Through the #RealCollege movement the Hope Center is redefining what it means to be a student-ready college. Students’ basic needs must be secured if they are to learn and grow at the college level.

Practitioners who work directly with students while enduring the new economics of college are best positioned to create the changes necessary to transform higher education. That is why we are thrilled to welcome Paula Umaña, formerly of the Community College of Philadelphia, as our new Director of Community Impact!

Passionate about social justice, Paula has devoted her career to empowering organizations and individuals to reach their highest potential. She has implemented numerous initiatives to promote educational, antipoverty, capacity building, and leadership development enterprises, including the launch of the first Hispanic Capacity Building Institute in Philadelphia, programming for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Center for Progressive Leadership, and the successful establishment of Single Stop at Community College of Philadelphia.

Under Paula’s direction, Single Stop supported students so successfully that a rigorous quasi-experimental evaluation determined it was effectively boosting students’ academic performance. In its report, Metis Associates called Paula “approachable, personable, collaborative, and student centered.” Evaluators said that Paula’s deep knowledge about key providers in the city was a key program asset, as was her commitment to learning about the culture and history of the college when she arrived.

Paula’s expertise in project implementation and evaluation, investment in advancing collaborations to create systemic change, and commitment to advocate for disenfranchised communities, have made her a national leader.  As Director of Community Impact, she will support the #RealCollege movement, translating the Hope Center’s research into useful tools and techniques for fellow practitioners.

Paula is a native of Bogotá, Colombia where she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana and is currently finishing her Master of Education degree at Temple University.