The Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents (PSP) Initiative is a partnership with Imaginable Futures and the ECMC Foundation to raise awareness about and share recommendations to better support students who are parents. The PSP Initiative is informed by three groups of experts from across the United States: Parent Advisors, National Advisors, and the Postsecondary Leadership Circle for Parents.
The 2020 – 2021 National Advisors make up a group of 23 leaders moving the needle on transformational supports and partnerships with student parents. They come from higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations and will provide guidance on strategies and recommendations to be developed over the next two years. Additionally, the National Advisors will help design the Aspen Policy Acceleration Partnership Grants, a challenge that will target states, cities, and counties with a demonstrated commitment to improving postsecondary success for parents. Ascend will work with these governmental entities to implement strategies proven to increase access to early childhood learning, housing, health care, and supports that increase high–quality postsecondary credentials among parents.
Executive Director of Student Affairs
Technical College System of Georgia
Derek Dabrowiak joined the Technical College System of Georgia in 2015. Prior to that, he served as the Director of Admissions for two regions of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, and as Enrollment Manager at Indiana Tech’s College of Professional Studies. He earned his B.S. from St. Joseph’s College and his M.S. from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. He has worked in student affairs in community colleges since 2009. He also served on boards in the areas of adult education, state National Associate for College Admission Counseling chapters, and the St. Joseph’s Alumni Board.
President & CEO
Family Scholar House
As President and CEO of Family Scholar House (FSH), Cathe Dykstra is committed to promoting the importance of education as an asset that appreciates over time and provides long-term self-sufficiency through career-track employment. She sees her role as changing the paradigm from short-term support to long-term solutions. Under Dykstra’s leadership, FSH was born from Project Women, with a bigger, broader mission as well as comprehensive, holistic services and programs that now serve over 4,000 families annually. She led FSH’s geographic expansion to serve other communities in the Louisville, KY region, developed and launched the affiliate program to replicate the FSH model, added the Foster Alumni pre-parent residential program, and completed over $58M in construction of five campuses in Louisville and $78M for KY, all of which provide affordable housing for families with low incomes.
Read Cathe Dykstra’s Ascend blog post here.
Barbara Gault, Ph.D.
Social Equity Strategies
Dr. Barbara Gault is the president of Social Equity Strategies, which provides research, planning, outreach, and media consulting to promote equity in education and employment. She is an expert on gender, racial/ethnic, and economic equity in the U.S. having published more than 100 articles and reports on issues including college access and affordability, entrepreneurship, job quality, paid leave, poverty, political engagement, and the need for accessible, high-quality early care and education. Dr. Gault served in leadership roles at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research for two decades, where she founded the Student Parent Success Initiative, held appointments at George Washington University and American University, and previously worked for organizations promoting human rights in Latin America. Dr. Gault received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice
Sara Goldrick-Rab is Professor of Higher Education Policy and Sociology at Temple University and Founding Director of the Hope Center. She is also the Chief Strategy Officer for Emergency Aid at Edquity, a student financial success and emergency aid company, and founded Believe in Students, a nonprofit distributing emergency aid. Goldrick-Rab is best known for her innovative research on food and housing insecurity in higher education, having led the five largest national studies on the subject, and for her work on making public higher education free.
Autumn Green, Ph.D.
Wellesley Centers for Women
Dr. Autumn Green is an applied sociologist and nationally recognized scholar in higher education and anti-poverty programs. Her research and advocacy focus on college access and success for students with low incomes, first-generation, and non-traditional, especially student parents. As a visiting scholar at Wellesley Centers for Women, she is finalizing multiple publication projects based on her research, particularly a book-length manuscript tentatively titled Low-Income Parents in Higher Education, with the support of a Russell Sage Foundation Presidential Award. She is also working on several article-length manuscripts and developing a pilot and demonstration project proposal for The Two-Generation Classroom offering a new approach to postsecondary teaching and learning.
