SHEEO Job Posting: Senior Policy Analyst

Located in Washington, D.C.

About the Organization

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) serves the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education and their staffs. Founded in 1954, SHEEO promotes an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring the equitable education of all Americans, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Together with its members, SHEEO aims to achieve this vision by equipping state higher education executive officers and their staffs with the tools to effectively advance the value of higher education, promoting public policies and academic practices that enable all Americans to achieve success in the 21st century, and serving as an advocate for state higher education leadership.

SHEEO is particularly interested in providing equal employment opportunities and employing a diverse staff. Read more about SHEEO on our website: sheeo.org.

About the Position:

The position will be based in Washington, D.C., and is not eligible for full-time remote/telework. Reporting to the vice president for academic affairs and equity initiatives, the senior policy analyst will conduct research, analysis, and project management on state higher education public policy, including equity initiatives that support improved student access and success. They will manage projects, assist in seeking funding to support these needs, and join all SHEEO staff in yearly conference planning activities and general membership outreach.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Conduct research and policy analysis on state higher education public policy, including projects on early college, admissions, adult education, transfer, persistence and completion, educator preparation, and workforce development.
  • Draft and manage the production of reports, papers, presentations, memos, annual reports, and other written content to disseminate research and analysis to key stakeholders.
  • Manage projects that develop and convey information to the postsecondary community.
  • Provide project, grants management, administrative, and logistical support to keep projects on track and ensure deadlines are met.
  • Develop and maintain knowledge regarding current activities and future trends in public higher education.
  • Build and maintain collaborative relationships with partner organizations to advance shared interests in, and support advocacy opportunities for, equitable student access and success.
  • Represent SHEEO at and assist in planning and conducting state, regional, and national meetings.
  • Support equitable student access and success on research topics and policy analysis through staff collaborations in fields including data systems, finance, governmental affairs, and/or accountability.
  • Respond promptly to information requests from SHEEO members and provide other member services, such as current policy research and publications, policy best practices, and learning community inquiries and opportunities.
  • Research new opportunities for the funding of projects and build relationships with potential funders around these opportunities.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Qualifications and Experiences:

We are looking for a combination of the following qualifications, skills, and experiences:

  • A master’s degree in a relevant field (higher education, public policy), plus at least three years of experience in a role with similar responsibilities. A doctoral degree is preferred.
  • Experience and analytical expertise in one or more of the following areas related to postsecondary education: state-, system-, or institution-level experience and analytical expertise in academic affairs, equity initiatives, institutional research, or student success.
  • Experience or a strong interest in helping to secure outside funding for special projects.
  • Knowledge of or experience with SHEEO agencies, partner organizations, and/or foundations.
  • Strong analytical, critical, strategic thinking, problem-solving, follow-through, and decision-making skills. 
  • A passion for advancing educational and economic opportunity, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and social mobility.
  • Fluency in statistics, data visualization, or other specialized skill related to policy research and analysis.

Location and Travel:

This position is based in Washington, D.C., and is not eligible for full-time remote/telework and will require periodic national travel.

Salary:

Salary will be commensurate with successful candidate’s level of education and experience. SHEEO provides a comprehensive benefits package, including educational assistance. 

Term:

This position is currently funded for two years and may be extended based on grant funding.

Application Process:

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a priority deadline of March 25, 2022.

This position is based in Washington, D.C.

To apply, please send an email to sheeo@sheeo.org and include the following:

  1. Cover Letter describing how you meet the requirements of the position, addressed to Dr. John Lane, SHEEO, 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 360, Washington, D.C. 20036.
  2. Resume or curriculum vitae.
  3. Names and contact information of three professional references. (References will not be contacted until you have given permission for us to do so.)

SHEEO is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and believes that recruiting and developing a diverse and inclusive staff is vital to the success of the organization.  

SHEEO Welcomes Jillian Cordial as Communications Intern

SHEEO is excited to announce Jillian Cordial as the new communications intern. Jillian will focus on extending our social media presence, marketing and communications projects, and building public relations. As well, Jillian will assist with the planning and execution of SHEEO’s Higher Education Policy Conference and Annual Meeting.

