Meet Our Team
Gretchen Heaton, MA
Gretchen Heaton is the Dean of Career Development and Executive Director of We Empower Learners & Leaders (WELL) at Bay Path University, where she oversees all career initiatives for undergraduate and graduate students and alumni. She is a certified career coach and salary negotiation facilitator with more than a decade of experience in higher education administration and career development. She holds a graduate certificate in leadership and negotiation from Bay Path University, as well as a BA in Spanish and an MA in women's and gender studies. Gretchen’s first professional goal (age 3) was to become a football player. While her NFL career didn't ever take off, she has had many other interesting jobs on her life journey that she'd be happy to discuss: library assistant, Spanish teacher, editor, dog walker, non-profit manager, professor, dean, and mom. A first-gen student and women’s college alum herself, Gretchen believes deeply that empowering students with career development skills is a critical tool of social justice.
Crystal Senter-Brown, MS
As a young mother with only a high school diploma, Crystal’s career options were limited. After working several jobs, she was finally hired at the Urban League of Springfield as an assistant to the president.
It was at the Springfield Urban League where she met who would become a champion in her life: Tracy Whitley. Tracy soon hired Crystal full-time as a program executive, where she managed patient programs for cancer survivors in Western mass. This was a position that required a college degree, but Tracy believed in Crystal’s potential and offered her the opportunity.
ACS underwent a restructuring and began to require college degrees for all executives a few years after Crystal started, but the timing was perfect because Crystal received a postcard in the mail from what was then called the “one-day” program at Bay Path University. She called for more information, and within a month, she was sitting in a classroom on a Saturday morning.
She finished her BA at Bay Path and continued on to earn her master of science and nonprofit management and philanthropy at Bay Path. She remained at the American Cancer Society until another restructuring when she came to work at Bay Path full-time after working as an adjunct for three years.
In her spare time, she is a published author and has written seven books, one of her books was turned into a movie that can be viewed on Roku TV! She also is an active blogger.
She is the mother of a 27-year-old son and is married to the love of her life. She also has a dog that steals her coffee when she is not looking.
Tracy Trial, MEd, CSP
As Director of Experiential Education and Prior Learning Assessment at Bay Path University, Tracy provides leadership and management of experiential learning and PLA activities across the University, including the undergraduate internship program. She is a certified career coach with over a decade of experience in secondary and post-secondary instruction and curriculum. Prior to her career in education, Tracy worked as a fundraiser in the non-profit sector, where she cultivated donor relationships, assembled and led volunteer committees, and developed planned giving initiatives for organizations such as Planned Parenthood League of Western Massachusetts and United Way of Pioneer Valley. Tracy’s early career adventures include waiting tables and taking reservations at fancy restaurants in San Francisco. She holds an MEd from the University of Massachusetts and a BA. in Philosophy from Smith College, where she graduated with Departmental Honors. She is an enthusiastic amateur baker, a lover of puzzles, and a doting mom.
Valarie Chavis G'17, MS
Valarie began her career in higher education over two decades ago and has been part of the Bay Path University community for over ten years. Supporting students has always been the driving force behind Valarie’s passion for higher education. She currently serves as the ePortfolio Coordinator, helping students articulate their meaningful experiences, skills, and abilities. In addition to this role, Valarie teaches in Bay Path’s Women Empowered as Learners and Leaders (WELL) program and serves as student club advisor for “Motherland.”
Like so many of our students, Valarie has had a unique journey while pursuing a college degree. Beginning the journey at a college in North Carolina, Valerie changed her major several times before welcoming her first daughter to her family and stepping back from her studies to raise her and determine exactly what she wanted to do with her life.
In 2001, Valarie started working at Springfield College, where she discovered her passion for helping students navigate their higher education journey. Valarie earned her BS from Springfield College in Humans Services. She continued on to earn an MS in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Online Teaching & Administration from Bay Path!
Valarie is married with two adult daughters and one grandson; she enjoys traveling and spending time (and lots of laughs!) with family and friends.
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