Mary Ellen Simoni

Before founding Ivy Options, Mary Ellen Simoni worked in leadership roles at top-ranked universities in the United States and Europe. She directed Stanford University’s operations which included admissions recruitment in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for more than eight years. During this time, she interacted directly with other leaders of many of the top universities in North America and Europe, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Penn, MIT, Oxford, and Cambridge.


‚ÄčInternationally, she has also worked closely with other U.K. universities; a number of Canadian universities, including the University of British Columbia, Simon Frasier University, and HEC Montréal; and for a consortium of eight top French business schools. Clients throughout the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America seek Ms. Simoni’s expert advice based on her reputation for successful bespoke counseling services. Originally from California, she lived in France for thirteen years before moving to Dubai in 2010. She is a graduate of Cornell University.

Katrina Lilly
Office Manager
Laura Waft
Admissions Advisor

Katrina oversees Ivy Options’ administrative and accounting functions as well as assisting with communications and essay editing. Prior to joining Ivy Options, Katrina managed the H.R. departments of several mid-sized companies. Most recently, she worked as an independent benefits consultant for an international textile firm. Katrina is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Psychology. 

With an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BBA from the University of Michigan, Laura has over twelve years’ experience in international banking. Following her banking career, she focused her efforts in the volunteer sector, where she was a popular storyteller in north London schools on behalf of a local charity. Laura, an American, brings her passion for reading and storytelling to Ivy Options as an essay specialist. 

Em Howle
Admissions Advisor
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Ammarah Soofi
SAT/ACT Instructor

A former journalist in the U.S. and internationally, Em lived in Dubai, Houston, Singapore, and Hong Kong before returning to Texas to manage Ivy Options' office in the U.S. Prior to moving, she developed several of Ivy Options' communications platforms and now continues to contribute to the newsletter and edit student essays. Em is a graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington.

An educator for eight years in Canada, the US, China, and the UAE, Ammarah has taught AP Chemistry, AP Biology, and Calculus AB, as well as serving as the head of the science departments at several international schools. A Canadian citizen, Ammarah has a BSE in Chemistry and Biology from Brock University and an MS in Neurochemistry from McMaster University. 

Daniel Cho
Admissions Advisor

Daniel comes in with experience in highly selective university admissions and business consulting. He holds a bachelor degree from Swarthmore College and previously worked as an admissions counselor at Yale-NUS (acceptance rate 3-7%), a new liberal arts college started by Yale University and the National University of Singapore. Prior to joining Ivy Options, Daniel worked in business analytics for Unilever in New York City and is fluent in English as well as Korean.

Carole Laugier
Admissions Advisor

Prior to joining Ivy Options, Carole worked in the US, UK, and UAE as a creative director, foundation trustee, and university lecturer. She manages Ivy Options' communications and works with students applying for a variety of programs including those preparing their art, architecture, design, and maker portfolios. Carole received her BFA from the University of Notre Dame and her MA from UAL: Central Saint Martins and has returned to London to work from and manage the UK office.

Mia Ozegovic
Admissions Advisor
Anna Manafova
Admissions Advisor

Mia joins Ivy Options with four years of previous educational consulting experience and is also a consultant at the Ministry of Education in Dubai. Mia graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude from Emory University with a degree in International Studies. She also holds a Master in Public Policy and a Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences certificate from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. Previously, she’s worked with UNICEF, Teach for America, Abu Dhabi Education Council, and Humanity in Action.

Anna Manafova, one of our newest counselors, contributes to our social media and marketing. Anna speaks Russian, Arabic, and French and has studied and worked in Europe, the US, and the Middle East. Anna recently graduated from Stanford University with a Masters's Degree in International Relations. Prior to joining Ivy Options, Anna worked on the intersection of research and journalism and wrote a book about the Middle Eastern energy sector. Anna is eager to work with students and help them identify good fit majors and find meaningful careers.

Ghada Wilson
Admissions Advisor
Nadine Brits
Office Accounts and Billing

An educator for over 15 years in the U.S. and at American international schools in the Middle East, Ghada is passionate about education and the life-long pursuit of learning. She works with Ivy Options students at various points along their college application journey. She has a BA and MA in Education from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, and is fluent in English and Arabic.

Nadine Brits is the newest member of the Ivy Options team. Nadine assists with our billing and administrative functions. She is originally from South Africa and has been a resident of Dubai for 12 years. Nadine's previous roles include administrative and accounting support and working as a teaching assistant.