Team

Meet Our Advisor Team

All top-tier MBAs with professional writing and coaching in their background as well as determination as they withstood being trained by Kathryn who is unapologetically ruthless, our advisors give their all to help clients realize their business school dreams. To ensure they're able to give their all to clients, they work with no more than 6 clients at a time; many work with only 1-3.

FIRST UP, OUR SENIOR ADVISORS

MEET OUR LEADERSHIP TEAM

Our leadership team can't imagine a more rewarding way to spend their days (and often nights) than providing clients the support they need to move from square one to business school.

Kathryn Lucas, Founder

In 2009 I founded Square One Prep, which has partnered with 1,200+ clients and is unlike any other firm. I know, I know…all companies make that claim. Let me try to explain how we are different at our core; it starts with me.

I still know the name of every former client. I can tell you where they were from, what their career goals were, what school they chose, and a personal story about each of them. You see, Square One isn’t just a company to me. It’s what I’ve devoted my life to for the last 14 years. That dedication leads me to be remarkably committed to clients, even before they’re clients.

For example, when you request a free consult, I'll reply, and typically within minutes. Yes, I’m busy, but you matter. So I won't require you to pass some criteria for me to give you time. During your free consult, I won’t try to sell Square One to you. I'll try to get to know you. I’ll talk with you for 90 minutes when the call is scheduled for 30. I'll tell you the truth about your candidacy, based on Square One’s empirical data, team knowledge, and discussions with current admissions officers. What I say may align with what you want to hear or lead you to want to throw your phone and end the call! But you'll know you can trust that I am offering you well-intentioned candor. I’ll even send you a day-by-day graphic schedule explaining how to build your applications with the time you have – whether you’re keen to work with us or not, or aiming to apply to 2 schools, or 12 (please don’t apply to 12!). I want to go to bed each night with peace of mind, knowing I've done all I can each day to help others have peace of mind as they embark on this peace-thieving process. I’m honored when people like you entrust me, along with my unparalleled Square One team, to help you realize your business school dreams.

So that’s just a little information about who we are at our core. We’re not like any other firm. By the way, neither are our services or team! But before I digress even more, let me get back to my bio.

With a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Auburn University, after which I practiced architecture for seven years, and an MBA from Wharton, I ventured into MBA Admissions in 2003 when I became a GMAT preparation consultant at Veritas Prep. Later that year, I joined Forest City Ratner in NYC to help manage the development of Atlantic Yards/Barclays Center, a $4 billion, 7 million square foot project. In 2007, I left the world of development to write a book, It Is What It Is, published in July 2008. Inspired by how my book motivated people to introspect, face challenges, and dream big, I then re-joined Veritas Prep as an MBA admissions advisor. Not long after, realizing that my approach to partnering with applicants was distinct and unusually successful, I started Square One. Like many of you today, I was at square one with redefining the trajectory of my career.

I’ve grown Square One very carefully, never prioritizing revenue. Instead, I’ve focused on client feedback and our track record, each year offering clients more.

Thrilled to have personally guided 220 clients, with a success rate of 97%, these days, while i do still partner with 5-6 clients per year, I focus more on participating in PREMIUM service partnerships, which enables me to help many more people move from square one to a top business school.

When I follow the slogan on our home page - take a deep breath and relax, I enjoy practicing yoga, traveling, trying to learn French, having a love-hate relationship with running. and exploring artists in the electronic music space.

Allison Nelson, Chief Strategy/Operations Officer

I have significant experience as an executive across multiple industries. In addition to working in investment banking at Credit Suisse and in consulting at Bain, I've founded several companies including a chain of wine bars, and held executive positions for both start-ups and larger companies, including a publicly traded e-commerce company where I led a division of 750 employees.

I am an active volunteer who dedicates time to mentor start-up entrepreneurs and works with students on college applications, resumes, and mock interviews. I've conducted interviews for Harvard and Wellesley and led the recruiting programs for several companies. I'm a board member for Family Law CASA, which advocates in court for children, and New Beginnings, which mobilizes awareness to end domestic violence. I joined Square One because I love giving back and using my experiences and insights to help others be successful and get accepted to top MBA programs.

I received a BA from Wellesley College in Chinese Studies. While earning my MBA from HBS, and in addition to serving as Editor of The Harbus, I was VP of The Women’s Student Association, received the President’s award for graduating senior and a Harvard fellowship that provided funds for tuition.

In my (very little) free time, I enjoys black and white photography, exploring hiking trails in the Pacific NW with my dog, and visiting my two children at college.

Samuel Johnson, Editor

I am an award-winning writer and producer who has been working with writers to help make their writing pop since I ran my high school comedy magazine. As part of Leadership here, I use my creativity, sense of humor and eye for detail to review every piece of Square One Prep client writing to ensure it shines the best light on clients’ applications and sets them apart from the pack.

Igraduated from Harvard in 2007 with a degree in Russian Literature—my favorite authors are still the Russian greats—and from the feature film producing MFA Program at USC in 2009. While at Harvard, I was a writer and editor of the longest-running comedy magazine in the world, the Harvard Lampoon, for four years and became its Vice President my senior year. I also wrote and produced a musical comedy as part of Harvard’s “Arts First” Festival. At USC, I was awarded the Jack Oakie scholarship for excellence in comedy screenwriting and a second-year production grant for a short film I wrote.

