Bob Mahmoudi

Bob Mahmoudi

Founder, Executive Director

Bob Mahmoudi is the visionary, founder and CEO of College Planning Solutions, Inc. (CPSi). The seed for CPSi was planted when Bob was admitted to top colleges but unable to attend due to exorbitant costs. Finding the situation unacceptable, Bob vowed to someday find a solution. He went on to earn a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering, just as the nuclear industry in the U.S. came to a halt with the Three-Mile Island Nuclear Plant accident. Remembering his previous college dilemma, Bob pursued graduate studies in Psychology and Business while conducting research for the university admissions office. His research further compelled him to find a way to help students and families with their college choices.

In 1991, Bob laid the groundwork for CPSi, and in 1992 he founded the company with the sole purpose of empowering parents and students with the facts and guidance they need to make decisions that support achievement of their education goals. Students and their parents found Bob’s approach to the college selection and admission process and his motivational guidance a powerful solution to move forward with confidence. News of CPSi’s college admission success stories spread rapidly, and CPSi grew primarily through word-of-mouth through referrals from happy clients.

Under Bob’s leadership, CPSi has established itself as the premier independent education consulting firm in the Pacific Northwest and now serves students locally, nationally and internationally. Bob has been interviewed and quoted on college topics by local and national media, including the Associated Press. He regularly presents at Johns Hopkins University’s CTY conferences and speaks to various civic and professional groups by invitation.

In addition to leading the company and his public speaking engagements, Bob now works with students enrolled in CPSi’s most exclusive mentorship programs.

Favorite college step: helping students define their specific college objectives and then establish the milestones to successfully achieve admission to their ideal, best-fit college.

Debbie Schmidt

VP, Principal Consultant

Debbie Schmidt joined CPSi full-time in 1994. Debbie assisted other students throughout college and graduate school, and has always loved to write. Her love for language and her writing skills won her numerous essay contests throughout her college career. After earning her B.A. degrees in English and Business, she continued her graduate studies in English on a part-time basis while holding a full-time job.

With her attention to detail, high standards, and devotion to CPSi’s mission, Debbie became the engine behind streamlining systems and communications to deliver CPSi’s high-quality services, including essay guidance and editing. Her talents led to her position as a Principal CPSi Consultant, Financial Aid Specialist, Chief Essay Editor, and Vice President.

Debbie currently mentors junior high and high school students and advises college transfer students and graduate school applicants.

Favorite college step: writing the essays.

Margo Cochran

Consultant, Assoc. VP of Consultant Development

Margo earned a B.A. in English from Loyola University Chicago and an M.Ed. from the University of Washington, where she studied student affairs in higher education. After a brief time as an academic adviser in the University of Washington system, Margo was drawn to CPSi because of the organization’s focus on student development during the college planning process. Her favorite part of working with students is helping them to realize their own potential, to obtain the information they need to make meaningful decisions with confidence, and to achieve their dreams.

Margo’s favorite college step is teaching students to own the college essay process, helping them find the courage to present themselves to colleges with confidence.

Amanda Aldous


Amanda comes to CPSi with an M.L.I.S. from the University of Pittsburgh as well as a BA in English. Her strong commitment to youth advocacy, cultivated in several professional and volunteer capacities, led Amanda to CPSi and its mission. Empowering each student to make thoughtful decisions about college and the future deeply resonates with her. As part of the CPSi team, Amanda is proud to assist with helping students reach for their goals, gain admission to their best-fit colleges, and achieve their great potential.

Favorite college step: helping students identify their best-fit colleges that will nurture their talents and passions and set them on the path to surpass their goals.

Ryan Flannery

Client Services Coordinator

Ryan relocated to Seattle from the Midwest several years ago, after completing his BA in Communications at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Passionate about providing exemplary service and assistance to students and their parents, Ryan’s more than five years of administrative and customer service experience well equip him to fulfill that goal.

Outside of work, Ryan is a musician who enjoys song-writing, playing keyboards, and singing. He also loves hiking, camping, and exploring the PNW any chance he can get.

Steve Laing


Steve’s background includes more than 10 years of career & academic advising within higher education, including career development software training for high school and college counselors. He comes to CPSi after serving as Director of Career Development at Evergreen State College. With a B.S. in Journalism and a Master’s in Public Administration, Steve began as a writer and special projects editor. He has written for a daily newspaper and as a marketing representative. His love of mentoring and positive change led him to research, develop, and publish a quarterly magazine and guidebook advising teens and young adults on life skills, college and career choices, and professional development.

Favorite college step: Steve is deeply committed to empowering students to develop self-awareness, curiosity, confidence and a commitment to make informed college and career choices.