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About Us

Supporting College Students & Career Seekers When and Where They Need It

BeyondAdmissions™ uses principles of social entrepreneurship to create ongoing, affordable, and easily accessible support to address the challenges students and career seekers encounter in college or the marketplace. It also uses a portion of its fees to provide in-kind services for those with financial barriers.

Acceptance into college or landing a job provides an opportunity for social and economic advancement. However, in order to maximize this opportunity, many individuals require support to help ensure success. Those lucky enough to have a personal support network often feel reluctant to ask for help when the expectations of family or friends differ from their own aspirations. Moreover, those with no personal support network frequently avoid asking for help for fear of looking like they do not belong.

By incorporating principles of civic engagement to build diverse and inclusive community partnerships at high schools, postsecondary institutions, and businesses, BeyondAdmissions™ empowers families and community members to best prepare their youth for college and career success.

Our team

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Joanne Valli-Meredith, PhD

Founder & CEO

Joanne has 12 years of administrative and teaching experience at UCLA - most recently as the Director of Evaluation and Educational Assessment at UCLA's Office of Instructional Development. Her teaching in Community Health Science focused on student success using stress and coping skills derived from cognitive behavioral theory, identity theory, and communication practices. She was also a college dropout!

I attended UCLA after graduating high school with honors in the sciences. By my third year, I barely had enough credits to qualify as a sophomore. Unable to identify a career path, I switched majors four times and ended up on academic probation leading me to quit school. I spent the next 15 years of my life as a trend designer successfully launching a handbag manufacturing business that I eventually sold to spend more time with my twin daughters. At age 36, I decided to resume my studies at UCLA as a Political Science major. As an older student, confident that I had the skills to be successful, I began to recognize in others why I did so poorly as a younger student... I chose a college for the wrong reason, left a major for the wrong reason, was not motivated to ask for help, did not know help was available, had never studied without homework deadlines, had never managed daily finances, did not have a strong social network on campus, felt pressured to have a career in mind, did not know how to balance family expectations, did not know other students struggled as well, did not connect college learning to life after college... After completing a bachelor's degree in Political Science, I decided to pursue a doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change from UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Science. My studies confirmed many of my personal insights and my subsequent work at a public university highlighted just how many students would benefit from additional guidance. Given my path, I founded BeyondAdmissions to provide higher education and career guidance that is easily accessible and uses a portion of its fees to provide free in-kind services to those with financial barriers.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors recognizes that fostering college and career success entails a broad range of factors.

Their combined knowledge in academia, mentoring, development, and business provides the expertise necessary to create an ongoing, accessible, and affordable solution for college support and career development. Their vision is to strengthen equity of opportunity for the success of all individuals.

The BeyondAdmissions™ B Lab Certification ensures that our board has the flexibility to balance the needs of our students, career seekers, and community stakeholders with those of our shareholders.

Reco Sanders, MBA | Secretary

Business Operations Manager, KIPP LA Schools

Currently the founding Business Operations Manager at a charter elementary school, Reco began his career in education with the AmeriCorps City Year program. He earned his B.A. in American Studies at Dickinson College where he received a full-tuition merit-based scholarship from the Posse Foundation. Reco also holds an MBA from Mount Saint Mary’s University.

Ava Alexandar, MPA | Benefit Director 

Chief Development Officer, Burbank Community YMCA

Ava, a dedicated social advocate, holds a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA and a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University. During her 18 years of service in non-profit and public administration, she has authored two books and numerous articles on public policy and development.

Megan Koehler, LCSW | Chief Financial Officer

Vice President, Mentoring Services, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles

Megan’s experience in the non-profit sector spans 30 years, with the last 22 years dedicated to youth mentoring programs. Her tenure working in Los Angeles-based non-profit organizations includes Fulfilment Fund, Jewish Family Services, and Stuart House. She earned her Master’s in Social Work at the University of  Minnesota after studying vocal performance at UCLA to earn her B.A. in Music.

Laura Macchia Amescua 

Manager, Policy Implementation and Admissions Evaluation, University of California, Office of the President

Laura has devoted the past 28 years to public higher education and currently works in admissions for the University of California, Office of the President. She began her career with UCLA Admissions, focusing on international students and ultimately overseeing the transfer process while pursuing her Ed.D. Laura received  her B.A. in Italian at UCLA, studied abroad, and worked in Italy for three years.

Keith Sears

Screenwriter

Currently a screenwriter, Keith spent 27 years as a business affairs executive and agent at Creative Artists Agency. Holding a B.A. in History from Harvard and a J.D. from Columbia, he has also served as an alumni interviewer for Harvard’s Office of Admissions and Financial Aid.

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