About Beyond the Professoriate

L. Maren Wood, PhD, started Beyond the Professoriate in 2017 as a mission-driven organization that empowers PhDs to build impactful careers and engaged lives, wherever smart people are needed. Beyond Prof provides career education and professional development to graduate students and PhDs in humanities, social sciences and STEM disciplines. We have services for individuals, and partner with institutions to support their efforts in preparing the next generation of PhDs for careers in academia and beyond. Learn more about our organization. 

Meet the Team


L. Maren Wood, PhD | Founder and CEO

Maren earned her PhD in early American history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After earning her PhD, Maren worked as an adjunct for several years before deciding to leave academia. She first worked as an consultant with the American Historical Association and the Chronicle of Higher Education, researching career outcomes for PhDs. In 2017, she founded Beyond the Professoriate with the mission of empowering PhDs to consider the range of career options available to them in the creative economy. She regularly writes for Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  


Malisa Kurtz, PhD | Digital Marketing Strategist

Malisa earned her PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities from Brock University. After earning her doctorate, Malisa faced the uncertainty that so many PhDs experience when they leave academia and look for new opportunities. After working for a start-up, and then in fundraising for a non-profit, Malisa discovered her interest and talent in marketing and sales. In 2019, Malisa joined the Beyond the Professoriate team to help connect students and graduate students with resources that can empower them to explore career options and learn job search strategies. 

Diane headshot

Diane Sepa-Kishi, PhD | Aurora Product Manager and Instructional Designer.

Diane earned her PhD in Exercise Physiology from York University. During her time in graduate school, Diane found that she enjoyed her time in the classroom as a teaching assistant, and decided to pursue careers with a focus on education and empowering others. Her first position after graduate school was as an Instructional Design Specialist at the Michener Institute of Education at the University Health Network in Toronto. She joined Beyond the Professoriate in 2020.


Susan Joudrey, PhD | Senior Advisor for Learning Development

Susan holds a PhD in history from Carleton University. After completing her PhD, student love of learning and education led her to a career as a learning specialist, working to support faculty and graduate students in the area of teaching and learning. She has worked in teaching centers at major universities in Canada. In 2018, she joined Beyond the Professoriate to assist in the creation and building of Aurora.  In addition to her work as a Teaching and Learning Specialist, Susan also teaches history and cultural studies courses at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. 


Martin Leppitsch, MBA | CIO and CFO

Martin joined Beyond the Professoriate as the Chief Information Officer and Chief Financial Officer in 2018. In his role, Martin provides technology support and assistance to subscribing institutions of Aurora, and provides strategic advice to BtP about technology solutions and best practices. Martin earned his MBA from Duke University. He is passionate about helping start-ups succeed, and enjoys leveraging his expertise to help organizations achieve their mission. In addition to his role at Beyond the Professoriate, Martin works as a management consultant in Denver. Before pursuing his career in consulting, Martin worked at Duke University Press as the Assistant IT Manager, and in the IT department at Virginia Tech.


Beyond the Professoriate partners with the following independent coaches. 

Conference Headshots (1)

Sue M. Levine, M.Ed.

Sue brings over 20 years of experience in college and university career coaching & resume development. She helps students and job seekers understand and communicate their skills, as well as identify ways to enhance professional skill gaps needed for employment.


Dan Olson-Bang, PhD

Dan earned his PhD in 2014 in English from Fordham University. While a graduate student, Dan worked as an adjunct instructor, and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges PhDs face in today’s competitive job market.

Dan has dedicated his career to helping graduate students succeed in their degree programs, and to prepare for careers after graduation. He specializes in helping PhDs from all disciplines write application documents for faculty careers, and has helped prepare hundreds of graduate students and PhDs for the academic job market.

Scroll to Top
Skip to content