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Jonathan Witter

Chief Executive Officer


Jonathan Witter

Jonathan (Jon) Witter is chief executive officer of Sallie Mae and is a member of the company’s Board of Directors. An industry veteran, Jon brings nearly three decades of executive leadership, banking expertise, and operational management to the company. With an extensive background in customer experience and operations, he is a demonstrated leader with proven ability to improve top- and bottom-line performance.

“I believe that financial services, done right, enables the most important moments of a customer’s life and powers their success and prosperity. As the son of an immigrant who was able to achieve the American dream because of the university education he received, I appreciate firsthand the incredible role Sallie Mae plays in changing lives for our customers and their future generations. Our orientation toward customers and transforming the customer experience will continue, if not accelerate, helping customers overcome barriers to success and establish financial independence.”

Prior to joining Sallie Mae, Jon served as executive vice president and chief customer officer for Hilton Worldwide, overseeing global brands, marketing, loyalty and partnerships, IT, and strategy teams. He also spent seven years at Capital One as president of retail and direct banking, served as chief operating officer of Morgan Stanley’s retail banking group, and was executive vice president and head of general bank distribution at Wachovia (now Wells Fargo & Co.).

Jon earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in business administration in finance and entrepreneurial management from The Wharton School.

Steven J. McGarry

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer


Steven J. McGarry

In this role, he is responsible for finance, accounting, and treasury activities, as well as equity and fixed income investor relations. He serves as the lead financial spokesperson for the company.

A 20-year veteran of Sallie Mae, Steve appreciates its entrepreneurial atmosphere. He believes in the higher education value proposition and in the company’s mission of helping students get the education and training they need to succeed in today’s complex economy.

Steve, who joined Sallie Mae in 1997 as Director, Investments, began his career in finance in 1985 with the Toronto Dominion Bank, where he held treasury positions in London and New York.

He received a bachelor of arts degree in economics from the Stony Brook University and an MBA in finance from New York University.

"I feel strongly that education gives people a competitive edge, a lesson I learned from my own family. They were big believers in higher education and, as a result, my siblings and I all have degrees."

Paul Thome

Executive Vice President and Chief Administration Officer, President of Sallie Mae Bank


Paul Thome

In this role, he chairs the bank’s Operational Risk Committee and is a voting member of all the bank’s Governance committees. Paul is responsible for the bank’s retail deposit business, the Office of the Customer Advocate, oversight of vendors and third-party relationships, procurement and facilities and support services. Paul also is responsible for maintaining strong relationships with our regulators and represents Sallie Mae with trade associations such as the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the National Association of Industrial Banks, and the Utah Bankers Association. He sits on the corporation’s Mergers and Acquisition Steering Group and collaborates with the Finance and Marketing teams on exploring strategic partner relationships.

Paul juggles those demands with a strong desire to help customers succeed. He and his team in the Office of the Customer Advocate (OCA) work not just to resolve problems, but also to continually seek ways to make policy and procedural changes that make it easier for customers to interact with Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae maintains an A+ accreditation with the Better Business Bureau who recently recognized Sallie Mae with its prestigious Torch Award for Market Place Ethics. The award recognizes community and industry leaders who demonstrate the importance of corporate conscience and responsibility to upholding a fair and honest marketplace.

Prior to joining Sallie Mae in 2009, Paul was a founding partner of Credit One Financial Solutions and served as its Chief Financial Officer. A Certified Public Accountant, Paul began his career with Coopers and Lybrand. With more than 40 years in the financial services industry, his banking background includes senior executive roles at MBNA America, First Tennessee’s mortgage business, and Maryland National Corporation. As a Director, he currently serves on the Executive Committee Board of the Utah Association of Financial Services, and the National Association of Industrial Bankers. He also serves on the Executive Committee Board of the Utah Bankers Association.

Paul holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from Augustana College.

"I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. My parents realized the importance of higher education if I were to achieve my career ambitions. They cobbled together, as many parents do, financial aid, scholarships, work-study programs, and loans to allow their children to earn a college degree. At Sallie Mae, we help families achieve their education goals. It’s rewarding to offer products and services that make a difference in people’s lives."

