Sara Goldrick-Rab is Founder of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice and Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University. She is the recipient of the William T. Grant Foundation’s Faculty Scholars Award and the American Educational Research Association’s Early Career Award, and in 2016 POLITICO named her one of the top 50 people shaping American politics. Her latest book, “Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream” (University of Chicago, 2016), won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award, and was featured on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. The Chronicle of Higher Education calls her “a defender of impoverished students and a scholar of their struggles,” she is ranked sixth in the nation among education scholars according to Education Week, and in April 2018 the Carnegie Corporation awarded her the Carnegie Fellowship. Sara is married to a Philadelphia native who graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia, and is raising two children attending the city’s public schools.
Sara’s hope: We will fight for a financing system that recognizes the right of every American to a high-quality college education.
Christine Baker-Smith is the Managing Director and Director of Research of the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Before joining the Hope Center, she was a lecturer in Research Methodology for the Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences M.A. program at Columbia University and an Education Policy Analyst for the NYC Independent Budget Office. She also served as Project Manager for the “NYC High School Admissions Study” — a randomized controlled trial. A sociologist of education, Christine’s training is in mixed-methods research and causal inference with a focus on student social and academic engagement across schooling transitions. She holds a PhD from New York University in Sociology of Education, an EdM in Leadership, Policy and Politics from Teachers College, Columbia University, an MA in Social Sciences of Education from Stanford University, and a BA in Sociology from Whitman College. She has published on adolescence and school transitions in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Sociology of Education, Peabody Journal of Education, and Education Finance and Policy.
Christine’s hope: We will identify practices for a national audience that improve student outcomes across the K-12 to post-secondary transition.
Vanessa Coca is Senior Associate Director of Research for the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. In her past work, Vanessa collaborated on a series of research reports as a consultant for the To&Through Project at the UChicago Consortium on School Research. She was previously an Institute of Education Sciences-funded Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Fellow at the Research Alliance for New York City Schools where she helped develop and support the NYC Partnership for College Readiness and Success. Vanessa is a first-generation college student who holds a PhD in Sociology of Education from the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. She also holds a BA and an MA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She brings more than a decade of experience conducting research in research-practitioner partnership settings.
Vanessa’s hope: We will produce research that will used by education stakeholders nationwide to develop the policies, programs, and strategies that will allow all students to meet their long-term aspirations.
Eddy Conroy is Associate Director of Research Communications for the Hope Center for College, Community and Justice. Originally from Scotland, Eddy moved to the United States in 2010. Before joining the Hope Center, Eddy was the Outreach and Communications Supervisor for University of California-Los Angeles Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, where he created and ran the offices first proactive communications plan, managed their outreach programs and worked with the University’s Economic Crisis Response Team, helping ensure that UCLA students in dire need were provided the resources they needed to succeed. Eddy was also a financial aid counselor at Vanguard University of Southern California and has provided training in financial aid issues and policies to hundreds of high school counselors and advisers. Eddy holds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Glasgow and is currently working toward his Doctorate of Education, also at the University of Glasgow. Eddy’s work in his doctorate focuses on the barriers that financial aid policy creates for the students who need the most help paying for college.
Eddy’s hope: Our work will ignite change in higher education, allowing all students to achieve their dreams, regardless of wealth or privilege.
Kevin Wesolowski is the Director of Operations at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. He is an experienced operations leader with over a decade of experience working in the non-profit sector. Throughout his career, Kevin has worked with teams to design and implement creative and cost-effective solutions to enhance organizational effectiveness and impact. Most recently, Kevin served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Partnership for 21st Century Learning, a DC-based education advocacy non-profit. Additionally, he has worked for other education associations, including the Consortium for School Networking and the National School Boards Association. Kevin’s experience also includes time in the classroom as an early learning educator. Kevin holds a Master of Public Administration degree and Graduate Certificate in City Management from Villanova University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo, SUNY.
Kevin’s hope: Our Nation’s leaders will recognize a high-quality education – including a college education – as a fundamental human right and will fight to make that a reality.
Paula Umaña is the Director of Community Impact at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Previously she spent six years establishing and directing the Single Stop program at the Community College of Philadelphia. That national anti-poverty, multi-service model to increase college student retention was demonstrably successful at boosting students’ academic success, according to a rigorous external evaluation. Paula also launched the first Hispanic Capacity Building Institute in Philadelphia, led programming for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Center for Progressive Leadership, and provided leadership and managed day-to-day operations for the Transitional Work Corporation, promoting workforce development and self-sufficiency in urban communities of Philadelphia. 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.