TICUA Staff Members

Dr. Claude O. Pressnell, Jr. - President x201

Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., a native of Kansas, has spent over 30 years in higher education administration.  He began his career at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri as an admission recruiter; within a year advanced to the position of Senior Director of Admissions and Student Development.

He holds a doctorate in higher education administration/educational leadership from Vanderbilt University.  While attending Vanderbilt he served as the Director of Financial Assistance and Assistant Professor of Religion at Belmont University.  In 1995 he served as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Family Studies in Colorado.  Pressnell soon returned to Tennessee to become the Executive Director of the Tennessee Foundation for Independent Colleges and since 2000 has served as President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association.
In 2003 the United States Senate appointed Pressnell to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he served as Vice Chair from 2007 until his second and final term expired in 2008. In 2007, he testified before Congress on higher education policy issues.  The Committee serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the United States Congress and the Secretary of Education on student aid issues and higher education policy.   

In June of 2011, Pressnell was selected for a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant to develop the student financing policy for the Government of the Maldives.  The policy and funding mechanisms were adopted by the Maldivian Parliament in 2012.

In August of 2013, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Pressnell as a Commissioner representing the state’s interests on the Education Commission of the States.

In 2014 Pressnell was appointed by four US Senators to serve on a committee to recommend a pathway to reduce the federal regulatory burden on higher education in the United States.  

In 2016 Pressnell was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a six year term to the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.  NACIQI provides recommendations regarding accrediting agencies that monitor the academic quality of postsecondary institutions and educational programs for federal purposes.

In 2017 Pressnell was approached by US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to consider being appointed by President Donald Trump as the US Assistant Secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education.  This post serves as the United States chief higher education policy officer.  After careful consideration, Pressnell respectfully declined the offer in order to remain in Tennessee and continue his work with TICUA.

Pressnell serves on numerous international, national, and state level boards.  He also has served as an international advisor on higher education reform to foreign governments in the Middle East, South Asia, the Balkan region of Europe and South America.    

Dr. Diane Berty - Vice President x203

Joining the TICUA staff in August 2010, Dr. Berty has more than 30 years of experience in student affairs work. She served at Austin Peay State University (TN) and most recently at East Central University (OK) as the Vice President for Student Development.  Berty holds a doctorate in education and also completed post-doctoral work in higher education administration from Tennessee State University.  She is a member of various national professional associations/organizations and currently serves as the co-chair of The Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Other Drug Issues.  Berty is married to Greg Berty and they have one son.
Ms. Laura Cornick - Director of Member Services x202

Ms. Cornick, a 2010 Aquinas College Graduate, is responsible for managing the daily operations at the TICUA office as well as the logistics for the professional development meetings held throughout the year.

Cornick served as a legislative intern to Senate Education Committee Chair Gresham during the 2010 legislative session. She also has had experience in a variety of settings including corporate, retail, and state government.
Mr. Gregg Conroy - Executive Director, TICUA Benefit Consortium x206

Mr. Conroy has more than 30 years experience in employee benefits, compensation and human resources. He started his career as a group life and health underwriter. Since then he has worked for corporations, consulting and record keeping firms in a variety of roles and responsibilities. He has been responsible for strategic planning, program design, implementation and administration for all areas of human resources including HRIS, compensation, benefits, employment, employee relations and compliance. Since 2002 he has served as Executive Director of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association Benefits Consortium.

Conroy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and later earned the designations of Certified Employee Benefit Specialist, Senior Professional in Human Resources and Compensation Management Specialist. He is a Fellow of the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists, is and a member of other national and regional benefits and human resources professional associations. He has also been a CEBS and CFP college course instructor, a published author and speaker on compensation and benefits topics.

Ms. Amy Heckman - Director of Technology and Data Systems x208

Ms. Heckman joined the TICUA staff in January 2008.  Prior to working at TICUA, she worked at Union University as a Staff Assistant in the Office of Student Financial Planning.  Heckman is also a graduate of Union University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in 2003.  Heckman is married to Kent Heckman and they have one son.
Dr. Patrick L. Meldrim – Vice President  x204

Dr. Meldrim joined the TICUA staff in September 2007 after eighteen years of student affairs work at various institutions including Wittenberg University (OH), University of Rochester (NY), Vanderbilt University (TN), and Austin Peay State University (TN). Meldrim holds a doctorate in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University and both a Bachelor of Arts degree (biology/psychology) and Master of Science degree (higher education counseling) from the University of Rochester.
Ms. Kayce Matthews - Director, Coalition for Healthy and Safe Campus Communities (CHASCo) x205

Kayce Matthews joined TICUA/CHASCo in January 2017 with over 10 years of experience in prevention and advocacy work. Before joining CHASCo, Kayce worked for the TN Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence. In this role, she founded both the TN Campus Prevention Project and the TN Statewide Sexual Assault Prevention Committee. Previous to the TN Coalition, she served as the Associate Director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center at Vanderbilt University and the Director of Education & Training at Planned Parenthood of Middle & East TN. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Trevecca University, a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephens College, and is an AASCET certified sexuality educator. Most importantly, Kayce is the proud mother to two very feisty little boys who inspire her to do better every single day.

Ms. Darlene Thornton - Administrative Coordinator, TICUA Benefit Consortium x207

Ms. Thornton has more than 10 years experience in employee benefits. Since starting her career in payroll and benefits administration for a Nashville-based financial institution she has since worked for healthcare and automotive related companies. In these roles she has been responsible for customer service to employees nationwide as well as having key responsibilities in their "back office" operations.

Thornton is a native of Tennessee and graduated from East High School in Nashville.