Jillian Cordial Headshot
Jillian Cordial, Communications Intern

Jillian is a master’s student studying higher education at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. She will graduate in May 2022. She currently serves as a graduate assistant for the College of Education’s Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy program and the Smith School of Business’ diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Jillian studied political science, women, gender, sexuality studies, and legal studies at the University of Cincinnati and graduated in May 2020. Jillian’s research interests include college access and equity, federal and state policy, and transracial adoptees’ experiences in higher education.

ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) serves the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education and their staffs. Founded in 1954, SHEEO promotes an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring the equitable education of all Americans, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Together with its members, SHEEO aims to achieve this vision by equipping state higher education executive officers and their staffs with the tools to effectively advance the value of higher education, promoting public policies and academic practices that enable all Americans to achieve success in the 21st century, and serving as an advocate for state higher education leadership. For more information, visit https://sheeo.org.

SHEEO Announces the Promotion of Sophia Laderman to Associate Vice President

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) today announces the promotion of Sophia Laderman to associate vice president. She will lead SHEEO’s research and policy analysis related to state higher education finance.

Headshot of Sophia Laderman
Sophia Laderman

Laderman has been instrumental in the expansion of SHEEO’s State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) project. SHEF, which examines the trends, context, and consequences of state higher education funding decisions, is a vital resource for the higher education policy field. Laderman is additionally responsible for SHEEO’s Grapevine and Tuition, Fees, and Financial Assistance reports, as well as other data and publications related to higher education finance.

Since joining SHEEO as a data analyst in 2015, Laderman has taken on progressively responsible positions, most recently serving as a senior policy analyst. Prior to her tenure at SHEEO, she held positions at the University of Colorado Boulder and Duke University. Laderman holds a B.A. from the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo, and an M.P.A. from the University of Colorado Denver.

ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) is the national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. Founded in 1954, SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, a liaison between states and the federal government, and a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers. SHEEO also serves as a manager of multistate teams and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. Together with its members, SHEEO advances public policies and academic practices that enable Americans to attain education beyond high school and achieve success in the 21st-century economy.

SHEEO Welcomes Rachel Burns, Ph.D., as Senior Policy Analyst

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) welcomes Rachel Burns, Ph.D., as a senior policy analyst.

Dr. Burns will be a part of SHEEO’s Boulder, Colorado, office and will help lead, coordinate, and develop a multiyear research endeavor to quantify the impacts of college closures on student persistence and completion. This project is a formal research collaboration between the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and SHEEO. Dr. Burns will also assist in a variety of areas, including supporting SHEEO’s efforts to perform high-quality analysis, policy evaluation, and research in order to advance critical programs and projects; and will join other SHEEO staff in general membership outreach and support.

Headshot of Rachel Burns
Rachel Burns

Before joining SHEEO, Dr. Burns served as a research education analyst in RTI International’s Center for Education Survey Research and Analysis, where she specialized in large-scale education survey data, administrative data collection, and variable specification and construction. Her work at RTI focused on postsecondary education surveys for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the U.S. Department of Education—primarily on the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), the High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS), and the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study (BPS). She worked on the derivation of financial aid and enrollment variables and the collection of administrative data to study how students and their families pay for college. In addition to her work on NCES studies, Dr. Burns assisted with the evaluation of the Early Career Doctorates Survey (ECDS) for the National Science Foundation, managed a project with the Pew Charitable Trusts modeling repayment of student loans, and published various reports on student persistence and attainment.

Dr. Burns has coauthored several papers on the contingent faculty workforce, economic development in higher education, changes in graduate student loan debt over time, veteran students and military aid, and state financial aid policies. She received her Ph.D. from the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia.

ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) is the national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. Founded in 1954, SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, a liaison between states and the federal government, and a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers. SHEEO also serves as a manager of multistate teams and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. Together with its members, SHEEO advances public policies and academic practices that enable Americans to attain education beyond high school and achieve success in the 21st-century economy.

SHEEO Job Posting: State Policy Internship

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) seeks candidates for a paid internship for the summer of 2022. This internship is appropriate for students pursuing graduate study in higher education, public policy, public administration, and related fields. The ideal candidate will be a motivated, active learner interested in higher education policy and governance, policy analysis, and research methods. We are particularly interested in diverse applicants with an interest in higher education finance.

