The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Foundation will cast a larger net of talent to join us from the business community, alumni ranks and visionaries who are willing to network, mentor, hire and engage our students. We want to reach community partners looking to engage with our Board and create programs to “follow our students.” We want our North Star to be intergenerational, multilingual, free to use any pronoun and guide our students towards a path of family self-sufficiency and pride. We want our North Star to provide scholarships that “follow our students” to any of the 17 community colleges and universities. In turn we hope this path creates internships, apprentice programs and employment throughout the entire state of Connecticut. Our students can go anywhere; we hope to follow them and support their college and career goals.

Executive Board

Helen G. Sneed


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Helen G. Sneed, President, is the Principal Partner of Drive The Goal, a boutique human resources firm offering career coaching, career readiness and HR consulting for small businesses. She holds an associate degree from Tunxis Community College ’89, a bachelor’s degree from Central Connecticut State University ’96, and an EMBA from University of New Haven ’01 and is a member of GOSHRM.

“My professional success began at Tunxis Community College,” said Sneed. “I quickly learned that education would fuel my self-sufficiency. It’s from that lens I can clearly see how networking, scholarships, partnerships, and digital literacy will help drive our students’ futures forward.”


Thomas W. Watson

Vice President

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Thomas W. Watson, Vice President, is the founder and CEO of the Thomas Watson Group (TWG), an executive search, executive coaching, and consulting firm. He holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business ’86 and an MBA from the University of Baltimore Merrick College of Business, MBA ’95.

“I’ve been very fortunate and had a Big Brother and mentor who guided me early in life,” said Watson. “I am now able through my executive coaching and recruiting business to help students in numerous ways, ranging from college to career advice. My personal mission is to improve the career success and lives of everyone that crosses my path.”


Forest Robertson


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Forest Robertson, Secretary, has been a professor at Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) since 2014. He teaches a range of students who are interested in professional fields that include biology, chemistry, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and various others. He leads a vibrant research group that investigates the development of new synthetic methods that describe the efficient access to privileged, sulfur-containing heterocycles that possess potential antiviral, anti-cancer, and antibacterial properties. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Connecticut State University ’07 and a Ph.D. from Dartmouth College ’12.

“As an associate professor at WCSU and Barnard Award recipient, I’m committed to the new vision of the Board,” said Robertson. “I understand the students that we serve in our communities and the challenges they face in the 21st century.” 


Krystin McCauley Watkins

Assistant Secretary

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Krystin McCauley Watkins, Assistant Secretary, is an Education Industry Executive at Microsoft. Her experience includes design, research, curriculum and content development, project and program management, virtual learning environments, blended learning, UX, and mobile learning. She holds a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University ’11, an M.Ed. from Arizona State University ’15, and an Ed.D. from the University of South Carolina ’21.

“I’m passionate about inclusion, technology integration, STEM, and digital literacy,” said McCauley Watkins. “Our student population will be better equipped to do more, achieve more, and give differently to the next generation”


Nick Ciantra


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Nick Ciantra, Treasurer, is a Managing Partner for the independent brand, communications, and creative consulting firm, Talisman Consulting. He is an expert in developing creative brand strategies and executing internal and external communications campaigns, with extensive international experience. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst ’85 and an MBA from Western New England University ’91.

“A product of community college and a public university, I value the opportunities that can be realized with a quality, affordable education, and I want to support and expand the reach of it,” said Ciantra.


Board of Directors

Brittany Baisch

Brittany Baisch is the Regulatory Toxicology Lead at Enko Chem in Mystic, Conn., a crop health company that designs safe and sustainable solutions to farmers’ biggest crop threats from pest resistance to new diseases. She is also an adjunct professor at Western Connecticut State University in the Chemistry Department. She holds three bachelor's degrees from Western Connecticut State University ’08, an MS degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry ’11, a PhD. from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry ’13 and is a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology (DABT) ’17.

“As a Connecticut State University alumna and Barnard awardee, I would like to give back to students and provide more opportunities for them to build successful careers,” said Baisch.


Todd Cooper

Todd Cooper is a Management Program Analyst with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management working in several broad categories to recruit, retain, and honor a world-class workforce for the American people. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut ’82 and an MBA from the University of Connecticut ’14.

“It is my mission to ensure students receive an equitable stake in education and the workplace,” said Cooper. “The work we do inspires me to do more.”


Carey Csezko

Carey Csezko is the Controller at Post University in Waterbury where she has been recognized for her presentation of financial information to cross-departmental teams, accountability, transparency, coaching and leadership of teams. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University ’98 and an MBA from Georgia State University ’09.

“I believe in doing something that has a positive influence on students’ lives,” said Csezko. “I love students, education and believe in providing an educational atmosphere that benefits everyone.”


Mark Hanna

Mark Hanna J.D. is a Risk Management Associate with Robert M. Currey & Associates, an independent risk management consulting firm in Boston, Mass. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut ’14 and a J.D. from the Creighton University School of Law ’17.

