Meet the Commission

Meet the Commission

The Postsecondary Value Commission brings together higher ed experts and national leaders to examine, explore, and define the value of postsecondary education in the U.S.

Co-Chairs

Sue Desmond-Hellmann

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

As CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sue leads the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Drawing on her diverse experience in both the public and private sectors, she creates an environment for talented and committed individuals to help more children and young people survive and thrive, combat infectious diseases that hit the poorest hardest, and empower people — particularly women and girls — to transform their lives. Prior to joining the foundation, Sue was chancellor of the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), overseeing all aspects of the university and medical center’s strategy and operations.

Mildred García

Mildred García, American Association of State Colleges and Universities

As AASCU's president, Dr. García advocates for public higher education, working to influence federal policy and regulations on behalf of member colleges and universities; serving as a resource to presidents and chancellors as they address state policy and emerging campus issues; developing collaborative partnerships and initiatives that advance public higher education; directing a strategic agenda that focuses on public college and university leadership for the 21st century; and providing professional development opportunities for presidents, chancellors, and their spouses. Prior to joining AASCU, Dr. García served as the president of California State University, Fullerton and California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Managing Partner

Michelle Asha Cooper

Michelle Asha Cooper, Institute for Higher Education Policy

Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., is the second president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). Cooper is responsible for stewardship of the organization’s rich history of addressing the educational needs of today’s students, many of whom are low income, students of color, and adults.

Cooper also has served as the deputy director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education and held various leadership positions at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council for Independent Colleges, and King’s College.

Cooper is a member of the board of directors for uAspire and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She also serves on several advisory boards, including the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education and the African-American Male Initiative. She received her B.A. from the College of Charleston, an M.P.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Commission Members

Brian Bridges

Brian Bridges, UNCF

Brian Bridges, Ph.D., is UNCF's vice president of research and member engagement and leads UNCF's Frederick D. Patterson Research Institute (FDPRI) and the Institute for Capacity Building (ICB). Prior to joining UNCF, Bridges was vice provost for diversity, access, and equity at Ohio University.

He was associate director of the Center for Advancement of Racial and Ethnic Equity at the American Council on Education and held various roles, including associate director, at the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Bridges earned his doctorate in higher education administration from Indiana University-Bloomington, a master of public administration from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and a bachelor's degree from Francis Marion University.

Anthony Carnevale

Anthony Carnevale, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Dr. Carnevale currently serves as research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, a position he has held since the Center was created in 2008.

Previously, Carnevale served as vice president for public leadership at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). While at ETS, Dr. Carnevale was appointed by President George Bush to serve on the White House Commission on Technology and Adult Education.

Dr. Carnevale received his B.A. from Colby College and his Ph.D. in public finance economics from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

José Luis Cruz

José Luis Cruz, Lehman College, CUNY

José Luis Cruz is president of the Herbert H. Lehman College of The City University of New York. Previously, he served as provost of California State University, Fullerton. He is a former vice president of Higher Education Policy and Practice at The Education Trust and a former vice president of student affairs for the University of Puerto Rico system.

He began his career as a faculty member in engineering at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. President Cruz serves on the board of directors of The Education Trust, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Regional Plan Association and the New York Botanical Garden.

Ivelisse Estrada

Ivelisse Estrada, Communications and Social Impact Specialist

Ivelisse R. Estrada is a communications and social impact specialist. Previously, she was senior vice president of Corporate and Community Relations for Univision Communications Inc. She coordinated all philanthropic contributions and served as a liaison between Univision and community organizations.

She was responsible for the overall development and coordination of community relations strategies for the company, including Univision and TeleFutura Networks, Galavisión, the Univision Television Groups, Univision Interactive Media and Univision Radio. Estrada supervised the execution of the company’s national initiatives such as citizenship and voter registration efforts, and health and education projects.

Nichole Francis Reynolds

Nichole Francis Reynolds, Mastercard

As vice president for public policy, Nichole Francis Reynolds leads Mastercard's public policy interests in the areas of financial inclusion, interchange, tax, trade, privacy, cybersecurity, data security, fintech, intellectual property, and emerging payments. She also plays a leading role in executing the community relations program.

She works with Congress, the White House, federal agencies, industry associations, and coalitions on global payment issues and interests of importance to Mastercard. Previously, she served as director of U.S. government relations at the company. Before joining Mastercard, she spent ten years in Washington D.C. in a variety of senior roles on Capitol Hill, and five years practicing law.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University and received her law degree in 2001 from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.

