administration & staff

Kevin J. McCloskey

President

Kevin J. McCloskey is president of Direct Learning Systems, Inc. (DLS), a Lehigh Valley, PA, based distance education publishing company, which he founded in 1999. DLS owns Institute For Writers (IFW) which is approved by the Delaware Department of Education as a private business and trade school and provides an Internet-based distance learning curriculum.


Kevin’s previous experience includes over 15 years in senior management. He was Vice Chairman and managing partner of NLKK, Inc. the former operator of K12 owned Keystone School, a nationally accredited Internet-based secondary school with an enrollment of over 15,000 students. In 2000, he orchestrated the sale of NLKK, Inc. to KinderCare Learning Centers, Inc., a publicly traded firm. Prior to that time, he held various senior management positions in the medical equipment field. Kevin was primarily responsible for marketing, sales, business development and strategic planning throughout this period. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies and Public Relations.


Professionally, Kevin is active within the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), served on the Business Standards Committee (Vice Chairman), and was Chairman of the International Marketing Workshop in 2000. Other professional affiliations include the Pennsylvania Restaurant Association, the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association, and the Pennsylvania Association of Private School Administrators. He has also served on the school board of St. Thomas More School as fundraising chairman.

Valerie L. McCloskey, B.S. M.Ed.

Director of Education

Valerie joined DLS as the Director of Education in 2001. Prior to joining DLS, Valerie worked as a teacher, tutor and reading specialist with students from K-12 in various educational settings. As the Director of Education, she oversees the internal and external faculty & instructors and is responsible for program research, editorial revisions and branded marketing strategies relating to DLS’ educational offerings. Valerie holds a Masters’ Degree in Education; her graduate thesis was titled Benefits of Reading Aloud to Children. For 30+ years, Valerie has devoted her career to assisting students to increase their skill sets through site-based and distance education.

Philanthropically, Valerie supports the Allentown Art Museum, Mercy School for Special Learning and Cay Galgon Life House whose mission is to provide shelter for homeless pregnant women and their newborns and offer them counseling and education opportunities leading to lives of self-reliance. This charity work reflects some of Valerie’s core values, which are rooted in supporting community, education and collaboration to make the world a better place.

Donnita Fisher

Accounting / Finance Manager

Donnita is the Accounting/Finance Manager and joined IFW with over 25 years of experience. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and a Minor in Finance. Her professional experiences and educational background in Accounting, Finances, and Human Resources enables her to coordinate the financial needs and human resources development at Direct Learning Systems, Inc.

She is a member of the National Association of Certified Accounting Paraprofessionals (NACAP), Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) and the National Association of Tax Professionals (NATP). In addition to being certified in desktop QuickBooks and QuickBooks online, she is also a certified public notary. Outside of work, Donnita spends time with her cats.

Casey J. McCloskey

Director of Business Development & Student Services

Casey McCloskey is the Manager of Business Operations. Mr. McCloskey graduated a Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.Ed.) and a Master of Education in Counseling & College Student Affairs (M.Ed.). In addition to his two degrees, Casey also earned his Teacher Certification through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE).


Before his role at Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he worked in Higher Education within Student Affairs. This included working and collaborating with Orientation, Admissions, Housing & Residence Life, and Career Development. After several years in Higher Education, Casey shifted to the world of Business and worked in Sales. During this time, he excelled, earned Sales Rep of the month several times, and attained President’s Club.


Mr. McCloskey’s background in Secondary and Post-Secondary Education along with his experience in business brings strong leadership to manage and support a team in the operational functions. In his current role, Casey works closely with school directors in his oversight of day-to-day operations, budgeting, technology, student data, compliance, and academic operations to support our mission and help students reach their personal and professional goals.

Maggie McCloskey

DLS Marketing Manager

Maggie brings several years of experience in Customer Service, Management, Brand Awareness, Marketing, Strategic Lead Generation and Administration to DLS. In 2015, she graduated from the University of South Florida, earning a BA in Mass Communications with a concentration in Public Relations. After graduating, Maggie spent two years at a law firm in New York City, working in account management & brand research. For the next three years Maggie worked for Warby Parker, in their CX headquarters in Nashville, as a Customer Experience Lead—supervising a team of 15 advisors engaging with nationwide customers to provide solutions and seamless experiences. In her role at DLS, Maggie manages the day-to-day aspects of all DLS brand endeavors. She leads collaboration of the DLS brand teams on various projects, from ideation and strategy to implementation and reviewing results, in an effort to achieve company growth goals.