The internship’s focus will be providing support for SHEEO’s research, data, and policy analysis efforts as they relate to the State Higher Education Finance (SHEF) project. SHEEO’s summer 2022 intern may assist with a variety of projects depending on the intern’s skills and interests and SHEEO’s needs. These may include original data collection and analysis relating to state and federal higher education finance, collaborating with SHEEO agencies, responding to data requests, constructing datasets, drafting white papers, and completing an independent research project using SHEEO data. The intern will also have the opportunity to attend the SHEEO Higher Education Policy Conference in Indianapolis, IN, which we plan to hold in person from August 8 through 11, 2022.

SHEEO seeks and strongly encourages individuals from historically underrepresented or marginalized groups to apply. The internship duration is flexible and will last for approximately eight to 12 weeks, beginning in May or early June. The position has the option of working remotely or in our Boulder, Colorado, office. A living stipend is available for those interested in relocating to Boulder for the summer. The intern position will pay $23 per hour. The intern will work 20-37.5 hours per week, with hours by mutual arrangement. Successful past interns have been offered an extended contract to continue working remotely throughout the year.

SHEEO is seeking diverse applicants with the following qualifications:

  • Completed coursework in higher education, public policy, public administration, statistics, research methods, economics, sociology, or a related field.
  • Experience working with large quantitative datasets, with knowledge of federal higher education datasets preferred.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and strong facility with Microsoft Excel, with data visualization skills preferred.
  • Previous experience or interest in learning how to update web properties, in particular using WordPress.
  • Previous experience or interest in learning Adobe Creative Suite, in particular InDesign.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Demonstrated interest in state or federal higher education finance.
  • Enthusiasm for and curiosity about state higher education policy and data-informed policymaking.
  • A commitment to advancing equity and student success in higher education.

Goals of the SHEEO State Policy Internship Program:

  • Advancing understanding of state higher education policy and governance.
  • Advancing equity and diversity in state higher education policy and governance.
  • Increasing the skills and knowledge of those who work within the state higher education policy field.
  • Increasing the interest of current graduate students in state higher education policy and governance.

Application Process:

Please apply by email to sheeo@sheeo.org and include the following:

  1. Letter describing your interest in and qualifications for the position, and contact information for two references, addressed to:

Dr. David Tandberg

Senior Vice President of Policy Research & Strategic Initiatives State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

3035 Center Green Drive, Suite 100

Boulder, CO 80301

2. Résumé or curriculum vitae.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but full consideration will be given to those received by March 14, 2022.

About SHEEO

SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, as a liaison between states and the federal government, as a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. SHEEO seeks to advance public policies and educational practices to achieve more widespread access and successful participation in higher education, more new discoveries through research, and more applications of knowledge that improve the quality of human lives.

SHEEO is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and believes that recruiting and developing a diverse and inclusive staff is vital to the organization’s success. Read more about SHEEO on our website: www.sheeo.org.

SHEEO Job Posting: Communications Intern

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) seeks candidates for a paid internship for spring 2022. This internship is appropriate for students pursuing graduate study in communications, marketing, higher education, public policy, public administration, and related fields. The ideal candidates will be motivated, detail oriented, highly collaborative, and interested in communications and/or higher education policy.

The focus of the internship will be providing support for SHEEO’s communications and public relations efforts. The communications intern will work directly with SHEEO’s strategic communications director and play a role in a variety of projects depending on the applicant’s skills, interests, and needs. Projects may include assisting with social media efforts, copy editing, developing collateral, creating materials for SHEEO events, and updating web properties. Opportunities to engage and collaborate with SHEEO’s internal staff and staff from a wide range of state agencies exist and will be extended based on the interests of the intern.

The internship will last approximately twelve weeks, beginning in mid-February 2022. Depending on the intern’s geographic location, the communications intern will have the option of working remotely or from our offices located in either Boulder, Colorado, or Washington, D.C. The position pays $20 per hour and interns will work at least 15 but not more than 37.5 hours per week, as set by mutual arrangement. This is a temporary position and not eligible for benefits. Successful past interns have sometimes been offered an extended contract to continue working past their allotted time frame.

SHEEO is seeking diverse applicants with the following qualifications:

  • Current graduate student with graduate coursework in communications, marketing, higher education, public policy, public administration, or a related field.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills with the ability to independently produce high-quality written communication content on behalf of SHEEO.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Experience and knowledge of WordPress or other content management system.
  • Experience with Adobe Creative Suite, Canva, and/or other design-based programs, with an interest/talent in graphic design.
  • Working knowledge and current user of social media.
  • Experience or interest in event planning.
  • Enthusiasm and curiosity for communications, marketing, and/or public relations.
  • Interest in activities related to higher education policy and research.
  • Self-starter who is eager to learn.

