Private Service Educator Spotlight: The Charles MacPherson Academy

charles macpherson butler academyLocated in Toronto, Canada, The Charles MacPherson Academy has been preparing individuals for private service careers since 2009.  The Academy was started by Charles MacPherson, who is an experienced international butler. The school focuses on a mix of technical skills and management concepts to prepare students for such jobs as Estate Managers, Household Managers, Personal Assistants, and Major Domos in addition to traditional Butler roles.

One of the truly unique aspects of the school is their approach to placement after graduation.  In addition to being exposed to placement options through Charles MacPherson Associate’s placement division, they also present their graduates to other agencies for consideration.  Graduates benefit from Charles’ reputation in the industry for producing quality candidates, especially those seeking to transfer into the industry from another profession.

In this month’s Educator Spotlight, Charles tells us more about his Academy…

  1. How long have you been in business?

Charles MacPherson Associates has been in business since 1996, the school was opened and certified as a Private Career College in 2009.

Our experience working within the homes of high and ultra-high-net-worth families (as well as luxury hotels and clubs, palaces of Royal families, etc.) was heavily referenced in the development of the program’s curriculum.  Our significant experience in the field means that we understand the skills and trouble-shooting knowledge required by would-be Household Managers because we have done the job and have the experience of a private service insider.

  1. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Our specialty is both Household Management and Butlering Skills for the 21st century.  Our program focuses on foundational skills for the operation of luxury residences.  We premised our curriculum on a core belief that good Managers understand the skills and knowledge required to perform the various positions within a household.  Without that understanding, a Manager is incapable of evaluating and upgrading the performance of staff members.  This is why we teach practical skills in areas like housekeeping, laundry, and the care of art and antiques in addition to household management and butlering skills.  Our objective is to educate individuals to become “Walking and Working” Managers as opposed to desk-bound individuals who are removed from day-to-day household operations.

  1. What makes your training unique?

We firmly believe in the concept of “learning by doing.”  So much of what we teach is practical skills. We invested heavily in the production of a formal curriculum and proprietary textbook. Our faculty are experts in their respective fields and utilize a teaching laboratory that provides students with the opportunity to work firsthand with the best of the best. For this reason, we invested in the tools, materials, and equipment one would find in a luxury home. Students learn with the best so that, from day one in school, they develop an appreciation for the handling, care, and maintenance of luxury goods.

  1. How long are the courses?

The current certificate program is an intensive 4-weeks, Monday to Friday with a half day on Saturday. The program can also be taken in 1-week segments to accommodate scheduling constraints.

  1. How frequently are the programs run?

We offer three sessions per year; Winter, Spring and Fall.

  1. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We believe in the importance of an in-school, personal, hands-on learning experience. At this time, there is no convincing way to virtually replicate the quality of that experience.

  1. What are the requirements to attend your school?

Applicants must be high-school graduates or pass a language equivalency test.  During the application process, we also conduct interviews and evaluate each applicant and assess what we refer to as their “transferrable skill sets.”  Some students come to us with a private service background, however many do not.  For the latter group, we spend time identifying skills that would be of value to our clients but are not necessarily highlighted by applicants.  Our objective is to admit only those individuals who will most benefit from the program and have the highest prospect of success in their new career.

  1. Who is your ideal student?

Our graduates have such diverse backgrounds.  The students who do best tend to come from fields like hospitality, management, or positions such as executive or personal assistants.  The most important thing, however, is that each student has an understanding and appreciation for service or a willingness to learn and integrate a service mentality into what they have to offer potential employers.  Not everyone has this ability.  It is the secret sauce of private service.

  1. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?

Yes, we proudly offer placement services to graduates as well as non-graduates.  We are careful to tell each applicant that we make no guarantees of placement since we do not control the variables of the labor market. Through our own placement division and through strategic relationships with reputable placement agencies across North America as well as the UK, we aggressively market our graduates so that they can find good jobs as quickly as possible.  The rate of placement does fluctuate from session to session for various reasons. Placement boils down to combined efforts that must include the active participation of graduates.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Our firm and individual team members are proud to be part of numerous professional associations spanning the private service, hospitality, hotel, protocol, and etiquette industries.

We belong to DEMA (Domestic Estate Managers Association) as well as PDI-POA (Protocol Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association.)

  1. Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…

We are an accredited Private Career College governed by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities [Canada].  The Ministry provides standards and oversight and ensures that our Academy meets its obligations to students.

  1. How much does your program cost?

The 4-week program is $7,500 (CAD) inclusive of our proprietary textbook and classroom materials. Accommodation is the responsibility of each student, although we are happy to provide guidance in that area.

