Marie Bigham is the Founder and Executive Director of ACCEPT (Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today), an advocacy group and community that centers racial justice in the college admissions process and profession. Recently named a “Global Game Changer” by Facebook, Marie is a national leader in college admission redesign and reform. In 2018, ACCEPT received the Excellence in Education Award from the National Association for College Admissions Counseling, awarded to “those who use their prominence to advance equity and access in education”.
Marie’s lifelong commitment to racial justice has informed her professional path. With almost 25 years in the college admissions ecosystem, Marie has served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC); as Vice Chair and Director of Communication for Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools (ACCIS); and on the Board of Directors of Texas Association of College Admissions Counseling (TACAC). Marie entered admissions at her alma mater, Washington University in St. Louis (Class of 1995), where she earned a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies and a minor in Glassblowing. She served as Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Washington U, as Associate Director of College Counseling at Riverdale Country School (NY), and as Director of College Counseling at The Bishop’s School (CA), Greenhill School (TX), and Isidore Newman School (LA). Whenever possible, Marie enjoys the culture, food, and sounds of New Orleans with her husband, Colin Pettus.
Dr. Ashley L. Bennett
Dr. Ashley L. Bennett is co-leader and Director of Community Culture of ACCEPT (Admissions Community Cultivating Equity & Peace Today), an advocacy group and community that centers racial justice in the college admissions process and profession. With more than 15 years in the profession, Ashley has presented at the Texas Association for College Admissions Counseling (TACAC) annual conference, the Great Plains Association for College Admissions Counseling (GPACAC), and the Southern Association for College Admissions Counseling (SACAC) on topics such as microaggressions, being Black in the profession, leveraging technology, code switching, and the intersection of race and gender in college admissions.
Ashley was born and raised in Houston, TX. She began her work in college admissions at Oklahoma City University, where she served as Assistant Director of Admissions and began honing her skills to help students successfully navigate through the complexities of the college admission process. Following this role, Ashley then served as Director of Admissions and Recruitment at Wiley College, a small, private HBCU in Marshall, TX. In 2013, Ashley returned home to Houston to be with her family. She served as a College Counselor at an independent high school for five years before transitioning to her current role as Director of College Counseling at KIPP Sunnyside High School. In recent years, Ashley has served on national panels to unpack and discuss racism and inequity in education. In 2020, she served as a panelist and facilitator for Impact Tulsa, Change Happens in Houston, Rutgers University, and the Being Black in College webinar series for ACCEPT. Most recently, Ashley was the keynote speaker for The Princeton Review and Tutor.com, where she discussed equity and access in the college counseling and college admissions spheres.
Ashley received her bachelor’s degree in African and African American studies from The University of Oklahoma and a master’s in Adult Education with an emphasis in training from the University of Central Oklahoma. She earned her doctorate in ethical leadership from the University of St. Thomas in 2020, where she researched the lived experiences of transgender students in high school. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the largest Black Greek-letter sorority in the world. When she is not working, Ashley enjoys time with her husband, Chevy, and her kiddos, Aijah and Austin.