About Us

Our story, purpose, mission, and history are important parts of what make us, well, us! Read on and if you like what you see, check out our careers section at the bottom of the page.

Our Story

Encoura’s mission is to empower students and institutions to create meaningful connections so everyone can make the most informed decisions to achieve their goals. Since 1972, the company has evolved its products and services to better represent the link between students and higher education institutions and to create the highest probability of student success.

As part of that evolution, the company acquired Eduventures®—the leading research and advisory firm focused exclusively on higher education—to provide forward-looking and actionable research and insights. With the launch of the Encoura platform in 2017, the company provides custom technology solutions that combine Eduventures research, data science, strategic enrollment services, and multichannel marketing to serve over 2,000 higher ed institutions. The company also offers myOptions® Encourage™—a free planning program that offers college and career planning assistance to high school students, parents, and educators nationwide so they can explore a wide range of post-secondary opportunities.


At the heart of the Encoura family is Encourage—a free planning service that offers college and career planning assistance to students, parents, and educators nationwide so they can explore a wide range of post-secondary opportunities. Encourage now includes more mobile-friendly services and features, including a free app.

Our Why (or Purpose)

We believe that education is the catalyst for individual success and community transformation.

Our Mission

We empower students and institutions to create meaningful connections so everyone can make the most informed decisions to achieve their goals.

Interested in joining us? Jump to our Careers section.

Our Leadership

Dennis Syracuse

Dennis Syracuse

Division President
About Dennis

Dennis Syracuse joined the Encoura team in 2016. He is a results-oriented senior-level executive with a multichannel background, including B2C, B2B digital marketing, global retail, and e-commerce and marketing technology solutions. His passionate leadership, coupled with his experience in developing customer service programs through team building and talent development, steers an organization to develop effective service, operations, and P&L management. He has a history of developing results-driven, proven high-performing cultures especially in new concept and scaling businesses. He brings a broad marketing experience in strategy development and senior-level decision-making. Dennis is a vital component to the success of Encoura and the Encoura® platform.

Dennis came to us from Madison Logic, the global leader in account-based marketing, where he was the chief marketing officer. Prior to Madison Logic, Dennis was at Datran Media as the chief marketing officer and president, media services and Sony before that as the senior vice president/GM direct retail including online and physical operations.

Sam Marshall

Sam Marshall

Chief Financial Officer
About Sam

Sam is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of building strong teams and leading them through rapid growth cycles. Skilled in leadership, budgeting, negotiation, business planning, and operations management, Sam has built and grew finance departments for some of Austin’s most exciting early-stage companies for the 16 years prior to joining Encoura. His experience in both SaaS and eCommerce-focused companies is comprised of building systems that automate much of the invoicing, payment, and accounting work, while developing high-performing teams focused around financial and accounting rigor.

Sam holds an MBA in Finance and a BA in Economics, both from the University of Texas at Austin. His past experience includes investment banking, private equity, and film finance in Houston, New York and Los Angeles.

Debbie Thompson-Widmer

Debora Thompson-Widmer

Chief Growth Officer
About Debbie

As Chief Growth Officer for Encoura, Debbie brings over 25 years of sales and leadership experience to the organization. Debbie joined Encoura in 2015 as Vice President of Sales and during her tenure, has led the consultant team to triple the business and increase the number of member institutions to well over 2,000 colleges and universities.

She previously served as Associate Director of Admissions at Ripon College and brings a wealth of knowledge from her time in the higher education industry, as well as from other positions in marketing, research, and project management. Prior to joining the organization, Debbie was a Principal of an engineering company where she led sales, marketing, research and project management.

Debbie has maintained her passion for education and has served as a part-time substitute teacher for the Bartlett Schools for over five years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics with a minor in Psychology from Ripon College.

Todd Boullion

Todd Boullion

Chief Marketing Officer
About Todd

Todd Boullion is a well-rounded leader and innovator with proven performance in many distinct business disciplines: marketing, operations, sales, communications, finance, technology, and analytics. He has more than 20 years of experience in the high-tech industry and in the education arena at companies such as Dell, PulsePoint, and PostUp. Todd has created and executed extensive B2B business and marketing plans to launch products, expand market share, enter new regions, and deliver record financial performance. Prior to joining Encoura, he managed the multimillion-dollar P&L for SaaS company UnsubCentral. At Encoura, Todd is responsible for branding, product marketing, research, PR, and marketing communications.

Todd graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University and currently sits on the TCU Neeley School of Business Alumni Executive Board. Outside of work, Todd serves as a board member and treasurer for Hand to Hold nonprofit.

