Triumph’s Executive Leadership Team
John M. Larson, Executive Chairman, CEO and President
Jack has over 40 years of experience in private and for-profit higher education and is the founder of Career Education Corporation (NASDAQ: CECO), one of the world’s largest higher education organizations. Jack served as the company’s President, Chief Executive Officer, and a member and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Under his leadership, Career Education acquired renowned brands, including Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America, and pioneered its unique virtual campus which was adopted in other highly successful, fully online platforms. Jack is an original investor and current member of the Board of Directors for 2U (NASDAQ: TWOU), which provides online curriculum development for leading US universities. He also serves as a board member for The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Jack was an Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” and was selected as one of the first inductees to the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business “Haas Hall of Fame”. He currently sponsors scholarships at the Hass School of Business to support entrepreneurship, as well as Berkeley’s School of Information in support of big data development.
Rich Ahrens, Chief Human Resources Officer
Rich Ahrens is Triumph Education’s Chief Human Resources Officer. His strategic leadership skills cultivate our recruitment activities and support the development and retention of our best talent. With the assistance of his Human Resources department, he creates a positive work environment and helps staff live the company’s core values every day. With almost 34 years in the human resources field, Rich brings his passion to Triumph from Pearson Online Learning Services, where he was responsible for Human Resources Business Partnership and Talent Acquisition. Prior to Pearson, Rich’s diverse depth of experience was developed through various companies and industries including Verizon Wireless and Honeywell. Rich has a BS in Management/Personnel Management from Elmhurst College and an MBA with a concentration in Human Resources from DePaul University. He remains current in his field with continuing education in human resources through the certification process.
Kirk T. Bachmann, Boulder Campus President | Provost
Kirk Bachmann, M.Ed., CEC, AAC currently serves as the President of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder, Colorado campus and Provost for Triumph Higher Education. He also previously served as president of the Escoffier Boulder campus before recently returning to the organization. Prior to arriving back at Triumph in 2019, he served as the Vice President of Culinary Training & Development at Rouxbe Online Culinary School and held Executive positions with renowned Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Schools. Kirk graduated from the University of Oregon and went on to receive his formal culinary training at The Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. He also holds a master’s degree in education, is a Certified Executive Chef (CEC) and a member of the American Academy of Chefs (AAC). Bachmann is active in the industry and is a Culinary Salon medalist. He is also a member of The International Association of Culinary Professionals, Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, Antonin Careme Society, Disciples d’Escoffier and The International Food and Beverage Forum.
C.R. “Chuck” Christopherson, Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Chuck leads Escoffier’s financial, investment, banking, acquisitions, and real estate areas. He is a global operating, financial and strategy executive with extensive experience in various industries including global software, software-as-a service, communications, IT, banking, and government. Prior to joining Escoffier, Chuck served as CFO for IntelliCentrics Global Holdings, a publicly traded international SaaS company supporting trusted healthcare and credentialing; and the CEO for CB Solutions. His experience includes senior executive positions with business oversight in 170 countries at BT Global Services and SAP; and involved in the acquisition and integration of over 100 companies in an industry rollup that created a $5.5B corporation. In 2005, he was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the Cabinet of the USDA and as their CFO. His appointment was later expanded to include Senate Confirmation to the Board of the Commodities Credit Corporation, CIO operations, and to the Board of the USDA Graduate School. As a Lean Six Sigma (L6) Black Belt and Executive Sponsor he implemented the first L6 programs into the government with shared service teams achieving benchmarks equal to top U.S. corporations. He received his Bachelor’s in Accounting, with a Minor in Computer Science, from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University, an Executive Master’s in Business Administration from the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon, and continuing education certification at the University of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Executive and CFO Education Program. He is a licensed Certified Public Accountant.
Brian Duffy, Vice President of Operations
As vice president of operations, Brian is critical to the enhancement of processes both internally and student facing. His 20+ years of experience in launching integrated technical and business solutions is key to strengthening our student experience and collaborating with our customer service teams. Brian oversees Escoffier’s strategic operations; focusing on creating operational scale designed to improve student outcomes and enhance organizational agility. Prior to Escoffier, Brian held leadership positions at Career Education Corporation (CEC, now Perdoceo Education Corporation), Colorado Technical University and American Continental University. Brian received a bachelor of science in business administration from Illinois State University and a master of business degree from Northern Illinois University.