My writing has appeared in the Huffington Post and Nat. Brut as well as on Cartoon Network and Pixl TV. I continue to write screenplays which have been selected by such organizations as the Cinestory Foundation Fellowship, the WeScreenplay screenplay competition, the StoryPros screenplay competition, and Shriekfest Film Festival.

For the last eight years, I have worked with students applying to MBA and other graduate programs to craft the most compelling essays possible. I approach each student as a unique individual—as there is no cookie-cutter method of writing a winning MBA essay! I have read and edited thousands of essays.

I speak French, Mandarin and Russian and will talk your ear off about movies if you let me.

Wendy Bagdi-Durrua, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

I bring my passion for coaching and mentoring to all of my clients, helping them develop personally and professionally to achieve their goals of crafting career visions that excite them, and top MBA admissions committees and career management teams.

With corporate experience across finance and audit, marketing and customer experience strategy, client relationship management, investor relations, business development and program management, I offer a broad perspective to my clients. In addition to working for American Express, General Motors and PwC, I have worked with non-profit organizations and small businesses. Leveraging my expertise transitioning across organizations, industries and disciplines, I guide my clients to define their professional journey and vision in order to communicate their story in a thoughtful, authentic and credible way.

I graduated with an MBA from The Wharton School and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. I am a member of the Wharton MBA resume review team and participates in the Boston College mentorship program. I received my diploma in coaching from New York University.

When not coaching, advising or taking classes for my own development, I enjoy entertaining, travel and outdoor adventures and spending time with my husband, family and friends.

Mary Winograd, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

I have 15+ years of experience helping MBA applicants and mid-career professionals explore, identify and materialize their vocational callings in roles that meet their interests, aptitudes, values, needs, and desired lifestyles. I help clients establish a networking and job search process; prepare materials as needed (bios, resumes, portfolios, interviews); evaluate job offers against the broader criteria of parameters set; and prepare for offer negotiations.

With a BFA in Business and Film/TV from NYU’s Stern and Tisch schools as well as an MBA from Wharton where she served as a Career Management Team Fellow, I’ve worked with individuals at Fortune 500, global mega-cap companies, high-growth private firms, family-owned enterprises, and small to medium-sized businesses. I’ve also helped self-employed professionals. I also have accreditations in Professional Coaching from the International Coaching Federation and additional certifications in vocational counseling, training and development, and career and executive coaching from both US and international professional organizations.

I liken career coaching to training for body building competitions: one may be initially qualified, but the rest depends on his readiness to work hard. On year seven with Square One Prep, I work hard alongside clients. I’m tough and meticulous, telling the truth “without anesthesia” because it’s better to hear it from me than from recruiting teams at companies.

With a background in investment banking, technology corporate development and executive development, I’ve worked for multinationals such as Citi, Nestle and Siemens. My topics of expertise include persuasion (to board members, major shareholders, etc.), decision-making, conflict management, and leadership and team development.

I am fluent in Spanish and speak intermediate Portuguese. In my free time. I weightlift, organize aphrodisiac food potlucks, and pre-produce a TV show on mental health care that I host.

Horatiu Stefan, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

I am committed to helping my Square One clients reach their potential. I love helping them articulate their unique stories and personal brands in authentic, engaging ways. Beyond showcasing skills and experience, I guide clients to thoughtfully and strategically bring their passions, values, and goals to life in career narratives.

With a BA in Economics and Political Science from Swarthmore College / LSE and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, I have had extensive cross-industry and cross-functional international business experience. I've held various strategic, operating, and advisory roles with Fortune 500 multinationals and Silicon Valley startups including Deloitte, eBay, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung, Aetna, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Homejoy, and Serviz.

I have also been involved with MBA admissions consulting and MBA recruiting throughout my career. I played a key role in scaling Samsung’s MBA recruiting strategy at Top 10 MBA programs and most recently served as Associate Director of Career Development at the USC Marshall School of Business, where I guided a highly-diverse international student population through all things career planning and development. As a career strategist and coach, I provide graduates of top-tier MBA programs with expert guidance, along with advice and recommendations that are both pragmatic and personalized, on career and job search strategy, networking, personal branding, and interview preparation.

Fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, and Romanian, I live in an old loft in downtown Los Angeles, but my heart is in Tokyo…my ‘happy place’. When not enjoying chocolate, raspberries, medium-rare steak, or Trader Joe’s Key Lime pie, I'm working on a book of Tokyo street photographs or scouring the web for deals on Margiela kicks.

Thays Cunha, Career Narrative Expert & Career Coach

It is my calling to help my clients discover their purpose, the WHY that motivates them to aim higher, as I believe this authenticity will help them achieve their goals in life, including securing offers at the business schools of their choice.