Mary Loeffler

Chief People Officer
About Mary

Mary joined Encoura in 2019 and as Chief People Officer, she is responsible for building and scaling a healthy and sustainable organization where people thrive. She is responsible for the company-wide strategy, development, and execution of all areas of human capital management.

Mary brings over 20 years of experience in People and Talent Operations in technology organizations for both high-growth small start-ups and large, global corporations and her areas of expertise includes talent acquisition, talent management and development, culture/engagement, diversity and total rewards.

Mary received her Masters of Science from Mercy College.

Matt Ellis

Chief Product Officer
About Matt

After 15 years of serving in admissions and enrollment management leadership roles at large public and small private universities, Matthew Ellis joined the Encoura leadership team in 2020 as the Chief Product Officer. Ellis leads Encoura’s product innovation, design, and activation endeavors and brings his wealth of experience utilizing technology, data science, and personalized engagement to serve students and achieve enrollment growth.

Matt began his career in higher education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an assistant director of admissions, followed by serving as assistant dean of admissions for William Jewell College, the executive director of admission services for Arizona State University, associate provost for enrollment management at Rockhurst University, and executive director of enrollment services for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Matt holds an MBA from Rockhurst University and a BA in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


John Greene

Chief Technology Officer
About John

Recently joining Encoura as Chief Technology Officer, John is an innovative technical executive with hands-on experience in data, analytics, product development, and has a passion for improving educational opportunities for children. John has built and sold companies from the ground up such as Tetradata and driven growth and innovation in larger concerns such as Blackbaud and ACT. His success is derived from a roll-up-your-sleeves approach to technical leadership, people, teams, and process.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA from Babson College. He joined Encoura in 2021.

Anton Leof

Chief Legal Officer
About Anton

With over 25 years of experience providing in-house legal leadership to education companies, Anton joined Encoura in 2022 as the Chief Legal Officer. In this role, Anton is responsible for overseeing all of Encoura’s legal, compliance, data privacy, and corporate governance activities.

Prior to his in-house work, Anton was an associate at Latham & Watkins and clerked on the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Anton received his JD from Stanford Law School, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif, and graduated from Yale College with a degree in history.

Cara Quackenbush

Executive Vice President, Eduventures Research
About Cara

As Executive Vice President of Research, Cara is responsible for guiding the depth and breadth of the company’s research coverage and rigorous research methodologies and standards. Prior to joining the Eduventures Research team, Cara was an advancement professional with more than a decade of fundraising, management, marketing, and accounting experience at institutions of higher education.

Cara’s experience spans annual giving, major giving, volunteer management, alumni engagement, parent fundraising, and planned giving. She has also conducted research on management practices and strategies in higher education, including higher education accounting practices, presidential leadership techniques, and legal policies affecting planned giving.

Cara is a frequent presenter at industry conferences and events, including CASE, and her work has been published in CASE Currents. Cara was the Associate Director of Gift Planning at Boston College, where she helped launch the university’s $1.5 billion capital campaign as well as its first-ever legacy gift campaign. Cara also worked in both the annual fund and the office of planned giving at her alma mater, Santa Clara University, where she earned her B.A. in journalism. Cara holds an MBA and an MS in accounting from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College.

Clint Chapman

Clint Chapman

Chief Experience Officer
About Clint

Clint Chapman joined Encoura in 2014 and brought with him more than 14 years of higher education enrollment management experience. Clint served at William Jewell College as Dean of Admission before joining Encoura. Prior to that, he held multiple positions in the University of Missouri’s Division of Enrollment Management, ranging from Admission Representative to Associate Director. Additionally, he has worked with many campuses in the United States and Canada as an enrollment management technology consultant specializing in communication management.

Clint has spent his career helping students connect with their best fit colleges by integrating proven enrollment strategies with new technologies and communication channels. He earned his BA in Psychology and his MA in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in Higher Education from the University of Missouri.

Eduventures Analysts

Our team of research analysts represents some of the brightest and most experienced research analysts in the industry. As foremost experts in domains specific to higher education, their goal is to create competitive advantage for the institutions we serve.



Why we start with why …

We believe that no student should miss a higher education or career opportunity because they lacked the resources or proper guidance to identify and achieve it. But without help, this situation happens every day. At Encoura, our mission is to empower students and institutions to create meaningful connections so every student and college can achieve their goals. With the right knowledge and information, every student can find the right school, right major, and/or right career to achieve success.

Additional benefits and perks

  • Paid holidays
  • Generous PTO policy
  • Generous benefits: medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance, HSA, FSA, tuition reimbursement, and 401(k)
  • Casual dress
  • Collaborative and energetic work environment with other motivated, career-driven professionals in Austin, Texas; Lee’s Summit, Missouri; and Boston, Massachusetts

If our mission is one you can get behind, we’d like to talk to you!