President and Executive Leadership Team | About HLC

HLC’s President and Executive Leadership Team


Barbara Gellman-Danley

Barbara Gellman-Danley

President, HLC
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Barbara Gellman-Danley assumed the presidency of the Higher Learning Commission in 2014. Prior to joining the Commission, Gellman-Danley was President of University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College in Ohio. She also served as Vice Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents, President at Antioch University McGregor, Vice President at Monroe Community College, and Vice Chancellor at Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
Gellman-Danley held several board and commission memberships in her career, including the Association of Governing Boards Council of Presidents, American Council on Education Commission on Education and Attainment, Council on Adult and Experiential Learning Board of Trustees, and Educational Testing Service National Community College Council. She currently serves as Chair of the Credential Engine and serves on the NC-SARA board. She has consulted at over 30 institutions on strategic planning, the role of technology in higher education, distance learning, and related topics.
Gellman-Danley holds a Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University, a Master of Library Science from Simmons College, an MBA from Oklahoma City University, and a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Oklahoma. She also did post-graduate work at New York University and earned continuing education from Cornell University, Harvard University, and University of Chicago.
Gellman-Danley is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and holds several coaching certifications. She is also certified in Agile and Lean Six Sigma.
Gellman-Danley is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Institute class of 1993.

Previous Speeches

The Bowl of Skills and Knowledge (BOSK) Reflection Tool 2024

Leadership Lessons Learned 2024

2023 HLC Annual Conference Welcome Address

CHEA Advisory Council Series: HLC

2022 HLC Annual Conference Welcome Address

2021 HLC Annual Conference Welcome Address

Testimony to the Negotiated Rulemaking - September 2018  

Letter to Students at 2018 HLC Annual Conference—#higheredcares

2017 HLC Annual Conference Welcome Address—video excerpt (view text )

Executive Leadership Team

Speaker Circle 01

Sarah Byrne

Chief Human Resources Officer
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Sarah Byrne joined HLC as the Director of Human Resources in 2013 and later added operations to her portfolio as Director of Human Resources and Operations. She joined the Executive Leadership Team in 2020 and became Chief Human Resources Officer in 2022. Dr. Byrne started her career working as a victim advocate in a crisis center while in graduate school. Dr. Byrne earned degrees from three HLC member institutions, including a bachelor's in Social Relations at James Madison College at Michigan State University, a master's in Sociology from Wayne State University, and a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Cincinnati. She is interested in applied sociology and understanding how workplaces benefit from sociological insights on inequality and social psychology.

At HLC, Dr. Byrne is responsible for leading all human resources functions, including employee relations, hiring, compliance, professional development and benefits, as well as managing the operations functions for the HLC office. She chairs the Vision Committee for the Strategic Plan, HLC’s Office Health and Safety Working Group and the Conflict of Interest Review Team. Dr. Byrne earned the PHR credential from the Human Resources Certification Institute in 2012 and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management. She was certified as a professional coach by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in 2016.

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Eric Martin

Executive Vice President
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Eric Martin joined the Higher Learning Commission in 2010 as a Vice President for Accreditation Relations (staff liaison), and was named Executive Vice President in 2020. He has also served as the Director of the AQIP Pathway (2012-2015) and Vice President and Chief of Staff (2015-2020). As Executive Vice President, he is a member of the President’s Executive Leadership Team. He also has oversight of HLC’s functions related to peer corps recruitment and training; accreditation reviews, substantive change, and decision-making; and programs and meetings including HLC’s academies, workshops, and annual conference. Dr. Martin also serves on HLC’s Liaison Council, Implementation Council, and Policy Committee among others. He plays a central role in HLC’s strategic planning processes, and he engages regularly with HLC’s Board of Trustees including the Board’s Committees for Strategy, Accreditation, and Finance.

Prior to joining HLC, Dr. Martin served from 2006 to 2010 as the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Governors State University in south suburban Chicago. While at Governors State, he also served in the Office of the Provost as the Director of Writing Across the Curriculum (1999-2001), Assistant Provost/Director of the Center for Quality (2001-2004), and Associate Provost (2005-2006). Between 1996 and 1999, he held a faculty appointment at the University of Findlay, where he also served as the Director of English and Writing Across the Curriculum. Early in his career, he served as the Assistant Director of Writing Programs and Ombudsperson at Illinois State University, where he received a doctorate in English in 1995. Dr. Martin’s post-graduate study includes Harvard University’s Institute of Education Management (2015), and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s Certificate in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (2018-2020). His scholarly interests include higher education leadership, followership and the role of emotional intelligence in both areas.

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Marla Morgen

Vice President and General Counsel
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Marla Morgen joined the Higher Learning Commission in 2018 as Associate Vice President of Legal and Regulatory Affairs and was named as the agency's first General Counsel in 2020. In her role, Ms. Morgen provides strategic advice and counsel to HLC staff and the Board of Trustees on a variety of governance, operational and accreditation matters; manages litigation and legal inquiries for HLC; and participates in various accreditation processes. Ms. Morgen also chairs HLC's Accreditation Policy Committee and Antitrust Compliance Team.

Prior to joining HLC, Ms. Morgen served in the Office of the General Counsel at DePaul University for more than 12 years. At DePaul, Ms. Morgen's primary areas of expertise included student affairs, Title IX and sexual and relationship violence, crisis response, campus safety, international programs, speech and expression, diversity, clinical and experiential education and academic collaborative ventures.

Before practicing higher education law, Ms. Morgen was a litigator at a large Chicago law firm and clerked for a judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in American History from Northwestern University. She also completed the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Michael Seuring

Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
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Michael Seuring, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, joined HLC in 2006 and is responsible for all financial management aspects of the organization. This includes ensuring the organization's financial records are being kept in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, financial reporting, treasury, and financial planning and analysis. In addition, Mr. Seuring serves as the Records Management Officer and oversees human resources, risk management, and HLC’s financial indicators process.

He has previously held financial management positions at the University of Chicago and other not-for-profit organizations in the Chicago area. Mr. Seuring is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a B.S. in accounting from Purdue University.