Founder and Team

Dr. Paula Chambers, Founder and CEO:  Raised in Los Angeles, Paula went to Cal Arts film school (B.F.A., 1986) and spent her 20s in the film business as an Assistant Director. Her maiden name, Paula Foster, can be seen in the end credits of “Die Hard,”  “L.A. Law” and many other late-80s productions. In 1991 at age 29, she left the entertainment industry and returned to school in order to become an English teacher, earning an MA in English from California State University, Northridge (1995), and PhD from The Ohio State University in Rhetoric and Composition (2000). Midway through her PhD program, she realized that she would probably be happier in a nonacademic career, and founded a listserv called WRK4US (Work For Us) while dissertating, to provide a safe space where humanities PhD students could openly discuss non-academic careers–never imagining that managing that community would eventually become her career. After graduating in 2000, Dr. Chambers returned home to Los Angeles and became a successful grant writer and fundraiser, raising millions of dollars for social justice, the arts and the environment in a series of progressively responsible positions. All the while, she continued managing WRK4US in her spare time. Eventually, Paula finally realized that helping academics find non-academic careers was her true calling. She transformed WRK4US the listserv into Versatile PhD, a web-based socially positive business, in 2010. Paula runs The Versatile PhD from her home office in Los Angeles and is an in-demand speaker on the university circuit.

Dr. David LaCroix, Director of Operations: David has a BA from Northwestern and a PhD in English and Afro-American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After finishing his doctorate in 2006, David spent three years teaching at R-1 universities, then moved to DC where he reinvented himself as a freelance learning and education strategist. In that capacity, he retooled and updated the curriculum of a career-change non-profit, and developed an excellent consulting relationship with the Smithsonian, which hired him as a key contributor to several public education programs. He has spoken on non-academic careers for PhDs and has been a member of the Versatile PhD community since early 2009 when it was still WRK4US. David’s main role is to handle relations with new and existing clients; he also participates in business development decisions.

Dr. Alex Welsch, Webmaster: Alex has been a freelance web developer since the 1990s, then later earned a PhD in Urban Studies and joined the WRK4US community circa 2009. Alex lives in the Washington DC metro area where he provides consulting services to clients in a variety of fields, including public policy, community development, computer programming and web technologies. As Versatile PhD Webmaster, Alex maintains the site, adds new functionalities, resolves user issues and helps each new subscribing institution install VPhD on its website.