Jee Hang Lee
Senior Vice President
Association of Community College Trustees
Jee Hang Lee is the Senior Vice President for Public Policy and External Relations for the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). He heads ACCT’s government affairs office. Working with other higher education organizations and state associations, Lee advocates on behalf of community college boards and colleges on legislative and regulatory issues such as appropriations, student financial aid, tax policy, and higher education policy. He serves on the board of the National Asian Pacific Islander Council, National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship, and on the oversight board of the Voluntary Framework of Accountability. He also served on the board of trustees of the American Student Association of Community Colleges and the executive committee of the Committee for Education Funding. Lee holds a B.A. from Boston University and an M.A. from George Washington University
Adrian Haugabrook, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Managing Director
Southern New Hampshire University
Dr. Adrian Haugabrook is executive vice president and managing director for the Horizon Group at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in Manchester, NH. He provides strategic leadership and executive guidance for the University’s national and global disruptive innovation agenda through emergent solutions with goals towards extending SNHU’s mission and offerings to new learners through the representation of learning, experiments, and testing of new ideas. He has committed his career to influencing access, equity, and opportunity by leading strategy, growth, public policy, and change initiatives in both higher education and nonprofit sectors. He sits on the boards of the Postsecondary National Policy Institute, the Ascend National Advisory of the Aspen Institute, the National Advisory Committee on the Future of African-American Education, and City Year New Hampshire. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Boston, his M.S. from Georgia Southwestern State University and his B.S. from the University of West Georgia.
Donna Johnson serves as a Director of Family Support for the Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS) program at the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. She provides programmatic leadership and guidance for GA’s child care subsidy program. She leads a team of family support consultants by assisting them in identifying and linking to community supports and services. Johnson also leads CAPS’ efforts in developing and implementing two-generation strategies for assisting families receiving child care subsidy in reaching self-sufficiency. Prior to this role, she served as the Director of Children and Youth with Special Needs, Director of Child Health programs in the Maternal and Child Health Section of the GA Department of Public Health, and Director of GA’s Early Intervention Program. Johnson serves as the parent representative and faculty on the Autism Sub-Committee Council on Children with Disabilities for the American Academy of Pediatrics. She holds a B.S. in Human Services and Nonprofit Management and an M.S. in Human and Social Services from Walden University.
Martha Kanter, Ed.D.
College Promise Campaign
Dr. Martha Kanter leads the College Promise Campaign and is also a Senior Fellow at New York University’s Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy. She specializes in policy efforts to identify and apply innovative, evidence-based education interventions, financing models, and behavioral incentives to raise high school and college graduation rates. Previously, she served as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, overseeing federal postsecondary statutory, regulatory, and administrative policies and programs, higher education, adult education, career-technical education, international education, and six White House Initiatives. She was also president of De Anza College and then chancellor of the Foothill De Anza Community College District. Dr. Kanter holds a B.A. from Brandeis University, an M.Ed. from Harvard University, and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco.
Director of Early Workforce Development
San Diego Workforce Partnership
Laura Kohn is a 25-year leader in the field of education, early childhood, and workforce development with a range of experience in policy, government, advocacy, research, program design, nonprofit management and philanthropy. At the SDWP, she promotes and executes investments in children and youth to maximize their likelihood of thriving in the workforce as adults. Kohn also coproduces the Parents’ Guide to Public Schools with Voice of San Diego. Prior roles include founding director of the Education Synergy Alliance, executive director of the New School Foundation, director of education for the city of Seattle, advocacy lead for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and education policy advisor to the governor of WA state. Kohn has a B.A. from Yale University and an M.P.A. from the University of Washington.
President & CEO
Chasity Lord has spent two decades specializing in organizational development, education, college access, fundraising, and leadership development. She has a B.A. in Organizational Communication from the University of Oklahoma and an M.B.A. in Strategy and Marketing from Northwestern University. She is a 2012 Pahara-Aspen Fellow with the Aspen Global Leadership Network and serves on the board of Shriver National Center on Poverty and Law.
