Staff Team

Who We Are

Our team of professional staff takes an individualized and developmental approach to working with Bates students as they explore purposeful work on campus and after graduation. We advise students in every stage of exploration, from asking “What are my values and interests?” and “How do the pieces of my studies and extra-curriculars tie together?” to “What next steps do I take to build the skills I need?”

Because our work is philosophical and pragmatic, we also offer a wide range of programs for students to test their interests and skills.

Schedule an appointment with a counselor in Handshake.  We look forward to talking with you!

Allen Delong, Senior Associate Dean and temporary Director for Graduate and Professional School Advising

Telephone: 207-786-8305

Allen leads the Bates Center for Purposeful Work, which brings together in one place, under one philosophy, a set of programs and functions that have until now been divided between the Purposeful Work program and the Bates Career Development Center. He has served as a faculty member or administrator at large, Research I universities and small, private liberal arts colleges over the past 25 years. A native Mainer from “The County,” Delong holds a Bachelors from the University of Maine; a Master’s Degree from the University of Vermont and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.  Allen works with students and alumni interested in education, community and non-profit work, and entrepreneurship.

Schedule an Appointment with Allen

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Amy Jaffe, Director of Career Exploration Programs and Advising

Pronouns: She/Her

Telephone: 207-786-6235

As the leader of the Exploration Team, Amy integrates a holistic approach that emphasizes self-awareness, reflection, and exploration into students’ discovery of meaningful career paths. Amy has been a career counselor in private practice and higher education for more than fifteen years, having worked at Golden Gate University, University of San Francisco, and as an associate of Heart at Work. She served as the president of the Maine Career Development Association in 2018-2020 and is a current member of the State Leadership Council for the National Career Development Association. Amy holds a Masters in Career Development from John F. Kennedy University and a bachelor’s degree from Colgate University.

Schedule an Appointment with Amy

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Marianne Cowan, Senior Associate Director for Exploration and Curricular Design and Visiting Lecturer in the Humanities

Pronouns: she/her

Telephone: 207-786-6128

A member of the Exploration Team, Marianne provides guidance to students in the process of exploring work and career trajectories, connecting their Bates education and experiences to create a path toward meaningful work. She manages Purposeful Work’s unique curricular programs, including Practitioner-Taught Courses, Life Architecture, Purposeful Work Infusion Courses, and First Year Experience/First Year Seminar. She also supports athletics and co-curricular programming for the Center for Purposeful Work and advises Bobcat Ventures. Prior to her work as a member of the original Purposeful Work Design Team, Marianne served many years in senior alumni relations and fundraising roles at Bates and supported a public health startup, faculty development and grant writing at the Jacobs School of Medicine at Buffalo. Marianne is a native Central New Yorker and alumna of the Bates Alpine Ski Team and Bates French Department; she came to Bates to study and ski, and came back 8 years after graduation to continue her career in higher ed administration. She holds a CCSP from the National Career Development Association, an M.A. from the University of Buffalo and a B.A. from Bates. Marianne is the President of the Maine Career Development Association.

Schedule an Appointment with Marianne

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Blake Edwards, Associate Director for Career Exploration and Pre-Law Advising

Telephone: 207-786-6398

Blake provides academic and general career guidance to pre-law students and alumni. He also advises students interested in government, policy, or politics. Blake helps to host the Bobcat Ventures entrepreneurship competition and leads the Policy, Politics, and Law Roadshow. Blake has over a decade of experience in higher education working a variety of positions from admissions at Saint Joseph’s College to teaching Intro Philosophy and coordinating the Top Scholar Program at Texas State University. He has an M.A. in Applied Philosophy and Ethics from Texas State University and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Saint Joseph’s College. In his spare time, Blake is an avid video game fan and volunteer high school Esports coach. Blake and his wife Shaula live in Brunswick, ME.

Schedule an Appointment with Blake

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Lea Staedtler, Associate Director, STEM and Pre-Healthcare Advising

Telephone: 207-786-6230

Lea (she/her) provides guidance to students interested in STEM and Healthcare fields. Originally from Germany, Lea brings a wealth of insight to international students exploring their post-graduation options. She has spent her career in the liberal arts environment, and is passionate about helping students tell their story, and making connections between their academics and career aspirations. Prior to Bates she worked at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, where she oversaw the student employment program and provided meaningful opportunities to students. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and an M.A. in Higher Education Leadership from Oklahoma State University. Outside of work, Lea enjoys spending time with her two cats Tigger and Muffins, being out in nature, and exploring new restaurants and book stores.