“I am excited to help support students with humble beginnings in their pursuit of education and to provide resources and support to diverse communities,” said Hanna.


Alex Jacobs-Hajian

Alex Jacobs-Hajian is a Senior Advisory Manager of Technology, Media, and Telecom Deals Strategy with PwC in the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds bachelor’s degrees from both the University of Tehran ’07 and The University of British Columbia ’11, an MBA from the Ivey Business School at Western University ’13 and an LLM from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law ’18.

“My desire to give back is reflected in my professional success born from humble beginnings and an appreciation for multicultural environments,” said Jacobs-Hajian.


Whitney Libby

Whitney Libby is the Human Resources Director with HNTB in New York City, where she is known for her business acumen, change agent experience, and developing people to align with business goals. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University ’04.

“I see the tremendous opportunity for partnership between education and business.” said Libby. “Creating avenues to develop students outside the classroom with practical experience in fields like construction, engineering and architecture where demand for these skills is high is critical for students and businesses alike.”


Sean McCaffery

Sean McCaffery is a Research Analyst - Global Public Markets at Fiducient Advisors in the Public Research Group where he is focused on multi-asset, target date, retirement Income and managed accounts. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut ’14, and an MBA from the University of Hartford ’14.

“As an alum of two Connecticut Universities (UConn & UHart), involved in internship programs,” said McCaffery. “I believe the value that can be achieved with internships can be incredibly impactful”.


Robert Milnes II

Robert Milnes II is a Senior Director, Pharmacy Practice at Cigna Express Scripts in Columbus, Ohio, where he seeks to inspire teams and elevate their performance and outcomes. He is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the University of Cincinnati James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy. Pre-pharmacy coursework at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania ’05, Pharm.D. from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine ’08, and an MBA from West Texas A&M ’16.

“I am committed to making a positive impact on the world and believe that small impacts can add up,” said Milnes. “My background as a pharmacist and people leader drive my passion to give back and help others navigate their paths. My experience in adjunct roles and my firsthand experiences also contribute to my 'why'.”


Michael Rarick

Michael Rarick is the CEO & Director of Sales at Mediaberry, a hands-off link building agency that leverages relationships in the industry to build impressive backlinks for SaaS clients. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Wright State University ’16 and an MBA from LSU Shreveport ’20.

“I am looking forward to supporting mentoring programs, education, and networking for growth among our students,” said Rarick.


David Wan

David Wan retired as Chief Executive Officer of Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) in July 2021 with more than 30 years of experience in publishing, media, and educational technology. He continues to serve on the HBP Board of Directors. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University ’76 and an MBA from Harvard Business School ’81.

“I am committed to supporting lifelong learners,” said Wan. “Since 2002, I have worked to inform and inspire students, educators, professionals, and corporations around the world with the best in management thinking and practice.” 


Barnard Awards

Twelve outstanding college seniors who attend Central, Eastern, Southern and Western Connecticut State Universities are honored each academic year by the CSCU Foundation with the annual Henry Barnard Distinguished Student Award that recognizes the scholarship and dedication of these inspiring students.

To be considered for a Barnard Award, a student must have at least a 3.7 GPA and a record of significant community service. The students are nominated by their respective universities and presidents.

The award is named for Henry Barnard, the first U.S. commissioner of education, and a distinguished Connecticut educator who was the state’s first superintendent of schools and principal of what later became Central Connecticut State University.

Barnard Award Recipients

2022 Distinguished Students

Central Connecticut State University 

  • Tamara Alexander, West Haven, Anthropology major and Biomolecular Sciences minor, 3.8 GPA
  • Carissa Daigle, Wethersfield, Psychological Science major; Statistics, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies minor, 4.0 GPA
  • Matthew Iossa, Bethel, Mechanical Engineering major and Mathematics minor, 3.98 GPA
  • Dezrene Thompson, Meriden, Sociology major and Community Engagement minor, 3.71 GPA

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Natalie Devlin, Somers, English with a concentration in Secondary Ed major, History minor, 3.99 GPA
  • Nelson Javier Santos Ferrer, Westfield, Mass.; Biology major and Genetic Counseling minor, 3.95 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Greta Brunello, Carisolo, Trento, Italy; Exercise Science major and Psychology minor, 3.98 GPA
  • Dominique Dickenson, Middletown, DE; Psychology major; and Spanish, Biology Honors Transdisciplinary minor, 3.93 GPA
  • Sarah Gossman, Trumbull, History major, and English Literature and Social Media minor, 3.90 GPA
  • Sydney King, Milford, Cultural Anthropology major and Spanish minor, 3.98 GPA

Western Connecticut State University

  • Catherine Costa, Danbury, Nursing major, Psychology minor, 3.95 GPA
  • Olivia Moore, New Preston, Health Promotion Studies major, Psychology minor,
    3.98 GPA

