Michael is the President of American Institute of Beauty, Inc. with 2 campus locations in Pinellas County, Florida. He brings over 25 years in the Beauty Industry from the Beauty Supply Distribution arena. Additional, he is proud to say that he is a former Marine and Banker with a special love for Business Finance.
Cathy Koluch has been in the school business for over 3 decades, and is the founder of an award-winning brand of cosmetology schools in Phoenix, AZ with three campuses. Cathy holds a degree from Whitworth University and was a college basketball player. Over her years in the industry, she has held every position within a school. She was appointed by former AZ Governor Jan Brewer as Commissioner on the Arizona Post-Secondary Education Commission, led the fight to stop deregulation in her state, and has served on several committees within AACS including serving as chair of the AACS Affinity and Strategy Committee.
Director/ Strategy Committee Chair
Garrett Shuler is a new father to a beautiful daughter, energetic, fun loving, and is a second-generation school owner who is passionate about the beauty and wellness industry and the education of future licensed professionals. As Executive Director of Kenneth Shuler Schools in South Carolina, Garrett has successfully implemented current salon techniques, technology and critical business practices to their 8 campuses with tremendous success. He looks forward to bringing that same progressive attitude to AACS as a Board Member.
Director/ Secretary and Treasurer
Sandra Bruce is currently the General Manager of Milady, a division of Cengage Learning, Inc., located in Clifton Park, NY. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management & Economics (BSBME) from the State University of New York Empire State College and has led the marketing, business development, and international strategies in a variety of roles for Milady for more than 11 years. Currently, Sandra is responsible for leading Milady’s publishing and business development strategies and is always striving to deliver innovative solutions to customers in both the academic and professional markets. Sandra has extensive experience with association work and has represented Milady on a variety of national and international association boards and committees, including AACS where she has been directly involved in strategic planning with the Board of Directors and represented the Associate Members for five years as Chair of the Advisory Committee.
Neal Heller, ESQ
Director / Government Relations Committee Chair
Neal Heller is currently the CEO and President of the Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers, located in Hollywood, Florida. Neal holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami and his Juris Doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. In his current role, Neal oversees the day-to-day operations, compliance and development of three campuses; including state licensure and NACCAS accreditation. Prior to Hollywood Institute of Beauty Careers, Neal was co-founder, CEO and President of the Florida College of Natural Health, where he successful led the school to become the largest of its kind in the South Eastern United States. He also served as past-President of the Florida Association of Post-Secondary Schools and Colleges and as an Executive Board member for four years. (2021)
As Senior Vice President, leading the marketing, education and business development teams, Kevin oversees Pivot Point International brand development.
He brings a strong background and experience from over 30 years in the professional beauty industry starting as a cosmetologist; holding positions as a national guest artist, salon/day spa owner, beauty school instructor and director, and national to global education leader. For the past nearly 20 years, he has held numerous roles in global brand leadership focusing on strategic brand development, education, marketing and brand communication strategy.
Before joining Pivot Pont International in 2014, he established an admirable trajectory within KAO Salon Division, leading global marketing and education initiatives for over 16 years, including the iconic lifestyle brand KMS and GOLDWELL, often referred to as the world’s most admired expert in professional hair color–while residing in North America and central Europe.
Stephenie began her career in the beauty industry in 1994. After graduating from Xenon’s, she went on to work for Eric Fisher at his salon in Wichita, Kansas. She put in her time as an assistant before she began working behind the chair. She seized any opportunity and traveled all over the world to master her skills. After 19 years of being behind the chair, she realized her love for this industry came from helping her client’s look and feel their best. She decided she wanted to share her knowledge and talent with others, who like her enjoy inspiring confidence. She changed her focus to education and became a licensed instructor at Eric Fisher Academy in 2012. From there, she was promoted to Salon Floor Supervisor and then on to the Director of Education. As the Director of Education, she gained knowledge on other areas of the academy and helped create a positive work and learning environment. In 2019, Stephenie was promoted to the Directors position at EFA, a goal she always envisioned for herself. She was recognized by the Wichita Business Journal for Women Who Lead in Education in 2020. Above all, Stephenie is proud to be a part of the beauty industry and continues to challenge herself to never stop learning and to always leave a positive impact.
Nine years ago, Chris Linford started as an unpaid intern at a two man marketing company. His story is that of the American dream of rising to the top, and helping grow a successful company. Since his start,he has held nearly every position at Oozle Media, and helped start the sales, PPC, local SEO, and social media departments. Through his efforts and the efforts of others, Oozle Media has grown from a three person company to a 35 person, results-driven machine.
As CEO, Chris is responsible for the vision and growth of the company. He does this through bringing the best out of individuals at Oozle Media. He intends to do the same as a member of the AACS Board of Directors.