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Lori Ritch

IFW Operations & Marketing

Lori’s career began at the Institute of Children’s Literature. As a recent graduate, she worked with upper management to build and implement marketing plans as well as budgets for cash flow and purchasing. While at the Institute, Lori held various positions including managing daily processes, operations, IT projects, print production, systems management, and communicating with students.

Lori joined DLS in 2021, bringing over 30 years administrative and marketing experience. Along with coordinating creative designs, the annual market directories, and other administrative tasks, Lori is responsible for market research, implementation, measuring, and reporting results. Outside of work, Lori enjoys the great outdoors and spending time with her family.

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Institute For Writers Staff

Christine Molnar

Student Services Representative

Christine is a graduate from Southern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication. She has over 20 years of customer service experience starting out in the retail sector, then joining The Institute for Writers as a Student Services representative in 2005. Christine’s main role is to assist prospective, current, and former students, answering administrative questions as well as providing guidance with lesson, writing, and publishing related inquiries. She also supports IFW instructors to help foster student success. In addition to spending time with her family, Christine enjoys photography, running, crafting, and savoring the great outdoors.

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Kelli Panique

IFW Brand Marketer

Kelli is a proud graduate of the University of Redlands with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a minor in Economics. Believing you should always say yes when asked if you want to learn something new, she has used her skills and experience in a variety of ways.  Kelli’s diverse resume includes store management at Disneyland, member support for online membership groups, producing podcasts, facilitating online workshops, and project management for online writing conferences.


Kelli has worked with the Institute for Writers since 2016 where she edits weekly newsletters and blogs, assembles the elements for kidlit and adult writing contests, produces the Writing for Children podcasts, handles social media, and sets up weekly celebrations for our published graduates and contest winners in the IFW Winners’ Circle. In her free time, Kelli likes to read books and watch movies—and then look up trivia for said movies on IMDb, which makes her a great addition to any trivia team.  

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Stacy Feifel, B.S. M.Ed.

Director of Academic Programs

Stacy has been with Direct Learning Systems since 2007 in various administrative and educational capacities.  She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Telecommunications from Kutztown University and a Masters’ Degree in Education with a specialization in Instructional Design and Technology from the American College of Education.  Her responsibilities include assisting the Director of Education, leading the educational and development team to construct and revise various educational material for the school, and working with the school’s administration to ensure that educational programs meet accreditation standards.  She is also the administrator of the school’s online learning management system. Stacy also provides educational assistance to students with a special concentration on our veteran, military, and military spouse population.

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Michele Long

Director of Regulatory and Compliance

Michele joined Direct Learning Systems as Director of Regulatory & Compliance working with the management team maintaining and ensuring compliance with licensure and accreditation standards. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University, a Diploma in Network Engineering Technology Administration credentialed as a Certified Network Administrator (C.N.A.) and Certified Network Engineer (C.N.E.), and a Master’s Degree in Higher Education with a concentration in Strategic Leadership from Messiah University. Michele has held various positions in higher education, responsible for national and programmatic accreditation and compliance, online and residential program development, and leadership of several major programs at a regional college. Michele created a student enrichment program that received national recognition by the College Board and was awarded Educator of the Year by the Optimist Club. Outside of work, Michele enjoys spending time with her family, watching the Phils, and traveling to Cape May, New Jersey.

Jacque Irizarry

Graphic + Web Design / Project Manager

Jacque is a graduate of SNHU where she majored in Graphics and Media Arts. At BCI, her responsibilities include graphic + web design, project management, and assisting our Marketing Department with design assets. Jacque loves playing basketball, touring craft breweries, and volunteering within her community through various food and clothing drives. She also enjoys dabbling with photography, painting, and other forms of creative arts.

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Matthew Schoch

Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Matt is a 2021 graduate of King’s College and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Professional Writing and Mass Communication. At King’s, Matt worked with the Scop Literary Magazine, The Crown campus newspaper, held an internship with The Daily Caller, and also served as a captain for the cross country and track and field teams. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., he focuses on internal operations and assists the Development Team in curriculum updates. In his free time, Matt likes to run, play disc golf, watch sports, and spend time with friends and family.

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Jamie Klaum

Student Services Representative / Content Writer / Editor

Jamie graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in English/Professional Writing and a minor in Criminal Justice. She has work published in Shoofly Literary Magazine and she wrote for the Keystone Newspaper for two years. Jamie interned at the Rohrbach Library Archives where she designed and published her own research magazine. At Direct Learning Systems Inc., she works in the education department developing, editing, and writing content. Outside of work, Jamie enjoys hiking—so much that she lived in a converted bus while traveling the country to hike in National Parks. She is also an avid reader and is slowly building her own home library.