Goals of the SHEEO Communications Internship Program:

  • Enhance intern’s communications expertise, skills, and efficacy.
  • Advance SHEEO’s internal and external communications efforts.
  • Increase knowledge of communications in higher education policy.
  • Provide networking opportunities with internal staff members.

Application Process:

Please apply by email to sheeo@sheeo.org and include the following:

  • Letter describing your interest in and qualifications for the position and contact information for two references (references will not be contacted until applicant has been informed), addressed to:

Annahita Jimmerson

Strategic Communications Director

State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

3035 Center Green Drive, Suite 100

Boulder, CO 80301

  • Résumé or curriculum vitae.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but full consideration will be given to those received by January 21, 2022.

About SHEEO

SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, as a liaison between states and the federal government, as a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. SHEEO seeks to advance public policies and educational practices to achieve more widespread access and successful participation in higher education, more new discoveries through research, and more applications of knowledge that improve the quality of human lives.

SHEEO is committed to providing equal employment opportunities and believes that recruiting and developing a diverse and inclusive staff is vital to the organization’s success. Read more about SHEEO on our website: www.sheeo.org.

Statement by SHEEO President Robert Anderson, Ph.D., on House Passage of the Build Back Better Act

“Through the House passage of the Build Back Better Act, we are moving closer to further opening the door of college opportunity for millions of students in the years ahead. This legislation will boost funding for Pell Grants, scale proven college completion programs, address workforce and training needs, and strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and minority-serving institutions. We are particularly pleased that Build Back Better recognizes the importance of state-federal collaboration to advance shared policy goals in higher education. SHEEO appreciates all of the support from House members in prioritizing higher education and urges the Senate to approve this historic legislation as soon as possible.”

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SHEEO Welcomes Jessica Colorado as Policy Analyst

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) welcomes Jessica Colorado as a policy analyst.

Jessica Colorado

Colorado will be located at SHEEO’s Washington, D.C., office, and will assist in a variety of areas, including the development, administration, and analysis of SHEEO’s Strong Foundations survey of state postsecondary systems, developing technical assistance and professional development materials for state-level data practitioners, and contributing to agenda development for SHEEO’s national convenings of data practitioners, researchers, and policy analysts.

Before joining SHEEO, Colorado, who proudly identifies as a first-generation college graduate, served as assistant director for the NASPA Center for First-generation Student Success. Before that, she worked at the University of Rochester, where she served as an information analyst with the Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Arts, Sciences and Engineering, serving low-income, first-generation, and historically underrepresented student populations. Prior to Rochester, Colorado served as associate director for the Upward Bound Math & Science program at Bronx Community College. Colorado earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Rochester and was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar. She also holds an M.S. in chemistry from St. John’s University and an M.S. in educational policy from the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education.

ABOUT THE STATE HIGHER EDUCATION EXECUTIVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) is the national association of the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education. Founded in 1954, SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, a liaison between states and the federal government, and a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers. SHEEO also serves as a manager of multistate teams and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. Together with its members, SHEEO advances public policies and academic practices that enable Americans to attain education beyond high school and achieve success in the 21st-century economy.

SHEEO Job Posting: Senior Policy Analyst

Located in Boulder, Colorado

Overview

The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) seeks to fill a senior policy analyst position. SHEEO is the national association of state higher education leaders who serve statewide coordinating and governing boards and other state higher education agencies. This position supports SHEEO’s efforts to perform high-quality analysis; policy evaluation and research; advance critical programs and projects; provide assistance to SHEEO members; advance SHEEO’s strategic vision, mission, and strategic priorities; and contribute to the intellectual and knowledge base of the higher education policy field. SHEEO responds to the changing needs of its members and the state higher education community and regularly pursues new projects that meet our members’ needs and align with the mission of the organization. This position will identify, develop, and work in these new areas. Additionally, this position will join other SHEEO staff in general membership outreach and support.