Read Chastity Lord’s Ascend blog post here.
Nicole Lynn Lewis
Founder & CEO
Nicole Lynn Lewis graduated from the College of William & Mary with a B.A. in English as a student parent who overcame homelessness and a drug-infested environment to achieve what felt like the impossible. She also earned an M.A. from George Mason University. After honing her skills in communications and nonprofit management and learning about the needs of teen parents, she founded Generation Hope in Washington, D.C. in 2010. As CEO, Lewis oversees all aspects of Generation Hope’s operations. Named a CNN Hero in 2014, Lewis uses her skills in social entrepreneurship to lead an organization that is making a difference in the lives of student parents.
Read Nicole Lynn Lewis’ Ascend blog post here.
Program Implementation Manager
National Association of Workforce Boards
Kelly Middleton-Banks is responsible for developing programming and partnerships to support workforce development boards in implementing strategies and practices to advance workforce and economic development locally and nationally. She oversees workforce initiatives such as, Family Centered Employment, Advancing Retail Engagement and the NAWB Industry Partners programs. Prior to joining NAWB, she managed a $6M portfolio of geriatric-focused initiatives to expand medical research, education, and care for older adults at the Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine. She also worked at the Council for Opportunity in Education supporting TRIO programs and managing national grants to promote high school graduation and postsecondary education amongst students with low incomes.
President & CEO
Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
Gloria Perez is President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN). The WFMN conducts ongoing research on the status of women and girls in MN, advocates for public policy that results in greater economic security and safety for women and their families, and invests in organizations and leaders to build the field and achieve gender and racial equity. As an Ascend Fellow, Perez works with leaders from across the country to drive innovative ideas and proven strategies to help families achieve educational success and economic security. She serves on the board of directors for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Ciresi Walburn Foundation, and the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. She holds a B.A. from Macalester College.
S. Kwesi Rollins
Director of Leadership Programs
Institute for Educational Leadership
S. Kwesi Rollins guides the Institute for Educational Leadership’s (IEL) portfolio of programs designed to develop and support leaders with an emphasis on family and community engagement, early childhood education, and community-based leadership development. He directs the District Leaders Network on Family and Community Engagement as well as Leaders for Today and Tomorrow. He has years of experience working with local communities and state agencies to improve cross sector collaboration and service delivery systems supporting children, youth and families. He also provided technical assistance and training to state and county agencies, school districts, local schools, and community-based organizations in projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Rollins holds an M.S.W. degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Social Work, where he was a Maternal and Child Health Leadership Training Fellow.
Michelle Rhone-Collins joined LIFT in 2012 as the Executive Director of LIFT-LA. She seeded many of the program innovations that are now core to LIFT’s nationwide program model, most notably the focus on an intergenerational approach to breaking the cycle of poverty that targets parents and children in the early childhood years. In 2017, she was promoted to Chief Cities Officer, overseeing all of LIFT’s regional operations. She developed LIFT’s current strategic plan, which offers a bold vision to extend LIFT’s direct services to 25,000 more parents and children and to launch a systems change strategy to reach families with young children living in poverty. In 2019, she was promoted to the role of Chief Executive Officer. She is a Senior Fellow at both the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Southern California. She received her B.A. from Duke University and M.Ed. from Columbia University.
Read Michelle Rhone-Collins’ Ascend blog post here.
Founder & Director
Los Angeles Valley College Family Resource Center
Marni Roosevelt founded the Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) Family Resource Center (FRC) with a vision of creating a family friendly campus to support student parents, workforce training participants, and community members. The FRC has become a national model for replication and won multiple state and national awards. More than $15M in grants have been awarded to the FRC. In addition, Roosevelt secured $1.5M in donations to build a dedicated FRC facility on the LAVC campus. Roosevelt has extensive expertise with work and family programs in the corporate world. She did national and international consulting before joining the LAVC faculty. Roosevelt received her B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz and her M.A. from California State University at Sonoma.
