Nonprofit higher education reform network welcomes college access and success expert Dr. Edward Smith to its board of directors

INDIANAPOLIS (NOVEMBER 10, 2022) — Complete College America, a national non-profit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States, today announced the appointment of Dr. Edward Smith, a senior program officer with The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program, to its board of directors.

“Restoring the promise of higher education means that we must bring proven practices to institutions that have been for too long left behind by the college completion movement,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America. “Dr. Smith’s deep experience in education policy research coupled with his expertise in higher education innovation, college opportunity and degree completion makes him an ideal fit to join our board. We’re honored to work with him and look forward to his insights and contributions.”

Smith joined The Kresge Foundation in 2019. In his role as senior program officer, he invites and reviews funding requests, recommends investments in ongoing or emerging innovations and manages a grant portfolio focused on promoting college access and completion for under-represented student groups.

A national expert on higher education, Dr. Smith previously held education policy research positions at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the NASPA Research and Policy Institute and the Institute for Higher Education Policy. A former teacher at the high school, undergraduate and graduate levels, Smith holds bachelor’s and masters degrees from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

“Throughout my career, I’ve developed a deep admiration for organizations like Complete College America that are working to promote access, completion and equity in higher education, particularly for students of color and historically marginalized students,” Dr. Smith said. “This is an exciting opportunity to support breakthroughs in higher education policy, action and research across the country and ensure a better future for millions of students. I’m humbled and honored to have this opportunity to join Complete College America’s board.”

Existing Complete College America board board members include: 

  • Bob Bauman, Counsel and Secretary, Gambs Mucker and Bauman (Ex-Officio)
  • Estela Mara Bensimon, Director, Bensimon & Associates; University Professor Emerita and Founding Director, the Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California 
  • Barbara Damron, Chief Government Relations Officer and Professor, University of New Mexico
  • Joe Garcia, Chancellor, Colorado Community College System
  • Maggie George, CEO, Indigenous Research Associates
  • Jim Geringer, Former Wyoming Governor; Director, Policy and Public Sector Strategies, Environmental Systems Research Institute
  • Robin Martin, President and CEO, Navigating Courage
  • Gary McGaha, Former President, Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • John Morgan, Former Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Gene Sharratt, Senior Research Associate, Center for Educational Effectiveness 
  • Yolanda Watson Spiva, President of Complete College America


About Complete College America: Complete College America (CCA) builds movements for scaled change and transforms institutions through data-driven policies, student-centered perspectives, and equity-driven practices. Since its founding in 2009, CCA connects a national network of forward-thinking state and higher education leaders and introduces bold initiatives to help states and institutions confront inequities, close institutional performance gaps, and increase college completion rates, especially for marginalized and historically excluded students. For more information, visit

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