Meet our Team

Bela Gandhi - Founder

Bela Gandhi is the Founder and President of the Smart Dating Academy, a full service personal consulting firm that provides busy, successful professionals with dating coaching, image consulting, personal shopping, professional photography and online dating consulting. She is the head dating coach for Smart Dating - and has an uncanny sixth sense about people, and what they need. Her intuition has been responsible for several marriages (and children)!  The Huffington Post calls her "The Fairy Godmother of Dating!"

Bela has been connecting people all of her life. She is proud to have been one of a select group of coaches/matchmakers nationwide to be selected for a prestigious training program given by Rachel Greenwald, a NY Times Best Selling Author. Bela also has extensive personal career coaching experience through her affiliation and board membership with The Cara Program, a Chicago non-profit which has helped over 2,500 at-risk people turn their lives around. Bela also serves on the Advisory Board of the International Academy of Design and Technology's (IADT) Fashion Design Program. Prior to founding the Smart Dating Academy, Bela worked for 12 years as a top global executive for Akzo Nobel, a large multinational corporation. Bela has a finance degree from The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and is happily married with 2 children.


 Lindsay - Dating Coach

After years of climbing the corporate ladder at a NYC advertising agency, Lindsay fell into personalized matchmaking due to her natural ability to give dating and relationship advice. Her experience setting up thousands of professionals on dates has given her keen insight on how to make a lasting first impression.

Five years ago, she became a certified dating coach and now works with singles on how to attract the right long term relationship. Lindsay graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in psychology and business and is happily married with three children.

AJ Photographer for Smart Dating Academy in Chicago

AJ - Photographer 

AJ has a BA in photography from Columbia College. He has been a professional photographer since 2006, and been co-owner of his studio since 2007. His photos have been published The New York Times, The Chicago Sun-Times, Timeout Chicago, The Journal of Nature, Make Magazine, and in other venues. When not taking photos AJ owns and curates his own Gallery in the West Loop Arts' District.

Hanna - Smart Dating Academy StylistHanna - Stylist

Hanna Ashbaugh earned a BA from Columbia College - and is an amazing stylist.  Her education, communication skills and her passion for style make her a great addition to the Smart Dating Academy team.   She has an uncanny knack for making men and women look their best - which is crucial in dating.  Hanna loves making a difference in communities. She works regularly with non-profit organization Bridge to Success, helping low- income and at risk men and women dress for interview and job success.

Lindsey - Smart Dating Academy Stylist in Chicago

Lindsey - Writer

Lindsey is a writer and communication coach for Smart Dating Academy. She personally (and sometimes painfully!) understands the trials and tribulations of Internet dating, but has become a true believer since meeting her wonderful boyfriend online. Lindsey has recently returned from a three-year stint teaching at the International School of Prague, Czech Republic. Prior to that she was a high school teacher in Denver for six years. In addition to teaching, she’s worked privately as an online dating profile-writing consultant the past two years. Since returning home to Chicago, she has begun her graduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago in social work, training to be a therapist. She received her B.S. in Education from Indiana University.

Jennifer Brown Smart Dating Academy

Jen –  Hair & Make-Up Artist

Now with over 6 years of professional experience in the makeup industry, Jen works consistently in all forms of the media, particularly in Print, Commercial, and Video. She also has extensive experience in Theatrical, Film, HDTV, Music Videos, Runway and Teaching.

Much of her work can be seen in publications such as Time Out Chicago, Image Magazine and The Chicago Reader. Some of Jen’s celebrity clients include: Martin Short, Stephanie Izard, Leslie Hunt, and Ramsey Lewis.