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About AVENU Learning

Access & Affordability /
Mission & Vision

AVENU Learning connects universities with learners worldwide. We’re on a mission to expand access to high-quality, affordable online education — localized to the culture and language of the learner.

We are a team of leading international educators dedicated to creating new models of higher education that advance opportunity for learners worldwide. Our mission is defined by strategies to overcome global forces that shape choices and lives — poverty, despair and inertia. To create lasting change, we partner with universities and other educational providers to reimagine the relationship between education and the transnational learner.

Together with our partners, we seek to expand access to high-quality education delivered online and localized to the cultural context of the student while retaining the original learning objectives.

Founded to create a new model of education
AVENU was founded as a joint venture between Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) and the SEEK Group to support global learners across a portfolio of partner programs including certificate, undergraduate and graduate degrees.

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Our Mission

AVENU Learning is dedicated to creating a world of opportunity for students by increasing access to high quality education.

Our Vision

We believe in a world of opportunity for all. AVENU makes this vision real by building strategic partnerships that expand access to high-quality, personalized, affordable higher education to learners around the globe.

Global Experience, Local Expertise

The AVENU leadership team brings together international experts with more than 100 combined years of higher education experience. Our Global Team includes more than 75 education professionals in 7 countries.

With backgrounds in education, online learning, marketing and localization, our teams partner with education providers seeking to extend their reach into new global markets.

Our Leadership Team

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Jade Roth, Chief Executive Officer

As founding CEO, Jade brings deep expertise creating, building and marketing businesses in education for startups and Fortune 500s while deftly managing the market complexities of consumer-based online education. She built her career in collegiate, educational retailing and technology and rose to C-level leadership roles in product and operations for Barnes & Noble and Sagence Learning, among others. At Barnes & Noble Education and Higher Ed Partners, Jade led the development of consumer learning business strategies, digital content, contract negotiations, and international program management, while as CEO of Sagence Learning she managed the sale of its publishing business and educational technology services. Jade frequently speaks at leading industry events on the transformation of higher education and serves as an advisor for leading educational institutions and organizations. She earned a Bachelor’s from Bennington College and studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.

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Dr. Luis Galarza, Chief Academic Officer 

As an educator, strategic consultant and founder of the Education Deployment Network, Luis provides extensive expertise, credibility and professional expertise to his role as Chief Academic Officer. As a professor, Luis has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at DePaul University, the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Monterrey Tech in Mexico, Athabasca University in Canada, Universidade Salgado de Oliveira in Brazil, and the Inter American University in Puerto Rico. As an executive, he has increased educational access globally, pioneered online technologies for universities, and created distance learning programs for a variety of institutions with private and public partnerships. Luis earned his Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey and his Master's in Communication a Doctorate in Education in International and Adult Education degrees from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

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David A. Joseph, Chief Financial Officer

David brings more than 20 years of experience in finance, consumer media and commerce and higher education to his role as CFO. He has held leadership roles in operations, finance, strategy, M&A, and business development for organizations of all sizes and sectors, including Morgan Stanley, eBay, Audible and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He has sat on multiple boards and founded or invested in several early-stage companies with successful exits. David earned a B.A. in Political Science and Government from New York University and a Master’s in International Affairs, with a focus on international finance and economic policy, from Columbia University.

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Theresa Horner, Chief Operating Officer 

Theresa brings a rich background in emerging technology, education and innovation to her role as Chief Operating Officer. She has worked in virtually every aspect of content, business development, operations and product innovation, giving her in depth visibility into all aspects of AVENU’s business, collaborations and services.

Before coming to AVENU, Theresa held leadership and operations roles at such leading companies as HarperCollins Publishers, Microsoft, Barnes & Noble/Nook Media, Scribd, and O’Reilly Media. Theresa earned a Bachelor’s in Art History and Literature from the University of Vermont and and completed two years of coursework towards a Masters in Art History at the University of Delaware.

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Alex Kashdin, Chief Business Officer

Alex Kashdin brings 10 years of experience in education technology, enterprise sales and partnership management to his role as Chief Business Officer. Having spent his entire career in sales leadership roles at edtech companies, he has experience both growing venture-backed start-ups and optimizing sales performance at mature ($500M+ annual revenue) organizations.

Alex most recently helped build and scale Blackboard, Inc.’s Online Program Enablement division (Blackboard OPX) as Managing Director, responsible for all Go-To-Market functions. In previous roles at Blackboard, he led high-performing sales teams and drove growth in Blackboard’s strategic services division. Alex earned a B.A. in History from Georgetown University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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Paola Rodriguez, Director of Academic Services

Paola serves as Director of Academic Services for AVENU.  In her role, she oversees quality academic localization and overall academic program planning.

Before joining AVENU, Paola served as director of academic services for Academic Partnerships in Mexico and Spain, and has held leadership roles with Franklin University and the Tecnológico de Monterrey. In Mexico, she worked as Director of Planning and Development and as Director of Operations for the Clavijero Consortium, a private/public participation cluster of universities in the State of Veracruz, where she developed partnerships with leading universities including Harvard University, the University of Victoria and Tecnológico de Monterrey. Paola has taught at Utel University and Tecnológico de Monterrey. She earned her Bachelor’s in Marketing and MBA from Tecnológico de Monterrey, and participated in The Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard.