  1. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Not at this time.

  1. How can people contact you?

Andrew Gayman, Academy Director, at (416) 361-6434 or email

Educator Spotlight: Newborn Care Solutions

newborn care solutions logoToday there is a major shift in hiring trends for high end personal childcare options. Parents are demanding educated and knowledgeable Newborn Care Specialists to care for their infants. To help meet this need, Tonya Sakowicz founded Newborn Care Solutions to train childcare professionals in this specialized field. Offering classes at their base in Scottsdale, AZ, online, and across the country, Tonya was selected as DEMA’s Educator of the Year in 2016.

Tonya shares more about her school and this unique niche industry in this month’s Private Service Educator Spotlight…

  1. How long have you been in business?

We have been in business formally for 2 years as of 2017, but I have been teaching for nearly 15 years for the International Nanny Association (INA), the National Association of Nannies (NAN), the Association of Premiere Nanny Agencies (APNA), and now the Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA).

  1. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

We teach everything a nanny or other childcare provider would need to know if they want to be a Newborn Care Specialist or a nanny with a strong emphasis on Newborn Care.

  1. What makes your training unique?

Our training is geared specifically to the industry—we respect the knowledge that nannies already have and build on that to give them a more in-depth, evidence based education that allows them to provider a higher quality of care to their principal and child charges.

  1. How long are the courses?

Our courses typically run about 18 hours for the Foundational and Advanced classes, including sectional quizzes and final exam. Our individual courses for specific topics, such as Green Proofing and Sleep Solutions, last anywhere from 2-8 hours.

  1. How frequently are the programs run?

Most of our courses run online all the time and all of those are self-paced.  In addition, we teach our Foundational, Advanced and Sleep Solutions Workshops live around the US about twice a year each.  Our courses are also taught in Australia and we hope to go into the UK, Saudi Arabia and China this coming year (2018).

  1. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

Yes, most of our course offerings are available online.

  1. What are the requirements to attend your school?

We require prior experience working with children in a professional capacity.  You must have been a nanny, governess, postpartum doula, infant room daycare provider or in-home daycare provider with verifiable references.

  1. Who is your ideal student?

Our ideal student is someone who is self-motivated and committed to professional excellence in newborn and infant care.  It is often someone who has worked with children from their early teen years and has continued in childcare as a profession and now wants to specialize even further.

  1. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?

We do offer assistance through the posting of jobs on our graduate board.  Many of the nation’s top placement agencies come to us to fill their positions with our students.  For example, a recent agency owner interviewed 5 candidates for a very high-level position.  4 of those 5 candidates were chosen to move on and interview with the family—all of the 4 chosen were graduates of our program. However, we do not have a formal in-house placement assistance process.

  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?


Yes. DEMA, where I serve as the Co-President of my local chapter in Scottsdale, AZ. In the INA, I am the 2016/17 1st Vice President. We are also a sponsoring member of APNA.

  1. Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…

Coming soon!

  1. How much does your program cost?

That depends on the course.  Our least expensive is our Green Proofing course at $97.  Most programs fall into the $329-$697 price range.  Currently, our most expensive program is our 1 year-long Elite and Master NCS programs at $2,495 each.

  1. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Payment Plans are available.

  1. How can people contact you?

Interview with the 2016 DEMA Educator the Year – Tonya Sakowicz of Newborn Care Solutions

Tonya Sakowicz is the founder of Newborn Care Solutions, a company dedicated to the education of families and training of Newborn Care Specialists and Nannies. As an INA Credentialed Nanny, Newborn Care Specialist, and Parent Educator, Tonya provides consulting and in-home sleep conditioning for her clients, in addition to teaching seminars. Her training focuses on proven strategies, methods, and tips found to be the most beneficial for the newborns and their families.

LATRICIA FRIEND: Congratulations. How does it feel to be selected as the 2016 DEMA Educator of the Year?
TONYA SAKOWICZ: Thank you! It feels amazing, to be honest. I was shocked when I found out I had won, as I had no idea I had even been nominated. Moreover, to know that all the hard work that we have been putting into our training programs is recognized and awarded is amazing. It pushes me, even more, to work harder for our students—now I have not just my expectations to live up to, but the honor DEMA has given my company.

LF: When matching newborn care specialists to client families, what is your key to success?
TS: We do not participate in the matching process other than working with agencies to spread the word to our students about potential openings. Agencies are so happy with the quality of training that our students have that many companies come to us first whenever a position arises because they are proud to send our students to their principals. I believe that is because we work so hard to make sure our students have in-depth, evidence-based and current information. This benefits our students because they are more in demand. It makes me so incredibly happy to see and hear about our student’s success. When one of my students nails a six-month, $175,000 contract, I am THRILLED for them!