Dana Persico is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Nail Skin & Hair Institute. She has brought her science-based and global insight to many of the industries’ most respected beauty organizations. Dana has committed her career to raise the bar on beauty industry standards and, through her avant-garde educational approach, thousands of Estheticians, Nail Technicians, Waxers, and Makeup Artists, Hair Stylists and Permanent Makeup Artists have attained great success within the multi-billion dollar beauty and medical spa industry.
Dana regularly designs runway looks for international Fashion Designers at New York’s Fashion Week. She has been featured in various beauty publications and has appeared in multiple media outlets.
With a passion for helping others reach their full potential, Jim has embraced his wide array of professional experiences in order to become what he is today – a leader and advocate in the advancement of the beauty industry.
After a successful career in the hospitality industry, Jim joined forces with his brother, Tom Petrillo, in 2002. Their collaborative efforts led to the establishment of The Salon People, Inc. as the exclusive distributor for Aveda beauty products in Florida, and the opening of five Aveda Institutes dedicated to offering exceptional training in state of the art facilities for cosmetology and spa therapy students.
AI South emerged in 2012 as a result of TSP and the Neill Corporation collaborating to bring together the school operations of TSP Institute Inc. and Beauty Basics Inc. Collectively they operate 20 Aveda Institute locations across the Southeast. Jim’s role as the President of AI South is to incorporate the guiding values of their organizations to ensure that they provide the highest level of education, utilizing the most talented team, with innovative, industry-leading tools and resources. Holding steadfast to their values, AI South prioritizes personal and professional growth and development for those in their network.
Jim serves on the AACS Board of Directors, AVEDA Advisory Board, AVEDA Institute Government Affairs Council and Great Explorations Children’s Museum Board; he is a member of CCST and PBA, as well as the FSU Alumni Association, Dragons Club and University Club; in addition, Jim sponsors the FSU Sales Institute and the International Collegiate Sales Competition (ICSC) with TSP.
Rodrick is recognized as a renowned leader in cutting-edge educational methods in barber education and men’s grooming as a subject matter expert in the field of barber styling education, he raised the bar in personal appearance education. He has been an educator and consultant for publishers and manufactures as well as the exciting and eclectic advanced educational powerhouse Hair Lab Detroit and now Hair Lab Detroit Barber School. Rodrick has also been named a finalist in two of the most prestigious awards for the beauty industry, International AIPP award for his Men’s Collection in 2016, NAHA 2017 for Men’s Hair Stylist of the Year, and is the 2021 Midwest Hair Styling Awards Barber Stylist of the Year.
John’s diverse background consists of a 10-year stint at two Big 4 firms where he worked exclusively with middle market companies in many different industries and has been delivering results for his schools since he entered the beauty and wellness education business in 1997. As a current partner in The Paul Mitchell Schools located in Dallas, San Antonio, Arlington, Roanoke, Denver and Miami, he has consistently shown strong leadership skills. John looks forward to exhibiting his servant leadership methods while serving on the AACS Board.
734-762-0200 ext 111
Stacy is a powerful and passionate voice of the beauty industry, focusing on the need for common sense regulation and pushing to elevate standards of the profession. Growing up in the salon business with her parents opening their first of many in 1979, she has seen the benefits of the career with creativity, flexibility, and opportunity to change on every level. Benefits that she believes are well suited to people at any time in their lives. Stacy is the co-founder and CEO of L’esprit Academy’s two campuses in the Detroit area. As a former salon owner and licensed cosmetologist with a BA in Communication, she has brought that creative and technical knowledge to her operations as well as years of experience in the sports and high-tech marketing field since the cosmetology school’s founding in 2004. Leading her company from a foundation of core values including integrity, resourcefulness, and fun, Stacy brings upbeat positive energy with everything she does in the classroom, in-person, on webcasts or live tv. A true cheerleader of the business, she looks to use her board position to educate lawmakers and the community about the global importance of the beauty field and our obligation to protect its position as an aspirational and successful career. Stacy is also on the State Relations Committee for AACS.
Honorary Vice President
Mike Vanacore has been active in the cosmetology field for over 45 years, and been involved in the cosmetology education industry since 1963. He is a licensed cosmetologist and hair stylist, licensed cosmetology instructor, licensed school director by the New York State Department of Education and hold numerous certificates in advance cosmetology. He has served two terms as a Commissioner at Large for NACCAS, New York State Board Examiner, President of the New York State Beauty School Association, Committee Member of ACCRED (Advisory Council on Cosmetology Relations and Education), and appointed to the Advisory Committee of the New York State Education Department. He has been a member of AACS since it’s beginning and held many positions and served on and chaired many committees. Mike is currently a Vice President and chair the Special Events Committee which oversees the Beauty Forum Regional Beauty Shows, Spring Conference, Financial Aid Workshop, CEA Convention, and the Annual Convention.