and financial management. Kate is trained in interpretation of Career Leader, Career Values, and Motivational Skills Assessment.
Joan has experience in a wide variety of industries and sectors including consulting; financial services including investment management, hedge funds, and investment banking; real estate; technology; telecommunications; health care; education and manufacturing. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her AB in economics from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she served on the Visiting Fellows Committee at the Institute of Politics. She enjoys music, the arts, travel, sports and photography.
Joan advises on careers in finance, including financial management of public institutions, social finance bonds, microfinance; international trade, political risk and investment in emerging markets; energy policy; strategic consulting industry; how to set up in business as an independent consultant. Joan is experienced in interpreting Career Leader.
Yulia Vershinina, Associate Director and Coach
Yulia is a trained organizational psychologist with experience in addressing a variety of individual and group concerns including career development of LGBT students, gifted students, and students with disabilities. She is also interested in the topics of networking and civility, including the application of social media to the job search. Prior to joining OCA in October 2010, Yulia was a career counselor at MIT. There, she coached students in biological, chemical, materials, and nuclear engineering. She also served as an interpreter in a variety of settings, including UNDP, IFC, and sports tournaments.
A graduate of Columbia University with a masters degree in organizational psychology, Yulia also obtained her certification in mediation and conflict resolution from the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution at Teachers College, Columbia University. She is a native Russian speaker. If you wish to discuss US-Russian relations and Perestroika, please stop in for a chat. When not at work, Yulia can be found playing with her Rhodesian Ridgeback, experimenting with natural ingredients in her kitchen, and rereading everything Jane Austen.
Yulia advises on US Federal employment, working on Capitol Hill; transitioning from military to civilian career; careers in education policy, health policy, cyber security and national security; varied topics in international development, including gender empowerment, political participation; advocacy and progressive policy; think tanks. Yulia is glad to advise students on LGBTQ concerns in their career management. Yulia is a Certified Federal Career Coach.
Amanda Peters, Associate Director and Coach
Amanda Peters is a career coach and instructor with a passion for connecting people to resources and guiding them to their best-fit careers. Prior to joining the OCA team in 2013, she worked in career services offices at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University School of Management, Northeastern University, and as an employment specialist with refugees and immigrants.
Amanda's primary areas of concentration at MIT and BU were energy and environment, transportation and supply chain, management and business careers, and the use of Linkedin. She completed the Mentoring and Advising Program training for StrengthsQuest through Gallup, and is trained in an array of other assessment instruments. Amanda has extensive past experience working for nonprofit organizations in publications-related roles, as well as in retail buying and management.
Amanda earned an A.B. in Anthropology, magna cum laude, from Brown University, spending her junior year in India, and a M.Ed. in Counseling from BU’s School of Education. She is a member of Net Impact, the Career Counselors Consortium, and the National Career Development Association.
Amanda bikes or walks to work daily. Outside of work, she enjoys running 5k races, reading mysteries and nonfiction (focused on management, careers and social enterprise), being the mom of an avid skateboarder, and working in her native city- Cambridge!
Amanda advises on careers in crime and criminal justice; urban development, including transportation and housing; technology policy; poverty alleviation and workforce development; nonprofit management. Amanda is knowledgeable about a range of self-assessment instruments including Values card sort, Career Leader and Strengths Finder.
Joan Ronayne, Associate Director and Coach
Joan has a wide variety of experience. She has been a career consultant, investor, investment banker, strategy consultant, led her own firm, worked with start-ups to secure venture capital, and served in government. Joan was an investment banker with Merrill Lynch & Company and Cowen & Company and was a strategy consultant with Monitor Company. She has worked internationally and in government and has served as a Research Associate with former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. She was a recipient of the first Group Study Exchange Award to the former Soviet Union from Rotary International. Joan served as a Town Meeting Member for six years.
Karin Kane Bloom, Manager, Employer Relations and Technology
Karin has worked at the Harvard Kennedy School since 2000, primarily in the roles of internship/career advising and program management. At OCA Karin has been developing and managing JACK: Jobs and Careers for the Kennedy School. Karin focuses on building external, professional relationships with potential employers for students and alumni. She also contributes to marketing and communication efforts for the office, including specialized trainings for the career management system, website, social media development and working with faculty and staff.
Susan Ellis, Coordinator, OCA Spotlight Serices
Susan provides communications services including updating the OCA public website and intranet pages and working with social media. She also manages the OCA Spotlight Series, featuring interview with alumni and others on career-related topics.
Susan brings an extensive background in communications technologies and media, as well as writing, project management, and video, multimedia, audio and print production skills. Before coming to OCA, she completed hundreds of projects as a communications consultant to corporations, museums, universities, and production houses. She earned her Bachelor of Liberal Arts at the Harvard Extension School where she is currently working toward a Master's Degree in Journalism.
Paula Koczera, Associate Director, Employer Relations
Paula joined OCA in August 2006. She serves as primary contact for employers seeking to recruit Harvard Kennedy School talent. She is also always happy to help students, who have questions about on-campus recruiting. Previously, she worked as an Account Manager in the staffing industry, assisting local companies in finding top talent to add to their organizations. Before staffing, she worked as a Sales Representative for the biotech industry and had the opportunity to see much of the country through her business travel. Paula graduated from Stonehill College with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and from the Harvard Extension School with a Master in Management/Organizational Behavior.
In her free time Paula enjoys watching the Red Sox and Patriots, being involved with alumni activities at Stonehill College and volunteering with small town political campaigns in her home town of Acushnet, Massachusetts.
Outside of work, Melinda enjoys spending time with family, traveling and curling up with a good book.
Sheron Russell, Administrative Manager
Sheron joined the OCA team in the summer of 2008 as the Administrative Manager. She hold an MS in Criminal Justice from Bridgewater State College and has more than 16 years of professional experience in office administration. As a Cornell University Diversity Professional/Advanced Practitioner (CCDP\AP), she is skilled in public speaking and promoting healthy conversations about sensitive topics such as race, gender, religion, disability, and sexual orientation. She was an adjunct professor at Bunker Hill Community College from 2007 to 2009, lecturing on topics of management and supervision in law enforcement, race, ethnicity and cultural issues in the American criminal justice system. Additionally, she is a Certified Instructional Trainer with the Southeastern Massachusetts Municipal Police Council.
Janice Rand Vaughn, Senior Associate Director, Communications and Employer Relations
Janice is a seasoned administrator at Harvard having worked at the Harvard Medical School, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Harvard Kennedy School. She received a Master in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education concentrating in Administration, Planning and Social Policy. Janice is responsible for communications and marketing in the Office of Career Advancement, including taking a lead role in the implementation of JACK: Jobs and Careers for the Kennedy School, and in building partnerships with HKS research centers and programs to enhance career networking opportunities for students. While at HKS, Janice has held the positions of Director of the MPA/MC Summer Program, Director of the Office of Community and Public Service and Special Assistant to the Associate Dean of Degree Programs.
Outside of work, Janice and her husband, in addition to raising two children, co-founded The Tremont School, an innovative middle school that opened in September 2011 in metrowest Boston.