John Friedman

John Friedman, Brown University

John N. Friedman is an associate professor of economics, international affairs and public policy. His research brings together theory and data, harnessing the power of large administrative datasets to yield policy-relevant insights on a wide range of topics, including taxation, healthcare, and education quality.

Friedman has also worked as special assistant to the president for economic policy at the National Economic Council in the White House from 2013-2014. He holds a Ph.D. in economics, an MA in statistics, and a BA in economics, all from Harvard University. He is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a founding co-director of Opportunity Insights.

Paul Glastris

Paul Glastris, The Washington Monthly

Paul is editor-in-chief of the Washington Monthly, a position he has held since April 2001. He is co-author of the book The Other College Guide and editor of the e-book Elephant in the Room: Washington in the Bush Years. Previously, Paul was a special assistant and senior speechwriter to President Bill Clinton.

Before joining the White House, Paul spent 10 years as a correspondent and editor at U.S. News & World Report. Paul has been a fellow at New America and the Western Policy Center, serves on the board on the Nonzero Foundation and was a founding member of the board of Education Sector, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

Jillian Klein

Jillian Klein, Strategic Education, Inc.

Jillian Klein is vice president of government and regulatory affairs for Strategic Education, Inc. where she works with internal and external partners on higher education policy, postsecondary innovation, and federal financial aid compliance on behalf of Capella University and Strayer University.

She was part of the team that created Capella University’s FlexPath direct assessment program offerings, including the first bachelor’s and master’s level programs approved to receive federal financial aid by the Department of Education.

Janice Lachance

Janice Lachance, American Geophysical Union

Janice Lachance, JD, FASAE, serves as executive vice president, strategic and operational excellence of the American Geophysical Union. She is also interim director of the American Library Association and a longstanding elected fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration where she has served on the board of directors and executive committee.

Previously, Lachance served as president of the American Society for Public Administration and a fellow of the American Society of Association Executives. Lachance was nominated by President Bill Clinton and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), where she was responsible for all policy and programs affecting the 2.1 million members of the nation’s civil service. She is credited with many seminal achievements at OPM, including expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act to permit the use of sick leave to care for a newborn or ailing family member.

Lachance graduated from Manhattanville College, and earned her law degree from Tulane University.

Teresa Lubbers

Teresa Lubbers, Indiana Commission for Higher Education

Teresa Lubbers was appointed in 2009 to serve as commissioner for Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education, where she works to increase college completion, ensure academic quality and student learning, and align postsecondary credentials with meaningful careers.

Previously, Lubbers served in the Indiana State Senate for 17 years, leading on education and economic development issues as chair of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee. Lubbers is a past chair and a current member of both the State Higher Education Executive Officers and the Midwestern Higher Education Compact. She serves as vice chair for the National Council for State Authorization and commissioner for the Education Commission of the States, and is member of the advisory council for the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning as well as Indiana’s Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.

Lubbers holds an undergraduate degree from Indiana University and a master in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Elisabeth Mason

Elisabeth Mason, Stanford Technology, Opportunity, and Poverty Lab

Elisabeth Mason is the founding director of the Stanford Poverty and Technology Lab and a senior advisor at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality. Previously, Elisabeth was the co-founder and CEO of Single Stop, a national anti-poverty initiative.

Elisabeth is an expert on venture philanthropy, children’s rights, start-up organizations, and poverty-fighting programs.

Under her leadership, Single Stop grew rapidly to serve over 1.5 million families, drawing down nearly $4 billion in impact in its first eight years, and won numerous awards, including two White House Social Innovation Fund grants and Top Ten in Global Social Impact from Fast Company.

Sean McGarvey

Sean McGarvey, North America Building Trades Unions

A glazier by trade, Sean McGarvey is the president of the North America’s Building Trades Unions. Sean began his career in 1981 in Philadelphia with Glaziers Local Union 252 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT), and subsequently worked his way up through various leadership positions within the IUPAT.

In 2005, he was elected secretary-treasurer of North America’s Building Trades Unions. In 2012 Sean was unanimously elected by the Governing Board of Presidents of North America’s Building Trades Unions, and was unanimously re-elected in 2015 by the delegates to the 69th Convention of North America’s Building Trades Unions.

