Vanessa Coca

Vanessa Coca is a Senior Research Associate 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.

Edward Conroy

Eddy Conroy is a Senior Practitioner-Researcher 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.

Elizabeth Looker

Liz Looker is a Research Project Manager at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Prior to joining the Hope Center, Liz worked in academic and student affairs as the Associate Director of Undergraduate Education at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Before working with undergraduates, Liz was the Program Coordinator of Student Life and Learning in the Executive MBA Program at MIT Sloan. Liz earned an MEd in Higher Education Administration from Suffolk University and a BA in Sociology and Fine Art from Hampshire College.

Liz’s hope: We will help make a high-quality college education accessible for everyone.

Melissa Massey

Melissa Massey

Melissa Massey is a Communications Specialist at the Hope Center. Melissa brings a wealth of  digital knowledge from her work with agencies like Ogilvy Commonhealth and ICC Lowe, where she led the development of content strategy for multiple global brands. Previously she was a digital strategist and web and graphic designer with the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Melissa earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and English from North Central College. She is also a published comic author and illustrator.

Melissa’s hope: To make college a reality for anyone who has the drive and the dream.

Jorgi McCarren

Jorgi McCarren is the Senior Administrative Specialist for the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. In this role, she manages the Founding Director’s schedule, including travel, speaking arrangements, and budgeting. Prior to this role she served as the Administrative On-Boarding Coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania, and as an HR Generalist and Executive Assistant to the CFO & CPO of CAN Capital. Jorgi holds a BS in Fashion Merchandising from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Jorgi’s hope: We will enlighten others of their privileges and how they can use their privileges to help others succeed in doing so strengthening our communities and, in time, the world.

Marissa Meyers

Marissa Meyers is a practitioner-researcher at the Hope Center. Prior to joining the Hope Center, Marissa was a special projects manager for Integrated Health Services at Public Health Management Corporation, a program manager for The Moyer Foundation, and an admissions counselor at the University of Pennsylvania. She serves on the boards and advisory councils of many Philadelphia organizations addressing food insecurity, foster care, and trauma-informed practice. Marissa holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rosemont College and a masters in nonprofit leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marissa’s hope: Society will start telling the truth about what it really takes to complete a college degree for all populations.

Brianna Richardson

Brianna Richardson

Brianna Richardson is a Junior Research Associate at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Brianna has previously worked as a Research Assistant for Dr. Sarah Cordes in the College of Education at Temple University. Brianna holds a B.A. in Political Science from Kent State University, and an M.A. in Economics from Temple University.

Brianna’s hope: We will spark change in policy that will make post-secondary education affordable and accessible for everyone.

Lakisha Stone

Lakisha Stone is a Grants Specialist for the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. She brings more than a decade of experience to her role. Prior to joining the Hope Center, Lakisha worked in the Center for Executive Education, Global EMBA Programs as the Department Coordinator in the Fox School of Business. Before that she was the Clinical Coordinator at the Kornberg School of Dentistry where she managed grants to improve the quality of HIV healthcare and support services to those who were uninsured or underinsured.

Lakisha’s hope: We will ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for everyone.

Latosha Thomas

Latosha Thomas is a Communications Specialist for the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. She brings 15 years’ experience in the financial sector along with seven years of higher education experience to her role. Latosha is a first-generation college student who holds a BA in Strategic and Organizational Communications from Temple University where she studied Public Relations. She also holds an MBA from the University of Maryland. She is currently a doctoral student at Temple University in the College of Education studying Higher Education Policy and Practice. Latosha proudly serves as a member of the board of trustees for the Lawnside Education Foundation in New Jersey, a nonprofit committed to supporting the academic mission of Lawnside Public School with an emphasis on college entrance/graduation.

Latosha’s hope: We will help increase financial resources to fund higher education, making it more accessible to students who need college the most.

Tiffani Williams

Tiffani Williams is a Research Associate at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice. Her research focuses on the career and economic outcomes of higher education. Tiffani has served as a researcher and policy analyst at a number of non-profit organizations in New York City including the Social Science Research Council, Public Agenda and The Education Trust-New York. She was also a Program Specialist in P-20 for Academic Affairs at the University System of Maryland.  Tiffani holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Maryland, College Park and a PhD in Higher and Postsecondary Education from New York University.

Tiffani’s hope: We will identify and foster higher education practices that help students, regardless of who they are or where they come from, complete college and establish careers.