LF: How will winning this award affect Newborn Care Solutions?
TS: I think it will drive us to be even better. You do not go around announcing you won “Educator of the Year” and then sit on your laurels. You have to strive to do more with more excellence. So in the end, the biggest effect will be the benefit to our students because it makes me work even harder for them
Many thanks to Christofle for their on-going support of the Domestic Estate Management Association. Christofle is a platinum-level sponsor of the DEMA convention and provided the sterling silver awards given each year.

Previous Award Recipients:
2015: Bonnie Low-Kramen
2014: Donna Shannon
2013: Association of Premier Nanny Agencies
2012: Charles MacPherson Associates

Photo Credit: DEMA 2016 Convention

The 2015 Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators is here!

guide to private service agencies and educators

CLICK HERE to join our newsletter and get you free copy of the guidebook

After several months of careful editing and revisions, we are finally ready to release the 2015 edition of “The Guide to Private Service Agencies and Educators.”  Featuring over 20 agencies, major schools, and notable educators in the luxury lifestyle management, this guide is a valuable resource to anyone looking for a job in the domestic services industry, from nannies to estate managers and everything in-between.

Best of all, you can get your copy for free!

Just sign up for our free eNewsletter to download this helpful PDF:

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After you sign up for the newsletter, you will receive an email telling you how to download your own copy – plus an extra-special free gift to help you prepare for the tough interview questions.


Review: The Essentials of Household & Estate Management course

estate management solutions logWhile many people are familiar with the large, long-standing schools for private service certification such as the Charles MacPherson Academy and Starkey International Institute for Household Management, there are challenges of attending such a course: classes demand full-time attendance for 4 – 8 weeks and the tuition is costly. Over the past few years, some independent educators have begun to offer targeted, weekend workshops to help elevate the skills of both new and experienced private service professionals. One of these is Peter Van Ryder, owner of Estate Management Solutions. His 14-hour intensive course is designed to meet the needs of the working professional, either already in the industry or those looking to break into it.

I recently attended the Essentials of Household & Estate Management course in Chicago, IL, in April 2015. These classes, held in conjunction with the Domestic Estate Managers Association (DEMA), are held at various locations throughout the US every couple of months to increase participation and easy access to students. My class included 15 students, with experience ranging from entry level household managers to those with over 10 years of experience.

The first day of class dived deep into some of the personal aspects of service that can be the most challenging, such as tactics for working with the principals, how to avoid being servile while still being attentive, and the importance of communication. In many ways, the ability to handle these personal relationships in a professional manner while ever being cognizant of the employers’ wishes is paramount, and Peter did an excellent job of conveying how important this is.

The second day focused on more of the technical aspects of estate management, such as Human Resources, Accounting, and Vendor Management. In particular, Mr. Van Ryder emphasized the different “compartments” for any estate, using this as a way to break down the daunting task of managing a large property by only focusing on certain key areas at a time. From there, each compartment is then given its own section within the Estate Manual. By relating all the multitude of different moving parts within the household to the Estate Manual, students were given a practical tool that can be easily modified to fit different service environments. These worksheets are Microsoft Word and Excel documents, so they are easy to use, don’t require special training, and don’t require costly software to use them.

Of course, it’s not possible to learn everything about estate management in a weekend course. However, Peter does emphasize the importance of not only personal research, but also how to leverage personal contacts through fellow students or DEMA members. For example, in our class alone, we had experts in the care of fine art and horticulture, both of whom were very willing to serve as a resource to their classmates.

Overall, this class provides practical tools to make the intimidating task of managing any size estate more plausible. Peter Van Ryder is extremely well versed in the industry, and his willingness to share both his successes and failures brings a personal aspect to the training. A lot of information is covered in the two days, which is a lot to absorb in a short time span. However, the book and worksheets for the Estate Manual offer ongoing educational support to implement the lessons learned.

