Complete College America Strengthens Board With Four New Members
Estela Bensimon, Joe Garcia, Gary McGaha,and Gene Sharratt join CCA’s Board of Directors

December 10, 2019—Complete College America announced at its Annual Convening today the additions of Estela Bensimon, Ph.D., director of the Center for Urban Education at the University of Southern California, Joe Garcia, J.D., chancellor of the Colorado Community College System, Gary McGaha, Ph.D., former president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College, and Gene Sharratt, PhD., senior research associate at the Washington Student Achievement Council, to its board of directors.

“Millions of students across the U.S. face the same barriers to college completion—but the socioeconomic and cultural contexts in which these barriers exist vary greatly,” said CCA Board Chairman and former Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer. “Estela, Joe, Gary and Gene will help us better understand and tackle these complex and systemic issues that limit student success. They’ve devoted their careers to advancing the completion agenda, and we’re honored to have them on our board.”

Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon is a professor of Higher Education at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and director of the Center for Urban Education(CUE), which she founded in 1999. Most notably, she is the creator of the Equity Scorecard, a tool which is designed to drive changes in institutional practice and culture to increase equity in higher ed outcomes for students of color. Dr. Bensimon was named an American Education Research Association fellow in 2011 and received the Association for the Study of Higher Education Research Achievement Award in 2013. She is also a recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Association for the Study of Higher Education. She was associate dean of the USC Rossier School of Education from 1996-2000 and was a Fulbright Scholar to Mexico in 2002. She earned her doctorate in Higher Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She’s held the highest leadership positions in the Association for the Study of Higher Education (President) and in the American Education Research Association Division on Postsecondary Education (Vice President). She has also served on the boards of the American Association for Higher Education and the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Joe Garcia serves as chancellor of the Colorado Community College System. Previously, he was president of The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Garcia left his dual role as Colorado lieutenant governor and executive director of the state’s Department of Higher Education to serve as president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Before his inauguration as lieutenant governor in 2011 and 2015, Garcia was president of Colorado State University-Pueblo. During his four-year tenure, he helped the institution overcome financial difficulties and stagnant enrollment and enhanced its reputation. He also served as president of Colorado’s second-largest community college, Pikes Peak Community College. Garcia earned a business degree from the University of Colorado and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School. He began his career in 1983 with Holme Roberts & Owen, where he went on to become the first Hispanic partner in the 100-year history of the storied Denver law firm. In 1993, he joined former Gov. Roy Romer’s cabinet until his appointment in 1999 as the U.S. Department of Housing and Development’s regional director for the Rocky Mountain states. He joins CCA’s board as a CCA Fellow.

Dr. Gary McGaha worked in the University System of Georgia (USG) for more than 25 years before retiring as president of Atlanta Metropolitan State College (AMSC) in 2019. He became president of Atlanta Metropolitan College in 2007 after serving as interim president. During his tenure, Dr. McGaha increased the number of baccalaureate degree programs and increased enrollment by 30 percent. He also improved associate degree graduation rate to become the best in its sector within USG. During his time at AMSC, he also served as chair of the college’s Social Sciences Division. Prior to his work with USG, Dr. McGaha also served as academic dean for the Dunwoody and Alpharetta campuses of Georgia Perimeter College. Additionally, he served as executive assistant to the president at Kentucky State University and at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. McGaha holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Mississippi, a master’s degree in political science from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor’s degree in social science from Mississippi Valley State University.

Dr. Gene Sharratt is a senior associate at the Washington Student Achievement Council. Previously, he served as executive director for the Association for Educational Service Districts and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction Professional Learning Network in June 2019, following three years of service. Prior to his work with the AESD, Dr. Sharratt served for three years on Governor Inslee’s Cabinet as executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council. The Council is the lead state agency bringing together all sectors of the state’s education system–early learning through higher education–to improve access, attainment, and outcomes for all Washingtonians.Before joining the Governor’s Cabinet, Dr. Sharratt spent ten years as a clinical associate college professor for Washington State University. He served thirty years as a K-12 teacher, principal, school superintendent, and ESD superintendent in international and public schools, with experiences in Washington, Alaska,and Norway. Dr. Sharratt is the recipient of the National Educational Administrator of the Year Award and several alumni, lifetime achievement and teaching awards.He earned his Ph.D. in Educational and Instructional Leadership from Washington State University and his master’s in School Counseling and Guidance Services from Pacific Lutheran University.