Student Borrower Protection Center Announces New Hires, Organization Growth

November 6, 2019 | WASHINGTON, DC — The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is announcing the addition of six new team members to support the organization’s work to end the student debt crisis. New staff include: Tamara Cesaretti as Counsel; Rebecca Maurer as Counsel and Program Manager for the Student Loan Law Initiative; Kat Welbeck as Counsel; Moira Vahey as Communications Director; Walter Suskind as Deputy Communications Director; and Ben Kaufman as Research and Policy Analyst.

In the past month, SBPC welcomed three new attorneys to serve as counsel at the organization:

Tamara Cesaretti is Counsel at the SBPC. Prior to joining SBPC, Tamara was a civil rights policy advocate for educational opportunities and economic justice at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In law school, Tamara worked on policy issues for the New York City government and in direct services as a public defender. She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law and a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California. 

Rebecca Maurer is Counsel and Program Manager at the SBPC. In this role, she runs the Student Loan Law Initiative, a partnership with the SBPC and the University of California, Irvine School of Law to produce top-tier student loan law research. Rebecca was formerly in solo practice as Maurer Law LLC before joining SPBC. In her solo practice, Rebecca consulted and wrote on a variety of student loan, consumer debt, and housing issues as well as authored the Student Loan Law chapter of the 2018 and 2019 editions of Ohio Consumer Law, published by Thomson Reuters. Prior to her solo practice, Rebecca worked on consumer finance and housing cases at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLC and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Rebecca was also a federal clerk for Judge James Gwin in the Northern District of Ohio. She holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.

Kat Welbeck is Counsel at the SBPC, where she is working to partner with national and local leaders to protect and expand student loan borrowers’ civil rights. Kat was previously an outreach & engagement specialist in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Office of Public Engagement & Community Liaison. Prior to her work at the Bureau, Kat taught fourth grade in Houston, Texas as a Teach for America Corps Member. Outside of work, Kat serves as a DC program director of Rising Leaders, Inc., a nonprofit mentoring program that empowers middle school students through mentorship and leadership development training. Kat is also the director of engagement on the Rising Leaders, Inc. Board of Directors. She holds a B.A. from Princeton University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Since July, SBPC has welcomed Moira Vahey as Communications Director, Walter Suskind as Deputy Communications Director, and Ben Kaufman as a Research and Policy Analyst.

Moira Vahey is SBPC’s Director of Communications. Moira has served in various strategic communications leadership roles across government, including the White House, the CFPB, and the Pentagon. Moira was a political appointee in the Obama Administration, where she worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as the U.S. Department of Commerce. During her time at the CFPB, she served in a range of public affairs and policy positions including acting communications director, senior spokesperson, community affairs lead, and senior advisor for the Bureau’s fintech program. Most recently, Moira served as communications director at the Pentagon’s Defense Digital Service where she oversaw media relations, intergovernmental communications, and digital engagement. Moira also served in media relations and policy roles for several national nonprofits. 

Walter Suskind is SBPC’s Deputy Communications Director. Prior to joining the SBPC, Walter worked at Edelman, a public relations firm, where he led client work for a wide array of companies and organizations, helping build and launch campaigns and support reputation management. Before working at Edelman, Walter spent nearly five years working at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau where he served as a Bureau spokesperson. At the CFPB Walter also helped to support press and external engagement efforts for the Office for Students and Young Consumers. Outside of work, Walter is a leading disability advocate, having formed the organization SibStrong which works to empower and support siblings of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the age spectrum.

Ben Kaufman is a Research and Policy Analyst at the SBPC. Ben previously worked at the CFPB as a Director’s Financial Analyst, where he focused much of his work on student loans, for-profit colleges, and income share agreements. Ben has also worked in investment banking at JPMorgan Chase. Ben earned his B.A. and M.A. in Public Policy from Stanford University, where he published research on payday lending and reverse mortgages. 

The SBPC was launched in November 2018, by the government’s former top student loan watchdog, Seth Frotman, and his team of CFPB student loan officials. Over the past year, the organization has helped state advocates pass legislation to increase protection for more than 9 million student loan borrowers; launched investigations to uncover corruption and hold predatory companies accountable; provided strategic counsel for major litigation against student loan companies; and created a research hub for student loan law.

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The Student Borrower Protection Center is a nonprofit organization solely focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students. Led by the team of former federal regulators that directed oversight of the student loan market at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, SBPC exposes harmful and illegal practices in the student loan industry, drives impact litigation, advocates on behalf of student loan borrowers in Washington and in state capitals, and promotes progressive policy change. SBPC accomplishes these goals by partnering with leaders at all levels of government and throughout the nonprofit sector.