Key take-aways from the class:

  • Practical tools and strategies
  • Usable templates in Word and Excel for Estate Manual
  • Relatable professional experiences
  • Learning sources for additional research
  • Connecting with other private service professionals

Contact for more information: or
Look for upcoming classes on the DEMA website:

Peter Van Ryder aka Vanna

Peter Van Ryder, owner of Estate Management Solutions

More information about Peter Van Ryder:

Peter Colt Van Ryder of Estate Management Solutions is a certified trainer for the Charles MacPherson Academy headquartered in Toronto, Canada.
Peter started his service career working as a bellman and concierge in a small luxury hotel in Houston, Texas, eventually working his way up to upper management of a Crowne Plaza Hotel. He further refined his skills as an Innkeeper at a four star Country Inn and French Restaurant. He was previously certified as a Cisco Network Administrator and a Microsoft Systems Administrator. Having worked in homes ranging from 9,000 to 30,000 square feet on both coasts and overseas and on estates with 4 to 280 acres with active horse trails, he has honed his skills through continuous education and a drive to improve the industry.
Based in Dallas, Texas, he is working for the positive growth of the Private Service Profession. In 2009, he established Estate Management Solutions, which is dedicated to educating the public and professionals about the high standards of the private service industry in the US and China. In 2010, he established the Dallas Chapter of the Domestic Estate Managers Association, and in 2013 he established the Austin Chapter. He currently serves as Chapter President in Dallas and is actively involved in setting up the DEMA Institute.

Educator Spotlight: Peak Technical Institute

Peak Technical InstituteIf you are looking to expand your knowledge and training for the Private Service industry, Peak Technical Institute teaches two unique programs. With campuses in both Tennessee and Colorado, Peak offers a variety of classes to cover virtually any topic the busy Private Service professional could possibly need. We had a chance to ask Theresa Stratton a few questions to get the inside scoop on their campuses and would like to share the responses with you:


How long have you been in business?

The genesis of Peak Technical Institute’s Professional Household Management (PHM) and Social Decorum Academy (SDA) programs stemmed from the Enlisted Aides PHM Certification program, which has been in operation since 2009.


In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Through the PHM program, we teach the fundamentals of management, leadership and responsibility for individuals who wish to administer both private and public estates.

Topics Covered: Professionalism; Sustainability Binder Development; Household Administrative Management; Housekeeping; Laundry; Wardrobe Management; Table Setting & White Glove Service; Global Etiquette & Protocol; Wine 101, Spirits, Mixology & Service Seminar; Event Planning; First Aid; Site Survey, Security Assessment & Protective Detail; Alarm Systems & Surveillance Assessment; Natural, Chemical/Nuclear Disasters & Contingency Plans

Through SDA, we teach the necessary skills and knowledge in business etiquette, international protocol, dining proficiency and leadership skills.

What makes your training unique?

Our trainings go above and beyond the typical courses of their kind to ensure that participants leave with the confidence required to use the skills they learn with exacting precision and care for each situation they are in.

Both programs are unique, providing participants with hands-on instruction and intensive real-world experience. Whether managing dining and social events or household and security situations, we help our students build a strong platform of knowledge, confidence and authority.


How long are the courses?

The PHM course is 175 hours over four weeks.

SDA offers three individual courses, each four hours in length. These include Outclass the Competition with Luncheon Tutorial®; How to Succeed in the International Arena with Working Lunch®; and Dine Like a Diplomat with World-Class Reception & Dinner®. Additionally, we offer a discounted package for clients who wish to attend all three seminars, which can be taken over a five-month period.


How frequently are the programs run?

Courses are held five times per year.

Do you have an online or correspondence courses?


What are the requirements to attend your school?

We have ten enrollment prerequisites. These are found on our site under the application process.

Who is your ideal student?

The ideal PHM student is one who is passionate about the service management field, whether they have little experience or a decade of experience. They must have a desire for excellence in their field.

We encourage anyone with an interest in bettering their dining and etiquette skills to attend an SDA seminar. These classes are essential for the academic, corporate and social communities. Additionally, we are passionate about making this course available to anyone who wishes to join us.

Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?

We facilitate relationships with placement agencies because we believe that building a firm relationship with both students and employers ensures a high rate of job acquisition and satisfaction to help build careers with long-term benefits.

Do you belong to any professional associations?

Yes, we are proud members of the Domestic Estate Managers Association, Protocol School of Washington, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce, Blount County Chamber of Commerce and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses.

Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…

Yes, PTI is authorized for operation as a post-secondary educational institution by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Colorado Higher Education Commission.

How much does your program cost?

Investment in PHM is $9,500. Room and Board is included in the tuition cost for classes scheduled in April and July.

SDA seminars are $250-$300, depending on the program. All three courses can be purchased for $700.

Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

We offer a competitive payment plan on a limited-basis for individuals who wish to finance their tuition.

How can people contact you?

