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Brittany Francis

Nonprofit higher education reform network welcomes a new board chair, board member, and new staff to bolster its growing national office

January 25, 2022

INDIANAPOLISComplete College America (CCA), a national non-profit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States and build a more effective and equitable system of higher education, today welcomed Dr. Robin Martin, deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation Postsecondary Success team, as its new board chair. In addition Dr. Maggie George, a nationally-recognized expert on American Indian higher education access and success, has joined as a new member of CCA’s board. 

As the pandemic continues to disrupt the college-going aspirations of Black, Hispanic and Native American learners and reverse hard-fought gains in equitable college access, success and completion, we should feel a renewed sense of urgency, energy and clarity of purpose for supporting historically-excluded students. The policy choices we make today will impact generations of students, families and their communities,” said Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America. “The addition of these unapologetic advocates for student success to the CCA Board of Directors, who both possess a keen understanding of the strengths and needs associated with minoritized communities, will only bolster the organization’s level of impact through the inclusion of their fresh policy insights, ideas and leadership experiences, helping us make new strides toward achieving our mission.”

Founded in 2009, Complete College America has built a national higher education reform network that uses evidence-based research, policy and collective action to help more students achieve degrees and credentials of value and close attainment gaps among the most marginalized and underrepresented students. The CCA Alliance includes senior leadership from states, systems, institutional consortia and partner organizations committed to significantly increasing the number of students successfully completing college.

“The task of sustaining and scaling change in higher education can too often be siloed, solitary work. To create a more inclusive and equitable system of higher education, we need to invest in reform networks that can put evidence-based strategies into practice—and mobilize to share their insights with a broader audience of higher education leaders and policymakers,” said Dr. Martin. “It’s critical that we develop communities of practice that can enable us to drive the sort of shifts in policies and practices that ensure a more equitable recovery—and to uphold the promises higher education espouses.”

Representing more than five decades of combined experience in higher education policy, practice and leadership, the expansion of Complete College America’s board will help the organization to expand its impact and increase the adoption of evidence-based practices designed to close gaps in institutional performance. Dr. Martin and Dr. George will join the current Complete College America board of directors. Existing board members include: 

  • Bob Bauman, Counsel and Secretary, Gambs Mucker and Bauman
  • Dr. Estela Mara Bensimon, Director, Bensimon & Associates; University Professor Emerita and Founding Director of the Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California 
  • Dr. Barbara Damron, Chief Government Relations Officer & Professor, University of New Mexico
  • Joe Garcia, Chancellor, Colorado Community College System
  • Jim Geringer, Former Wyoming Governor; Director, Policy and Public Sector Strategies, Environmental Systems Research Institute
  • Dr. Gary McGaha, Former President of Atlanta Metropolitan State College
  • John Morgan, Former Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents
  • Dr. Gene Sharratt, Senior Research Associate, Center for Educational Effectiveness 

More on Complete College America’s Board and Staff Appointments:

  • Bringing 20+ years of higher education experience and leadership, Dr. Robin Martin currently serves as Deputy Director of the Bill & Melinda Gates’ Foundation Postsecondary Success team. Her responsibilities include oversight of a $123 million strategic fund designed to transform colleges and universities in the U.S. She also spearheaded the foundation’s largest-ever single gift in the history of its U.S. programs—a large-scale initiative to support investment in COVID-19 testing and technology to safely reopen the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Prior to joining the Foundation, Dr. Martin served the University of Cincinnati in a wide range of senior administration and leadership roles, spanning athletics, diversity and inclusion, and special initiatives. She is also the author of Navigating Courage: Leading Beyond Fear, a collection of narratives and wisdom that outlines the professional trials faced by women of color and minorities in the workplace and illustrates how to manage them. 
  • Dr. Maggie George is a national expert on higher education access and success for American Indians, indigenous peoples, and other underserved communities. Bringing more than 35 years of experience in higher education, Dr. George has served as a faculty member, dean, and academic leader at tribal colleges and led higher education policy development at the state and tribal levels. She previously served as President of Diné College, the original tribal college, and was appointed by President Barack Obama as Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Tribal Colleges and Universities.

In addition to its new board members, Complete College America also announced the appointments of two new staff members, Communications Director, Dr. Brittany Francis, and Grants Director, Dr. Ebony Turner. A seasoned communications and higher education professional, Dr. Francis joins CCA with 14 years of strategic communications experience crafting and executing campaigns that foster engagement and support from media, legislators, policymakers, funders, and stakeholders. She recently served as Communications Director for the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance, a program of the Louisiana Board of Regents. Dr. Turner brings more than 25 years of experience envisioning, planning, and executing strategic initiatives, helping institutions of higher learning, government agencies and nonprofits secure tens of millions of dollars in public grants and philanthropic investments. She most recently served as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Coordinator of Programs, Evaluations and Grants at Dillard University.



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.