Meet Our Team
Your goals. Our team.
The McNeal Sams team leverages decades of experience in secondary school counseling, college and graduate school admissions, and career services, giving us resources and expertise to guide applicants through the admissions process.
Undergraduate, graduate, and transfer applicants partner directly with a lead counselor and have access to our entire group of college counselors, writing consultants, interview coaches, and career advisors.
Founder and Managing Partner
Barbara Sams, Managing Partner
Jeanie Grimm, Senior Associate Partner
Jeanie attended Brown University and translated her love of education into work there as an admissions officer. She earned her M.Ed. at Harvard University and developed an interest in counseling and the high school-to-college transition. At Harvard, she served as assistant dean of freshmen, an in-residence dorm proctor, and a senior admissions and financial aid officer.
In 2001, Jeanie moved to Canandaigua, New York, where she taught for 14 years. She was appointed to her school district’s board of education in 2005, and has been its elected president since 2008. Jeanie brings an invaluable perspective to the college admissions process.
Elizabeth Schnell, Counselor
Elizabeth Schnell has supported clients in admissions and career development since 2014, providing interview and resume coaching that develops life skills of self-awareness, decision-making, and confidence. After receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard, she advised first-years there while earning her Master’s in Public Policy at the Kennedy School. She then conducted alumni interviews of Harvard College applicants for 25 years and recently navigated college and graduate school admissions and athletic recruiting with her four sons.
From her years as healthcare management consultant and non-profit board leader, Elizabeth applies strategic perspective, analytic tools, and listening skills to help students discern and articulate their strengths, values, and direction.
Ellen Brannegan, Career Advisor
Ellen Brannegan advised hundreds of undergraduates during her eight-year tenure as a senior career consultant at Georgetown University’s Career Education Center. With a Masters in Community Counseling from The George Washington University’s School of Education and Human Development, and a BA in Sociology from the College of Wooster, her training enables her to carefully listen and support her clients.
Ellen has a passion for understanding each student’s interests, skills, and personality and serving as a guide as they move through the career process together.