Higher Education Leader Joins Achieving the Dream

Silver Spring, MD (August 19, 2016) – Dr. Karen A. Stout, President & CEO of Achieving the Dream, today announced Dr. Ryan Kelsey, an educational strategist and philanthropic leader who has directed investments that encourage campus-wide, systemic transformation in community colleges and four-year institutions and led teaching and learning initiatives at Columbia University, will join Achieving the Dream (ATD) on September 6 as Chief Advisor to the President & CEO.

“Ryan adds depth to our ATD leadership team, given his depth and breadth of work in higher education, including most recently with community colleges. He is well respected in the field and brings to ATD a special combination of practitioner experience from his work on a campus and policy experience from his work as a philanthropic leader,” said Dr. Stout. “Achieving the Dream and our Network colleges will benefit enormously from his knowledge of higher education, expertise in strategic planning and evaluation, and his strong commitment to students who are counting on a community college education to prepare them for well-paid, middle class jobs.”

Dr. Kelsey will work closely with Dr. Stout to continue strengthening ATD’s internal capacity as an organization and its outreach to its network of colleges. Dr. Kelsey will help ATD deepen its institutional capacity framework and tools by designing new capacity-focused products and services. In addition, Dr. Kelsey will disseminate lessons learned from key ATD initiatives and design and deliver a strategy to help accelerate the scaling of innovation across the community college sector.

A special priority for Dr. Kelsey will be designing a strategy to reach community colleges serving counties with persistently high poverty rates to help these community colleges build stronger capacity to more successfully support the economic mobility of the students they serve.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Achieving the Dream, particularly at a time when community colleges are receiving some well-deserved recognition nationally for the vital role they play in advancing upward mobility for so many students,” said Dr. Kelsey. “I have learned so much from partnering with ATD on several initiatives, and I look forward to working closely with the team to further enhance ATD’s capacity for their growing network.”

Dr. Kelsey comes to ATD from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust where he developed and managed a $45 million portfolio of grants focused on U.S. higher education, STEM learning, K-12 teacher preparation, and educational technology. In addition to his focus on systemic change, his grants recognized the value of using external evaluations to increase project outcomes and help build the knowledge base in targeted areas. Of specific note, many of these investments supported work at America’s community colleges, including important ATD work with colleges in integrated planning and advising and improving adjunct faculty engagement.

Before he joined the Helmsley Charitable Trust, Dr. Kelsey spent more than a decade at the Columbia University Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, serving as Director of Projects and Associate Director of Education & Research. In those roles, Dr. Kelsey co-led the Center’s strategic planning and new programs. He also led the Center’s research and evaluation efforts, advising staff on evaluation methods and leading workshops for university faculty. He oversaw knowledge management using internal and external learning platforms, publication and distribution of reports and materials.

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Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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