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

The National Research Center for College and University Admissions™ (NRCCUA®), now a part of ACT®, is a membership organization that links colleges and universities to the nation’s largest college and career planning program for students seeking post-secondary guidance. In addition, members can receive exclusive access to Encoura® Data Lab—an educational data science, analytics, and research platform. Since 1972, ACT | NRCCUA has been a leading provider of data, technology, and programs servicing public and private colleges and universities to enhance their marketing and recruiting efforts.

Over the years, ACT | NRCCUA has continued to evolve its offering to represent the link between students and higher education institutions. As part of that evolution, ACT | NRCCUA acquired Eduventures—the leading research and advisory firm focused exclusively on higher education. We are now able to provide forward-looking and actionable research based on proprietary market data, as well as advisory services that support both strategic and operational decision-making. All Eduventures Research is now available in the Encoura Data Lab platform.


At the heart of the ACT | NRCCUA family is myOptions—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. myOptions now includes more mobile-friendly services and features, including a free app that can be found in the Apple iTunes store.

Our Why (or Purpose)

We encourage and inspire lifelong learning and career success by providing data science and technology, so every student and institution can achieve their goals.

Our Mission

We encourage higher education institutions to make more informed decisions that optimize fit and create the highest probability of success.

Interested in joining us? Jump to our Careers section.

Our Leadership

Doug Hughes

Chief Executive Officer

After driving tanks in the US Army for 3 years, Doug Hughes became a first-generation college student at the University of West Georgia, where he received a BBA in business information systems. The mission has always been his guiding principle, whether it’s in the Army, at the University of West Georgia, or in his career. Given the profound impact that education had on his life, Doug dedicated his career to providing equity and access to all students as they work towards college and career success. After two decades of building innovative technologies for education, he became the CEO of ACT | NRCCUA in 2020.

Previously, Doug served as CEO of Surgarai, Inc., a medical technology startup, and as chief product officer at Knewton, an adaptive learning company recently acquired by Wiley. Prior to that, Doug spent 17 years at McGraw-Hill Education, where he served in various senior leadership roles including chief sales officer, director of digital partnerships, and executive brand manager.

Dennis Syracuse

Chief Operating Officer/Chief Client Officer

Dennis Syracuse joined the ACT | NRCCUA 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 NRCCUA and the new data platform Encoura® Data Lab.

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.

Todd Boullion

Chief Marketing Officer

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 ACT | NRCCUA, he managed the multimillion-dollar P&L for SaaS company UnsubCentral. At ACT | NRCCUA, 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.

Sam Marshall

Chief Financial Officer

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 NRCCUA. 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.

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.


Our Board of Advisors

Arlene Cash

Vice President for Enrollment Management, Frostburg State

Chair for the Board of Advisors at ACT | NRCCUA, Arlene Cash is the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Frostburg State University. She was previously the Vice President for Enrollment Management at Guilford College in North Carolina.

Bringing together Admissions, Financial Aid, the Office of the Registrar, Programs Advancing Student Success, the Center for Academic Advising and Retention and TRIO programs, Cash brings a student success focus to Frostburg’s enrollment initiatives with a strong record of student engagement.

Besides her work at Guilford College, Cash has been the chief enrollment management officer at Spelman College (Atlanta, Ga.), the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville, Ark.) and the University of the Pacific (Stockton, Calif.). She holds a bachelor’s degree from Keuka College, a master’s from Kent State University, and she is pursuing a doctorate in higher education management through the University of Georgia. She is the first in her family to graduate from college, but her parents followed in her footsteps, both earning bachelor’s degrees after she did; her mother proceeded to earn a master’s from Harvard as well.

Dr. Chris Domes

President, Neumann University

Dr. Chris Everett Domes became the sixth president of Neumann University on July 17, 2017.

Dr. Domes believes that presidential leadership “requires reflective and thoughtful communication, followed by mission-centered decision-making and coupled with a high level of transparency.”

Dr. Domes comes to Neumann University from Silver Lake College, a Catholic Franciscan institution that offers undergraduate programs in a School of Liberal Arts, School of Professional Studies, and School of Education. The curriculum also includes programs for working professionals and students pursuing graduate studies in Business and Education. The student body is among the most diverse in Wisconsin.

Before serving as president of Silver Lake College, Dr. Domes held leadership positions in various enrollment management and student development capacities for 17 years at Marymount University in Virginia and for a decade at St. Bonaventure University in New York.

Dr. Domes holds an EdD in Higher Education Administration from The George Washington University, and two degrees from St. Bonaventure University: an MSEd in Counseling Psychology and a BA in History and Secondary Education.