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Patricia Cespedes, Director of Student Services

Patricia brings eight years of industry experience to her role overseeing student services. A native Spanish speaker from the Dominican Republic, Patricia began her career in online education and grew into leadership roles managing recruitment and retention for five partner institutions, including collaborations with operations and marketing teams. Her extensive background in data and business intelligence enables Patricia to bring data-driven insights to all aspects of her work.

Patricia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communications from the University of Central Florida and a Master's of Science in Business Intelligence and Data Analytics from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

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Brooke Lestock, Director of Marketing

Brooke is both a versatile marketer — who has created campaigns for virtually every channel, from paid media to email to print — and a hands-on project manager. Brooke has nearly a decade of experience building brands from scratch, understanding audiences, managing diverse teams, and making data-backed decisions to optimize campaigns. At the heart of her work is a passion for creating valuable content that improves people's lives.

This passion has led Brooke to work in a wide range of industries, including legal technology, personal finance, and higher education. Brooke led the content team at HigherEducation.com's OPM, partnering with reputable universities to launch over a hundred online degree and certificate programs in various U.S. markets. Brooke earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Florida, and a master's degree in English with a specialization in British Literature from the University of Virginia.

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Shirin Ali, Director of Academic Services: Asia

Shirin Ali is a project manager, business strategist, and a higher education leader with two decades of experience in launching and growing online degree programs. She has applied her skills in technology management, marketing, and agile project management to consistently increase enrollments and improve online student experience. Prior to joining AVENU Learning, Shirin held numerous positions at DePaul University including: Assistant Director, Associate Director, Sr. Program Manager and Assistant Dean of Enrollment Services. In these roles Shirin led project planning, course scheduling, strategic planning, marketing strategy, and systems improvement. In addition, she was instrumental in significantly increasing enrollments through the use of social media advertising campaigns, webinars, and the development of new courses to meet market demand.

Shirin earned a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and a master’s degree in Public Service Administration with a concentration in higher education administration from DePaul University. She holds certifications as a Project Management Professional (PMP), PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified SAFe 5 Product Owner/Product Manager, and Professional Scrum Master (PSM1).

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Ajay Sridharan, Managing Director, India

Ajay is a business leader with over 20 years of experience in developing and building organizations. Prior to joining AVENU, Ajay served as the Country Manager and VP, Southeast Asia, at Degreed INC and Lynda.com (LinkedIn Learning).

With a track record of building edtech organizations, he most recently helped establish and scale Degreed INC, a pioneer in the learning experience platform sector. As the Country Manager and VP, Southeast Asia, he formulated the GTM, created and led a team of high performing individuals, and drove growth in the region. Ajay is an engineer and holds an MBA in General Management from Karnataka State Open University.

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Ajay Yadav - Head of Finance, India

Ajay brings more than 11 years of experience in finance and strategy across the education sector including Higher-Ed, K-12, Ed-Tech, Vocational, and Executive education, where he has held leadership roles in FP&A, business transformation, M&A, and investor relations.

Prior to joining AVENU, he was part of the leadership team as Finance Head at Ryan Edunation, where he directly managed accounting & controllership, FP&A, and business partnering. Ajay earned an MBA in Finance from the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode, and a Bachelor's of Technology in E&EC from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh.

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María Sanchez, Director of Financial Planning and Analysis

María brings 10 years of experience in finance and strategy to her role as Director of FP&A at AVENU Learning. Having served in various roles in the education and financial services sectors, Maria's expertise is in financial modeling and strategic business analysis. María is responsible for leading the global budgeting and forecast process at AVENU as well as analyzing business performance and building financial models.

Prior to joining AVENU, Maria worked in FP&A leadership at Nord Anglia Education and Laureate International Universities. She holds a Master's degree in Finance from UTDT in Argentina and dual Bachelors' degrees in Economics and Psychology from University of Florida.

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Gary Malisos, Vice President of Partnerships

Gary brings over 17 years of industry experience in admissions and enrollment operations with a unique perspective in EdTech partnership management.

Having worked in various facets of education leadership and marketing at universities including Kaplan University and South University, Gary most recently led partnerships at HigherEducation.com and subsequently (post-acquisition) at Red Ventures, where he served as head of partnerships managing complex and strategic university relationships in the EdTech space. Gary earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Springfield College.

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Leandro Simonetti, Founding Partner, Start University

As Founding Partner at Start University, and in his consulting capacity as CIO for AVENU Learning, Leandro brings more than 20 years of experience with software development and online platforms to support all aspects of AVENU’s technology infrastructure, services and solutions.  Prior to his current role, Leandro launched numerous technology ventures, including the innovative Start University, which brought together business, IT and market knowledge to provide end-to-end technology solutions for universities.

