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Mary Ellen Simoni
Director & Founder

Before founding Ivy Options, Mary Ellen Simoni, a graduate of Cornell University, worked in leadership roles at top-ranked universities in the United States and Europe. Her role as Director of Stanford University’s undergraduate admissions operations in Europe and North Africa enabled her to uniquely understand the world of international university admissions. Mary Ellen founded Ivy Options in 2010, and has helped hundreds of students achieve their university aspirations in the US, UK, Europe, and Canada. Clients worldwide seek Ivy Options’ expert advice based on Mary Ellen's reputation for successful bespoke counseling services. Mary Ellen serves as primary counselor for our Premium package clients and has oversight of all our counseling activities.

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Katrina Lilly
Resume & Essay Editing Specialist
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Laura Waft
Admissions Advisor

Katrina assists students with creating their resumes and polishing their essays. She is also a certified Strong Inventory interpreter and has looked after  our administrative and accounting operations since 2016. Prior to joining Ivy Options, Katrina managed the human resources departments of two mid-sized companies in the US and worked as an independent benefits consultant for an international textile firm. Katrina is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

With an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BBA from the University of Michigan, Laura has been part of the Ivy Options team since 2017. Prior to this, she worked for twelve years in international banking. As a senior counselor, Laura has helped Ivy Options clients secure acceptances at leading universities such as Stanford, MIT, Penn, Brown, Georgetown, Duke, UC Berkeley, Cambridge, LSE, UCL, and the University of Toronto. She has also helped students gain full-ride scholarships to USC and Boston University. Laura has recently shifted from being a primary student counselor to an advisory role, guiding and supporting our counseling team.

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Stuart Grabia
SAT/ACT Instructor
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Ammarah Soofi
SAT/ACT Instructor

Stuart graduated from the University of Alberta, and was a high school mathematics teacher in Canada for more than sixteen years before coming to the UAE in 2016. He then worked as a curriculum specialist for the Ministry of Education in Dubai. At Ivy Options, he helps students prepare for SAT and ACT mathematics and also tutors in both the American and British mathematics curricula. Stuart thoroughly enjoys helping students reach their academic goals.

Ammarah has been with Ivy Options since 2019 as an SAT/ACT/SSAT instructor and has also taught Chemistry (AP/IB), Biology (AP/IB), and AP Calculus AB. She is a passionate educator with a STEM background and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology from Brock University and a Master of Science degree in neurochemistry from McMaster University. Located in Canada, Ammarah offers tutoring online.

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Daniel Cho
Admissions Advisor

Daniel has been part of the Ivy Options team since 2019. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Swarthmore College and previously worked as an admissions counselor at Yale-NUS (acceptance rate 5%), a 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.

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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. She has returned to London to manage Ivy Options’ UK office. Carole has helped students secure acceptances to many top universities in the US, UK, and Europe including creative degree programs at Harvard, Yale, MIT, NYU, Parsons, CalArts, UCL, King’s College, UAL, and City & Guilds.

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Maya Fernández
Admissions Advisor
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Anna Manafova
Admissions Advisor

A graduate of Cornell University, Maya has worked as an admissions officer at New York University and Cornell University. Through her time teaching mathematics and working in the Special Education Department at Dubai American Academy, Maya has become skilled at supporting students of all learning styles both in and out of the classroom, adapting her approach to each child. She is fluent in Spanish and French and enjoys helping students work toward their university goals.

In addition to admissions advising, Anna also serves as Ivy Options’ career specialist, Myers-Briggs Certified Practitioner, and Strong Inventory interpreter. Having worked for Ivy Options since 2020, Anna especially enjoys helping students identify meaningful careers and develop creative personal projects. Anna graduated from Stanford University with a master's degree in international policy. Prior to joining Ivy Options, Anna supported students on their admissions journey pro-bono for over four years. She also studied and worked in both research and journalism and published a book about the Middle Eastern energy sector.

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Anthony Greene
Admissions Advisor

Originally from New York City, Anthony joined Ivy Options in 2019 and brings over two decades of experience in classroom teaching, university consulting, and tutoring to his clients. He started his international education career in South Korea in 2010; working with the country's elite students in the world's most competitive marketplace, he distinguished himself by coaching students to achieve higher marks on standardized tests and matching them with their ideal universities. He loves working with students of all academic backgrounds and has consistently helped applicants gain admission to Ivy League and top 50 schools. Anthony holds a bachelor's degree in history from Fordham University, a master's degree in education through the New York City Teaching Fellows Program, and a master's degree in history and education from Teachers College, Columbia University. A dedicated father of three, he also owns a technology company in Dubai.

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Heather Amiji
Admissions Advisor

Heather joined the London office in 2022 after working in advisory and investment management in five different regions, including the Middle East. Heather has worked at a senior level for both multinational and boutique firms and has been an active leader in global community and networking organizations. Through her various mentoring roles, she has acquired an intimate knowledge of the IB, A-Level/GCSE, and American high school curricula. Heather holds an MBA from London Business School and a BA in Economics & East Asian Studies from Bucknell University. She applies her real-world expertise in diverse fields to help students secure internships and complete research in areas such as Formula E motorsports, banking, NFTs for fashion, and agricultural development. By working with Heather, Ivy Options students have honed their stories through unique work experiences, personal projects, and community service.

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Riwa Dabbagh
Admissions Advisor
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Nadine Brits
Office Accounts and Billing

Riwa was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is trilingual and initially pursued a career in IT in the UAE and the UK. Riwa joined our counseling team after spending many years as an applicant interviewer for Georgetown University and completing the University of Pennsylvania's rigorous US university admissions course. Riwa has been working with Ivy Options since 2021 and specializes in applications to US pre-med programs and medicine and law in the UK. She is very excited to help students realize their dreams.

Nadine has been part of the Ivy Options team since 2021 and heads up our billing and accounting functions as well as assisting with client communication. Nadine's previous roles include administrative and accounting support and working as a teaching assistant. She is originally from South Africa and has lived in  Dubai since 2008.

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Hershey Bontia
SAT/ACT & Tutoring Administrator 
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Trudie Coburn
Office Manager

Hershey administers Ivy Options’ SAT and ACT preparation program and assists students with coordinating one-to-one tutoring. She is part of our administrative team and provides support to our tutors and admissions advisors.

Originally from South Africa, Trudie worked in the banking industry for over ten years and helped run a family-owned business as bookkeeper and office administrator for many years. Trudie oversees our administrative and accounting team and provides support to our admissions advisors and tutors.

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