Leaders who inspire us

Living our mission starts at the top. Our leaders are passionate about helping students and families realize their dreams. They empower us to create, learn, and grow—and to make our customers’ experience exceptional.


Jonathan Witter
Chief Executive Officer

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.

Follow Jon on LinkedIn.

Pete Graham
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Pete Graham is Chief Financial Officer for Sallie Mae. He is responsible for finance, accounting, and treasury activities, as well as equity and fixed-income investor relations. Pete also serves as the lead financial spokesperson for the company working closely with current and prospective shareholders, analysts, and investors. 

Pete brings more than 30 years of extensive experience in financial services and corporate finance to Sallie Mae. He most recently served as Chief Financial Officer for PRA Group. He was at General Electric for more than a decade where he held various executive finance roles of increasing responsibility including Chief Financial Officer for GE Commercial Distribution Finance and GE Capital Markets. Prior to his time at GE, Pete led audit and advisory teams at KPMG LLP serving financial services clients in insurance, banking, and asset management. 

"Like so many families that Sallie Mae serves, access to higher education was so critical to my personal career journey and as the parent of two college graduates, I feel a particularly deep connection to our company's mission. I am thrilled to be part of a team that powers confidence in students and families, while driving meaningful growth, continued efficiency, and long-term value for shareholders."

Pete earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Connecticut.

Donna Vieira
Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer

In this role, Donna oversees Sallie Mae’s top line revenue growth, product, and pricing as well as distribution, marketing, customer and digital experience, and brand.

Donna joined Sallie Mae in 2019 as executive vice president and chief marketing officer. 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.

"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 – power confidence for students as they begin their unique journey. We are focused on helping our customers achieve access and complete their higher education, overcoming barriers to success, and striving to empower financial independence."

Donna was appointed by Delaware Governor John Carney to Chair of the Office of the Treasurer’s Plans Management Board — helping families plan and save for post-secondary education. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Choice Hotels International. 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 has been recognized multiple times 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 earned a Bachelor of Commerce from Mount Allison University, Canada, and a Master of Business Administration from Pace University.

Follow Donna on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Kerri Palmer
Executive Vice President, Chief Operational Officer, and President of Sallie Mae Bank

Kerri oversees credit performance with direct responsibility for underwriting, credit administration, and collections functions. Kerri is also responsible for operational efficiency and effectiveness, overseeing customer service, technology, security, vendor management, and retail deposits. As Bank President, she is accountable for maintaining strong relationships with regulators.

Kerri joined Sallie Mae in 2021, previously serving as Chief Risk Officer, and led efforts to further enhance the company’s risk and compliance function. Prior to joining Sallie Mae, Kerri served as senior vice president of risk management at Capital One. She’s an industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience in risk assessment and management, regulatory compliance, process improvement, program management, business analysis, operations leadership, and change management.

"My parents reinforced the value of higher education at a very young age. In fact, it wasn’t a matter of if I would go to college, but which I’d be lucky enough to attend. Coming from a family with limited means meant that we needed to explore all available options to help pay for it, including savings, scholarships, grants, and student loans, and the process wasn’t always clear. As a student then and a parent now, Sallie Mae’s mission to power confidence for students as they begin their unique journeys resonates with me fully, and I’m excited to help families find simple and clear paths forward."

Kerri earned a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and economics from Wheaton College and a Master of Science in statistics from Texas A&M University.

Follow Kerri on LinkedIn.

William Wolf
Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer

William (Will) Wolf is Chief People Officer for Sallie Mae. He oversees talent acquisition and development, total rewards, HR information systems and analytics, employee relations, HR controls and compliance, and facilities. He and his team also oversee the company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives and strategies and programs that drive a mission-led culture at Sallie Mae.

Will brings more than 20 years of HR leadership experience to Sallie Mae most recently serving as Chief Human Resources Officer at Santander U.S. While at Santander, he fully transformed all aspects of Human Resources function for U.S. businesses and its 17,000 employees. He also led Santander’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and pioneered its diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.  

Prior to Santander, Will served as the global head of talent acquisition and development at Credit Suisse where he led training and development, recruiting, HR information systems, and people analytics.  Prior to Credit Suisse, Will was a partner at McKinsey & Company in Washington D.C., where he worked on people strategies with clients from more than a dozen industries and in 25 countries.

“Private loans and scholarships made my education possible, so I know firsthand that the work we do is essential to creating opportunities for people. As motivating as our mission is, as Chief People Officer my aspiration is to bring energy and commitment to bear on making Sallie Mae employees successful in their work and life, just as we strive to do for our clients.”