SHEEO seeks and strongly encourages individuals from historically underrepresented or marginalized groups to apply. The ideal candidate for this position will be enthusiastic about state policy in higher education, have advanced econometric research skills and experience working with large data sets, demonstrate research and policy writing experience, and have knowledge of or experience with SHEEO agencies. They will be conversant in a wide range of public policy issues in higher education and will understand how data can inform policy and practice. The successful candidate will use their enthusiasm, knowledge, and skills to inform our members and the community about current activities and future trends in public higher education for the purposes of advancing educational attainment, closing equity gaps, and benefiting our states and their stakeholders.

The senior policy analyst will help lead, coordinate, and develop a multiyear research endeavor to quantify the impacts of college closures on student persistence and completion. This project is a formal research collaboration between the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center and SHEEO. The project leverages a newly constructed student-level longitudinal data set to develop descriptive analyses, advanced data visualizations, and quasi-experimental research. Rigorously and thoroughly quantifying the impacts of college closures on subsequent postsecondary outcomes will inform policies meant to prevent, prepare for, and respond to college closures in an environment where more closures are expected to occur. The team working on this project will produce a number of publicly available deliverables, including three published reports that examine the impacts of college closures on student outcomes in detail, policy and academic presentations, and a website that will house interactive data visualizations and aggregated data.

The senior policy analyst will also work on various other projects, such as assisting SHEEO members and organizational leadership, and fulfilling other duties as assigned.

Education and Experience

Preferred: An earned doctoral degree in a relevant field (e.g., higher education, econometrics, public policy, statistics, political science, sociology, or related field) and three years of relevant work experience.

Required: A master’s degree in a relevant field, with rigorous quantitative training, and five years of relevant experience.

Required Skills and Attributes

  • A passion for advancing educational and economic opportunity, diversity, equity, inclusion, justice, and social mobility.
  • Advanced skills with the statistical software Stata.
  • Experience with data visualization tools.
  • Experience using large-scale, student-level data sets.
  • Demonstrated ability to produce relevant papers, reports, and presentations.
  • Demonstrated experience working on large-scale research projects.
  • Interest in and knowledge of higher education and state policy.
  • Knowledge of higher education data systems and external data resources such as IPEDS, NPSAS, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills.
  • Ability to work well with and contribute to a team.

Salary and Position Term

Salary will be commensurate with successful candidate’s experience and demonstrated skill level, with a potential range of $85,000 to $105,000. SHEEO provides excellent staff benefits.

The position is fully funded for two years with the possibility of continuation depending upon interest, performance, and funding.

Application Process

Please apply by email to sheeo@sheeo.org and include the following:

  1. A letter describing your interest in the position and how you meet the requirements mentioned above. Please address letter to David Tandberg, SHEEO, 3035 Center Green Drive, Suite 100, Boulder, CO 80301.
  2. A curriculum vitae.
  3. A writing sample. This sample can be a policy brief, report, and/or an academic paper. The sample should provide evidence of both the applicant’s writing and quantitative methods skills.
  4. Names and contact information of three academic or professional references. (References will not be contacted until you have given permission for us to do so).

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled, but full consideration will be given to those received by Monday, November 29, 2021.

About SHEEO

SHEEO serves its members as an advocate for state policy leadership, as a liaison between states and the federal government, as a vehicle for learning from and collaborating with peers, and as a source of information and analysis on educational and public policy issues. SHEEO seeks to advance public policies and educational practices to achieve more widespread access and successful participation in higher education, more new discoveries through research, and more applications of knowledge that improve the quality of human lives.

The position will be based in Boulder, Colorado. SHEEO is particularly interested in providing equal employment opportunities and employing a diverse staff. Read more about SHEEO on our website: www.sheeo.org.

SHEEO Announces Excellence Awards Recipients

Association recognizes leadership, dedication, and innovation in state higher education policy and administration.

Washington, D.C. – The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association has announced the organization’s SHEEO Excellence Awards recipients. The awards recognize the leadership, dedication, and innovation of exceptional SHEEOs, agency staff, and agencies at a time when state postsecondary policy is increasingly linked to student success and, in turn, states’ economic and social prosperity.

  • The Exceptional Leader Award recipient is Zora Mulligan, commissioner of higher education for the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development.
  • The Exceptional Agency Award recipient is the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. 
  • The David L. Wright Memorial Award recipient is Patty Sanchez, academic affairs program manager for Idaho’s Office of the State Board of Education.

