Our Mission

nxtU Mission

Your success defines ours. Your specific needs and ambitions drive our deliberate efforts to deliver agile, viable, and value-added pathways for realizing your full potential to live a rich, vibrant, and productive life while minimizing unnecessary risks and sunk costs in terms of money, time, and effort. To accomplish this, nxtU offers concierge training, support, mentorship, and coaching as we work tirelessly in support of your undergraduate, graduate, and professional goals and aspirations.

Our Team

Sean Cleveland, Ph.D.

Founding Partner & Principal

Sean draws upon 28 years of leadership in the US Army, multiple combat deployments, and 16 years in diverse roles in higher education. He has served as a success coach in a PAC-12 athletics department, an instructor and advisor in an alternative admissions program at a Big-12 university, and as both a junior and senior rotating faculty member at West Point, where he worked extensively with NCAA athletes. 

 

After retiring from active duty, Sean served as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Fine Arts, and Communication and as the Assistant Director of the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching and Learning and Distance Education at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina – where he and his family now live. Working with young adults between the ages of 14-29, he focuses on deliberate planning, establishing and achieving specific outcomes and objectives, and developing the “whole person” for sustained intellectual, personal, and professional success. 

 

Sean is an avid tennis player, loves golf, and enjoys the beaches, waterways, and lifestyle of the South Carolina Lowcountry.

Education:

  • Ph.D., English - Texas Tech University

  • M.A., English - Arizona State University

  • B.S., Literature - USMA West Point

Brandyn Fisher, Ph.D.

Principal, Sports & Performance Psychology

After graduating from West Virginia University’s top-ranked doctoral program in Sports and Exercise Psychology, Dr. Fisher excelled as one of the top developmental tennis coaches in the country, coaching and mentoring players who subsequently won national and international titles, earned NCAA All-American status, and played on the ATP and WTP tours. In addition to coaching, Brandyn has developed the mental performance programs at multiple international tennis academies and schools, along with a unique mentoring pathway for coaches and players. 

 

After transitioning from full-time coaching, Brandyn founded American Sport Psychology, which helps elite athletes and their families navigate multiple levels of competition, tackle the complexities of the college recruiting process, and develop essential intangible skills. Committed to helping young adults between the ages of the 14-29 reach their full potential, he practices a simple ethos: be honest, do great work, and maintain an inquisitive mind.

 

Brandyn lives with his wife and three kids in New Jersey and works with students and athletes throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.

Education:

  • Ph.D., Sports & Exercise Psychology - West Virginia University

Sean McNeil

Principal, Leadership, Accountability, & Culture

Recruited to play lacrosse at West Point, Shawn graduated and commissioned as a Field Artillery officer in 2007. After deploying to Iraq, he transitioned into Special Forces and commanded two Operational Detachments – Alpha (ODAs) with specialized expertise in underwater operations. In Afghanistan, he strengthened relationships between his team and assets from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, US Navy SEAL teams, and the State Department. He deployed his second ODA to Iraq to augment a Special Missions Unit (SMU) and made significant contributions in the fight against ISIS. Post command, he transitioned to serve as the Operations Manager in the SMU. 

 

After being medically retired, Shawn continued to pursue his passion for teaching, coaching, and mentoring young adults as a Professor of Military Science in The Citadel’s Army ROTC program. He capitalizes upon his extensive experience in Division 1 athletics and conventional and special operations to empower young adults between the ages of 14-29 to guild upon their individual strengths, improve upon their weaknesses, and to embrace both grit and the growth mindset as they strive to liver deliberate and reflective lives and to lead others to do the same.  

 

Shawn lives near Greenville, South Carolina with his wife and two daughters.

Education:

  • MBA - The Citadel

  • B.S., Portuguese - USMA West Point

Daniel Leidl, Ph.D.

Principal, Sports & Performance Psychology

Dan has broad experience as an author, speaker, and performance practitioner, focusing on organizational dynamics, leadership, and team development. He has served as the Director of Organizational Development and Human Capital at PRG, the world’s largest provider of entertainment support and infrastructure, serving every major global market with lighting, audio, video and scenery.

 

Dan was a co-founder of Meno Consulting, a boutique consultancy focused on team and leadership development, working extensively with corporate, athletic, and government teams to enhance leadership, camaraderie and culture. He has written about leadership and organizational development for a variety of publications, including The Washington Post, Psychology Today, Fast Company and HBR. He is the co-author of Team Turnarounds.

 

Dan’s interests in performance and development evolved out of playing and coaching lacrosse at the NCAA and professional levels – both nationally and internationally. In addition to his work with nxtU, he
currently coaches lacrosse at an elite private school in New England.

Education:

  • Ph.D., Sports & Exercise Psychology - West Virginia University

  • MA, Child Development - Tufts University

DJ McKenna

Principal, Client Development

DJ draws upon her extensive experience as a PHR-certified human resources generalist, competitive athlete and coach, and community volunteer to direct nxtU’s client development efforts. An active leader in Scouts BSA for almost a decade, a former long-time PTA Vice President, and an RRCA-certified running coach, she thrives when serving others and helping individuals and communities reach their full potential. Having grown up in an Army family and then married an Army officer, she understands selfless service, discipline, and living a deliberate life. A triathlete, master’s swimmer, trail ultra-marathoner and weighted ruck-sack competitor, she embodies grit and the warrior spirit – both of which help her marshal the efforts of her three extraordinarily active sons, each of whom currently thrives in nxtU programming. 

 

DJ lives in Frisco, Texas and directs all nxtU programming in North Texas.

Education:

  • B.S., Early Childhood Education - Auburn University

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