Michelle Ponce, Director
Michelle Ponce is the Director of Career Development at Claremont Graduate University. She has led her career as a progressive and visionary leader with an eclectic style of engaging career professionals through individualized career self discovery and self journey. Her goal is to envision and implement innovative strategies to enlighten life-long learners. She is energetic and creative with a unique ability to influence and integrate collaboration between internal and external stakeholders.
She has dedicated her career to coaching and guiding students and alumni towards exploring and engaging in their career journeys. Her roles have included Assistant Dean and Director positions within Southern California. In addition, Michelle is a career expert recognized nationally and regionally via professional committees and various executive roles. She authored a chapter in the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) book, “Cases in Career Services: A Working Guide for Practitioners, Engaging Adult Learners Toward Their Career Journey” as well as articles and references to support the career services industry.
She is driven by her life philosophy “It’s not what you do in life, but who you are to others”.
Michelle holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Chapman University, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and an Associate of Arts from Marymount College.
Theresa Condito, Assistant Director
Originally hailing from Massachusetts, Theresa attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for her undergraduate studies. In 2012, she relocated to the Los Angeles area to attend the Center for Business & Management of the Arts at Claremont Graduate University. Before becoming a career development professional, she worked at prestigious, world-class organizations like Boston Symphony Orchestra and Los Angeles Opera, as well as many smaller performing arts non-profits in fundraising, marketing, and venue management. Although Southern California suffers from a severe lack of Dunkin’ Donuts, Theresa still loves the sunshine here on the Best Coast.
Theresa uses her top skills every day as a career counselor: writing and relationship building, and employs a skills-based approach to her coaching. Theresa understands the difficulties of finding jobs, as well as the challenges of building and transitioning careers, and it’s incredibly meaningful for her to help others.
Rebecca Grim, Peer Career Consultant
Rebecca is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in educational studies (SES) at CGU. Her goal is to develop university policy that supports the mental health of graduate studnets with mental illnesses and mental health concerns by connecting community mental health services and university counseling centers. Rebecca earned her M.S. in Rehabilitation Counseling from California State University Los Angeles where she also completed her undergraduate studies in Psychology. She believes that in order to achieve academic and professional success students should explore their interests and value themselves as professionals. As a career counselor Rebecca brings her sense of humor, her passion for student success and education to support the needs of students seeking assistance in our Career Center.
Chris Varano, Peer Career Consultant
Chris Varano earned his Bachelor of Science in Physiology and Neurobiology from the University of Maryland. He is now pursuing his Master of Arts in Positive Organizational Psychology and Evaluation. Chris has a passion for helping others thrive by supporting individuals through their journey career. His coaching approach is to align each client’s interests and values throughout the career exploration process. During his spare time, he manages and oversee his own coaching and consulting business.
Bailey Westerhoff, Employer Outreach Specialist
Bailey Westerhoff earned her MA in Museum Studies from Marist College in conjunction with the Institution Lorenzo de’Medici. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies with a focus in Museum Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Bailey has experience working with museums of all sizes, with an emphasis on visitor accessibility and education. One of her professional goals is to ensure cultural institutions are equitable and inclusive of all.
Karina Kowarsch, Data Evaluation Assistant
Dandan Karina Kowarsch is a Ph.D. student in the Department of International Studies at the School of Social Science Policy & Evaluation, Claremont Graduate University. Her research interests include homelessness, refugees, and income inequality. Her research papers such as The Impact of Housing Programs on Unsheltered Homeless Population: An Agent-Based Approach (co-authorship with Dr. Yang, Zining), and Optimal Strategy in International Relations are published through 2021 Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics and the Affiliated Conference Proceeding. D. Karina Kowarsch also presented her research paper, Homelessness of Los Angeles using System Dynamics Modeling, at the 2020 Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management Annual Conference, Washington D.C., and Study of Global Income Equality Using Social Network Analysis at the 2020 AHFE International Conference, San Diego. Karina is an active student member in the International System Dynamics Society. She presented Homelessness and Housing First Policy: A Case Study of Los Angeles Homelessness at the 2021 International System Dynamics Conference, Chicago.
Kaajal Sheth, Social Media & Communications Specialist
Kaajal Sheth is an international student, currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Health Promotion Sciences at Claremont Graduate University with a focus in Health Communications. With a background in Nutrition, Kaajal has experience working in the field of Nutrition and Diabetes education. She is currently working with the Community Translational Research Institute on their ‘Stopping Diabetes in its Tracks’ project. Her professional and research goals are to have an overall impact on the health, wellbeing, and self-efficacy of an individual as well as the population.
In her free time, she volunteers at the local Priceless Pets orphanage.