Will earned a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina, where he was a Richard Jenrette Fellow.

He and his wife, Allison, raised four children in Alexandria, VA. They are devoted supporters of a summer camp for Cerebral Palsy and Downs Syndrome campers on Martha’s Vineyard.  Will also serves as a Director of the Kenan Institute at UNC.

Follow Will on LinkedIn.

Nicolas Jafarieh
Executive Vice President and Chief Legal, Government Affairs, and Communications Officer

Nic is responsible for overseeing the company’s legal matters, government affairs and public policy, corporate communications, corporate social responsibility initiatives, and reputation management.

Nic and his team of experienced professionals advise the company and our board of directors on a broad range of legal, regulatory and governance matters, from public company corporate governance, consumer protection and regulatory compliance, securities reporting and offerings, litigation, employment and benefits, equity and compensation, intellectual property, contracts, and corporate insurance. He is also responsible for driving Sallie Mae’s internal and external communications strategy, state and federal public policy, and, as a member of The Sallie Mae Fund’s Board of Directors, initiatives that support the communities in which our team members live, work, and serve.

As an immigrant and a former Sallie Mae customer himself, Nic embodies the company’s mission of making the dream of higher education a reality.

“Sallie Mae made it possible for me to attend law school. Since higher education changed my future in so many ways, I feel particularly connected with our purpose and our customers. It’s gratifying to pay it forward now, helping other students and families achieve through higher education.”

Nic joined Sallie Mae in 2008, and prior to joining Sallie Mae, 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 Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he served as an editor on the Virginia Law Review. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia. Nic is 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.

Follow Nic on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Jeremy Brandon
Executive Vice President and Chief Audit Officer

Jeremy provides leadership and direction for Sallie Mae’s internal audit function with a focus on helping the company identify issues, mitigate risks, and comply with regulatory requirements. He reports to the company’s Audit Committee and provides an independent assessment of the company’s risk management practices and control environment to the Board, senior management, and other key executives.

Jeremy brings to Sallie Mae nearly two decades of comprehensive expertise in problem solving, strategic thinking, risk management, and relationship building. Prior to joining Sallie Mae in November 2021, he served as senior vice president and head of audit for Capital One’s consumer bank, commercial bank, and AML and compliance areas. Prior to that, he was the senior compliance officer for Capital One’s card business, leading a large team in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Jeremy has also been a litigation partner at the law firms of Gibson Dunn and Crutcher LLP and Susman Godfrey LLP. He also served as legal counsel to Senator John Kerry, advising him on domestic legal matters as well as policy issues related to financial services, banking, antitrust, securities, and intellectual property.  

“I was born and raised in a one stoplight farming community in the Texas panhandle, where I learned early on from my dad that farming definitely was not for me. I was terrible at it. Like many out there, I left my roots and became the first in my family to attend college – and that opportunity really changed my life. I’m proud to join Sallie Mae because I believe in its mission of providing access to those same opportunities for students and families across the country.” 

Jeremy earned a Bachelor of Science in political science from Texas A&M University, graduating at the top of his class. He later earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, where he graduated magna cum laude. He then clerked for Judge Jeffrey R. Howard on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. 

Jeremy lives in the Washington D.C. area with his husband and two children.

Follow Jeremy on LinkedIn.

Munish Pahwa
Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer

Munish is responsible for the company’s integrated risk and compliance function and relationships with regulators. Under his leadership, the risk team oversees all financial and non-financial risk management activities and leads the efforts to maintain a strong risk culture at Sallie Mae.

Munish joined Sallie Mae in 2021, previously serving as Chief Credit Risk Officer. Prior to joining Sallie Mae, Munish was senior vice president at Bank of America. During his more than 25 year career with Bank of New York Mellon, PNC National Bank, MBNA, and Bank of America, he held key positions across consumer lending and deposit products in credit, risk management, decision science, business transformations, operations, and regulatory management. Munish has worked on projects in North America, Europe, China, and India.

“An effective risk framework is a vital component of our business and enables us to bring our mission to life and power confidence as students begin their unique journeys. As the leader of the Risk Management team, I’m proud of our efforts in fostering an effective risk management culture that is owned and demonstrated by all associates across the organization.” 

Munish earned a Bachelor of Engineering from MACT, Bhopal, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Delaware.

Munish is a member of the board of University of Delaware’s Center for Economic Education & Entrepreneurship. He also serves on the Smith Enterprise Risk Consortium (SERC) Advisory Council for the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. 

Follow Munish on LinkedIn.

Contact Sallie Mae senior management

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