About Us

Our Team


Executive Leadership

Matthew Pietrafetta

Founder & CEO

Matthew Pietrafetta founded Academic Approach in 2001 and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer.…

Brad Kessler

Chief Strategy Officer & General Counsel

Bradley Kessler serves as Chief Strategy Officer and General Counsel. In this role, Bradley participates…

Varun Aggarwal

Vice President of Operations

Varun Aggarwal currently serves as the Vice President of Operations. In this role, Varun leads…

Amanda Aisen

Executive Director of Education

Amanda Aisen has worked with Academic Approach since 2010. After serving as an Instructor and…

Erica Porter Walton

Vice President of Finance

Erica Porter Walton currently serves as the Vice President of Finance. In this role, Erica leads accounting and reporting efforts for the organization.

School Programs

Anna Brandes

Director of Professional Development

Anna Brandes is currently the Director of Professional Development on the School Programs team at…

Meagan Moore

Manager of School Programs

Meagan Moore currently serves as the Manager of School Programs. In this role, Meagan works…

Katy Steele

Director of Classroom Learning

Katy joined the team at Academic Approach in 2016 and currently serves as the Director of Classroom Learning.

One-on-One Tutoring

Carla Pedersen

Regional Director

Carla Pedersen currently serves as the Regional Director of One-on-One Tutoring. In this role, she…

Andrew Ferguson

Director of Client Services

Andrew Ferguson currently serves as the Director of Client Services as well as an ACT…

Denise Alagna

Associate Director

Denise Alagna currently serves as an Associate Director of One-on-One Tutoring in the Clarendon Hills…

Wade Weeldreyer

Associate Director

Wade Weeldreyer currently serves as an Associate Director of One-on-One Tutoring in the North Shore…

Ben Hendren

Director of Inquiries

Ben Hendren currently serves as an Associate Director of One-on-One tutoring. Ben joined the Academic…

Amanda Bressler

Associate Director

Amanda currently serves as an Associate Director of One-on-One tutoring. Amanda joined the Academic Approach team in 2020 as a tutor and classroom instructor for the ACT and SAT.

Ali Foley

Associate Director

Ali currently serves as an Associate Director of One-on-One Tutoring. In this role, she oversees individual one-on-one programs, helping students and families set up programs and ensuring that those programs are executed.

Allison Sherry

Associate Director

Allison earned her Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Department of Education Curriculum

TJ Sassorossi

Director of Curriculum

TJ Sassorossi currently serves as the Director of Curriculum and Assessment. In this position, TJ…

Jaycie Ryrholm

Director of Research and Development

Jaycie Ryrholm joined Academic Approach in 2011. As the Director of Research and Development…

Hayley Notter

Director of Curriculum

Hayley Notter joined Academic Approach in 2015 as a Curriculum Developer Team Lead and currently…

Department of Education
Instructor Management

Katie Hammen

Director of Instructional Management

Katie Hammen currently serves as the Director of Instructional Management. In this role…

Jeremy Palmer

Director of Instructional Management

Jeremy Palmer currently serves as a Director of Instructional Management. Since joining the team…

Resource Management

Thomas DeFrancisco

Assessment Manager

Tommy is the Assessment Manager at Academic Approach and a musician, an actor, and an amateur astronomer.

Melissa Gutierrez

Accounting Coordinator

Ivan Heemskerk

Software Developer

Ivan Heemskerk currently works as a Software Engineer for Academic Approach and is based in…

James Kriegsmann

Director of Data Management

James Kriegsmann is currently the Director of Data Management. In this role, he primarily ensures…

Brian McAuliffe

Software Developer

Brian McAuliffe currently serves as a Software Developer. In this role, Brian develops new features…

Mary Petrassi

Accounting Manager

Mary Petrassi is the Accounting Manager and has been with Academic Approach for over five years…

Phyllis Watson

Manager of Human Resources

Phyllis Watson is the Human Resource Manager at Academic Approach. In this role, she handles…

Sean Wesslund

Recruitment Manager

Sean Wesslund serves as Academic Approach’s Recruitment Manager. In this role, Sean oversees the organization’s…

We are


We understand that all great things start with a groundbreaking idea/strategy and are followed with diligent and collaborative execution and insight.


We relentlessly pursue the knowledge needed to shape and influence student and school performance.


We are dedicated to finding concrete and actionable solutions to the education challenges facing students. We embrace difficulties with optimism and teamwork.


We prioritize all our activities around what’s best for students and schools and organize our activities to turn great ideas into reality.


We are committed to the success of the mission. We believe nothing should be done without purpose and a focus on the future.


We collaborate with schools to understand the unique needs of their students so that we may tailor a customized solution to drive their student achievement.