2021 Distinguished Students

Central Connecticut State University 

  • Veronica Heigle, Plantsville, Accounting and French major, 3.96 GPA
  • Megyn Jasman, Cheshire, Psychological Science major, Sociology minor, 3.94 GPA
  • Sarah Ulrichsen, Warren, Biology: Ecology, Biodiversity, Evolutionary Biology major; History minor, 3.91 GPA
  • Johanna Zukowksi, Plainville, Political Science and Philosophy major, 3.93 GPA

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Hannah Beazoglou, West Hartford, Business Administration major, Business Information Systems minor, 3.96 GPA
  • Justin Gomez-Stafford, Biology major, Genetic Counseling minor, 3.83 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Camryn Arpino-Brown, Seymour, Psychology major, English minor, 3.72 GPA
  • Paul McKee, New Haven, Psychology major, Biology, Data Science minor, 3.97 GPA.
  • Asma Rahimyar, Trumbull, Rhodes Scholar: Political Science, Philosophy major; English Literature minor, 4.0.
  • Therese Ziaks, Branford, Chemistry, BS to MS Accelerated Pathway; Biology, Psychology, Honors Transdisciplinary minor, 3.97 GPA

Western Connecticut State University

  • Bakhtawar (Baki) Izzat, Bethel, Political Science major, Business Administration minor, 4.0
  • Isaac Jean-Pierre, Norwalk, Business Management major, 3.87

2020 Distinguished Students

Central Connecticut State University 

  • Jennifer DePalma, New Milford, Elementary Education English major, 4.0 GPA
  • Lea Fontaine, Wolcott, Nursing major and Psychology minor, 3.72 GPA
  • Brenden Griffith, Wethersfield, Biomolecular Science major, 3.98 GPA
  • Hannah Rodrigues, Wallingford, Psychological Science major and Gerontology minor, 3.88 GPA

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Evelyn Lemus Silva, Burnsville, NC, Biology major, 3.88 GPA
  • Stefanos Stravoravdis, Colchester, Biology and Mathematics major, 4.0 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Amber Marie Archambault, Windsor Locks, Social Work major and Psychology minor, 3.96 GPA
  • Melissa Palma Cuapio, East Haven, Chemistry major, 3.80 GPA
  • Brooke Mercaldi, Monroe, Environmental Systems and Sustainability Studies major and Political Science and Honors Transdisciplinary minor, 3.93 GPA
  • Alexis Zhitomi, Shelton, Communication Disorders major and Psychology minor, 3.97 GPA

Western Connecticut State University

  • Shannon Lynch, Sandy Hook, Nursing major, 3.70 GPA
  • Erika Wahlers, Holmes, NY, Music Education major, 3.90 GPA

2019 Distinguished Students

Central Connecticut State University

  • Khaled Alsaqri, Newington, Computer Science major and Business minor, 3.92 GPA
  • Jalal-ud-din Butt, North Haven, double major in Physics and Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics minor, 3.70 GPA
  • Kristen Mazzini, Plymouth, Elementary Education major and English minor, 3.77 GPA
  • Helena Swanson, Wolcott, Psychological Science major and Gerontology minor, 3.87 GPA

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Jacob Dayton, Bolton, Biology major, 3.93 GPA
  • Haley Knox, Bristol, Mathematics major, Computer Science minor, 3.96 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Ariana Bengtson, Newington, English major with a concentration in Professional Writing, and a History and Spanish minor, 3.94 GPA
  • Victoria Bresnahan, Trumbull, Journalism major and Women’s Studies minor, 3.97 GPA

2018 Distinguished Students

Central Connecticut State University

  • Annabelle Bass, Moodus, double major in Psychological Science and Criminology, 3.90 GPA
  • Nilay Bhatt, Boston, Mass., Computer Science (Honors) and Mathematics major with a 3.76 GPA
  • Lilia Miller, Plainville, Civil Engineering major and Mathematics minor, 3.83 GPA
  • Quinton Swan, Suffolk, Va., Political Science major and minor in Community Engagement and International Studies, 3.86 GPA

Eastern Connecticut State University

  • Nadia Balassone, East Hartford, double major in Business Administration and English, 3.89 GPA
  • Yuberki Delgadillo, Quaker Hill, Biology major, 3.85 GPA

Southern Connecticut State University

  • Rebecca Harmon, Lebanon, Elementary and Special Education major and English minor, 3.75 GPA
  • Jessica Holman, Medfield, Mass., English major and Women’s Studies minor, 3.79 GPA
  • Kanita Miyedadi Mote, New Haven, double major in French and Political Science, 3.86 GPA
  • Kevin David Redline, Middlebury, Interdisciplinary Studies major and English and Professional Writing minor, 3.79 GPA

Western Connecticut State University

  • Sarah Hoegler, Bethel, Psychology major, 4.00 GPA
  • Melanie Elizabeth Jones, Stamford, Music Education major, 3.76 GPA