The Hope Center


Monique Curry-Mims

As Principal of Civic Capital Consulting, Monique oversees all business development and client implementation. She​ has over 15 years of development and leadership experience in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors providing development, marketing, and strategic planning professionals with experience in graphic design, branding, and public relations. As a Penn State MBA graduate who holds a BS in Digital Design from Philadelphia University and an MSEd from Walden University, Monique has an ​innovative approach to developing education and nonprofit organizations.  

Terri Dautcher

Terri Dautcher is a strategy and leadership consultant. She has 20+ years of c-suite leadership experience in for-profit and nonprofit service sector organizations, followed by 8 years as a full-time business faculty member at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. For the past 5 years she has served as a self-employed thought partner and facilitator, working in service to college students, the schools they attend, higher ed NGOs, and people who love making things happen. Terri has supported and coached organizations across a wide range of operational and structural transformations. She is a systems thinker with a practical approach to navigating the complexities of the human side of enterprise. 

Eileen Horng

Eileen Horng is an independent education research consultant and founder of Evaluation, Research and Assessment Solutions. She provides project management for the full project cycle including: planning, grant writing, executing (data collection and analysis), monitoring progress, reporting to stakeholders, and disseminating results. She also provides third-party data de-identification services. Eileen received a BA in Human Biology (with a concentration on education and child development) from Stanford University and a PhD in Education (in the Urban Schooling Division) from the University of California, Los Angeles. She has previously been a Project Director at the Institute for Research on Education Policy and Practice at Stanford University, the Director of Research, Assessment and Accountability for the Redwood City School District, and an elementary school teacher. Click here to learn more.

Danette G. Howard

Danette G. Howard recently served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Policy Officer at Lumina Foundation. Prior to that, she was the Secretary of Higher Education for the State of Maryland, assistant director of higher education policy at Education Trust, and researcher at the University of Maryland. In December 2021, she was named the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center’s inaugural Executive in Residence.

She received her bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, from Howard University, where she is currently a member of the Board of Trustees and Chair of the Academic Excellence Committee. She also earned her master’s degree from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. In 2015, she was honored as a recipient of Howard University’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Michele W. Johnson

As the granddaughter of immigrants and a first-generation college graduate who worked full-time while paying her way through graduate school, Michele believes that education is the gateway to opportunity.  Michele served ten years as Vice President at Central Scholarship, a Maryland nonprofit helping low-income students pay for higher education — building and leading a financial education series and a state advocacy program resulting in a successful “first in the nation” bill; launching an emergency student aid program; and overseeing the scholarship and interest-free loan programs.  In June 2021, she launched Bold Thought Partners, LLC, and is now a national consultant and advocate for affordable higher education working with clients who share her values. Her expertise includes advocacy on scholarship displacement, higher education affordability and transparency; and building state advocacy programs, coalitions, and leadership development programs.

A resident of Maryland’s eastern shore, Michele graduated from the University of Maryland and the University of Virginia. She is an active member of the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), serving on the advocacy and government relations committee; is Immediate Past Board Chair of the Elijah Cummings Youth Program; and volunteers with Mid-Shore Scholars, a college access program. Connect with Michele at 

Laura Keane

Laura Keane is an education and nonprofit leader focused on improving higher education equity for students. With 20 years of leadership experience, Laura utilizes a combination of practice, research, and policy/systems change strategies to close college access and achievement gaps for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds. Laura is a national thought leader who testified before the Senate HELP Committee, presents at national conferences, and authors publications on college affordability, policy analysis, college advising, and social-emotional learning. Currently, Laura offers consulting services to promote the student-centered practices and policy/systems change needed to reduce barriers for underrepresented students to complete their degrees. 

Previously, Laura served as uAspire’s Chief Policy Officer, where she led a direct-service nonprofit to become a leading voice on college affordability policy/systems change. Prior to this role, Laura designed and launched uAspire’s national Training & Technical Assistance Program, led Mastery Charter Schools College Initiatives for 10,000+ students, and taught high school history for six years. Laura earned her BA at the University of Notre Dame and Ed.M. at Harvard University. Laura and her family live in Philadelphia where her children attend public school, and she can often be found walking her dog Lulu in the neighborhood.

Max Lubin

Max Lubin

Max Lubin is the CEO of Rise, Inc. a graduate student at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a former Obama Administration appointee at the U.S. Department of Education. At the U.S. Department of Education, Max helped shape more than $1 billion in annual investments in innovative schools, nonprofit organizations, and institutions of higher education nationwide. Previously, Max worked on local, state, and national electoral and advocacy campaigns focused on advancing equity and opportunity.

The Hope Center/RISE partnership is an effort to grow and lead college affordability advocacy campaigns nationwide. It pairs the Hope Center’s scholars, advocates, and education experts with student and youth advocates who can build powerful campaigns to address concerning findings identified by researchers. 

Mayra Olivares-Urueta

Mayra Olivares-Urueta, Ph.D. works to remove institutional barriers and ensure the success of all students, especially historically marginalized and excluded populations. She currently serves as associate professor of professional practice in the graduate Higher Education Leadership Program at Texas Christian University. Prior to teaching, Dr. OU served as vice president for student development services at Tarrant County College Northeast Campus. Dr. OU’s research and writing focus on removing barriers to executive leadership for Latina mothers in community college, making college a family affair, and increasing access and success of Latinx students in higher education. In 2018, she was named an American Association of Women in Community Colleges 40 under 40, and in 2020, she became a fellow of the Aspen Institute’s Presidential Fellows program. She is a member of the NASPA Latinx Task Force within the Community Colleges Division, a member of the board of directors for Camp Fire Texas, and the proud spouse of Alejandro and mother of Isabel and Olivia.

Akilah Patterson

Akilah Patterson, MPH is a doctoral student at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health and a graduate of the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Health Education at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Her research is focused on equity in mental health for communities of color and stamping out racism and its effects on mental wellbeing. Her previous experience includes both research and health education practice focused on improving the health and well-being of college students in the United States.


Rise is a student-led nonprofit organization advocating for free public higher education with more than 25,000 students and supporters nationwide. Since its founding, Rise has led successful campaign to enact two years of free community college in California, to stop public university tuition hikes, and win hundreds of millions of dollars in new state funding for students. 

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Samantha Swaim

Samantha Swaim has worked in nonprofit fundraising and event production for over 20 years and has passion for working for a purpose. She comes from theatre + TV production roots with a focus on details and a vision for the big picture. She believes that great events are made better when they share a story and have impact. Sam and her team at Swaim Strategies are leading event planning for our #RealCollege 2019 convening.