Schedule an Appointment with Lea

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Hoi Ning Ngai, Director, Employer Engagement and Business Advising

Pronouns: She/Her

Telephone: 207-786-6234

Hoi Ning works with employers to cultivate and support the development of internship and job opportunities that allow students to pursue meaningful and purposeful opportunities in the workplace. She also advises students with specific interests in business, including consulting, finance, human resources/talent acquisition, marketing, and operations, as well as advanced business degrees. She believes strongly in the importance and value of self-reflection in undergraduate education, especially in terms of helping students become more aware of their identities, beliefs, values, and goals as they pursue postgraduate opportunities. Prior to arriving at Bates, Hoi Ning served as the Associate Dean for Student Affairs at The Graduate School at UNC-Chapel Hill, the Dean of Academic Advising and Support at Kenyon College, and an Associate Director of Academic Affairs and Advising at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Higher Education from UCLA. She is a first-generation college and graduate school graduate who grew up in Brooklyn and Queens with immigrant parents in low-income housing. As a native New Yorker, she cannot drive, but can walk for hours. She is a sociable introvert with a love of snow and a hate of heat. She believes that social media can be used for good. Her first name (Hoi Ning) means “peaceful journey” in Cantonese (Chinese).

Schedule an Appointment with Hoi Ning

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Beverly Vari, Associate Director, Employer Engagement and Internships

Telephone:  207-786-6478

Beverly (she, her, hers) oversees the Purposeful Work internship programs. She builds and fosters relationships across campus and with employers. Beverly also supports students connecting their exploration to experiential learning opportunities, and advises students focusing on business and technology. Beverly has worked at higher education institutions from coast to coast at large universities such as University of Washington and University of Alaska, Anchorage and small liberal arts institutions such as Rhodes College and University of Lynchburg.  For the past 10+ years, she has worked within career services, immigration employment support, social justice organizations, and AmeriCorps. She enjoys learning from others, gardening locally, and exploring Maine with her husband and puppy. Beverly holds an M.Ed in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Higher Education.

Schedule an Appointment with Beverly

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Sheila Anderson, Director of Operations, Marketing, and Outreach

Telephone:  207-786-6233

Sheila (she, her, hers) oversees the day-to-day operations and budgets for the Center for Purposeful Work. She manages Handshake and all subscription recruiting databases and manages the Center for Purposeful Work website. She gathers counseling statistics to help determine the needs of Bates students and alumni who use the Center for Purposeful Work’s services and tracks the first destination plans of Bates graduates.  She also oversees the center’s office assistants.  Prior to coming to Bates, Sheila worked in adult education with students to help them obtain their GEDs.  She received a B.A. in American Studies from Westbrook College in Portland, Maine.

James H. Smith ’14, Assistant Director for Program Design & Support

Telephone: 207-786-6467

James assists in the administrative, data, and organizational tasks associated with the medical studies advising program and provides organizational and administrative support to the Bates Center for Purposeful Work internship and experiential programs. James maintains various records, databases, and network files. In addition, James helps coordinate the Purposeful Work Job Shadow Program and the annual Graduate and Professional School Fair. In 2014, he obtained a B.A. in psychology from Bates College and has a background in corporate recruiting, and higher education human resources.

Benjamin Conner ‘22, Graphic Designer and Communications Coordinator

Pronouns: He/Him


Benjamin works with the entire Center staff with the intention of spreading Purposeful Work throughout Bates, and beyond. As somebody who has struggled to find meaning and purpose within their work, the Center immediately attracted his attention while he was attending Bates. Now, he hopes to assist and support students who feel the same way, through marketing and design. As an Asian-American and transracial adoptee, he also strives to accomplish this mission in a way that acknowledges that the Bates experience is not the same for all students. Benjamin graduated from Bates in 2022 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Music.

Kathleen Bilodeau, Event and Program Coordinator

Telephone:  207-786-6232

Kathleen partners with staff and faculty to provide logistical support for Purposeful Work programs, including the Internship Program, City-Industry Roadshows, the Industry Spotlight Series and Practitioner-Taught Courses, employer information sessions, general workshops, and on-campus interviews. Kathleen maintains various records, databases, and network files, coordinating logistics for workshops, panels, alumni/guest speakers, and employer recruiting events. Prior to arriving at Bates, Kathleen had spent 25+ years of her professional life as an entrepreneur since studying Business Administration at the University of Maine.