• About the Partnership for College Completion

    About the Partnership for College Completion

The Partnership for College Completion has set an ambitious goal to eliminate institutional achievement gaps in college degree completion for low-income and first generation students in the region by 2025, establishing northeastern Illinois as a national leader in equity in degree attainment.

Despite improvements in the high school graduation rates and college matriculation rates for students, college completion rates have remained flat and achievement gaps between groups have persisted or widened.

  • "Governors State University is pleased to work with the Partnership for College Completion on the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative. Eliminating achievement gaps and increasing graduation rates will happen only if we work together. PCC’s leadership is welcome, and Governors State University is proud be part of this essential alliance."

    - Elaine P. Maimon, President, Governors State University
The launch of the Partnership, a regional organization, followed a two-year planning process that was led by Forefront’s College and Career Access, Persistence and Success (CCAPS) group and involved hundreds of stakeholders from across Chicago, the region, and the nation. Read more here.
  • Kyle P. WestbrookFounding Executive Director

    Kyle P. Westbrook
    Founding Executive Director

    Before coming to the Partnership, Kyle served as the Executive Director of Education Policy in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Kyle has extensive experience in public education having spent 20 years as a teacher, teacher leader, leadership consultant, and district level administrator including 5 years leading the Office of Magnet, Gifted, and International Baccalaureate programs in the Chicago Public Schools.
    Lisa Castillo RichmondManaging Director

    Lisa Castillo Richmond
    Managing Director

    Lisa most recently served as the Executive Director of the college completion initiative Graduate NYC. Previously, she spent several years leading national and local program teams for non-profit education organizations, predominantly those focused on college access and success. As a first generation college student, she is deeply committed to addressing inequities in higher education.
    Jonathan LopezOperations Coordinator

    Jonathan Lopez
    Operations Coordinator

    Jonathan brings to the Partnership a diverse experience in development and management of educational, cultural and social justice organizations and initiatives. As he nears the completion of his degree in Interdisciplinary Studies at Northeastern Illinois University, he aims to support and inspire other first generation students to follow their goals for higher education.
    Rebecca PopelkaProgram Manager

    Rebecca Popelka
    Program Manager

    Rebecca joins the Partnership with over a decade of experience in higher education, specifically in the areas of undergraduate admission and enrollment. She has presented at both the national and regional level on issues effecting transfer student access and success. As a first generation college student herself, Rebecca is committed to working on initiatives that positively impact graduation rates for underrepresented students.
    Julian WilliamsProgram Manager

    Julian Williams
    Program Manager

    Before coming to the Partnership, Julian served as Chief Executive Officer of Institution Builders, Inc., an independent consulting firm. Julian has conducted program evaluation and applied research projects within higher education, local city government, and the non-profit sector. Julian holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
    Paula HanleyProgram Manager

    Paula Hanley
    Program Manager

    Paula joins the Partnership after having worked at a community college for four years implementing a one-stop student service center. Additionally, she brings over 30 years of experience in higher education with an extensive background in strategic, operational planning, enrollment management, academic advising and transfer student services.
    Emily GoldmanPolicy Manager

    Emily Goldman
    Policy Manager

    Before attending law school, Emily taught a freshman course on college success at Indiana University. As a lawyer, she advocated for policies and programs that improve outcomes for students in Illinois. Her diverse background in social justice advocacy will be used to support and catalyze systemic change in Illinois to increase graduation rates for underrepresented college students.
    Michael AbrahamsonPolicy Analyst

    Michael Abrahamson
    Policy Analyst

    Before joining the Partnership, Mike worked as a Mayoral Fellow while completing a master’s degree from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. He focused largely on projects in postsecondary education, working with City Colleges of Chicago and its Star Scholarship. He also recently served as Data Fellow for One Million Degrees.
  • Greg Darnieder (Chair)
    Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary on the College Access Initiative
    U.S. Department of Education

    Liz Thompson (Co-Chair)
    The Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

    Adam Levine (Treasurer)
    Circle of Service Foundation

    Laz Lopez (Secretary)
    Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
    High School District 214

    Dave Agazzi
    Former Vice President of Administrative Affairs
    College of Lake County

    Margaret Daniels Tyler
    Social Venture Advisor
    TheTylerGroup with the Strategic Consulting Network

    Arne Duncan
    Managing Director
    Emerson Collective

    Sherry Eagle
    Executive Director Emeritus
    Institute for Collaboration, Aurora University

    Judy Erwin
    Managing Director

    Ricardo Estrada
    President and CEO
    Metropolitan Family Services

    Brian Fabes
    Civic Consulting Alliance

    Joseph McCoy
    Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

    Dr. Nivine Megahed
    National Louis University

    Tim Schwertfeger
    Former Chairman and CEO
    Nuveen Investments

  • Anonymous

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Best Portion Foundation

    The Brinson Foundation

    Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

    CME Group Foundation

    The Crown Family

    Dunham Fund

    Gorter Family Foundation

    IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

    The Joyce Foundation

    Julian Grace Foundation

    Karen and Liam Krehbiel

    Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation

    McDougal Family Foundation

    Osa Foundation

    Paul and Mary Finnegan

    Polk Bros. Foundation

    Siragusa Family Foundation

    Square One Foundation

    Steans Family Foundation

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