Previously, Leandro founded IT Latin Group, and led development at WebZoneUS and Southern Winds Airlines, among others. In 2003 he developed the first ever case management software platform for a Supreme Court Justice in Argentina. Leandro studied software development, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the National University of Technology in Córdoba, Argentina. He has specialized in Microsoft Technologies completing numerous courses in Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centers and is fluent in Spanish and English

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Martín Vazquez, Founding Partner, Start University

As Founding Partner at Start University and in his consulting capacity for AVENU Learning, Martin is an integral part of AVENU's marketing and contact center strategy and operations, Martin draws on an extensive background in technology, marketing and higher education to advance both partner and student goals. As a founding partner of Start University, Martin built a US based IT company with software development in Argentina serving more than 25 universities globally.

Prior to his current role, Martin served as Marketing Director for Academic Partnerships responsible for leading LATAM and Spanish marketing strategies and operations as well as student enrollment services in Mexico, Colombia and Spain. In his role at the Universidad Siglo 21, Martin also led distance learning and grew enrollments from 300 to 15,000 online learners. Martin earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Universidad Argentina de la Empresa in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

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Paul Cherubino, Assistant Controller

As Assistant Controller, Paul is responsible for research and assessments that guide financial decisions for AVENU, including leading the firm’s global accounting, tax and payment functions.

Prior to joining AVENU, Paul served as a senior accountant at a private family office overseeing all aspects of business, financial, reconciliation and operational matters. He began his career in public accounting auditing nonprofit as well as corporate organizations. Paul holds an MBA in Accounting from Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York, and is currently studying for the CPA exam

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Kathrynne Hall, Partner Enablement Manager

As Partner Enablement Manager, Kat oversees partner management and the operations of enrollment and retention services. Since joining AVENU, she has collaborated with three new partner launches while maintaining a strong relationship with existing partners and supporting enrollment and retention communications.

Kat has worked in online higher education for more than 15 years with experience in such areas as partner management, operations, enrollment, and retention services. Kat previously served in leadership roles with Academic Partnerships and military advisory roles with University of Phoenix. Kat holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business with a minor in Management and an MBA with a minor in Marketing, both from the University of Phoenix.

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Jorge L. Hernández, Director of Academic Administration

As Director of Academic Administration, Jorge is AVENU’s contact with ministries of education in Latin America, tracking each student’s academic record, evaluating transfer credits, reviewing student documentation and assisting in the resolution of student concerns and policy implementation.

Jorge came to AVENU with a diverse background serving as a University Rector, Academic Director, Registrars Office Director, Academic Affairs Director leading collaborations with such institutions as Tecnológico de Monterrey, Universidad del Valle de México (Laureate International Universities), Colegio Americano de Torreón, Universidad de Estudios Avanzados, and Universidad IMESAD, among others. Jorge earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Computing Systems and a Master's in Management IT from Monterrey Institute of Technology.

AVENU Partnerships 

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Southern New Hampshire University

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, nonprofit institution with an 87-year history of educating traditional-aged students and working adults. Now serving more than 130,000 students worldwide, SNHU offers over 300 U.S. accredited undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs, available online and on its 300-acre campus in Manchester, New Hampshire. As one of the fastest-growing universities in the United States, SNHU is committed to expanding access to high quality, affordable pathways that meet the needs of each student.

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Saint Leo University 

As the oldest Catholic institution of higher education in Florida and one of the top universities in Central Florida, Saint Leo University has a century-long tradition of welcoming students of all faiths. Saint Leo’s liberal arts campus, 30 miles north of Tampa, educates more than 2,200 students. Total enrollment across its Central Florida campus, 35 regional locations and online programs is nearly 13,000. Saint Leo offers more than 50 undergraduate degrees, programs and endorsements as well as master's, doctoral and certificate programs.

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Tiffin University

Tiffin University (TU) was established in 1888 and offers accredited undergraduate and graduate degrees in Business Administration, Criminal Justice and Social Sciences, and Arts and Sciences. Throughout the university’s history, the university has nurtured a student-centered setting and a strong sense of real community for our students, faculty and staff. Tiffin University has always believed in offering the highest quality education — “an education for life” — and has successfully transitioned from traditional seated students to a mixture of seated and online students, from across the country and around the world. 

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Founded in 2009, the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) has made it their mission to transform the skills and knowledge of digital professionals on a global scale. DMI’s core goals include advancing the careers of marketers and sellers, addressing the digital skills shortage to ensure businesses have a capable and agile workforce, and providing educators with professional certifications that can nurture future generations.

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Banco Santander 

Banco Santander is a leading retail and commercial bank, founded in 1857 and headquartered in Spain. It has a meaningful presence in 10 core markets in Europe and the Americas and is one of the largest banks in the world by market capitalization. Its purpose is to help people and businesses prosper in a simple, personal and fair way. Banco Santander has more than a trillion euros in total funds, 146 million customers, 11,800 branches and 194,000 employees.


At AVENU, we are always looking for exceptional, internationally-minded education professionals. If you have a passion for education that transcends borders to create lasting change, we’d like to hear from you. Apply for a job or send a cover letter and resume to us at team@avenulearning.com.