Find more information at , call us at 1-855-399-PEAK, or contact our recruiter, Theresa Stratton, through email at

Private Service Educator Spotlight – The Meyer Suite

meyer suite personal assistant jobs logo

The Meyer Suite offers workshops for Personal Assistants and Executive Assistants

In the world of workshops for Private Service Professionals, The Meyer Suite is a relative newcomer, opening their doors in 2012. However, their commitment to help enlighten potential and current Personal Assistant’s to the industry is a sincere desire to help others decide if this is the right profession for them, without having to make a costly investment.

In today’s Educator Spotlight, owner Elizabeth Meyer tells us more about her focused workshops…

1. How long have you been in business?
The Meyer Suite was founded in 2012.
2. In a nutshell, what do you teach?
“Personal Assistant 101 (The Prerequisite)” is a two-hour workshop and info session facilitated by Elizabeth Meyer, Founder/Principal of The Meyer Suite, who is also a seasoned celebrity/high-profile PA. In the workshop, Elizabeth talks about the profession, what it is and what it is not, and what it takes to make yourself an attractive candidate for this type of position.
3. What makes your training unique?
You will not find this type of workshop elsewhere. If you’re curious about what it means to be a personal assistant, if you’ve wondered how people get these kinds of jobs, if you know you’d be really, really good at it, but can’t seem to land the jobs you apply for, you will find nothing else like this workshop, which is run by someone who has insider knowledge of both the employer and employee side of private service. . . someone who had zero industry connections, landed several high-profile PA positions, and now works with clients who seek top talent for personal service positions.
This workshop is not your ticket to a job as a personal assistant; you will have some work to do on your end. But it will give you an overview of the profession, answer questions you have, provide some advice on how to make yourself an attractive candidate for the role, and allow you to network with someone who works with clients who hire PAs. You will walk away with something you can add to the “education/training” section of your resume that night!

4. How long are the courses?
Each workshop is 2-hours long, held on either a week night or weekend morning, depending on location and time of year.
5. How frequently are the programs run?
In 2014, the workshop was held twice in Seattle (Jan and June), twice in NYC (June and Oct), and once in Chicago (Sept). We plan to bring the workshop to additional markets in 2015.
6. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?
No, not at this time, but stay tuned . . . things are in the works!
7. What are the requirements to attend your school?
The only requirement is a sincere interest in learning more about what it means and takes to be a great personal assistant. That, and the ability to shut off your phone and disconnect from Wi-Fi for two hours, making yourself completely present for the workshop.
8. Who is your ideal student?
Attendees may be recent college grads who want to know more about the personal assistant profession and what it takes to land their first job, or may be working professionals who are interested in making a career transition. No matter the motivator, the ideal attendee is excited to learn from someone who was once in his/her shoes, enjoyed an awesome career within this niche space, and now works with clients who seek top talent. The ideal student recognizes that opportunity, and can’t wait to add this workshop to his/her resume at the end of the workshop!
9. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates? What is your placement rate?
We’re happy stay in touch with workshop attendees, and would be thrilled to work with them through a specific search (which would be paid by a Meyer Suite client), but at this time, we do not work as candidate agents. And mere attendance at the workshop, will not necessarily guarantee placement. One attendee from a workshop held in Seattle in January 2014 did end up landing a job through The Meyer Suite five months later, but she incorporated what she learned at the workshop, became very specific about the role she was seeking, and landed her ideal position because she put into practice many of the things covered in the workshop.
10. Do you belong to any professional associations?
Elizabeth Meyer, Principal at The Meyer Suite, is a member of DEMA, and active member and founder of the DEMA-Seattle chapter.

11. Are you accredited? If so, with what entity…
12. How much does your program cost?
In 2014, each workshop cost $65+tax to attend.
13. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?
14. How can people contact you?
All contact info for The Meyer Suite, along with links to our social networking presence can be found on our website:

Private Service Education Spotlight: Be the Ultimate Assistant

Within the personal assistant industry, Bonnie Low-Kramen has been helping PA’s become more effective in their roles.  From co- founding the New York Celebrity Assistants (NYCA) to writing her book, Be the Ultimate Assistant, Bonnie has strived to elevate the industry and the PAs who work so hard within it.


Along with Vickie Sokol Evans, Microsoft Office Master Wizard (okay, the technical term is Master Microsoft Certified Trainer, but we all know she actually works magic), Bonnie has branched out into comprehensive workshops.  Conveniently held in a different US city every other month, the workshops cover everything from technical computer applications to the crucial interpersonal skills.


In this month’s Educator Spotlight, Bonnie and Vickie share more about their unique workshops…


  1. How long have you been in business?

Be the Ultimate Assistant weekend workshops have been touring since November 2011.