Ted Mitchell

Ted Mitchell, American Council on Education

Ted Mitchell is the president of the American Council on Education. He brings a wide array of experience and accomplishments from across the higher education sector to ACE, as well as a longstanding focus on helping more students gain access to a postsecondary education and complete their degrees.

Mitchell was previously president of Occidental College and served as U.S. under secretary of education, overseeing postsecondary education policies and programs. He also served as vice chancellor and dean of the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and as a professor and chair of the Department of Education at Dartmouth College.

Mitchell received his bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees from Stanford University.

Sahar Mohammadzadeh

Sahar Mohammadzadeh, Harvard University

Originally from Lexington, Kentucky, Sahar is a student at Harvard University, concentrating in Government with a focus on International Relations. She is a staff writer for the Crimson, Junior Director for Harvard Model Congress, and is involved in the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School.

She currently lives in Wigglesworth Hall.

Marc Morial

Marc Morial, National Urban League

Marc Morial was raised in a family that understands the importance of education and public service. His father was the first African-American mayor of New Orleans; his mother was a teacher. After an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1990, Morial was elected to the Louisiana state senate in 1992 and later was elected mayor of New Orleans.

In 2003, he was named president and CEO of the National Urban League. Under his leadership, the organization has worked to provide economic empowerment, educational opportunities, and the guarantee of civil rights for the underserved in America.

Gloria Nemerowicz

Gloria Nemerowicz, Yes We Must Coalition

Gloria Nemerowicz is founder and president of the Yes We Must Coalition: College Success for All, a nonprofit organization of small, private, nonprofit colleges and universities across the country that primarily enroll students from low-income families. The coalition seeks to raise public awareness, share resources, collect data, and fundraise in order to improve graduation rates for underserved students.

Dr. Nemerowicz served as president of Pine Manor College and founded the Women’s Leadership Institute at Wells College. Dr. Nemerowicz was a tenured member of the faculty, dean of the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, and vice provost and dean of the School of Arts & Sciences at Monmouth University. She received her BA, MA, and Ph.D. (Sociology) from Rutgers University and was awarded honorary doctoral degrees by Marygrove College, Heritage University, and Pine Manor College.

Eloy Ortiz Oakley

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Community Colleges

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges, is best known for implementing innovative programs and policies that help students succeed in college. Oakley believes that California’s emerging economies demand a workforce with quality credentials and that the state’s 115 community colleges play a pivotal role in moving California forward.

Under Oakley’s leadership, the Long Beach Community College District has received numerous awards and recognitions for its efforts to improve student completion rates and for directly supporting a strong small business and entrepreneurship eco-system throughout the greater Southern California region.

Cheryl Oldham

Cheryl Oldham, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Cheryl A. Oldham is vice president of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and senior vice president of the education and workforce program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Oldham has 20 years of experience in public policy development and implementation as well as in project management and government relations.

Her previous experience includes serving for eight years in President George W. Bush’s administration. In July 2008, the president designated Oldham as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education while also serving as chief of staff to the under secretary of education. As chief of staff, Oldham was the senior adviser on policy and strategy and oversaw the coordination of the programs and policies for which the office was responsible. These included vocational and adult education, postsecondary education, and federal student aid.

Laura Perna

Laura Perna, University of Pennsylvania

Laura W. Perna is a James S. Riepe professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy (AHEAD) at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves as chair of the Higher Education Division of the Graduate School of Education, faculty fellow of the Institute for Urban Research and faculty affiliate of the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative.

She is also a member of the advisory board for the Netter Center for Community Partnerships. Dr. Perna served as president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, vice president of the American Educational Research Association’s Division J (Postsecondary Education), and is now a member of the AERA Grants Governing Board.

She holds bachelor’s degrees in economics and psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and earned her master’s in public policy and Ph.D. in education from the University of Michigan.

Mark Schneider

Mark Schneider, Institute for Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education

Mark Schneider serves as director of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Before joining IES, Schneider was a vice president and an institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and president of AIR's College Measures.

Prior to joining AIR, he served as commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics from 2005 to 2008. Schneider is the author or editor of numerous articles and books on education policy. In 2013, the Chronicle of Higher Education selected Schneider as one of the 10 people who had the most impact on higher education policy that year.

