We are happy to introduce the advisory board members for the Center for Postsecondary Readiness and Success. They are well respected scholars, practitioners, and leaders who advocate and promote strategies to increase equitable postsecondary preparation, access, and completion.
Meredith is a Senior Research Associate in the K-12 Advocacy Department and Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute at UNCF where she leads and designs empirical research related to K-12 education reform for African American students. Dr. Anderson is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University where she teaches courses on race and public policy. Her publications have focused on race, educational inequities, African American community voice in education, and the influence of representation on tracking outcomes for African American male students. Dr. Anderson was also a Program Evaluator for Baltimore City Public School and she also contributed to the Maryland Longitudinal Data System development at the Maryland State Department of Education. Additionally, Dr. Anderson was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Public Affairs at American University. She has also taught in the Department of African American Studies at Georgetown University. Prior to her work in Washington D.C., Meredith was a Research Associate for the Project for Equity, Representation and Governance (PERG) at Texas A&M University. Meredith is also on the board for the Wayfinder Foundation. Meredith earned both her B.A. and doctorate in Political Science from Texas A&M University.
Jill Cook is assistant director of the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), where she helped develop and continues to oversee the National School Counselor of the Year and Recognized ASCA Model Programs. Jill also serves as a liaison to numerous K-12, nonprofit and for-profit organizations that work on issues related to the well-being of our nation’s students.
Jill has been the chairperson of the National Consortium for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and is a member of The College Board’s Member Engagement Advisory Committee; the National Working Group on Foster Care and Education; the Evidence Based School Counseling Conference; the Coalition to Support Grieving Students, the Stem Equity Pipeline through the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity and the National Coalition of Personnel Services in Special Education and Related Services. She also represents ASCA in the Council of National School Counseling and College Access Organizations.
She was a member of the Standards Revision task force that assisted in the revision of Learning Forward’s Standards for Professional Learning and currently works with the US Army and the National Association of Secondary School Principals on the Leadership and Professional Development Symposium for principals and school counselors. In 2014, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention presented her with the Allies in Action Partner Award for her work on the development of a model school district policy.
Jill received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has done postgraduate work at UNC-Greensboro and Appalachian State University and was a music teacher, middle school counselor and assistant principal before joining ASCA.
Kim Cook has served as Executive Director of the National College Access Network (NCAN) since 2008. She has worked in the higher education and college access field for her entire professional career, including experience in undergraduate admissions and financial aid, administration of a last-dollar scholarship program, and a succession of responsibilities at NCAN. She serves on the College Board's Counselor Community Advisory Group and the editorial board of the Journal of College Access. She is often consulted to speak on federal policy issues and building college access networks and community-based college access programs. In 2016, she was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for College Opportunity. Prior to joining NCAN in 1999, she was a Senior Program Associate at Plan for Social Excellence, Inc., a foundation supporting innovative projects in education, and served as its Grants Manager and Scholars Program Manager. Previously, she was as a college admission counselor at Pace University in New York. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from Pace University and a Bachelors degree in Communications, Law, Economics and Government from The American University (Washington, DC). She has completed continuing professional development through courses in Georgetown University’s Certificate in Non-Profit Management and Harvard University’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management institute.
Greg began his career in education as a middle grades teacher, following that he spent the next 15 years as the executive director of youth development and college access organizations in Chicago’s Cabrini Green Housing Development. In 1993, he oversaw the Steans Family Foundation’s community focused philanthropic efforts in Chicago’s North Lawndale community. Greg has also served in leadership roles for a number of foundations and non-profit organization boards.
In 2003 Greg established the Department of Postsecondary Education and Student Development at Chicago Public Schools, designing and implementing an assortment of postsecondary, academic, financial, and social support programs and building university, corporate and civic partnerships to enhance college access. In 2008 he was named the director of the Department of College and Career Preparation for Chicago Public Schools.
In 2009, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, named Greg Senior Advisor to the Secretary on the College Access Initiative at the U.S. Department of Education, where he currently serves as a leading voice on the President’s 2020 Goal.
Stephen DeWitt is the Deputy Executive Director for the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). His role includes developing strategic partnerships to advance the association’s mission, and oversight of policy development, advocacy, media relations and research activities. A primary focus of his work at ACTE has been promoting career and technical education’s value related to school improvement and student career readiness. He has 20+ years in the public policy arena.
Prior to joining ACTE, Mr. DeWitt directed government and public relations for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. His role included a strong focus on secondary school improvement and leadership development activities. Previous work also includes employment with the State of Florida’s Governor’s office and Florida Department of Education, and APCO Worldwide, a Washington DC-based public affairs and global communication firm. Mr. DeWitt holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida Southern College.
