Thursday April 26, 10:45 am – 12:00 pm
Track 1: Fundamentals and Foundations - Commitment to Quality, Learning, and Improvement
Track 2: Faculty Roles, Responsibilities, and Support
Track 3: Student Learning and Achievement
Track 4: Telling Higher Education’s Story
Track 5: Higher Education’s Stakeholders: Families, Employers, Policy Makers, and the Public
Panel Discussion: Fostering Change in Postsecondary Education

Fostering Change in Postsecondary Education: Exploring Opportunities to Encourage Innovation and Improvement to Better Support Students

This moderated discussion will examine challenges and opportunities facing higher education and explore how postsecondary stakeholders can collaborate to improve student success.

Panelists will consider federal, state and institutional policies and programs that can drive the innovation necessary to better serve students and foster a healthy and just society. From reauthorizing the Higher Education Act to strengthening state systems and effectively engaging the private sector, the discussion will explore ways to improve quality, access, equity and affordability throughout the higher education system.

Panelists: John Kline (R-MN) and George Miller (D-CA), former chairs of the U.S. House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee; Max Espinoza, Senior Program Officer, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Ajita Talwalker Menon, Former Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education Policy in the Obama Administration.

Moderated by Doug Lederman, co-editor and co-founder, Inside Higher Ed.

Max Espinoza
Senior Program Officer
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Max Espinoza is currently a senior program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation where his focus is on building the political and public will for education reforms that close opportunity and equity gaps in states across the United States. Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Max was Senior Vice President of Education Programs & Policy at Scholarship America, providing leadership for the organization’s education programs and establishing their national public policy, advocacy and research agenda. Max began his professional career in California’s state capital spending 14 years in key policy making and leadership roles, including serving as a senior advisor to legislative leadership and as an executive leader at the California Student Aid Commission. In addition to his professional role, Max serves on the board of directors for the National Postsecondary Policy Institute and the UCLA Alumni Association, and as an advisory board member for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project. A first-generation college student from a working-class immigrant family, Max holds a BA from UCLA.

John Kline
Former United States Representative, Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District
Former Chairman, House Education and Workforce Committee

John Kline is retired from both the United States Marine Corps and the United States House of Representatives. He served on active duty in the Marines from 1969 to 1994. A helicopter pilot, he is a veteran of operations in both Viet Nam and Somalia. John flew helicopters, including “Marine One”, as a pilot in Marine Helicopter Squadron One, and he served as Marine Corps Aide to both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. After retiring as a colonel from active duty in the Marines, John ran for Congress in Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District and served in the House for 14 years. In Congress, he served on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce (a committee he chaired for 6 years), the Intelligence Committee and the Ethics Committee. John lives in Burnsville, Minnesota with his wife, Vicky (a retired U.S. Army nurse). He is particularly proud of his two children (one of whom is a colonel in the U.S. Army) and four grandchildren.

Ajita Talwalker Menon
Former Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education Policy in the Obama Administration

Ajita Talwalker Menon recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area after serving in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education Policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council. Ms. Menon focuses her work on supporting government agencies, higher education institutions and systems, non-profit organizations, and philanthropies in their efforts to drive better outcomes in postsecondary education necessary to improve social and economic mobility for all Americans and strengthen the nation’s economic competitiveness. Key roles include: serving as Senior Advisor to the CEO of Lumina Foundation and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest community college system serving more than 2.1 million students. Prior to working at the White House, Ms. Menon served for two years as senior policy advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and has also served as education policy advisor to the House Committee on Education and Labor, policy analyst at The Institute for College Access & Success, and as James H. Dunn Fellow in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she served as student body President, organizing campaigns to expand educational access for students; and served a two-year term leading the United States Student Association. Ms. Menon also holds a master's degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

George Miller
Former United States Representative, California’s 11th Congressional District
Former Chairman, House Education and Workforce Committee; Senior Education Advisor, Cengage Learning

George Miller was born in Richmond, California, and currently lives in Martinez. He was the Senior Democrat of the House Education and Workforce Committee and Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy Committee, retiring in 2014. During his 40-year career in the United States Congress, Mr. Miller was a leading advocate on education, labor, the economy, and the environment. First elected in 1974, Mr. Miller represented constituents in Contra Costa and Solano Counties, just east of the San Francisco Bay. Over the years, his Congressional District included the cities of Richmond, Concord, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Danville, Pittsburg, Benicia, Vallejo and Vacaville. Congressman Miller currently serves as Senior Education Advisor to the CEO of Boston-based Cengage Learning, and also serves a member of the Board of Teach Plus, an organization dedicated to teacher excellence and teaching. With former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels Congressman Miller recently co-chaired The Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence 2017. A graduate of Diablo Valley Community College and San Francisco State University, Congressman Miller earned his law degree from the University of California, Davis Law School. Before his election to Congress, he served on the staff of then-State Senate Majority Leader George Moscone in Sacramento. He is married to Cynthia Caccavo Miller, a life-long resident of Contra Costa County. They have two sons, George and Stephen, and six grandchildren.

Doug Lederman
Co-Editor and Co-Founder, Inside Higher Education

Doug Lederman is co-editor and one of three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Scott Jaschik, he leads the site's editorial operations, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Doug speaks widely about higher education, including on C-Span and National Public Radio and at meetings around the country, and his work has appeared in The New York Times and USA Today, among other publications. Doug was managing editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education from 1999 to 2003. Before that, Doug had worked at The Chronicle since 1986 in a variety of roles, first as an athletics reporter and editor. He has won three National Awards for Education Reporting from the Education Writers Association, including one in 2009 for a series of Inside Higher Ed articles he co-wrote on college rankings. He began his career as a news clerk at The New York Times. He grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and graduated in 1984 from Princeton University. Doug lives in Bethesda, Maryland.