Meet Graduate! Philadelphia

Meet the Staff

Barbara Mattleman

Executive Director
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Barbara Mattleman is the Executive Director of Graduate! Philadelphia. Under her leadership, Graduate! Philadelphia serves thousands of adults in the Greater Philadelphia region and partners with higher education, business, government and community building organizations. Barbara has promoted a college culture in Philadelphia for many years, most recently as Director of PhillyGoes2College, an initiative of the Mayor’s Office of Education to help Philadelphians of all ages get a college degree, and of the Graduation Coach Campaign, which provides adults with important resources to help them support youth to and through high school and college and on to careers. Prior, Barbara was the Executive Director of Operation Understanding, promoting leadership development and cultural understanding for African American and Jewish high school students. Her past experiences also include management consulting and healthcare administration at several local non-profits and hospitals. Barbara earned a bachelor’s degree in history and psychology from Franklin and Marshall College and a master’s in public administration with a concentration in healthcare from New York University.

Tom Ahart

Director of College Success Services
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Tom Ahart comes to Graduate! Philadelphia with over 25 years of experience serving students in higher education settings. A native of Western Massachusetts, Tom has made his home here in the Philadelphia region and has connections to many transfer colleges in the region. He earned his bachelors degree in Theater Arts from St. Lawrence University, a masters in Student Affairs administration from Alfred University and an MBA from Temple University. Tom is particularly interested in how higher education is adapting to meet the needs of today’s college students, the majority of whom are adult learners. “The most important step of all is the first one!”

Mary Bustamante

Senior College Success Advisor
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Mary is an energetic higher education leader with extensive experience working in adult and professional education. She has worked at both large public research universities and small private colleges focusing on student success initiatives. During her career, Mary has launched innovative educational and advising programs that have met the needs of adult learners – her passion is helping others reach their full potential! Mary has held several leadership roles in professional associations such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is currently in the Emerging Leaders Program through the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA). Mary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Temple University. Mary has lived in the Philadelphia area for over 20 years with her family.

Anthony Johnson

College Success Advisor
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Anthony Johnson is a Philadelphia native and a dedicated educator with over 20 years of experience in program management and administration. He is an instructor in the fields of education, human services, and GED. In addition to his work at Graduate! Philadelphia, Anthony is C.E.O. of Dream Field Academy, a non-profit organization that provides academic enrichment and fencing lessons to youth and adults.
Anthony’s interests include motivating and challenging people of all ages to achieve. Anthony received his B.A. from Cheney University and his M.A. from La Salle University. He is the author of 7 books as well as over 80 articles in newspapers and magazines.

Denise Whittaker

College Success Advisor
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Denise has always wanted to teach and over the years has stressed the importance of continuing education to children as well as adults. Coordinating educational and fun events in her community became a major part of her time. Denise felt that if she wasn’t teaching in schools why not use that passion in her community helping her neighbors to make decisions based on good information; she felt this too was educating. She earned her B.S. at University of Phoenix when her son left home to attend college. On graduation day, her son told her that she was his inspiration and the long nights writing papers and missing sleep were all worth it. Denise says, “Stay committed. You will make such an impact on someone else’s life as well as your own.”

Misty Palma

Administrative Assistant
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Misty recently relocated to the Philadelphia area and is delighted to join and support the Graduate! Philadelphia team. A native of Northern California, Misty enjoys travel and diversity in cultures around the world. She has always valued the importance of education for those of all backgrounds, motivated by the thought that we share a responsibility to each other in the community. Misty spent the last 9 years volunteering in the Cambodian community and assisting with advancing education among second language learners. She’s been deeply shaped from life changing experiences while living and volunteering in Cambodia, along with assisting the deaf Cambodian community within the rural areas of the country. She finds the deepest satisfaction knowing she can help teach or motivate others to learn, even when they come from a background of little to no education. Misty’s motivation for helping others is driven by the knowledge of how education and exposure to other possibilities can change the course of a person’s lifetime, that outcome is well worth any effort involved.

Kevin Aiken

Senior College Success Advisor
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Kevin Aiken comes to Graduate! Philadelphia with over 20 years of experience in educating and advising adult learners. Kevin’s past experiences include serving as Executive Vice President of Enrollment Management and Chief Operating Officer of Lancaster Bible College at the Center for Urban Theological Studies.  He also served as a Recruiter, Admissions Counselor, Academic Advisor, Director of Student Accounts, Director of Admissions, and Director of Enrollment at Geneva College.  In addition, he has taught various courses to adult learners including Introduction to Theology, Principles of Leadership and Development in Ministry.

Kevin earned two bachelor’s degrees, one in Urban Leadership and one in Theology, both from Geneva College, He earned a master’s degree in Philosophy in Christian Thought from the Biblical Theological Seminary and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in Leadership from Capital Graduate College.  Kevin has written numerous publications, journals, and presentations. He attributes his accomplishments on being a third generation preacher, pastor, and church planter.