With a B.Tech. in Computer Science from the Aeronautics Institute of Technology (ITA) in Brazil and an MBA from INSEAD, I have had extensive cross-industry and cross-functional international business experience. I held various executive roles in banking, including four years at the IFC / World Bank in Washington DC, and in management consulting working for global firms, such as Accenture, Hay Group and A.T. Kearney. I also served as Associate Director of Career Management Services at INSEAD, in France, where I provided career counselling to a highly international student body. I hold certifications in Coaching (London), NLP (Paris), Psychometrics, had five-year training in Psychoanalysis, and specialization in Neuroscience & Applied Psychology. I have also worked for global leadership development consultancies conducting in-depth personality assessments of senior executives.

Fluent in Portuguese, French and Spanish, I moved to the coast of Brazil in 2020. When not taking walks on the beach with Bono, my shih-tzu, I am listening to Beethoven (top 0.005% listener in 2021, according to Spotify) or reading and writing about science, world affairs and Brazilian politics.

Meghan Bass, Career Coach & Resume Reviewer

After earning a BA in Journalism and English Literature from New York University, I started a career in the magazine publishing world with media giants including Hearst Publications, Conde ́ Nast and Wenner Media. A few years later, I decided to switch gears and pursue a career in higher education and counseling. I then earned a MS.ED in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education and, for the past 20 years, have built a career in MBA Admissions and Career Management with institutions including Fordham University, Drexel University and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Having spent several years travelling the world meeting candidates and networking with Admissions Deans and Career Directors from top institutions, I have developed a unique editing style and keen eye for details. I have worked extensively with candidates from all industries including consulting, banking, technology, healthcare, media and entertainment and consumer products. I am well versed on helping a recent graduate with limited work experience as well as a seasoned candidate preparing for a career change. I excel at understanding a client’s current skills and experiences to help them create a profile (resume, presence on professional platforms) that highlights achievement, shows versatility, and both forecasts and facilitates future goals and potential.

When I'm not editing, I decompress by reading two books a week on average (memoirs and historical fiction are personal favorites) and watching true crime documentaries and reality TV. I enjoy spending time with my husband, two children and two dogs in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Dre Chomistek, Former Admissions Officer

My professional experience has focused on helping people and organizations achieve their goals. Previously, I was a member of the admissions committee at University of Michigan Ross School of Business. I enjoyed working with prospective students and helping them realize their MBA goals. I was also an Associate Director at Northwestern where I helped launch a graduate program focused on improving the American healthcare experience. I have reviewed thousands of graduate school applications, have hosted countless application preparation sessions, and bring extensive knowledge of the application process. I am passionate about helping people access their dream opportunities through education.

Currently, I work in the consulting industry, bringing more than a decade of leading and managing innovative solutions that enable business transformation. I help organizations navigate change, communicate effectively, and achieve strategic objectives with speed and efficiency. I have broad and deep experience with analytics, strategy, change management, and communications. I hold a BA from Michigan State University, MS from Northwestern, and MBA from University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Kelsey Kephart, Former Admissions Officer

My admission career began at Columbia Business School where I spent three years on the admissions committee. In addition to reviewing applications and interviewing candidates, I oversaw the world-wide interview program, served as a waitlist manager, and managed dual degree programs for the Law, Medical, Dental, and Journalism schools.

Since my time at CBS, I have worked in finance, managing teams within hedge funds, global banks, and fintech firms. While I enjoy the fast pace and challenges of that work, nothing quite compares to the joy of being part of a young person’s journey to realize their dreams. So I rejoined the equally fast-paced and challenging industry of admissions, but on the other side of the fence as a former admissions officer, which allows me to work intimately with applicants. As the first person in my family to attend college, I understand how education can open doors and transform lives. I love applying my skills and insights to ensure every single line of my clients’ applications sound uniquely like them and speak to admissions committees at top business school.

When I'm not helping clients, I enjoy SCUBA diving, rock climbing, and archery. I hold a BA from Barnard College.

Jessica Roman, Partnership Manager

I am a student of life! As a Partnership Manager at Square One, I realize and put that into play every day. For example, while logistically overseeing our advisors and clients to ensure their partnerships run smoothly, I learn every day that no two partnerships, or days, are the same. I rely on my skills from my career in business development, sales, client service, and coaching to give each partnership customized support.

With a Bachelor’s in Fashion Merchandising and an MBA, I began my career in the wholesale fashion industry, were I quickly built relationships and success with fashion houses such as Neiman Marcus, Barney’s New York, and Saks Fifth Avenue. I then obtained a Master’s degree in Social Work at New York University and became a certified Life Coach, after which I began working with prominent companies as a Behavioral Coach, supporting clients with mental and behavioral health issues as well as addiction and substance abuse. Offering counseling, compassion, and solutions to those in need was rewarding and led me to become a Reiki Master Practitioner so I could offer more holistic coaching.

Following that role, I joined a start-up wellness company as the Director of Business Development and General Manager. I worked with athletes, influencers, and companies such as lululemon, Goldman Sachs, and Nike to bring health and wellness into the workplace. I bring that to my role at Square One too to help clients remain calm and focused throughout their application journey.

I am based in the New York metropolitan area. In my spare time, I can be found doing yoga, hiking, walking in nature, exploring the many bright lights of NYC, in her favorite wellness studio, or adventuring with my family, especially with my young son, Arthur.