Our Team

Dave Smith – Chief Executive Officer & Founder of the SAFE Steps™

Education has always been a priority to my family and me. It became even more important on December 21, 2001 when I made a promise to my mother who was battling cancer at that time. I committed to ensuring that all of her grandchildren would have the opportunity to graduate from college without the burden of student debt.That was the start of my journey to find the formula to benefit not only my family, but many families. Since then I have successfully worked with over 1,400 families to obtain a college education in a timely manner with zero or minimal debt. To help even more families benefit from these techniques, I wrote the book College Without Student Loans.My mission now is to make the proven SAFE Steps™ process available and affordable to families nationwide to help students obtain a college education cost effectively and launch into a satisfying career.

Mark Charlet - Chief Orchestrating Officer

I’ve been working with Dave and the SAFE Steps™ since 2013 – first with the book, College Without Student Loans, and then assisting with the website. Having seen the positive impact the SAFE Steps™ has had on so many families and I so believe in Dave’s mission to help students and parents on their journey to college and beyond that I’m now devoting 100% of my time to help make this a reality.I have 30+ years working primarily in the sales & marketing arena in corporate America. Within that timeframe I have been intimately involved in software and hardware development, product launches, content creation, project management, and training.Education is an important key to not only individual lives but to the future of America. I am excited to play a part in bringing the SAFE Steps™ process to families nationwide in order to help students achieve an affordable college education and create the possibility of a great life.

Mark Pintar - Director of Video Communication

Education has always been extremely important to my family. My parents worked hard to put all 7 of their children through college, and I think we have all made them proud. Working with The SAFE Steps™ team allows me to combine my talents, experience, and passion for communication, technology, and education to help students get a head start on creating their ideal life after high school. I certainly wish I had The SAFE Steps™ when I was in high school.

With 20 years' experience in television and video production, I’ve produced, directed, and edited corporate communications for The Coca-Cola Company and The Home Depot, created award winning educational programs for Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Education department, and produced, directed, and edited programming for networks including ABC, PBS, The History Channel, HGTV, TLC, and E! Entertainment.

Additionally, I studied B.A.N.K. Coding™, which is a personality-based communication system that ensures I craft messages that appeal to audience values.

Kathleen Rich-New - Director of Human Resources

Thank you, Mr. Otterpohl, for taking one hour of eleventh grade civics class to expose a bunch of Kansas teenagers to Peterson’s College Guide. I had always thought that education was the only path that could take me to the future that I wanted, but it seemed an impossible dream for me. There were three children and we got by on Dad’s pay after he was disabled and Mom’s hourly wages, but there was certainly no extra money for college. Suddenly, as Mr. Otterpohl read to us about the various financial aid and work-study programs, I began to see possibilities. It was all new to me, the different colleges...financial assistance... and how to apply. I took action and became the very first in my family to go to college. There was no money or counseling and so I did the best I could with Peterson’s guide as my only resource. When first heard Dave Smith describe his vision, I flashed back to my individual struggle and thought, “Wow! If I had only been able to get some of the guidance and mentoring he is offering, how much easier and better my college experience could have been.” It took me 5 years to get my business undergraduate degree because I did not have the guidance or support that I needed. Now, in addition to my business bachelor's degree, I also have an MBA in Marketing and Master of Management in International Human Resources…I eventually figured it out but it could have been so much easier.As a player on Dave’s team, I bring over 20 years of "in the trenches" experience in corporate human resources. I managed various HR functions for Apple Computer, Silicon Graphics (SGI) and Brocade Communications as they ramped-up and down-sized according to the whims of the economy. In 2001, I got down-sized, so I started my own HR consulting business. My clients include executives at Ford Motor Company, NASA – Kennedy Space Center, Marriott, Harris Corporation, Port Canaveral Port Authority, as well as several not-for-profits and numerous individuals in career transition. My primary mission is helping companies hire the right person the first time, and that means I know what students need to become the top candidate in the company of their choice..