VSAC Selects Scott Giles As New CEO
WINOOSKI — Scott Giles, a vice president of Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC) since joining the organization in 2003, has been chosen to succeed longtime President and CEO Don Vickers. Giles will take the reins on July 1, when Vickers retires after 42 years with the organization.
“Our objective was to find a visionary, entrepreneurial leader capable of building on VSAC’s unique strengths and tackling the challenges ahead,” said Dorothy Mitchell, chair of the VSAC Board of Directors.
“Scott is committed to Vermont and VSAC’s values. Under his leadership, we believe VSAC will become an even stronger catalyst and support system than it is today for Vermonters seeking education and training beyond high school.”
The board began the process of seeking a successor to Vickers more than a year ago, and made its decision following a nationwide search. The board involved staff at all levels of the organization in defining desired characteristics of the new CEO and in interviewing finalists.
In his current role as a vice president, Giles oversees VSAC’s operational areas — including outreach, financial aid delivery, customer relations, and information technology — as well as its 529 college savings plan, social marketing, strategic planning, research, and public and federal affairs.
Giles was instrumental in VSAC’s efforts to adapt to changes in federal law in 2010 that eliminated the agency’s authority to finance and make federal education loans — a key source of revenue for the organization.
Giles worked with Vermont’s congressional delegation to have the law amended so that state-based nonprofits like VSAC could compete for federal education loan servicing contracts. As a result, VSAC began servicing new federal loans in the fall of 2012.
Giles also led VSAC’s efforts to retain four federal grants that pay for a portion of its outreach to low-income Vermonters, and teamed up with other VSAC executives to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.
Despite those successes, Giles is quick to point out that more remains to be done to ensure the organization’s stability so that it can continue offering the many postsecondary planning and financing services on which Vermonters depend.
“We are at a watershed in VSAC’s 48-year history,” said Giles. “We will need to focus on the things we do well, explore possible expansion of our services and our contract work, partner with other agencies to increase our reach, and generate government support for key programs. We have an incredible team at VSAC, and I am confident that together we will achieve these goals while finding new and innovative ways to serve Vermont students and families.”
Prior to joining VSAC, Giles held positions in Washington, D.C., both on Capitol Hill and in the private sector. He staffed the House Committee on Science; the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords’ chairmanship; and the office of Congressman Frank Horton of New York State. He also worked as a public affairs consultant in private practice and for Cassidy & Associates.
Giles has held a variety of board positions, most notably representing the nonprofit student loan community during the U.S. Department of Education’s last three rounds of negotiated rulemaking and serving as a member and chair of the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
Giles has a bachelor’s degree from St. Lawrence University and a master’s degree from the University of Virginia (UVA), and is pursuing a doctorate from UVA. He has also attended a number of programs at Harvard’s Business School and Kennedy School in nonprofit finance, management, and strategy.
VSAC was created by the Vermont Legislature in 1965 with the mission of helping Vermonters plan and pay for education or training beyond high school. VSAC provides a range of career and college information and counseling services through presentations, events, online tools, and direct service at middle schools, high schools, and agencies serving adult learners. VSAC also administers the state’s 529 college savings plan, need-based Vermont student grants, many public and private scholarships, and private student loans. It began servicing federal education loans under government contract in 2012.