Chief Operating Officer
Sarah Saxton-Frump, a co-founder of PelotonU, directs the college completion program, and trains new partners to bring their model to new cities. She graduated from Brown University in 2007 and received her M.A. in Educational Administration in 2013. Saxton-Frump served for five years at KIPP: Austin Collegiate as a teacher and school leader. Prior to KIPP, she was a 2007 Rio Grande Valley corps member with Teach for America where she taught 9th grade World Geography and 10th grade World History.
Read Sarah Saxton-Frump’s Ascend blog post here.
Chief Executive Officer
Abigail Seldin is the chief executive officer of the Seldin/ Haring-Smith Foundation (SHSF). SHSF funds seed-stage public interest projects and collaborates with leading tech companies to build tools for the new college majority. At SHSF, Seldin has led the development of SwiftStudent, a free digital tool for college students seeking financial aid appeals. Seldin is the co-producer of the New College Majority Photo Series with Getty Images, a new images project highlighting the demographics of today’s college students. She serves on the boards of Temple University’s Hope Center, Montgomery College Foundation, and the Association of American Rhodes Scholars.
Arizona State University Foundation
As Vice President at the Arizona State University Foundation, Smith designs opportunities for external constituents to invest in Arizona State University as a New American University. She is also a Professor of Practice in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College with a focus on university design and higher education and the law. Additionally, she teaches an undergraduate course called Cross Sector Collaboration which is offered to students in the Next Generation Service Corps, a program she helped design.
Read Jacqueline Smith’s Ascend blog post here.
Chief Learning & Innovation Officer
American Council on Education
As Chief Learning & Innovation Officer at the American Council on Education (ACE), Louis Soares incubates and scales executive leadership networks, as well as catalyzes research and innovation initiatives across the Council. Working with colleagues, Soares integrates the work of ACE’s leadership, research and innovation teams to optimize membership value for colleges and universities by developing programs and services to advance the success of senior leaders, diversify the executive talent pipeline, and facilitate partnerships to enhance institutional performance. While at ACE, he published landmark papers, including The Post-traditional Learners Manifesto Revisited: Aligning Postsecondary Education with Real Life for Adult Student Success and Evolving Higher Education Business Models: Leading with Data to Deliver Results.
Susan Warfield is the Program Director for the Student Parent HELP Center at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMN-TC). She has 20 years experience working with student parents and other under-represented populations at the UMN-TC and an additional 20 years spent working with children and families in both CO and the San Francisco Bay area. Beginning her social work career in the public K-12 education system, she spent seven years working in highly diverse neighborhoods with low incomes. She earned her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Denver and M.S.W. from the University of California at Berkeley. She serves on the Institute for Women’s Policy Research Student Parent Policy Workgroup and is the founder and inaugural chair of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Adult Learners and Students with Children Knowledge Community.
Read Susan Warfield’s Ascend blog post here.
National Governors Association
Amanda Winters serves as a program director at the National Governors Association, where she advises state leaders on postsecondary and workforce policies. Winter’s work focuses on state postsecondary financing with an emphasis on equity and measurable outcomes. She is also examining state longitudinal data systems, short term credentials, work-based learning, occupational licensure, state higher ed oversight, and connecting education and work. Before joining NGA, Winters was assistant director of academic affairs at the Illinois Board of Higher Education. In addition to working with 100+ institutions in the state to provide institutional and program review, she worked with the community college system and the state workforce board on projects to promote college access and completion. Winters holds a B.A. from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a B.A. and an M.A. from the University of Illinois- Springfield
Photo of Generation Hope Scholar hugging her daughter on graduation day. Generation Hope is a nonprofit based in Washington, DC, providing wraparound, two-generation support to young parents in college and their pre-kindergarten little ones, and promoting student parents’ college completion through national advocacy and direct technical assistance to colleges and universities.