We know that using data to inform education policy strategies dramatically increases college access and success in post-secondary education. Many states across the country have set statewide attainment goals, and we can now learn from those case studies. In partnership with Philanthropy California, we invite you to learn about statewide and national education policy efforts that have increased educational attainment and completion for California’s most vulnerable student populations.
About the Education Funders Group
The Education Funders Group brings philanthropic funders together quarterly to learn about issues, trends, and needs in the field of education to inform individual and collective grantmaking. Over the years, the group has explored a variety of topics, including early childhood education, after-school programming, parent engagement, blended learning, linked learning, STEM, implementation of the common core, and college access/college success.
Executive Director, Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges
Kelly King went back to college in 2022 to serve as Executive Director of the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges. As the philanthropic partner to the Los Angeles Community College District, King leads programs and partnerships that support success for the 200,000+ students served annually across LACCD's nine colleges.
Most recently, King served as Senior Program Officer for Education at the California Community Foundation where she managed large-scale efforts to advance a more equitable education system in Los Angeles County, with a special focus on postsecondary access and attainment.
Before joining CCF in 2015, King served as Executive Vice President at Focusing Philanthropy where she led a national portfolio of philanthropic investments that included education, health access, and workforce development. King began her career in the education and nonprofit sector at the Scripps College Academy, leading the program to national recognition.
King received a bachelor’s degree in politics and public policy analysis from Scripps College and a master’s degree in education policy, evaluation and reform from Claremont Graduate University.
King serves on several local boards and community advisory groups including the LA County Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (ARDI) Initiative, Reading Partners Los Angeles, Linda Vista Children's Center, and the Pipkin Charitable Foundation.
Ann Marie Sakrekoff
Interim President & CEO, Growing Inland Achievement
Ann Marie Sakrekoff serves as the Interim President & CEO for Growing Inland Achievement (GIA), a regional cross-sector network of education, government, nonprofit, and business partners in the Inland Empire, collectively working towards a shared vision of educational and economic success. Ann Marie oversees a staff of 12 who support the Inland Empire educational network by researching issues and opportunities, developing financial resources for the region, and connecting diverse stakeholders across San Bernardino and Riverside counties.
Sakrekoff has over 20 years of higher education and nonprofit leadership experience, including her roles at GIA as COO, and Interim CEO. Ann Marie was the first employee hired by GIA’s founding board in 2016, helping to lead the organization since its inception.
Ann Marie was born and raised in San Bernardino and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies as well as a certification in International Relations and Middle Eastern Studies from California State University, San Bernardino. Prior to joining GIA, Ann Marie gained experience working in the myriad educational systems GIA serves including K12 school districts, two-year Community Colleges and four-year Universities.
Executive Vice President, The Campaign for College Opportunity
Jessie Ryan grew up in the Central Valley and was raised by a struggling single mother. While life was often challenging, Jessie’s mother taught her that being economically disadvantaged did not mean a lifetime of disadvantage. She instilled the belief in Jessie that through education and civic participation individuals could vastly improve their quality of life. It was her mother’s strong sense of civic service and empathy for others that inspired Jessie to seek a college education, something her mother had always dreamed of doing, and devote much of her professional life to making it possible for others to follow their same college dream.
As the Executive Vice President for the Campaign for College Opportunity, Jessie leads the organization’s advocacy and policy efforts to increase the number of California students accessing higher education, impact the rate that students succeed in reaching their educational goals, and close racial equity gaps. A proud product of California’s Community Colleges and California State University System, over the past decade, Jessie shepherded efforts to simplify the transfer pathway (SB1440 & AB 928) from community colleges to four-year universities. She has also successfully led efforts to expand enrollment funding for the CSU and UC as well as efforts to reform remedial education at community colleges (AB 705).
Most passionate about educational opportunity, leadership development, and elevating California’s Central Valley, before joining the Campaign Jessie served as a Circuit Rider for the Great Valley Center’s Community-based Assistance Programs (CAPs) working to support activities and organizations that promote the economic, social, and environmental well-being of California’s Great Central Valley. Acting as a technical advisor on local issues throughout the 21-county region, Jessie provided extensive outreach and capacity building services to rural and underserved communities.
In December 2017, Jessie was elected president of the Sacramento City Unified School District, Board of Education, where her “Safe Haven School District” policy was lifted-up by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as a state and national model. From 2014-2020, as a board member, she was humbled to represent some of the poorest, most diverse neighborhoods in the state’s Capitol and dedicated herself to ensuring that all students would have a pathway out of poverty through public education.
Jessie graduated from Emerge California, a political leadership training program designed to identify, educate, and inspire Democratic women who want to pursue a career in politics at the local and state level. Jessie was a graduate of the Women’s Policy Institute, a program offered by the Women’s Foundation of California and created to increase the number of women leaders in California who are actively involved in shaping and implementing policies that affect the health and well-being of women and girls. She was a fellow in the Institute for Developing Emerging Area Leaders (IDEAL) program, which is dedicated to engaging a diverse group of valley stakeholders in strengthening effective public policy decision-making. Jessie was also selected to represent the valley in the Pew Partnership’s LeadershipPlenty – a program that teaches participants civic skills such as taking action, managing conflict, building partnerships, and engaging diverse communities in creating long-term positive community change. In 2018, she was named the 2018 “Woman of Inspiration” by the Sacramento Kings. In 201,9 she was selected to participate in the Public Education Leadership Program (PELP) at Harvard.
Strategy Officer, State Policy, Lumina Foundation
Paola Santana serves as Strategy Officer for State Policy at Lumina Foundation where she supports state efforts to increase postsecondary attainment and address racial disparities through the implementation of Luminas’ State Policy Agenda.
Prior to joining Lumina, Santana led UNITE-LA’s, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, college access and success portfolio. She was responsible for the implementation of direct service programming, the development of the Chamber’s higher education policy advocacy agenda and providing strategic support to the local Talent Hub. Santana began her career working for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education where she advised board members on complex policy issues and worked with educators, administrators, students, and families to improve educational opportunities in the country’s second largest school district. She is a proud graduate of the Riordan Leadership Institute, the Pahara NextGen Network, the California Education Policy Fellowship Program, and the Indiana Latino Institute Leadership Circle. In 2021, Santana was appointed to serve on the Circle Area Community Development Corporation and also currently serves on the board of directors of the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges and TeenWorks. A first generation and community college transfer student, Santana earned her B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley and went on to complete her Master’s in Higher Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.