Stan Elliott

Director, Missouri Innovation Campus

Stan Elliott is the Director of the Missouri Innovation Campus for the University of Central Missouri. He received his BS, BSE and MA degrees from Truman State University and his Educational Specialist degree from University of Missouri – Kansas City. Previously he worked for the Lee’s Summit School District for 33 years as a high school teacher, assistant principal, principal, and spent the last 7 years as assistant superintendent for secondary instruction. Stan has consulted and presented nationally on school improvement initiatives and on the International Baccalaureate program.

Dr. Joy Gates Black

President, Delaware County Community College

Dr. L. Joy Gates Black was selected unanimously by Delaware County Community College’s Board of Trustees in 2017 to be the fourth president of the College since its founding. She is the first woman and the first African American to head the College.

A well-respected higher education administrator with decades of experience at both community colleges and four-year institutions, Dr. Gates Black was chosen after an extensive national search to lead the College, which serves 23,000 credit and non-credit students annually, online and at its eight campuses in Delaware and Chester Counties.

Prior to becoming president of Delaware County Community College, Dr. Gates Black served as vice chancellor at Tarrant County College District (TCC), a comprehensive, community college in Fort Worth, Texas that serves more than 100,000 credit and non-credit students at multiple campuses. She joined TCC in 2010 as vice chancellor for Student Success, during which time she also served as interim president of Tarrant’s South Campus.

Dr. Gates Black holds a graduate studies certificate and a Master’s Degree in Education from Cambridge College, a Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University. She also has pursued doctoral studies in Human and Organizational Development from Fielding University in Santa Barbara, California.

A U.S. Air Force veteran and a native of Dayton, Texas, Dr. Gates Black is married to Dillet Black. They have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Sean Kaylor

Vice President for Enrollment, Marketing, and Communication, Marist College

Following his graduation from Marist College in 1990, Sean began his career in The Office of Admission as an Assistant Director and worked his way up to Vice President for Admissions and Enrollment Planning by 1998. He now serves as Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications. In this role he oversees Undergraduate and Graduate Admission, Enrollment Services, Student Financial Services and College Marketing and Communications for both the main campus in Poughkeepsie, New York and the Marist campus in Florence, Italy. 

Sean has presented and moderated at regional and national conferences on all topics related to enrollment management. He is a past president of the New York State Association for College Admission Counseling (NYSACAC) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA), Sprout Creek Farm in Dutchess County, New York and Saint Bernard School in Southeastern Connecticut. Sean lives in Poughkeepsie, New York with his wife Paula and two daughters, Katie and Samantha. 

Suzanne Petrusch

Vice President for Enrollment and Marketing, Presbyterian College

Suzanne Petrusch is the Vice President of Enrollment and Marketing at Presbyterian College, a position she has held since 2016. Previously, she served as the Vice President for Enrollment Management at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, where she oversaw the Offices of Admission, including Graduate & Adult Enrollment Services; Financial Assistance; Enrollment Marketing; and Student Retention. She focused on organizational change, professional development, data-driven enrollment strategies, marketing and communication, and the strategic use of financial aid in order to achieve transformation. Among markers of the division’s success, Suzanne notes the 28 percent increase in the size of the first-year class, the first enactment of a deposit wait list, and improvements in the persistence of first-generation students. Further, the University realized a gain of 18.2% in the four-year graduation rate within 10 years.

Suzanne’s move to San Antonio followed 15 years of progressive responsibility at the University of Dayton where she served as the Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management. Among her favorite responsibilities at UD, she counts successfully coordinating and implementing the marketing and communications plans for the enrollment management division, integrating media and new technologies, and being charged with re-engineering the University’s graduate student marketing and admission operations.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from Trinity University and a Master of Science in education from the University of Dayton and currently is a doctoral student in educational leadership at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Amy Takayama-Perez

Vice President of University Marketing and Enrollment Planning, College of Charleston

As the Vice President of University Marketing & Enrollment Planning, Amy Takayama-Perez is responsible for the overall management and execution of the College of Charleston’s recruitment strategy.

Amy also serves as the Executive Director of the Washington Scholars Program, home to the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment and the Washington Journalism and Media Conference. She has an affinity for working with students and families in higher education. Before her involvement in the Washington Scholars Program, she was the Guidance Specialist for Loudoun County Public Schools and served as the Director for a county wide college access program.

Previously, she has worked in the Office of Admissions as the Director of Undergraduate Recruitment. She has worked with countless students and families on the application and college search process and is very active in regional and national college counseling associations.

A native New Englander, Ms. Takayama-Perez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a Masters of Education from George Mason University, and serves on the GMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.


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 unfortunate situation happens every day. At ACT | NRCCUA, our mission is to encourage and inspire lifelong learning and career success by providing data science and technology so every student and college can achieve their goals. With the right knowledge and information, students can find the right school, right major, and 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!