HLA Staff, Julie Peller
Julie's Signature

Julie Peller

Executive Director

A message from

Founder & Executive Director, Julie Peller

Higher learning — education and training beyond high school — is the foundation for rebuilding and strengthening our economy. It allows thousands of Americans to return to work, increase their salaries, and support their families. Today’s students are the drivers of our recovery and growth, and supporting them today will lead to our success tomorrow.

While more learners are participating in education and training beyond high school than ever before, there is a vast and growing disconnect between the systems we have and the needs of students, employers and communities. Four-out-of-ten students leave college before getting a degree, a benchmark that’s far worse for students of color. And, the COVID-19 global pandemic has further exacerbated these issues and threatens to leave a generation of learners behind.

Simply put, too many learners are facing a system of higher learning that doesn’t work for them. For the skills and strengthened economy that the country needs, we need a system where all learners can go — or return — to school, complete their programs and degrees, and enter the workforce. We need a society that values learning, whether it happens at a four-year college or on-the-job. Learners must not have to choose between work or learning; where short-term job training programs are not pitted against college degrees, but instead are building blocks that fit together in a life-long work and learning pathway.

Our Mission

Shift federal policy to accelerate responsiveness to support the success of today’s students.

Policy & Advocacy

We conduct rigorous policy analysis, provide expert testimony, and work to educate policymakers on key issues.

Coalitions & Partnerships

We lead and build new coalitions on key issues and participate in partner networks to work toward shared goals.


Working with leaders, reformers and today’s students, we bring new voices to the debate around higher education policy—highlighting stories of innovation and student success to inform policymaking.


Through media and public engagement, we work to build support for reforming the nation’s postsecondary education policies and elevate new perspectives on the day’s most important issues.

Our Team

Julie Peller

Julie Peller

Executive Director
Tanya Ang

Tanya Ang

Managing Director, Advocacy
Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield

Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield

Managing Director, Policy & Research
Richard Davis Jr.

Richard Davis Jr.

Sr. Policy Associate
Robyn Bland

Robyn Bland

Communications Director

Board of Directors

Dr. Chris Bustamante

Dr. Chris Bustamante

Executive Director, Arizona Community College Coordinating Council
Mr. Michael D’Ausilio

Mr. Michael D’Ausilio

Global Head of Employee Engagement, Culture & Conduct, JP Morgan Chase
Dr. Dewayne Matthews

Dr. Dewayne Matthews

Fellow, Lumina Foundation
Rep. Luke Messer

Rep. Luke Messer

Former Congressman (IN-6) and Principal, Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting

Our Past Five Years

Higher Learning Advocates' timeline highlights our key campaigns, resource publications, and legislative victories throughout our first five years.

See our recent journey

Our Champions Network

A group of forward-thinking state and local leaders devoted to improving quality, outcomes, and affordability in postsecondary education.

Meet Our Champions

Strategic Plan

Expanding Opportunity for Today's Students

Advance Reform

Advance policies and support programs that ensure opportunity for all learners to succeed through an equitable system of higher learning.

Connect Systems

Define and advance a clear vision of interconnected higher education, workforce and training systems

Raise Profile

Promote the value proposition for postsecondary learning as a critical issue in policy and politics.

Our Commitment

Our Commitment

We actively work toward a world in which everyone has access to real opportunity in an equitable and inclusive system of higher learning.

  • Learner success — enrollment, completion, employment, earnings, and value — is no longer determined by the color of a student’s skin or the zip code from which they come.
  • All of today’s learners, including students of color, low-income students, adult students, and student parents, are valued, respected, and supported by providers of higher learning.
  • Pursuing higher learning is not systematically out of reach financially or culturally for communities of learners, especially Black and Latino learners.
  • All pathways through higher learning — including alternatives to a four-year degree — are a choice of value to learners, institutions of higher learning, and employers.


Work at Higher Learning Advocates

Higher Learning Advocates is a higher education advocacy organization focused on advancing the bipartisan solutions needed to shift to a new system of higher learning that works for all of today’s students. We are seeking teammates who have an entrepreneurial spirit, think strategically, appreciate teamwork, and are dedicated to expanding educational opportunity and equality for all.

Full-Time Positions

We currently do not have any openings for full-time positions.


We currently do not have any openings for internships.

Our Partners

Higher Learning Advocates is thankful for the generous support of our current and previous contributors.