Higher education researcher and advocate Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva will advise InsideTrack on evidence-based approaches to improve postsecondary student success
PORTLAND, ORE. (JANUARY 10, 2022) — InsideTrack, the national nonprofit student success organization that has served more than 2.9 million students over the past two decades, today announced the appointment of Dr. Yolanda Watson Spiva, president of Complete College America, to its Advisory Board.
“At this precarious time for colleges and their students, we cannot afford to let the challenges of the past three years undo the progress we have made toward improving college access and success, especially for historically-underserved students,” said Ruth Bauer White, president of InsideTrack. “Dr. Watson Spiva will bring to the advisory board an incredible depth of understanding and experience from an impressive career in postsecondary education, spanning research, nonprofit leadership, advocacy and student support personnel management.”
For more than 25 years, Watson Spiva has worked in numerous executive leadership, management, federal government, private sector and academic officer roles. Since 2018, she has served as president of Complete College America, a national leader in the effort to increase college completion rates and close institutional performance gaps, with focus on equitable outcomes, by working with numerous state-level and regional partners to scale highly effective structural reforms and promote policies that improve student success.
Forty-nine states, systems and consortia currently participate in the CCA Alliance. Since 2015, CCA Alliance members have improved community college graduation rates by a factor of 1.5 over rates at non-member institutions and increased the number of credentials and degrees awarded by 10%.
“Improving student success and college completion takes sustained collaboration between policymakers, educators and advocates,” Watson Spiva said. “InsideTrack has a hard-earned reputation as an organization that works side-by-side as a strategic partner to institutions helping them remove barriers to student success. Our two organizations share the common goal of driving student success, and I’m thrilled to join this impressive group of higher education leaders who are working to advance evidence-based practice and improve outcomes for all learners.”
Prior to joining CCA, Watson Spiva was president and CEO of the College Success Foundation, a national nonprofit organization focused on college readiness, access, success and scholarship based in Bellevue, Washington; and CEO and executive director of Project GRAD, an Atlanta nonprofit that partnered with the city’s public schools and colleges across the country to increase the number of low-income and first generation students of color from Atlanta graduating from high school and college. Watson Spiva holds a Ph.D. in higher education from Georgia State University.
Watson Spiva has also authored various research publications, and co-authored the NAACP Image Award-nominated book, Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents (1881-1953). In 2011, Watson Spiva was a recipient of the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award for her exemplary work in the nonprofit sector.
Current members of InsideTrack’s Advisory Board include Wil Del Pilar, vice president of higher education policy and practice at education civil rights nonprofit The Education Trust; Dr. Tim Renick, executive director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State University; Julian Thompson, director of strategy at the United Negro College Fund; Joel Vargas, vice president of programs at national education and workforce nonprofit Jobs for the Future; and Amy Dunham, chief communications officer for Habitat for Humanity International. This distinguished group of experts advises InsideTrack on new strategies to meet the emerging challenges facing students today.
About InsideTrack: InsideTrack is passionate about helping all learners achieve their education and career goals through the transformative power of coaching. Since 2001, we’ve served 2.9 million learners, partnering with more than 300 institutions and organizations to directly improve enrollment, persistence, completion and career readiness. Our coaching methodology is evidence-based and research-confirmed, with proven outcomes for every type of learner — from traditional to adult, part-time to full-time, online to in-person — including first-generation students and those who face systemic barriers to postsecondary success. We also work with partners to build internal coaching capacity through staff training and professional services — designed to sustain advances in-house for lasting, scalable impact. InsideTrack is a part of Strada Collaborative, a mission-driven nonprofit. To learn more, visit www.insidetrack.org and follow us on Twitter @InsideTrack and LinkedIn @InsideTrack.