Founded in 1926, ACTE is the largest national education association dedicated to the advancement of education that prepares youth and adults for successful careers. The strength of ACTE is reflected in its diverse membership composed of career and technical educators, administrators, researchers, guidance counselors and others involved in planning and conducting career and technical education programs at the secondary, postsecondary and adult levels.
Lorraine Hastings is the Vice President, Counselor Community Engagement at the College Board. In In this role she manages large scale, high impact efforts that engage, support, and mobilize school counselors. Working with counselors and counseling organizations across the country, Lorraine and her team ensures that the College Board meets the needs of counselors and the students they serve.
Lorraine has held a number of senior roles at the College Board including Vice President Membership Mobilization, Vice President K-12 Services and Vice President Strategy, Training and Operations.
Before joining the College Board, Lorraine served as a teacher, counselor, and head counselor in a metro Atlanta school district.
Lorraine earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree from The University of Georgia. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Lorraine and her family reside in Dacula, GA.
Dr. Beverly J. Hutton has 20+ years of school leadership experience including positions as an assistant principal, principal and central office administrator. With more than 30 years of education experience in New Jersey, a state marked by its broad diversity of school district types, ranging from rural, to urban, to suburban, she uses her experiences and expertise to represent and support the stakeholders that NASSP represents on the national level.
Most recently, Dr. Hutton served as the co-chair of the writing committee for the Professional Standards for Educational Leaders. Under her leadership, NASSP worked with the Wallace foundation to convene the Principal Professional Learning Community with the Wallace Principal Pipeline Districts, using Design Thinking Methodology to help principals identify and solve real and authentic leadership challenges in their districts.
Dr. Hutton serves as Deputy Executive Director, Programs and Services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Her leadership experience at the school and central office levels uniquely positions her to lead NASSP’s efforts to address the critical issues facing school leaders today.
Dr. Hutton is well known in New Jersey as a presenter for professional development seminars and workshops for administrators and teachers, and has been awarded the prestigious New Jersey Visionary Leadership Award.
She is the author of a book entitled “Reculturing the Assistant Principalship – Perceptions and Practices”.
Jim Larimore is Chief Officer for the Center for Equity in Learning at ACT, where he leads ACT’s strategy to engage students, families, educators and communities to promote equity in learning and success. Jim’s team develops programs, research and partnerships to improve college and career readiness for all students.Jim’s career in higher education focused on college access and student success. He served as deputy director for student success at the Gates Foundation, and as a student affairs leader at campuses including Stanford, Dartmouth, Swarthmore and NYU Abu Dhabi.Jim served on the Advisory Council for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, and now serves on the Aspen Forum for Community Solutions Advisory Council and the International Student Affairs Advisory Board for the Universidad de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico.
Nathan Monell is the executive director for the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA), America’s oldest and largest volunteer child advocacy association. PTA’s 22,000 local units and nearly 4M members flourish across all the US. A majority of PTAs are in Title I schools with the majority of students served by local PTAs students of color.
At PTA, Nathan advances family engagement and public policy addressing the educational success of our nation’s children. This continues a lifelong commitment to elevate the voice of consumers as partners in the design, delivery and evaluation of services. He has provided strategic leadership to youth and family advocacy and service organizations in the areas of foster care, mental health, educational/employment and HIV/substance abuse prevention and care.
Nathan is an ASAE Certified Association Executive. He earned Georgetown University’s Certificate in Nonprofit Management, an MA in Communication Studies (Organizational Communication/Behavior) from the University of Michigan, and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech from Cornerstone University. Nathan is a member of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board and is the Secretary/Treasurer of Learning First Alliance.
Nathan and his husband, Robert Pignato are proud dads of two adopted teenagers, Kira and Gonzalo.
As Executive Vice President at AVID Center (Advancement Via Individual Determination), a global education non-profit, Michelle oversees all of the programs, products, and services that support educators, students, and families, K-higher education. Michelle’s teams deliver hallmark professional learning and leadership development for teachers/faculty, administrators, counselors/advisors; digital and print resources for educators; and K-12, higher education, STEM, and long-term English Language Learner programs for students. The goal: Ensure all educators have the instructional practices, mindset, and cultural competence to give students equitable opportunity and skills to journey the most rigorous paths to college, career, and life.
Prior to joining AVID Center, Michelle taught high school for 12 years and then was Adjunct Professor and Co-Director of the Single Subject Credential Program in the College of Education at CSU San Marcos (CA.) over 10 years. She helped conceptualize and develop a forward-thinking teacher preparation program that includes partnerships with local high schools, a focus on action research, an interdisciplinary approach to curriculum design, blended learning, and a pipeline for professionals to make a career change into education.
Michelle has authored and published a variety of articles, books, and web-based resources in the areas of literacy in mathematics, strategic writing, critical reading, English language learners, authentic assessment, and culturally relevant pedagogy.