  1. In a nutshell, what do you teach?

In a two-day 16 hour workshop, we teach our students what they need to know and do in order to excel.  Ideal for Personal Assistants, Executive Assistants who handle personal matters for her/his employer, Estate Managers, and this workshop is also appropriate for anyone in private service who is involved in personal work including nannies, household managers, and concierge staff.

Topics include: Communication, Organization, Problem-Solving, Travel & Event Planning, and Career Management. There is a 3-hour technology segment taught by Microsoft Certified Trainer Vickie Sokol Evans which includes tips for assistants in: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Social Media and Privacy.

Every student receives a copy of the best-selling book “Be the Ultimate Assistant” by Bonnie Low-Kramen and additional materials created specifically for the workshop. These include; check-lists, forms, and relevant articles.


  1. What makes your training unique?

Personal Assistants have been winging it for too long without any formal training to learn how to do their job. This is the workshop I wished had existed when I first started my career 25 years ago as the Personal Assistant to Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis. I designed the workshop to provide solid information for every aspect of the work including computer technology which has become increasingly more important with every passing month.


The 3-hour technology segment is taught by Vickie who is a former personal assistant turned Microsoft Certified Trainer. Vickie understands the demands of the private service professional and develops educational sessions that are both relevant and practical. Together, Vickie and I teach both the soft and hard skills necessary to excel at this work. Nothing like this has ever existed before and we feel strongly that this training must be taken around the country so that assistants everywhere have access to it. We don’t want assistants to have to wing it anymore.


  1. How long are the courses?

The workshop takes place over a Sat and Sun for a total of 16 hours – 8 hours each day.


  1. How frequently are the programs run?

Every other month in a different city.  Upcoming dates in 2014-2015 include: September 20-21 in Los Angeles; November 17-18 in London and February 28-Mar 1, 2015 in Austin.  Please see the website for more upcoming workshops.


  1. Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We run a one-day, 7 hour Virtual Class conducted in real-time over GoToMeeting. The material is the same as the weekend class. The main difference is that the technology portion is taught via recorded webinars.

Vickie offers live and on-demand webinars, such as the most recent Excel 2011 for Mac Webinar Series specifically for Private Service Professionals via her website


  1. What are the requirements to attend your school?

The requirement to attend our training classes is a sincere desire to learn and a willingness to participate.


  1. Who is your ideal student?

Our ideal student is a Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant or Private Service Professional who has been working for several years and is looking to raise their own bar of excellence in order to make themselves even more marketable, relevant, and confident.


  1. Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates?  What is your placement rate?

We assist our students in finding work through referrals to recruiters and contacts. There is no additional fee for this coaching and referrals.


  1. Do you belong to any professional associations?

Bonnie is a Rutgers University graduate and a co-founder of New York Celebrity Assistants (NYCA), International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). Vickie graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and has been teaching technology over 15 years. She is a Microsoft Certified Trainer she is qualified to prepare others for their own technology certifications.  Vickie is the author of the best-selling Tips in Minutes technology series on Kindle.


  1. Are you accredited?  If so, with what entity…

We are not affiliated with any other school or government agency.  Vickie is accredited with Microsoft Learning and Certification. This workshop is eligible for IAAP recertification points.


  1. How much does your program cost?

Our 2-day weekend workshops average $599 inclusive but Early Bird discounts are available as are discounts for members of NYCA, IAAP, DEMA, EAO, PAN, ANA, and other professional organizations.


  1. Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Payment plans are available upon request.


  1. How can people contact you?


Vickie Evans


Our Education Spotlight is provided as a service to job seekers, and is not a statement of endorsement.  All information is  provided by the participating school or educator.

Would you like your agency featured in our Education Spotlight?  There is no fee!  Contact Donna Shannon at 720-341-8229 to find out how you can be included.  

Educator Spotlight: Professional Domestics Institute (PDI)

In the middle of the Heartland, the Professional Domestics Institute (also known as PDI) has been training private service professionals for almost 20 years.  In this month’s Educator Spotlight, owner Carole Scudere gives us more insight into her program…

To start, please give us a summary of your school or program…

Professional Domestic Institute is the only state-certified schools that trains most all domestic staff. Opening in 1994, we have been in business for almost 20 years, not including the professional experience that was acquired before that.  Professional Domestic Institute offers several programs, including Estate Housekeeping, Estate and Household Management, and Innkeeping. Our offerings range from 1 day courses to 8 week programs. We have something for everyone, including home study programs. Professional Domestic Institute prides itself on the time and attention we pay to each student. We value them as people and work tirelessly to help them succeed not only in their coursework, but in their future career.