Reflecting on the SHEEO Excellence Awards, Dr. Robert Anderson, president of SHEEO, said: “SHEEO is so pleased to be able to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of all of our state higher education executive officers, their agencies, and the agency staff members. The efforts of these individuals and agencies help address the needs of students and advance our institutions of higher education. Their hard work and commitment should be commended. It is our honor to recognize the winners of this year’s SHEEO Excellence Awards.”

Exceptional Leader Award

The Exceptional Leader Award is presented to a current state higher education executive officer from a member agency who has shown exceptional leadership, a commitment to higher education, a contribution to the greater good, and service to the SHEEO Association within the last year.

This year’s recipient of the Exceptional Leader Award, Zora Mulligan, is Missouri’s commissioner of higher education, holding the position since August 2016 and serving on SHEEO’s Executive Committee since 2020. Mulligan’s team shared that she is always looking for ways to improve policies and outcomes. She can often be heard saying, “education changes lives,” and meaning it. Mulligan is passionate about the work of her staff and prides herself on offering hope for a better tomorrow to the citizens her team serves.

During her time as commissioner, Mulligan has led efforts to restructure and transform state government to bring the agencies responsible for postsecondary education, workforce development, and economic research together under one department. This transformation was in response to efforts in 2018 when Mulligan co-led an initiative to build a statewide coalition that developed and advocated for a comprehensive suite of proposals addressing workforce needs. These initiatives included funding higher education institutions to develop or expand academic programs for high-demand occupation jobs and the creation of a full-tuition grant program for adults.

Mulligan and her team have partnered with colleges and universities around the state to address equity gaps in higher education, substantially improving transfer for Missouri students, increasing graduation rates through alternatives to remedial coursework, and implementing new rules that give public colleges and universities greater ability to meet statewide and regional workforce needs.

Mike Parson, governor of Missouri, said: “Zora is a dedicated and passionate leader who is committed to bringing lasting opportunities to Missourians all across the state. She always welcomes a challenge and is at the forefront of aligning our workforce development and education priorities to better serve all Missourians. Zora is a tireless advocate for higher education in Missouri, and we are fortunate to have her in this state.” 

Joe Cornelison, chair of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, shared: “We are privileged to have seen first-hand Zora’s efforts and success in our state. She is a dynamic leader who is esteemed throughout Missouri, and highly respected by her staff, peers, and state officials. We are proud of her and look forward to working with her in continuing the effort of moving the state toward achieving its strategic goals.”

Exceptional Agency Award

The Exceptional Agency Award is presented to a member agency whose innovative actions, policies, or practices advanced student success in their state; which displayed exceptional governance practices; overcame exceptional challenges; or displayed other meritorious attributes within the last year. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE) has demonstrated a consistent commitment to advancing postsecondary education and student success within Massachusetts.

One notable accomplishment by the MDHE was adopting the vision for the Equity Agenda in December 2018. After an intensive professional development series in partnership with the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, the Department of Higher Education launched its action plan. With the support from Lumina Foundation and after being designated a Talent, Innovation, and Equity (TIE) state, the action plan included reimagining the student experience, conducting a policy audit, and developing a 10-year strategic plan for racial equity.

A number of key initiatives have been at the forefront of the Equity Agenda, such as creating a seamless system of transfer, expanding early college, increasing access to open education resources, transforming developmental education, and addressing basic needs security. Using data and evidence to measure progress towards the goal of racial equity, the board and department will work towards redesigning the policy scheme to build a culturally sustainable public postsecondary system where students can thrive.

Carlos E. Santiago, the commissioner of MDHE, said: “We are fortunate to have a staff dedicated to the educational success of all of our students, particularly historically excluded students, a system of public educational institutions that share our values, mission, and strategic initiatives, and a board and leadership that is committed to the highest ideals of higher education. This is a collective effort that seeks to make students’ highest aspirations a reality.”

Chris Gabrieli, chairperson for the Board of Higher Education, shared: “We are delighted and honored that SHEEO has chosen the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education for recognition. As arguably the birthplace of public education in the country, and one of the epicenters of higher education in the world, Massachusetts takes great pride and interest in fostering opportunity through our public higher education system. This department, led by our outstanding commissioner, Carlos Santiago, and fueled by a team with diverse experience and backgrounds, has worked hard to advance the interests of students and schools. We are especially proud to have made our Equity Agenda a top priority—this department puts student opportunity and overcoming historical barriers at the top of what we do and who we are, in both priority setting and actions accomplished. On behalf of our board and Commonwealth—thanks to Carlos and the team!”

