About Us

Bipartisan Advocates for Today’s Students

Higher Learning Advocates is a bipartisan non-profit advocacy organization working to shift federal policy from higher education to higher learning—education and training beyond high school that leads to a degree, credential, or employment. 

While more students are participating in higher education than ever before, there is a vast and growing disconnect between federal policy and the needs of today’s students, employers, and communities. Most federal policies and funding models were designed to meet the needs of the students and employers of the 1970s. Yet, today’s students are more diverse than any previous generation of college students—in age, race, and income level—and many have work and family responsibilities that extend beyond the classroom. They deserve updated policies to better support their needs.

We are committed to the change needed to support the needs and success of today’s students, and are advocating for policies that support a postsecondary system that is student-centered, outcomes-based, and focused on ensuring all of today’s students can access and succeed.

Our Mission

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

Our Approach

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Policy & Advocacy

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

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Coalitions & Partnerships

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

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New Voices

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.

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Outreach

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

Meet Our Team

Staff

Julie Peller

Julie Peller

Executive Director, Higher Learning Advocates
Emily Bouck West

Emily Bouck West

Deputy Executive Director, Higher Learning Advocates
Nia Ariel Davis Sigona, Esq.

Nia Ariel Davis Sigona, Esq.

Government Relations Director, Higher Learning Advocates
Erica Hilton

Erica Hilton

Communications Manager , Higher Learning Advocates
India Heckstall

India Heckstall

Program Associate, Policy & Communications, Higher Learning Advocates
Madison Cooley

Madison Cooley

Operations & Events Coordinator, Higher Learning Advocates
Ashley Clark

Ashley Clark

Policy Fellow, Higher Learning Advocates

Board of Directors

Dr. Chris Bustamante

Dr. Chris Bustamante

Bustamante Consulting, Principal
Mr. Michael D’Ausilio

Mr. Michael D’Ausilio

Global Head of Employee Engagement, Culture & Conduct, JP Morgan Chase
Ms. Teresa Lubbers

Ms. Teresa Lubbers

Commissioner, Indiana Commission for Higher Education
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
Rep. George Miller

Rep. George Miller

Former Chairman, House Education and Workforce Committee
Dr. Kim Hunter Reed

Dr. Kim Hunter Reed

Commissioner, Louisiana Commission of Higher Education

Our Partners

Higher Learning Advocates is currently and has been funded through the generous support of Lumina Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.