Michelle holds a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction and a BA in English from the University of San Diego.
Lindsay C. Page is an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a research scientist at Pitt’s Learning Research and Development Center. Her work focuses on quantitative methods and their application to questions regarding the effectiveness of educational policies and programs across the pre-school to postsecondary spectrum. Much of her recent work has involved the implementation of rigorous studies to investigate innovative strategies for improving students’ transition to and through college. Her work has received significant media attention, having been covered by outlets such as Morning Edition and Marketplace on National Public Radio and The New York Times, among others. She holds a doctorate in quantitative policy analysis and master's degrees in statistics and in education policy from Harvard University. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.
Wil Del Pilar, Ph.D., serves as Ed Trust’s vice president of higher education policy and practice. In this role, Wil spearheads Ed Trust’s mission to highlight inequities and outline solutions in order to improve access, success, affordability, and completion in higher education for low-income students and students of color.
Prior to joining Ed Trust, Wil served in Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s administration as deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education, where he developed and implemented the state’s strategic vision for higher education. Before joining Governor Wolf’s team, Wil had experience in the Pennsylvania Department of Education, working as an executive assistant in the state’s higher education office. In this role, he managed an array of services for the state, including the College Access Challenge Grant and the Pennsylvania Information Management System.
Aside from working for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education in higher education policy roles, Wil has held senior development positions, as the director of development at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Florida’s Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Program. In both positions, he fought to secure funding to support access and success initiatives for historically underrepresented students.
In addition to his policy and development experience, Wil has a wealth of institutional experience, working in admissions at Chapman University in Orange, California, and the University of California Santa Cruz, as a financial aid counselor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and as a research assistant at Penn State.
Wil holds a doctorate in higher education/higher education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree from California State University-Dominguez Hills, and a bachelor’s degree from Chapman University.
Rudy Ruiz is Chief Education Officer for the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT), a non-profit coalition of leading employers committed to supporting education and improving student achievement. Rudy is responsible for external relations involving education, government, and foundation community partners.
Rudy served as executive director of college and career readiness for Baltimore City Public Schools from 2014-2017, facilitating cross-sector partnerships to strengthen students’ readiness for postsecondary success. His team supported school counselors and a highly touted career and technical education program. Research by the Baltimore Education Research Consortium demonstrated his team’s effectiveness in increasing access to college and career options, including substantial increases in scholarship earnings and 4-year college acceptance rates.
Rudy served Milwaukee Public Schools from 2001-2014: 8 years teaching high school mathematics and computer science, followed by school and district leadership roles promoting college access and success, including a 7-year, $30-million federal GEAR UP grant.
After earning his bachelor’s from Stanford University, Rudy used an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship toward a master’s in education from Cardinal Stritch University. Having completed administrative licensure at UW-Milwaukee, Rudy is now working toward an Ed.D. in entrepreneurial leadership at Johns Hopkins. He resides in Ellicott City with his wife and three sons.
Drew supports Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce volunteer executives who work to improve talent, connectivity, infrastructure and to advocate at the federal, state and regional levels for policy to improve employment, economic diversification and a predictable regulatory climate. In short, he coordiantes with a lot of partners to build the Austin we all want to live in.
In his career, Drew:
Drew graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs and Trinity University.
Ranjit was appointed President & CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) in May of 2015. He has a long history of service to NCCEP and its primary constituency, GEAR UP, having served on NCCEP’s Board of Directors, and years prior a as a member of the staff executive team.
Prior to assuming this role, Ranjit served as senior vice president for strategy and new product development at the College Board. There he was responsible for the development and integration of the organization’s comprehensive strategy, working across the organization to determine how all current and future work can achieve significant and positive social impact.
Ranjit’s previous roles include serving as senior vice president for strategic initiatives at ACT, where he played a significant role in developing the education division’s strategic plan and future product development efforts and led national efforts focused on policy development, advocacy, and partnerships in the education and workforce development arenas. Ranjit also previously served as executive vice president at NCCEP, and as executive vice president & COO at the National Association of Partners in Education. Early in his career he was a high school social studies teacher in the Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Maryland, public school districts.
Herbert R. Tillery is the Executive Director of the College Success Foundation - District of Columbia, a non-profit that annually provides approximately 1,500 low-income, underserved students, the academic, social, emotional, and financial supports they need to graduate from high school on-time, complete college and thrive in life. The Foundation provides a consistent and long-term presence in student’s lives, beginning in middle school and continuing through college graduation. Additionally, he co-chairs the city-wide Raise DC Partnership.
Herb served his country with distinction for over 26 years and retired with the rank of Colonel, U.S. Army. He has held various senior executive leadership positions, most notable, Deputy Mayor for Operations, Government of the District of Columbia; Chief of Staff, District of Columbia Public Schools; Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel Support, Families and Education; and an Inspector General for the Army.
