Jun 28 2021

The Biden Administration’s Higher Education Goals: Is There a Role for Philanthropy?

Grantmakers for Education


June 28, 2021

Virtual - A new federal administration is ushering in a new set of priorities and plans for higher education. Join us for a private briefing from the U.S. Department of Education's Michelle Asha Cooper, acting assistant secretary of postsecondary education, to learn about the Biden Administration's ambitions for students in higher education. Dr. Cooper will share why the administration is aiming for these goals as well as the policies and actions needed to bring them to fruition. Philanthropic leaders will join a panel discussion to talk about evidence-based interventions for postsecondary success, free college programs, capacity building and more. Get your questions answered about how funders might inform policy, ways philanthropy can leverage federal dollars, steps to address the pandemic's learning impacts and more.

This event is intended for members and other education grantmakers. There is no cost to attend this Grantmakers for Education program. The program runs one hour and fifteen minutes. Registration closes 15 minutes prior to the program time. Thank you for your patience; we review each registration in advance.


Lynn Alvarez
Vice President, Programs and Strategy
ECMC Foundation

As ECMC Foundation’s VP of programs and strategy, Lynn Alvarez is responsible for directing strategy across the Foundation’s portfolios. Prior to ECMC, Lynn was a philanthropy consultant helping foundations develop and manage initiatives, refine their grantmaking systems, evaluate their impact, train their staff and manage funding portfolios. She also oversaw large grantmaking strategies at The California Endowment, California Community Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation working extensively in postsecondary education, child development, human services, affordable housing and the arts. At The Grantmaking School at Grand Valley State University she provided training to 400+ staff and trustees. Prior to working in philanthropy, Lynn was a public interest lawyer and advocate working on behalf of refugees and immigrants and a professor at UCLA teaching courses on immigration law and professional ethics. Lynn holds a J.D. and a BA in political science from UC Berkeley.


Michelle Asha Cooper
Acting Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education
U.S. Department of Education

Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., currently serves as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education and deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs at the U.S. Department of Education. In these roles, she oversees the Department’s work to strengthen the capacity of colleges and universities to promote innovation and improvement for students and broaden the attainment of global skills that drive the economic success and competitiveness of the nation.

Dr. Cooper most recently served as president of IHEP, where she managed their expansive research and advocacy agenda. She also held leadership roles at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council for Independent Colleges, and King’s College. Dr. Cooper served as deputy director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the Department.

An advocate for racial and economic equity and demonstrated leader, Dr. Cooper is a champion of access and success for all in higher education.


Sameer Gadkaree
Senior Program Officer
Joyce Foundation

Sameer Gadkaree is a senior program officer on the Education & Economic Mobility team, leading the grant making in higher education and the future of work. Sameer previously was a consultant in workforce development, education issues and philanthropic strategy. Prior to that, he was associate vice chancellor for adult education with the City Colleges of Chicago, a role in which he oversaw the 500 adult educators and 50 staff delivering English, Adult Basic Education, and Adult Secondary Education classes in six community colleges in Chicago. He worked previously as a management consultant at Discovery Communications and McKinsey and Company. Sameer has a B.S. in mathematics and economics from Washington University in St. Louis.


Martha Kanter
College Promise

Dr. Martha Kanter leads College Promise, a national nonpartisan, nonprofit equity-driven initiative to increase college access, affordability, quality, and completion. To advance the social, economic, and civic mobility of Americans, the center launched in 2015, identifying 53 D.C.-area Promise programs and one statewide Promise for Tennessee. Today, College Promise supports the expansion, quality improvements, and sustainability of Promise programs in more than 300 communities in 47 states and throughout 30 entire states plus Washington, D.C. Dr. Kanter’s priorities include Promise leadership development, broad stakeholder and student engagement, and policy and research, by spreading local and state Promise models, identifying and promoting exemplar Promise programs, mentoring, career and service experiences, and enabling cross-sector leaders to adopt and scale Promise programs in their communities and regions. From 2009-2013, Dr. Kanter served President Obama and Secretary Duncan as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education.


Bill Moses
Managing Director
The Kresge Foundation

William (Bill) F. L. Moses serves as managing director for The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program, which supports postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students.

The key architect of Kresge’s education programming, Bill leads the team’s continuum of domestic and international grant activities from developing program strategy, reviewing preliminary ideas, and helping grantees develop proposals or initiatives, to awarding funding and monitoring existing grants. Since his arrival at Kresge, Bill has served as a program officer and senior program officer, was instrumental in developing Kresge’s Green Building Initiative and has spearheaded the foundation’s grantmaking in South Africa.

A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Bill holds a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University. He authored “A Guide to American State and Local Laws on South Africa” and co-authored “Corporate Responsibility in a Changing South Africa.”


Jesse O'Connell
Strategy Director
Lumina Foundation

Jesse O’Connell is the strategy director for federal policy at Lumina Foundation, based out of their Washington, D.C. office. He leads the development and advancement of the foundation’s federal policy priorities, with the goal of increasing the attainment of high-quality credentials and promoting affordable pathways through postsecondary education. Prior to joining Lumina, Jesse served as the assistant director for federal relations at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. Jesse began his career as a financial aid administrator at Georgetown University. He holds both a master’s and bachelor’s degree from Georgetown, where he was an All-American as a member of the track and field team. In addition to his professional work, Jesse is involved in his community of Alexandria, VA where he lives with his wife and two children.


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