Donna Vieira

Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer


Donna Vieira

In this role, Donna oversees Sallie Mae’s private student loans, retail banking, and credit card offerings as well as product development, sales, marketing, government relations, communications, and community relations.

Donna continues to advance Sallie Mae as the premier brand in helping students and families access college and continuous education, plan successful outcomes, and responsibly fund their future. She is leading a brand and digital transformation that will meet customers where they are and make their experience simple, intuitive, personalized, and mobile first.

“Education is the foundation for success, and nobody can take it away from you. It’s also the foundation for our mission here at Sallie Mae. We are known for helping make the dream of college a reality, but we are so much more than that. We focus on helping our customers overcome barriers to success and strive to empower financial independence.”

Prior to joining Sallie Mae, Donna served as chief marketing officer for consumer banking and wealth management at JPMorgan Chase. There, she led the development of strategic marketing and brand initiatives to grow deposit and investment balances and customer relationships. Prior to that, Donna served as product and marketing chief for Chase business banking, where she focused on product and innovation development. She has also held executive leadership roles at Dun & Bradstreet, Merrill Lynch, and American Express.

Donna has been recognized by Savoy Magazine as one of the “Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America.” She is also a member of The Executive Leadership Council, the pre-eminent membership organization committed to increasing the number of black executives globally.

Donna was appointed by Delaware Governor John Carney to Chair of the Office of the Treasurer’s Plans Management Board which helps families plan and save for post-secondary education. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Delaware offering counsel to advance strategic initiatives that promote early education, college and career readiness, and financial literacy. A staunch supporter of athletics and causes that support individuals and families with disabilities, she is also an active volunteer with Special Olympics Delaware.

Donna earned a Bachelor of Commerce from Mount Allison University, Canada, and a Master of Business Administration from Pace University.

Jeffrey F. Dale

Senior Vice President and Chief Risk Officer


Jeffrey F. Dale

In this role, he oversees the enterprise risk management program for the company. Jeff is responsible for establishing a robust enterprise risk management program to identify, remediate, control, and monitor risks to support our strategic pursuits including an improved customer experience.

Jeff believes the ultimate purpose of education financing places Sallie Mae in a unique relationship with our customers. Looking back, he recalls that attending college was a given for himself and his three siblings.

Prior to joining Sallie Mae in 2014, Jeff was North American Group Risk Director at Citigroup, responsible for consumer credit in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada. He also served as Divisional Risk Officer for the UK Retail Bank at Lloyds TSB and as the Chief Credit Officer at General Electric for GE Capital’s Global Consumer Finance operations in Japan.

Jeff earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University.

"My parents had at least one child in college for 25 years. The availability of student loans made it much more manageable for my parents as we were able to supplement the family contributions with loans. As a result, it is easy for me to relate to families who aspire to send their children to college, but have no idea of where to start in terms of funding. I think it’s our privilege to help them find their way."

Nicolas Jafarieh

Senior Vice President and General Counsel


Nicolas Jafarieh

In this role, he is responsible for providing legal advice and assistance to our business areas and board of directors for all legal matters, including regulatory compliance, securities reporting and offerings, litigation management, and corporate governance, as well as managing the work of the legal department.

Nic joined Sallie Mae in 2008 and has extensive experience in financial services and consumer protection. Previously, Nic managed several key legal areas for Sallie Mae, including corporate governance and reporting; litigation; employment and benefits; equity and compensation; corporate insurance; and a number of consumer and regulatory matters.

As an immigrant and a Sallie Mae customer himself, Nic feels especially connected to the company’s mission of making the dream of higher education a reality.

Prior to joining Sallie Mae in 2008, Nic was in private practice, first at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer and Feld in Washington, D.C., and subsequently, at his own firm. He has counseled and represented Fortune 500 financial services, energy, and technology companies, both domestically and internationally.

Nic received his degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where he served as an editor on the Virginia Law Review. An active member of the corporate counsel bar on litigation and corporate governance issues, he has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations.

"Sallie Mae loans made it possible for me to attend law school. I feel particularly connected with our mission and our customers, so it’s particularly gratifying to pay it forward and help students and families make college happen."

Contact Sallie Mae Senior Management

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