About The Partnership for College Completion

The Partnership for College Completion champions policies, practices and systems that increase college completion and eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income, first generation, and students of color in Illinois – particularly Black and Latinx students.

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.

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. Westbrook, Ph.D.Founding Executive Director

    Kyle P. Westbrook, Ph.D.
    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.
    Mike AbrahamsonPolicy Manager

    Mike Abrahamson
    Policy Manager

    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.
    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.
    Emily GoldmanSenior Policy Manager

    Emily Goldman
    Senior 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.
    Paula HanleyEquity Program Manager

    Paula Hanley
    Equity 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. Paula earned a BA in English and MA in Counseling from Bradley University.
    Bravetta HassellSenior Communications Manager

    Bravetta Hassell
    Senior Communications Manager

    Prior to joining the Partnership, Bravetta led Communications for the Cook County Pension Fund, the $10 Billion administrator of annuity and retiree health benefits for employees of Cook County, Illinois, and Cook County’s Forest Preserve District. A proud HBCU alumna and Medill School graduate, Bravetta’s background is in journalism and communications with work appearing in publications across the country including the Tulsa World and The Washington Post.
    Jonathan LopezCommunications & Operations Manager

    Jonathan Lopez
    Communications & Operations Manager

    Jonathan joins the Partnership with diverse experience in development and management of educational, cultural and social justice organizations. He holds a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and aims to use his experiences to support and inspire other first generation students to follow their higher education goals.
    Sonianne LozadaCommunity Engagement Manager

    Sonianne Lozada
    Community Engagement Manager

    Sonianne most recently worked in policy and advocacy in the areas of food justice and poverty, mobilizing advocates to defend legislation and policies that protect federal nutrition programs and decrease food insecurity and poverty in Illinois. Previously, she spent several years in youth development, working with Chicago Public School youth in the areas of advocacy, leadership development, and post-secondary education.
    Joe SaucedoEquity Program Manager

    Joe Saucedo
    Equity Program Manager

    Prior to joining the Partnership, Joe was the Director of Loyola University Chicago’s department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. He has over ten years of experience engaged in college access, residence life, and student retention. Joe earned his BS in Marketing at Georgetown University and a MEd in Student Affairs from the University of California-Los Angeles.
    Julian Williams, Ph.D.Equity Program Manager

    Julian Williams, Ph.D.
    Equity 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.
    Cristian Martinez GomezProgram Intern

    Cristian Martinez Gomez
    Program Intern

    Cristian joins the Partnership as a Program Intern with experiences of being a Dreamer student in higher education. He attended Harold Washington College and transferred to Northeastern Illinois University, where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Graphic Design, as a recipient of TheDream.US National Scholarship.
    Nora LiuPolicy Intern

    Nora Liu
    Policy Intern

    Nora, a rising fourth year student at the University of Chicago pursuing a bachelor's degree in both Philosophy and Religious Studies, is interning with PCC's Public Policy team.
    Travor SpicerProgram Intern

    Travor Spicer
    Program Intern

    Travor, a 2021 first-generation graduate from Augustana College-Rock Island with a bachelor's degree in both Political Science and History, is interning with PCC's College and University Partnerships team. Travor participated in football throughout his four years at Augustana, was a member of the Black Student Union (BSU) and the Student Government Association (SGA), and a student advocate for campus mental health.
  • Beth Swanson (Chair)
    CEO
    A Better Chicago

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

    Jim Parsons (Treasurer)
    Senior Advisor
    The Brinson Foundation

    Kevin Considine
    President and CEO
    Lake County Partners

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

    Greg Darnieder
    Former Senior Advisor to the Secretary on the College Access Initiative
    U.S. Department of Education

    Joan DiLeonardi
    Chair of Board of Trustees
    Oakton Community College

    Arne Duncan
    Managing Director
    Emerson Collective

    Sherry Eagle
    Executive Director Emeritus
    Institute for Collaboration, Aurora University

    Judy Erwin
    Managing Director
    Kivvit

    Brian Fabes
    CEO
    Civic Consulting Alliance

    Adam Levine
    President
    Circle of Service Foundation

    Dr. Nivine Megahed
    President
    National Louis University

    Robert Pullion
    Foundational Talent Training Program Manager
    Zurich North America

    Tim Schwertfeger
    Former Chairman and CEO
    Nuveen Investments

    Douglas Wood
    Senior Fellow Justice, Equity and Opportunity
    Aspen Institute

    Yasmin Zavala
    Student Board Member
    Senior at Saint Xavier University

  • Anonymous

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Best Portion Foundation

    Bridges to Brighter Futures

    The Brinson Foundation

    Cleveland Avenue Foundation for Education

    CME Group Foundation

    The Crown Family

    The ECMC Foundation

    Gorter Family Foundation

    IMC Chicago Charitable Foundation

    The Joyce Foundation
    Julian Grace Foundation

    Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation

    MB Financial Charitable Foundation

    McDougal Family Foundation

    Osa Foundation

    Paul and Mary Finnegan

    Polk Bros. Foundation

    Siragusa Family Foundation

    Square One Foundation

    Steans Family Foundation

    Timothy R. Schwertfeger and Gail Waller
  • Ruth Anderson
    National Louis University

    Chloe Caston-Sanders
    Truman College (CCC)

    Ethan Chiu
    Loyola University Chicago

    Ahmed Elfaki
    Kishwaukee College

    Efren Gonzalez-Cortes
    Morton College

    Christian Gordon
    DePaul University

    Lauren Hassen
    Moraine Valley CC

    Uriah Hegwood
    Kishwaukee College

    Jermaine Hilton
    College of Lake County

    Kisa Jafri
    Harper College

    Jeanine Koger
    Governor State University

    Kennedy Mallory
    Loyola University Chicago

    Gaylen Rivers
    Northern Illinois University

    Daliyah Sanders
    Harper College

    Karina Solano
    Northeastern Illinois University

    Karen Suarez
    Oakton CC

    Yasmine Zavala
    Saint Xavier University

    Marneee Ostoa
    Harold Washington College (CCC)

    Marketta Sims
    Kennedy-King College (CCC)

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