1.       How long have you been in business?

Professional Domestic Institute was established in 1994 and became state-certified in 1995.

2.       In a nutshell, what do you teach?

Professional Domestic Institute has several programs, including Household Management, Estate Management, Estate Housekeeping, and most recently, Innkeeping. We strive to give all of our students a comprehensive education that covers the technical skills they will need, as well as the social skills, demeanor, and discreetness that are expected from high net-worth clients.

 3.       What makes your training unique?

Our training is sought after because of the one-of-a-kind hands on training that we give each student. We keep the class sizes small so that everyone receives one-on-one attention with our expert instructors. As a result, we are able to get to know each student on a deeper level.  By understanding their strengths and weaknesses, our staff can tailor the training to suit the student’s individual needs.

 4. How long are the courses?

The courses vary in length. Our Household Management Program is offered in both 4- and 8-week segments (the 8 week allowing for more practice). Our Administrative Household Manager/Personal Assistant/Estate Manager Program and our Estate Housekeeping Program are 4 weeks. Our most recent addition, the Innkeeping Program, is 3 weeks.

In addition to our full programs, Professional Domestic Institute offers a series of 1-week, weekend and 1-day classes that will focus on one or several related topics, such as clothing care, formal serving techniques or applying for employment. These are great opportunities for experienced professionals to develop or refine a very specific skill that will aid them in their continual growth in private service.

 5.       How frequently are the programs run?

We have a variety of programs that are offered at different times throughout the year. All of our classes and programs are typically offered three times a year. The current schedule is always available on our website,

6.       Do you have an online or correspondence courses?

We do. All of our full programs are offered through Home Study. Professional Domestic Institute was the first to start a Home Study option because we kept hearing from people that said they would love to attend our institute but they just didn’t have the time or could not afford to take off work. Students receive all our materials in the mail. They are able to complete their assignments on their own time in the comfort of their own home. We believe firmly in the importance of instructor guidance and feedback, so every Home Study student is given personalized feedback on their work. In addition, our instructors are always available for their questions throughout the entire process.

 7.       What are the requirements to attend your school?

We typically only accept students over the age of 27. However, the most important requirement is evidence that they have the right attitude and mindset to enter into the private service industry. Private Service has unique benefits, but it also has unique obstacles. It is not a field for everyone, so we always try to determine the fit before our students waste their time and money.

 8.       Who is your ideal student?

Our ideal student is one that is eager to learn and one that gives all their effort at every task, regardless of the sometimes unpleasantness of the task. You always hear about the importance of a “service heart” when it comes to household staff. We here at Professional Domestic Institute 100% agree. To be successful in this industry, you have to genuinely love providing impeccable service and you must take pride in you work. Those are the qualities we look for in our students, a dedication and appreciation of the craft.

9.       Do you offer placement assistance to your graduates?  What is your placement rate?

We have a training branch, Professional Domestic Services. We take the time to get to know our graduates so that we are able to find them a position is a match on a person and professional level.  We care about each student and want them to succeed, so we strive to find them the perfect position that will highlight their character and capabilities. As a result, our placement rate is more than 95%.  This is partly due to our commitment to our students, but it is also because we do not take on any students that we do not feel we can eventually place. We set high standards from the very beginning.  At this time we actually have clients who are waiting to hire our students and realize the importance of their education.

10.   Do you belong to any professional associations?

We are members of Powell Chamber of Commerce, Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools, and the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII).

11.   Are you accredited?  If so, with what entity…

All of our programs are accredited through the state of Ohio State Board of Career Colleges and Schools, meaning that our curriculum must meet the state’s education requirements. Professional Domestic Institute sought accreditation because we share the Board’s mission to continuously improve standards of excellence and effectiveness. By becoming state-certified, not only do we ensure that we are giving our students a quality education, but we provide them with the security that if we fail on this promise, they have an option of recourse. By being held accountable by the state of Ohio, all our students have a regulatory body they can contact with any concerns or complaints regarding our program.

We aim to provide our students with everything they need to be successful. Our state accreditation is just another example of how much we value this goal.

12.   How much does your program cost?

All our programs have different costs. The Estate Housekeeping Program is $5,858. The eight week Household Management  Program is $10,000, and the 4 week Household Management Program is $5,950, and the four week Personal Assistant/Estate Manager Program is $5,950. Each of those prices includes the cost of textbooks and materials. The shorter programs and Home Study options are less expensive. More information about pricing can be found on our website,

13.   Are financial aid, scholarships or payment plans available?

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer financial aid, scholarships, or payment plans at this time.