A 2017 winner of the Center for Nonprofit Advancement Gelman Rosenberg and Freedman, Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership (EXCEL) Award, Mr. Tillery's community service includes membership on the Board of Directors, National College Access Network; the Board of Directors, Greater Washington Urban League; the Board of Directors, Washington DC Police Foundation; the Board of Advisors, The George Washington University School of Public Policy & Public Administration; member, Leadership Greater Washington and, an inductee to the North Carolina A&T State University ROTC Hall of Fame. He is also a Life Member of the ROCKS, Inc. and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Born in North Carolina and raised in Washington, D.C., Mr. Tillery graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School. He received his bachelor's degree in sociology from North Carolina A&T State University and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1970. While on active duty, he earned a Master's of Public Administration degree from Jacksonville State University.
As Executive Director of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, Waldo is working to inspire every student in the U.S. to take charge of their future by completing their post-secondary education, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a 2-year or 4-year college or university. His role cuts across policy, advocacy, and community engagement to further the goal that the U.S. once again leads the world in terms of college graduates. After leaving the White House, Waldo has moved over to the non-profit, Civic Nation, where he continues to lead Mrs. Obama's college access and completion initiative as the Executive Director of Reach Higher and the Executive Vice President for Education. Prior to joining the First Lady's staff, Eric served as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S Department of Education for Secretary Arne Duncan. He earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, an M.Ed. from Harvard University, and an A.B. from Brown University.
Richard Yep, CAE, FASAE is the Chief Executive Officer of the American Counseling Association, the largest membership organization of professional counselors in the world. ACA sets the standards and ethics for the counseling profession and they produce ten scholarly journals, a monthly magazine, webinars, and books. He currently oversees a staff of 63 and a $14 million budget. ACA has more than 53,000 members. Rich has worked for ACA for almost 30 years, the past 18 as the Association’s CEO. His previous roles at ACA involved public policy, marketing, and corporate planning. He is also the President of the American Counseling Association Foundation.
Rich has presented on various issues impacting NGOs and other not-for-profit organizations relative to public policy, leadership development, ethics, membership retention, and product development.
Rich is his organization’s representative with the United Nations Non-Governmental Organizations. He currently serves on the Executive Committee of the NGO/DPI.
Rich’s professional affiliations include the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He has been a member of the ASAE Marketing Council, is a past Chair of ASAE’s Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, and completed a term on the ASAE Board of Directors in 2013. Currently, Rich is on the Key Professional Associations Committee. He was named an ASAE Fellow in 2012 and is the immediate past chair of that entity. In 2017, he received ASAE’s Key Award which honors an association CEO who demonstrates exceptional qualities of leadership in his or her own association and displays a deep commitment to voluntary membership organizations as a whole.
For ten years Rich served on the Board of Trustees of Excelsior College, an institution based in Albany, New York that is dedicated to adult learners. He is Chair Emeriti of the board.
Rich holds an undergraduate degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.
Rich and his wife Mona reside in Alexandria, Virginia with two yellow Labradors. He has a son, Dylan, who is a software developer in New York City.
Maisha Challenger is an Awareness & Outreach Specialist for the U.S. Department of Education with the Office of Federal Student Aid (FSA). Maisha is responsible for disseminating a wide variety of information about federal student aid to eligible individuals. She also conducts presentations and training sessions and participates in panel discussions nationwide to educate individuals on the importance of federal financial assistance. Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Education, Maisha worked as an education lobbyist for Carmen Group and also as a high school substitute teacher at Friendship Collegiate Academy Public Charter School in Washington DC. Maisha earned her B.A. in History from Mount Saint Mary’s University and her Master’s in Public Administration from American University.
Dr. Firestone is a Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Labor's (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeship. She leads the private sector and educational institutions on developing youth and postsecondary apprenticeship programs. Dr. Firestone also manages the USDOL and U.S. Department of Education’s Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), a national network of over 320 colleges that allow apprentice graduates to accelerate completion of their postsecondary degrees.
Her professional and academic career has focused on youth and education opportunities in the United States and Latin America. Dr. Firestone was a 2012 Presidential Management Fellow at USDOL where she also worked in occupational safety and health for Hispanic workers and child labor and human trafficking in Latin America. She obtained her doctoral degree in Spanish Sociolinguistics and Master of Arts Degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Hispanic Studies from the College of William and Mary.
Dr. Firestone’s first book, “We Combine Quechua”: Language and Identity among Urban Youth in Peru, was published in Peru in September 2017. Dr. Firestone is bilingual in Spanish, and has also studied Arabic, Aymara, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Portuguese, Quechua, and Russian.