James Peyser, Massachusetts secretary of education, said: “The work done by Department of Higher Education and Commissioner Santiago, and his team, over the past year has been outstanding. On behalf of Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito, I want to thank SHEEO and congratulate the commissioner and the DHE staff. This award is an important recognition of the innovative work in equity that the department has undertaken over the past couple of years. There remains much to do in the years to come, and I believe the commissioner and the department will be effective leaders of our state universities and community colleges in that work.”

David L. Wright Memorial Award

The David L. Wright Memorial Award is named in honor of the late David Wright, an esteemed colleague and leader in state higher education, who served in the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, and the Florida Governing Board. This award recognizes a current SHEEO agency staff member from a member agency who embodies the exceptional commitment, work ethic, and ethical practices of David Wright and made outstanding contributions to their agency.

Patty Sanchez, this year’s David L. Wright Memorial Award recipient, began her career in public service at Idaho’s Office of the State Board of Education as a student intern nearly 29 years ago. Over her long career, she has held several positions in various departments of the agency. For the past 13 years, Sanchez has served as the academic affairs program manager, where she has dedicated effort behind the scenes to ensure that program proposals, academic planning, and policy processes are executed with accuracy and fidelity. Sanchez’s nomination stressed that she cares deeply about supporting board members and institution colleagues to build knowledge, striving for collaborative and cohesive efforts among various statewide committees and workgroups. Sanchez is tireless in her efforts to ensure postsecondary institutions faithfully implement and responsibly monitor their academic technical programs.

While Sanchez’s long and varied service has been outstanding, she has also demonstrated exceptional commitment, work ethic, and ethical practices in other important ways. In addition to core job responsibilities, Sanchez contributes to a sense of community within the office as the agency sponsor for the annual United Way fundraising drive. She voluntarily coordinates holiday-themed and office-sponsored events for staff, giving selflessly of her time and personal resources, to encourage and support her coworkers. Sanchez cares deeply for all populations served by the board, as demonstrated through her steadfast efforts as the board’s staff on the Idaho Indian Education Committee. This work includes partnering with K-12 staff to represent the board at tribal meetings, planning events, developing goals and objectives with the committee, and working with institutions to find solutions that provide greater postsecondary access to Native populations.

Sanchez has served effectively under numerous chief academic officers while adjusting to several changes in executive leadership and the ongoing transitions in board membership. Senior staff, provosts, vice-presidents, and other organizational leaders rely heavily on her counsel and knowledge of agency history.

Dr. Christopher Mathias, chief academic officer (2013-16) and current member of the Idaho State House of Representatives, said this about Sanchez: “As a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, I know what commitment and reliability in public servitude looks like, and Patty Sanchez operates at that level. In my years as her supervisor, I never doubted her ability to execute key tasks in an ethical and exceptional manner. In an era where many states continue to invest less in their higher education systems—including Idaho—having passionate and reliable SHEEO staff has never been more important. They, like the institutions themselves, are being asked to do more with less every day. Patty Sanchez is no exception.”

Dr. Selena Grace, chief academic officer (2010-13) and current senior vice president at the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities, shared: “I have known Patty Sanchez for 15 years and worked with her as a colleague, as her supervisor, and as an institutional representative seeking her guidance and advice. Thoughtful, committed, and selfless are three words I would use to describe Patty Sanchez. I was quickly impressed with her ability to navigate the politics of being both an enforcer of Idaho postsecondary education policies and an advocate for the betterment of Idaho higher education.”

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The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) serves the chief executives of statewide governing, policy, and coordinating boards of postsecondary education and their staffs. Founded in 1954, SHEEO promotes an environment that values higher education and its role in ensuring the equitable education of all Americans, regardless of race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic factors. Together with its members, SHEEO aims to achieve this vision by equipping state higher education executive officers and their staffs with the tools to effectively advance the value of higher education, promoting public policies and academic practices that enable all Americans to achieve success in the 21st century, and serving as an advocate for state higher education leadership. For more information, visit https://sheeo.org.