Kenzie News

New Executive Director Ushers In New Era for Kenzie Academy from Southern New Hampshire University

It’s been 5 years of growth for Kenzie Academy from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) — a former startup founded in 2017 with a mission to provide equitable access to tech education and career paths. Partnerships to expand learning and career opportunities, an acquisition by an accredited, nonprofit, and private institution, a growing team, new certificate offerings, and other pivotal milestones throughout the years have set Kenzie Academy programs up to be a true change agent in the academic and tech space. Today, we are excited to welcome a new Executive Director to lead the Kenzie programs, community, and learners into the future.


Welcome Melissa Paciulli

New Executive Director Melissa Paciulli

Melissa Paciulli, MSCE, joins Kenzie Academy from SNHU as a leader and visionary in higher education shaped by over 23 years of experience in higher education administration, strategic partnership building, student engagement, and recruitment and retention. She is also a leader in her engineering field where she researches teens with ADHD and has developed an augmented reality game for new drivers to learn how to drive safely. She has been working on commercializing her tech over the past few years and plays an active role in her local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Her extensive experience includes:

  • Working collaboratively with regional stakeholders as the Principal Investigator on a National Science Foundation 5-year grant to create a micro-credentialing accelerated engineering certificate with stackable and transferable credits that supports students continuing their educational journey while also pairing them with in-demand industry internships along the way. 
  • Directing the Holyoke Community College STEM Starter Academy and working on a collaborative multi-million dollar 10-year initiative funded by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education to recruit students into STEM and help them persist, complete, graduate, and transfer by creatively implementing experiential learning opportunities, building strategic regional transfer partnerships, leveraging financial opportunities, and supporting students through using a case management model. 
  • Researching and presenting to local, regional and national audiences including ADHD and driving, peer and near peer mentoring, micro mentoring, belonging and community building in STEM, commercializing technology from academia to market, and serving as an entrepreneur-in-residence. 

Melissa is a doctoral candidate in engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also holds a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Math from Westfield State University. She is a member of the National Academies of Science Transportation Board serving on several committees over the past 20 years. She is an active member of Society of Women Engineers, Association for Women in Science, and WEPAN. 

From Startup to Scale Up

Acquired by SNHU as a set of tech certificate programs in 2021, Kenzie Academy programs are in the midst of an evolution, transitioning from startup to stand up with a goal to achieve sustainability, scalability, and stability. Melissa will help secure and strengthen our future — as stronger Kenzie Academy programs mean stronger outcomes for our learners. We will lean on Melissa’s leadership to move forward progressively, according to an operational and strategic plan, to shape the direction of a more established tech training program. 

“I see this role as more than leadership duties to fulfill — it’s a unique opportunity to advance my life’s work in supporting all students, especially those that may have felt left out of traditional educational pathways to access educational opportunities that empower them to achieve their educational and career goals, alongside a team of dedicated employees who care so deeply about this mission as well. Together, we’re writing the script of what it means to embrace a new opportunity and evolve with our learners and their goals as our main focus. We are poised to embrace change, expand our portfolio, and conquer the challenges that lie ahead while we grow toward long-term success. It’s an honor to lead Kenzie Academy from SNHU into the future.” 

– Melissa Paciulli

Turning the Page 

It’s an exciting time to celebrate the current and past influential work of Kenzie Academy and take it to the next level. With Melissa at the helm, we will continue to build a thriving diverse culture, guided by SNHU values and our guiding principles, that will help advance our mission of connecting learners to meaningful, life-changing tech careers. The future also involves collaboration between Kenzie Academy programs and SNHU to elevate our impact and enhance areas of excellence within the broader SNHU ecosystem, while still maintaining the special tech startup spirit.

There’s no doubt; Melissa’s passion for building pathways to education and supporting marginalized groups, her entrepreneurial and higher education experiences, and her commitment to leadership will guide us toward our definition of success: change more lives through tech

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