Before joining Wheelhouse, Ms. Cooper served as an independent consultant and as longtime advisor on pre-K-to-14 education issues for the leader of the California State Senate. In that role, she shaped and shepherded the Pro Tem’s education agenda, provided counsel on state education budget matters, and led multi-year campaigns to increase quality pre-kindergarten opportunities for low-income children, reduce the number of high school dropouts, and strengthen high school-post-secondary pathways. She is Special Advisor to the Stuart Foundation, President of the Board of Directors of the nonprofit EdSource, and brings deep experience in project management, policy advocacy, communications, government relations and philanthropy.
Michal Kurlaender, Lead Researcher, Professor
Dr. Kurlaender is Department Chair and a Chancellor’s Fellow at the UC Davis School of Education. She investigates students’ educational pathways, in particular K-12 and postsecondary alignment, and access to and success in postsecondary schooling. She has expertise in alternative pathways to college and college readiness at both community colleges and four-year colleges and universities. In addition to working with national data, Kurlaender works closely with administrative data from all three of California’s public higher education sectors systems. Kurlaender also studies the impact of racial and ethnic diversity on student outcomes. She recently served as a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.
Deborah Travis, Director, Wheelhouse Institutes
Retired from her post as CEO/President of Cosumnes River College, Dr. Travis brings 30 years of postsecondary experience including senior leadership positions in California community colleges as chief academic officer, dean of instructional programs and director of economic development. Dr. Travis earned her doctorate from the UC Davis School of Education’s CANDEL program and attended the Institute for Management and Leadership in Education at Harvard University. She has designed and taught coursework in strategic planning, talent acquisition and human resource management, and organizational communication for the UC Davis and CSUS doctoral programs in educational leadership. Her long-standing research interests include adult learning theory, leadership development and community building with diverse groups.
Rachel Baker, Assistant Professor, UC Irvine School of Education
Dr. Baker is an Assistant Professor of Education Policy at the University of California, Irvine’s School of Education. She earned her PhD in Education Policy and the Economics of Education at Stanford University. She studies inequalities in access to and success in higher education using behavioral economic models of decision making and quasi-experimental and experimental methods. She works closely with the California Community Colleges. Her professional experience includes teaching elementary school in the Marshall Islands, working as a literacy specialist at a school for the Deaf, and coordinating college readiness programming at The Steppingstone Foundation in Boston.
Eric Bettinger, Associate Professor, Stanford University School of Education
Dr. Bettinger’s research interests include the economics of education; student success and completion in college; teacher characteristics and student success in college; and the effects of voucher programs on academic and non-academic outcomes. He is a research associate in the program on education at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Co-Principal Investigator at the Lemann Center for Brazilian Education at Stanford. Eric’s research focuses on using rigorous statistical methods in identifying cause-and-effect relationships in higher education. His research on financial aid applications has influenced recent efforts by the White House to simplify financial aid processes. He holds a PhD in Economics from MIT.
Marcela Cuellar, Assistant Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Cuellar’s research focuses on Latino student access and success in higher education, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and the development of emerging HSIs. She received her doctorate in Higher Education and Organizational Change at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.
Elizabeth Friedmann, Research Fellow, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Friedmann is a postdoctoral researcher at Wheelhouse. She received her PhD in Education with an emphasis in School Organization and Education Policy from UC Davis. Her research focuses on issues related to college access and success, including financial aid and transfer pathways from community colleges. At Wheelhouse, Dr. Friedmann produces independent research for publication in Wheelhouse briefs. She also provides research support for survey design and administration and organizational support for the Wheelhouse Institute on Leadership. In addition to her work at UC Davis, she lectures at CSU East Bay.
Cassandra Hart, Associate Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Hart is an associate professor of education policy. She evaluates the effects of school, state and national education programs, policies, and practices on overall student achievement, and on the equality of student outcomes. With respect to community colleges, Dr. Hart’s work primarily focuses on evaluating student outcomes and experiences in online classes. She received her PhD from the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in 2011.
Paco Martorell, Assistant Professor, UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Martorell has broad research interests in both higher education and K-12 policy. Current projects cover areas including developmental education in colleges, the effects of grade retention, the returns to for-profit colleges, the impacts of school facility investments, and community college tuition subsidies. He completed his PhD in economics at UC Berkeley. Prior to joining UC Davis, he was an Economist at the RAND Corporation and was a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
Dr. Melguizo works in the field of economics of higher education, using quantitative methods of analysis and large-scale longitudinal survey data to study the association of different factors such as student trajectories and specific institutional characteristics on the persistence and educational outcomes of minority and low-income students. She holds a PhD in Economics of Education from Stanford University and an MA in Social Policy from the London School of Economics.
Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, Associate Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies
Dr. Rios-Aguilar is Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusion, Professor of Education and Director of the Higher Education Research Institute in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA. Dr. Rios-Aguilar’s research is multidisciplinary and uses a variety of conceptual frameworks—funds of knowledge and the forms of capital—and of statistical approaches—regression analysis, multilevel models, GIS, and social network analysis—to study the educational and occupational trajectories of underrepresented minorities. Dr. Rios-Aguilar’s research interests include critical quantitative research methods, big data, social media, community colleges, and educational policies. She obtained her Ph.D. in Education Theory and Policy from the University of Rochester, her M.S. in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester, and her B.A. in Economics from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México [ITAM].
Manuel Baca, Trustee, Mt. San Antonio College
Dr. Baca was first elected to the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees in 1999 and has served multiple terms as its president. He teaches political science at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, where he has also served as dean and interim president. From 2012 to 2014, Dr. Baca served as president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. He holds a PhD in Education from USC.
Thomas Bailey, President, Teachers College, Columbia University
Dr. Bailey is the president of Teachers College, Columbia University, and the George and Abby O’Neill Professor of Economics and Education at TC. He also serves as director of the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness. By appointment of the U.S. Secretary of Education, he chairs the Committee on Measures of Student Success. Previously, he was the founding director of the Community College Research Center and is currently a senior fellow with the center. He holds a PhD in Economics from MIT.
Helen Benjamin, Interim President, Santa Barbara Community College and Chancellor (Ret.), Contra Costa Community College District
Dr. Benjamin served many years as chancellor of the Contra Costa District. Throughout her career she has held numerous community college CEO and senior leadership positions. She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from Texas Woman’s University. She is former chair of the Community College League board of directors, a member of the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and served on President Obama’s Commission on the Future.
Thomas Brock, Director and Research Professor, Community College Research Center, Columbia University
Dr. Brock directs the Community College Research Center. He has more than 25 years of experience in education and social welfare research and is a research professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. He is the former commissioner of the National Center for Education Research (NCER) at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). He holds a PhD in Social Welfare from UCLA.
Edward Bush, President, Cosumnes River College and Wheelhouse Institute Alumnus
Dr. Bush is President of Cosumnes River College and is known for his leadership and research on issues relating to student success, equity and diversity. Most of his 21-year career has centered on the California Community Colleges. He is a published author and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Educational Leadership from the Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Bush is an alumni fellow of the Wheelhouse Institute on Leadership.
Larry Galizio, President and CEO, Community College League of California
Before joining the League, Dr. Galizio served as president of Clatsop Community College (Oregon) and as director of strategic planning for the Chancellor’s Office of the Oregon University System. He served in the Oregon Legislature, where he chaired the Joint Ways and Means Education Subcommittee. From 1993 to 2009, he was a full-time faculty member of Portland Community College. He is co-author of Elements of Parliamentary Debate: A Guide to Public Argument, and holds a PhD from Portland State University’s School of Urban and Public Affairs.
Brice W. Harris, Chancellor Emeritus, California Community Colleges
Dr. Harris served as Chancellor of the California system from 2012 to 2016. Previously, he served 16 years as chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, president of Fresno City College and as faculty and vice chancellor in the Kansas City, Missouri community college system. He serves on the board of the American Council on Education (ACE) and is a former member of the Board of the American Association of Community Colleges and the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges.
Douglas B. Houston, Chancellor, Yuba Community College District
Dr. Houston is the Chancellor of the Yuba Community College District and the former Superintendent/President of Lassen College. He previously held administrative positions at Butte College and Barstow College. He also served as the commander of various military units and has taught at the community college and university levels, including as a Physics Professor at West Point. He serves on tthe Advisory Committees for the UC Davis CANDEL and CSU Sacramento doctoral programs.
Harold G. Levine, Dean (Ret.), UC Davis School of Education
Dr. Levine is the retired founding Dean of the UC Davis School of Education, where he also served as professor. Trained as an anthropologist, he began his career as a professor in the UCLA Department of Education, later becoming department chair and interim dean. As Dean, he oversaw substantial growth in personnel and programs. He was instrumental in the founding of Wheelhouse at UC Davis in 2016.
Lauren Lindstrom, Dean, UC Davis School of Education
Dean Lindstrom brings more than 25 years as an academic and administrator at the University of Oregon’s College of Education, most recently as Associate Dean. She is an active researcher whose areas of interest include autism, developmental disabilities, special education, career and college readiness for youth with disabilities, and access to quality education for families in poverty. She has been recognized internationally for her work promoting employment and access for individuals with disabilities.