“New staff members as well as seasoned higher education administrators need continual training in seemingly common sense areas—that is because common sense is not common practice.

“Finally a training product focused on better relationships with colleagues, managers, and subordinates.  Improved individual behavior equals improved organizational outcomes.”

Soft Skills are really tools that you can learn, internalize, and then apply naturally in any situation to make that situation better.”


In 2012, the founding partners of SoftSkillsPros met to discuss a gap in training and consulting that they had independently been thinking about—and that had become increasingly pronounced.

Each partner noticed a lack of targeted materials aimed at the “soft skills” for staff and professionals working on college and university campuses.  This gap had become increasingly obvious through the collective management, teaching, and research experience that the partners had all gained in the higher education field specifically.

The lack of systematic soft skills training manifests itself in everyday service encounters to larger division change efforts, so the partners decided to offer resources to higher education in an innovative and practical way to meet the needs of those working in colleges and universities by following two principles: 1) offer resources in a variety of formats, each of which is convenient, affordable, and impactful, and 2) customize all of the resources to the higher education industry.

The partners at SoftSkillsPros believe that technical training has always been and will continue to be critical for higher education professionals. Yet,  it is access to soft skills training that will really make the difference in helping our institutions, our employees, and our students reach new levels of growth, education, and development—the very business that we are all in.

Meet the Team

Mario Martinez, PhD, Partner

Mario is a partner with SoftSkills Professionals and has worked as a professional speaker, facilitator, professor, and consultant for over 15 years. Mario previously worked as a contractor for a national seminar company and as Vice President for Strategy and Innovation with an entrepreneurial training organization before finding the perfect match with the partners at SoftSkills Professionals. Mario’s speaking and facilitation has always focused on human dynamics within the workplace, at the individual, team, and organizational levels, which complements his university teaching in organizational behavior and management communications.

Mario has written several books in the area of higher education, on the topics of strategy and policy. His academic articles include work on competencies for higher education professionals and change and innovation in higher education systems. Mario’s research in higher education has been supported by Ford, Lumina, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations. Mario has consulted for numerous state higher education offices and corporations, and he has also coached individual executives on speaking and presentation skills.

Mario enjoys watching Star Trek and Charlie Chaplin movies with his family, collecting Star Trek and Elvis paraphernalia, reading, and any social event no matter how big or small. He also enjoys opera but often must engage in that activity in solitude, or with other anonymous enthusiasts.

Katie Humphreys, PhD, Partner

Katie has managed staff and programs at four universities across the United States. Her most recent stint, began in 2006 when Katie was hired to oversee admissions operations as well as student records and student services. During this time, Katie has also operated as a lead on a state-wide student information system implementation. She has been active in multiple professional organizations; both as a committee chair and as a presenter. Katie’s soft skill’s presentation topics have included: change management, honoring transitions, communication strategies, difficult conversations, and employee motivation. Katie recently completed her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership where her dissertation focus was on management competencies and the competing values framework.

Katie is an active and engaged leader who has dabbled in many different leadership styles and techniques. She believes in building teams based on strengths and talents. Her current focus is on relational management and building a relational workplace culture.

With a three-year old daughter and one-year old son, Katie finds free-time a luxury, but she enjoys being active and is a voracious reader with a specific interest in books on adventure and bios of those with adventuresome spirits. Katie also enjoys having adventures of her own and has traveled extensively.

Brandy Smith, PhD, Partner

With over 15 years of experience in large public corporations, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurial endeavors, Brandy brings a wide range of skills and knowledge to Soft Skills Professionals, LLC. She has launched companies, developed products, managed teams, and built international networks. In addition to teaching leadership courses, Brandy regularly consults private enterprises in organizational development, marketing, operations management, and strategy. She firmly believes that a positive organizational culture is a key component in both organizational success and individual satisfaction.

Brandy has a Bachelors of Science in Business Management, an MBA with a concentration in New Venture Management, and a PhD in Higher Education Leadership. Her research primarily focuses on organizational change within higher education settings and diffusion of educational innovations within state policy, postsecondary system, and institutional levels. Some of her research has been supported, in part, by the Lumina and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations.

In her spare time, Brandy enjoys reading, swimming, and spending time with her family. You will often find her at a swim meet or soccer game watching her two children (and reading on her iPad).

Jeff Levine, Affiliate

In 2012, Jeff Levine hired Soft Skills Professionals as a cabinet-level higher education administrator to train multiple offices in cross-departmental teams.  Jeff now frequently partners with SSP to connect consultations to strategic plans, and to effectively assess the continuous improvement process.  He has the unique experience of reporting to a college president, provost, vice president of academic operations, vice president of students, and vice president of enrollment management.  Currently, Jeff is completing his dissertation for a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership, Management, and Policy.  Jeff was a 2010 Summer Fellow at Vanderbilt University in Higher Education Management, and has guest lectured to graduate students along the East Coast and Midwest.  He has presented and has been published nationally, served as a member of a project team for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Houston Hillel.  In his spare time, Jeff is either in New York City, at SXSW, watching Texas Longhorn Football, eating sushi, or cycling.