Tom Ehrhardt, Chief Marketing Officer
In Tom’s role as Chief Marketing Officer, he is responsible for growing Escoffier’s enrollment and awareness within the culinary and hospitality industries. He also collaborates with the leadership team to identify programmatic growth opportunities and innovative ways to deliver best in class student experiences. Tom has over 20 years of multi-industry experience in marketing and product development within higher education, automotive, financial services and publishing. Most recently he served as the Chief Marketing Officer for National Louis University, Vice President of Marketing at Laureate International Universities and Group Director of Brand and Strategy Development for Career Education Corporation’s Le Cordon Bleu schools. Tom holds two bachelor’s degrees from Valparaiso University as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago.
Steve Georgis, Chief Technology Officer
In his role, Steve is responsible for developing Triumph’s overall technology strategy and implementing initiatives across all functional areas within our institutions. Prior to joining Triumph, Steve served as the Vice President of Technology for Pearson Online Learning Services where he led a team of over 45 multi-disciplinary professionals in administering all technology initiatives and projects across regional locations throughout the US and Canada. Prior to his time at Pearson, he served as the Director of Enterprise Applications for Career Education Corporation where he led a team that partnered with and delivered technology services to core business functions that included sales, marketing, academics and student services. Prior to entering the education arena, Steve worked as a Senior Technology Consultant for Software Architects in Westchester, Illinois and as an Application Developer for the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago. He graduated with high honors from DePaul University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Systems.
Jeffrey Larson, Chief Admissions Officer
In Jeff’s current role as Chief Admissions Officer, he is responsible for managing the admissions functions. Prior to his current role, he also oversaw marketing, where he was instrumental in leading the growth and development of Escoffier’s culinary and pastry programs, both for online as well as campus-based programs. Prior to his time at Triumph, Jeff held admissions positions at American InterContinental University and Colorado Technical University. Jeff is a graduate of the University of Kansas where he received his B.S. in Economics.
Marcus McMellon, Austin Campus President
Marcus McMellon is President of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Austin, Texas campus; part of the Triumph Higher Education network of schools. Marcus turned his early interest in food and agricultural sourcing into a variety of positions in several restaurants. In 2001, Marcus began his career in culinary education with Le Cordon Bleu Cooking Schools, serving as Vice President of Finance and Operations during the construction and start-up phase of the Austin Le Cordon Bleu Campus. Before joining Triumph Education in 2014, Marcus held the positions of Campus President and Chief Financial Officer for two other proprietary education providers in the Dallas area. For the past eight years, Marcus’ contributions to Escoffier have been an integral part of the culinary landscape in and around the state of Texas and beyond, yielding classically trained culinary graduates who are ready to enter the industry with pride.
Patricia Souza, VP of Student and Career Services
In her current role, Patricia leads the Student and Career Services department to promote the success of students and alumni in their career goals. Among her main objectives are marketing to college programs, industry professionals and employers as well as overseeing an extensive employer relations program including recruiting, externship development and business outreach. Before her time with Triumph Higher Education, she was a Campus Director of Career Services for Le Cordon Bleu and a Senior Career Consultant for BPI Group. She honorably served in the United States Air Force for 10 years, where she received an extensive education in leadership. She is an advocate for veterans and developing career and educational opportunities for under served communities. Patricia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Management and a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management.
Denise Sullivan, VP of Enterprise Solutions
In her role as Vice President of Enterprise Solutions, Denise oversees the development and growth of enterprise partnerships and strategic deals for Triumph Higher Education. Denise has over twenty years of experience in increasing organization sales, building internal and external partnerships, and executing strategies and solutions to support client and organization objectives. She served as Director of Strategic Partnerships for Woz U Enterprise where she developed and implemented sales strategy to increase revenue for their Education as a Service (EaaS) online model. Prior to her position there, she was Director of Business Development for The Haden Group LLC where she built infrastructure for sales, customer service, training and marketing as well as identified strategic opportunities for growth. She has also served as Director of Business Development for Wiley Workplace Learning, managed her own professional services company, and held management positions with New Horizons Learning Center and Oracle Corporation. Denise received her BA in Organizational Communication from Pepperdine University.
Pam Trandahl, VP of Compliance
Pam serves as the Vice President of Compliance for Triumph Higher Education Group. She is responsible for the oversight of all compliance areas for both campuses of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. Prior to joining Triumph, Trandahl has held multiple roles in operations and Title IV administration in the Higher Education industry and has approximately 20 years in culinary education administration.