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Anthony Germani

Student Services Representative / Sales Development

Anthony is a Penn State graduate where he majored in Education. Professionally, he has worked in education and as a sales representative. At IFW, he is responsible for continuously evaluating and developing processes in order to grow business and provide quality experiences to attract and retain our students. Outside of work, Anthony enjoys spending time with his family and enjoys playing/watching sports (especially basketball and golf).

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James McCloskey

Admissions Advisor/ Student Services Representative

James brings his experience in management, communications, and sales to the DLS team. After studying Communications & New Media at Coastal Carolina University, James started his career in an industry he’s passionate about: pro-golf management. James served as a leader at five country clubs in four different states, gaining a vast knowledge of excellent customer experience, sales, management structures and team building skills. In 2020, he left the golf industry to work in the mortgage industry. As a loan officer at AmRes Mortgage Company, James worked with insurance companies, banks, and title companies to ensure mortgagees were taken care of. In his role at DLS, he manages day-to-day prospect relations, collaborates with marketing to enhance long-term strategy & communications, and drives the optimization of the admissions department.

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Shannon Jacobs

Student Services Representative / Social Media Coordinator

Shannon is a 2021 graduate of Kutztown University with a bachelor’s in Social Media Theory & Strategy with a minor in communication studies. She also earned an associates in graphic design from Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC). Shannon’s role in her internship at WebFX in Harrisburg was a social media specialist – account manager. There she managed multiple client accounts, created content designs, brand awareness, content calendars, and social media strategies. In Shannon’s free time, she enjoys the gym, listening to music, painting, and spending time with friends

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Denise Di Benard

Digital Production / Print Specialists

Denise studied Elementary Education at West Chester University and later pursued an Associates degree in Graphic Design at Delaware County Community College. She has many years of experience in print and design. At DLS her duties include printing student learning materials, maintaining warehouse inventory, shipping and receiving. Denise enjoys cooking, craft beer, kayaking, biking, running, and gardening and also volunteers as a trail steward with the National Park Service.

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Tammy Kromer

Student Services Representative / Mail Room Coordinator

Tammy has over 20 years of experience in customer service and began at Direct Learning Systems in the fall of 2001. As a Senior Student Service Representative, Tammy serves as a mentor to the staff. Her responsibilities include processing student assignments and graduation documents. She also assures each student has their appropriate course resources. Tammy assists the Operations Manager in various duties including printing processes.

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Cameron Kilpatrick

Student Services / Shipping Associate

Cameron is a graduate of Lehigh Carbon Community College with an associate degree in Liberal Arts. Currently working on his bachelor’s degree at Bloomsburg University, he is studying to be an Anthropologist. Professionally, he has worked at Staples, Inc. in both sales and customer service. At Direct Learning Systems, Inc., Cam’s administrative role includes processing student exams, assignments, proof of education, and student surveys. He also assists in the mail room, processing student shipments and letters. Outside of work, Cam enjoys camping and exploring nature, specifically geology, minerology, and herpetology.

Richard Scutt

Firearms / Student Services / Shipping Associate

Richard, a Military & Iraq war veteran, brings Direct Learning Systems his hands-on experience in management, logistics, and customer service. While serving in the Army, he was awarded several service and combat medals. He used the GI Bill to attend Lincoln Technical Institute, where he studied electronic engineering. Richard leveraged his military experience and education to secure a position in international shipping at Access Global Logistics Limited. Remaining in the transportation and warehouse industry, Richard took a manager position at National Acoustics. He has also worked for both UPS and the United States Postal Service. At DLS, Richard’s role includes working in two different departments ‑ Student Services and Shipping. In his spare time, Richard volunteers at nursing homes and supports autism charities. In addition to spending time with family and friends, he enjoys traveling.

Antonio Smith

IT Systems Technician

Antonio graduated from the trade school Lehigh Career & Technical Institute with a computer and networking technology degree while attending high school. Afterward, he pursued his associate’s degree at Lehigh Carbon Community College as a computer specialist in networking technology while working in the field of IT. At DLS, his role is to manage all IT systems and foresee all future IT projects and roles, ensuring that DLS has superb technology systems in place and working properly. Outside of DLS, Antonio likes to play video games and spend time with his friends and family. 

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Licensure & Memberships

Recommended for college credits by the Connecticut Board for State Academic Awards


College credits obtained through Charter Oak State College


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