Michele Siqueiros

Michele Siqueiros, Campaign for College Opportunity

Michele Siqueiros, president of Campaign for College Opportunity, oversees the organization’s strategy, policy priorities, fundraising, and serves as the leading spokesperson for their work. Michele has been with the Campaign since 2004, serving first as the associate director and the past seven years as executive director and was named president in 2014.

With her leadership in 2010, the Campaign led the effort for historic transfer reform that will make it easier for students to transfer from any California Community College to the California State University system, and most recently led support for the passage of the Student Success Act of 2012.

She received her bachelor of arts in political studies and Chicano/a studies from Pitzer College and her master of arts in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Zakiya Smith Ellis

Zakiya Smith Ellis, State of New Jersey, Office of the Secretary of Higher Education

Zakiya Smith Ellis serves as New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, where she is responsible for the policy development and coordination of higher education activities for the state. She previously led work at Lumina Foundation to advance federal policy to increase attainment and to develop new postsecondary finance models.

Prior to her work in philanthropy, Zakiya served as a senior advisor for education at the White House Domestic Policy Council, and as a senior advisor at the U. S. Department of Education in the Obama administration. She also served as director of government relations for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.

Dr. Ellis holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and secondary education from Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and holds a doctorate in higher education management from the University of Pennsylvania.

Margaret Spellings

Margaret Spellings, Texas 2036

Spellings joined Texas 2036 after serving as the president of the 17-institution University of North Carolina System, leading the state’s public universities into a new period of performance, affordability, and growth with a focus on improving economic mobility, ensuring accountability, and advancing the public good.

During her tenure, Spellings oversaw a strategic planning process that won unanimous approval from the UNC Board of Governors for its roadmap titled Higher Expectations. Spellings previously served as the U.S. Secretary of Education, where she oversaw the creation of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which shifted the national conversation around colleges and universities, and implemented the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), a national bipartisan initiative to provide greater accountability for public K-12 schools.

Spellings is a graduate of the University of Houston, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. She also received an honorary doctorate and Distinguished Alumna Award from the university in 2006.

Luis Talavera

Luis Talavera, Arkansas State University

Luis Talavera is a first-generation American citizen and the first person in his family to attend college. He is a student at Arkansas State University where he is a Health Professions and Audiology major focusing on communications disorders.



Luis is from Leachville, Arkansas, and he credits his family’s hard work and determination and student support services with helping him get where he is today.

Ivory Toldson

Ivory Toldson, Howard University

Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D. is a professor of counseling psychology at Howard University, the president and CEO of The QEM Network, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education, and executive editor of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Research, published by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Toldson was previously appointed by President Barack Obama to be the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In this position, he worked with the U.S. Secretary of Education to devise national strategies to sustain and expand federal support to HBCUs.

His research has been featured in The Washington Post, CNN.com, The New York Times, The National Journal, Essence Magazine, BET.com, The Grio, and Ebony Magazine. Dr. Toldson was named in The Root 100, an annual ranking of the most influential African-American leaders. Since 2016, as QEM president, Dr. Toldson has served as principal investigator of eight National Science Foundation awards to support capacity building efforts for STEM programs at Minority Serving Institutions.

Andy Van Kleunen

Andy Van Kleunen, National Skills Coalition

Andy Van Kleunen is the chief executive officer of National Skills Coalition, which he founded in 2000 in collaboration with leaders from the workforce development and philanthropic communities.



Andy has since led the Coalition to become a nationally recognized voice on behalf of a variety of stakeholders—including business leaders, labor leaders, community colleges, community-based organizations, and leaders from the public workforce system—who have come together to advocate for an America that grows its economy by investing in its people.

He holds a master’s degree in urban sociology from the Graduate Faculty at the New School for Social Research, and a bachelor’s degree in political science and honors studies from Villanova University.

Belle Wheelan

Belle Wheelan, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools

Dr. Wheelan serves as president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and is the first African American and the first woman to serve in this capacity.

She has received numerous awards and recognitions including six honorary degrees; Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, D.C.; and the AACC Leadership Award; the John Hope Franklin Award from Diverse Issues in Higher Education for outstanding leadership in higher education; and the Educational Testing Service (ETS) Terry O’Banion Prize in Education from the League for Innovation in Community Colleges.

Dr. Wheelan received her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas with a double major in psychology and sociology; her master’s from Louisiana State University in developmental educational Psychology; and her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in educational administration with a special concentration in community college leadership.