            For additional assistance you may want to check with your: Employer, Local Bank or        Financial Loan Institution, Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation Program (for           Veterans who qualify), Unemployment benefits where applicable,  Local County      Employment Agency, State Family & Employment Services, State Welfare Department,             State Department of Labor,  or local Church, etc.

14.   How can people contact you?

We can be reached by phone or email. Our number to our home office is (740) 881-3358 and our email is,  I encourage everyone to check out our website,, and the website for our new Innkeeping Program,

Review: “Be the Ultimate Assistant” Workshop

men and Vickie Sokol evansOn June 8 and 9, 2013, I attended the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop hosted by Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas, Texas. (See below for their full credentials.) The weekend workshop drew about 20 people from diverse locations, such as California, Colorado and Washington State.  Attendees varied from Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and professionals who bridged the gap between the two roles.

It is important to note that Bonnie does contact each one of the students prior to the workshop to gauge not only their experience, but also their desired learning goals.  In this way, each workshop is tailored to meet the needs of the audience.  For this class, many of the students indicated that they struggle with the soft skills that make successful business relationships with their employers or principals.

When working closely with an employer, building a mutually beneficial professional relationship is critical.  Throughout the weekend, Bonnie shared many tools on how to build this type of trust and respect, while addressing such issues as conflict, communication and boundaries. Other assistants shared their experiences as well, which added to the conversation.  In future workshops, I hope that some role playing scenarios will be included to really practice this vital aspect of any top Assistant.

One of the underlying themes of the weekend was the importance of team work, especially in office environments.  From pulling out the talents of other team members to mentoring junior employees, the sharing of information is what makes each individual stronger, and creates a team that is more than the sum of its parts. For solo Personal Assistants, resources such as professional organizations were encouraged to make up for the lack of team environments.

As for tactical tools, The Accomplished Traveler provided a presentation on luxury travel.  For many of the students, this was eye-opening about the options, possibilities and unique problem-solving required for many High Net Worth (HNW) individuals.  Touring the Ritz-Carlton provided additional insight.

Personally, one of the things I look for in any workshop is the technical tools I gain.  Vickie Sokol-Evan’s “Tips in Minutes” for Microsoft Office was extremely impressive and helpful. Considering most of the students were already pretty advanced in these programs, even they learned tons of short cuts, formatting options and ways to streamline their productivity with better results.  The portion on social media privacy combined with MS Outlook was eye-opening; I consider myself pretty adept at the privacy issues, but I learned a lot of tactics and uncomfortable truths that I never suspected.

Bonnie provided tools for managing schedules, itineraries, inventories and other critical information that all top assistants should strive to maintain.  Additional materials provided made sure that the attendees would have more resources beyond the classroom.  The only real problem was that we ran out of time on Sunday to cover absolutely everything on the syllabus.

Overall, the “Be the Ultimate Assistant” workshop provided a solid launching point for anyone striving to be either a Personal Assistant or Executive Personal Assistant.  As Bonnie Low-Kramen and Vickie Sokol Evans continue to teach their classes, I am sure the content will continue to improve and evolve.


Bonnie Low-Kramen spent 25 years as the Personal Assistant to celebrity couple and Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis and Louis Zorich. Motivated by the lack of resources for assistants, she co-founded New York Celebrity Assistants (NYCA), a professional networking organization for assistants. Bonnie wrote the book on the subject – Be the Ultimate Assistant, A celebrity assistant’s secrets to working with any high-powered employer which is now a best-seller and her articles have been published around the world. Bonnie’s work with actress Olympia Dukakis included the Academy Award win for the film Moonstruck, the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, and travel around the world to places such as Sydney, London, Alaska and Prague. Because she has rarely chosen to do anything the easy way in her career, Bonnie is now passionately committed to effecting positive change in the American workplace – one assistant and one employer at a time. Visit her website:

Vickie Sokol Evans is the founder and President of RedCape, a highly-regarded technology training company focused on real world technology skills needed for small businesses, executives and their assistants, as well as any business user who wants to maximize the technology at their fingertips. Bestselling author of the series for both PC & Mac, Vickie is a Microsoft Certified Trainer and a Microsoft Office Master Instructor with over 15 years of classroom training experience, specializing in the productivity platform, such as Microsoft Office, OneNote, SharePoint, and Lync and includes Microsoft’s latest cloud offering, Office 365. Formerly a business/data analyst with Microsoft, she travels the globe delivering live Jerry Maguire-inspired “Tips in Minutes” keynote presentations to a variety of audiences; teaching engaging instructor-led courses; and facilitating Microsoft Experience Center events for many of Microsoft’s largest customers. Visit her website:

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