Leadership Team

Robert Lee

Co-Founder & CEO

Robert Lee co-founded Circa Interactive in May 2011 after spending three years leading digital marketing teams at Embanet Compass (acquired by Pearson in 2012), an online program management provider. His vision for Circa Interactive was to provide an alternative solution to traditional marketing models for universities who were looking for assistance in driving high-quality student enrollments for their on-ground and online degree programs while keeping control over their brands and messaging. Robert has a bachelor’s in management information systems from Florida State University and is a graduate of the UC Berkeley Executive Leadership Program. He oversees strategic direction of Circa Interactive’s innovative enrollment marketing services and has had the pleasure of working with Ivy League universities, state-run academic institutions, and boutique private schools. Robert is a former collegiate swimmer and water polo player who continues to enjoy the water through masters swimming and ocean trips.

Clayton Dean

Co-Founder, President & COO

Clayton Dean is the co-founder and chief operating officer at Circa Interactive. After chasing his dream of working in professional sports (NBA, MLB, USA Swimming) in the two years after college, Clayton found his true passion: higher education. Over the last decade, Clayton has partnered with dozens of top institutions to implement innovative marketing and enrollment strategies and consistently exceed enrollment goals. Clayton is a former Division I swimmer and holds a bachelor’s in business administration and sports marketing from Duquesne University, a master’s in organizational leadership and management from Lewis University, and a certificate in new media and internet marketing from the University of Denver. In 2018, Clayton was named a San Diego “Top Business Leader Under 40” finalist and also guided Circa Interactive to a No. 1,929 ranking on the 2018 Inc 5000. In his free time, Clayton serves on the board of the YMCA of San Diego County and the Prevent Drowning Foundation of San Diego, competes in triathlons, and spends time with his wife and son.

Joseph Lapin

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Joseph Lapin is the vice president of marketing and communications at Circa Interactive. His role is focused on helping universities tell their stories within multifaceted marketing campaigns to find students who will make an impact on the world. He has run communication, branding, and content strategies for Harvard Kennedy School, Tulane University, and American University, as well as many other higher education institutions. His storytelling background is diverse. Joseph is a graduate of the MFA program at Florida International University, and his writing has appeared in major publications, including the Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library, LA Weekly, Narratively, Salon, and The Los Angeles Review. He is also the host and creator of The Working Poet Radio Show — he interviews Pulitzer Prize winners, National Book Award winners, and Academy Award winners. He is also a former adjunct professor at Woodbury University and Florida International University.

Caroline Khalili

Director, Public Relations

Caroline Khalili is the director of digital public relations at Circa Interactive. Since joining the company in 2014, she has helped to grow the PR team to serve more than 35 higher ed clients while implementing innovative PR tactics to generate valuable marketing and enrollment results. Caroline is passionate about telling the unique stories of institutions through some of their most valuable assets — faculty members — in order to engage and interact with prospective students in a meaningful and authentic way. She and her team have secured coverage for university partners in outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, The Washington Post, WSJ, and Harvard Business Review. Her own insights around PR trends and topics have been featured in PR Daily, Meltwater, and Entrepreneur. Caroline graduated from the University of Oregon with honors in business administration and marketing. A Seattle native, she is happy to now reside in sunny San Diego.

Frederic Lee

Senior Director of SEO

Frederic Lee is the senior director of SEO and content strategy at Circa Interactive. He leads search visibility strategy and execution for dozens of higher education programs. Frederic has proved that any university, big or small, can increase its presence and tell its story in the often-daunting global search engines. His future-facing approach to content creation strategies puts universities in front of their unique national and local audiences through search and social tactics. He oversees a powerful team of technical, creative, and strategic SEO experts. Frederic graduated from Florida State University with dual bachelor’s degrees in media communications and Spanish language and literature. Frederic can be found at SMX, Unbounce, Traffic Think Tank, and other annual conferences absorbing and contributing to the best minds in the industry. He enjoys exploring the Iberian Peninsula and is constantly seeking out his next global adventure.

Bill Timpe

Director of Client Operations and Operational Excellence Leader

Bill Timpe is the director of client operations and operational excellence leader at Circa Interactive. For partners such as Harvard Kennedy School and Tulane University, he leads the account and project teams while ensuring top-notch project execution and client delivery. After graduating with a degree in history from California State University, Chico, Bill realized that history was filled with entities that had failed because of a lack of organization, and it drove his passion to find ways to help teams succeed at an optimal level. Bill then pursued a career in all things web related and Project Management Professional certification. Bill is focused on engaging team members to provide best-in-class program management experiences, and he draws on his background in leading project teams for the Sony eCommerce Platform. He continues to work on new process iterations, pushing Circa and its partners toward higher efficiency standards.

Farzin Espahani

Director of Paid Media and Analytics

Farzin Espahani is the director of paid media and analytics at Circa Interactive. He is obsessed with conversion rate optimization and finding a healthy balance between cost per lead and cost per enrolled student. He has developed and executed paid media strategies for a variety of higher education institutions. For example, he has conducted media analysis and facilitated budget management for Tulane University, American University, University of San Diego, University of Pennsylvania, and LSU, as well as many other higher education institutions. Farzin takes a unique approach to behavioural targeting in paid advertising which stems from his educational background in Social Psychology and Bio-Cultural Anthropology. Farzin built and managed multiple high-performance digital marketing teams within a variety of industries. In 2005, Farzin co-founded The Patient’s Guide, a web publishing and lead-generation company serving healthcare providers. His company was acquired by IAC Publishing, the company behind Ask.com & About.com. Farzin holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in bio-cultural anthropology from California State University, Fullerton.
Circa Partnership Manager Katie Keller

Katie Keller

Partnership Manager

Katie Keller is a Partnership Manager at Circa Interactive with a passion for finding meaningful, effective ways to support the goals of Circa’s many partners. With both a strategic management and digital marketing background, Katie thrives on creating lasting relationships with partners by ensuring that day-to-day needs are met, as well as identifying solutions, improved efficiencies, and strategic opportunities for long-term success. Katie has nearly 10 years of experience working in a variety of industries, including e-commerce, technology, and higher education, most recently serving as the Director of Digital Marketing at a nationally recognized liberal arts college. A graduate of the University of San Diego with a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing, Katie is a proud California native originally from the San Francisco Bay Area.

With a team of 40 employees headquartered in San Diego and a distributed team of higher education professionals across the United States, Circa Interactive’s robust and skilled team can help you achieve your brand and enrollment goals. Let’s Talk>>