A Leadership Transition Cultivated in Partnership and Rooted In Equity

A new chapter rooted in equity

After two decades of shaping and leading the most transformative research, policy and advocacy organization in higher education in the state of California, Michele Siqueiros is ready to start a new journey and will be stepping down as President of the Campaign for College Opportunity effective June 30th, 2024. We are grateful for Michele’s leadership and thoughtful transition planning with the Board, which selected Jessie Ryan as our President starting July 1, 2024.

The Campaign Board of Directors underwent a rigorous process to identify a candidate that is mission-driven, resourceful, a creative and strategic thinker, and equity-minded. After multiple conversations and stakeholder interviews, it was clear that Jessie Ryan possessed these critical qualities and has the capacity to lead the Campaign through our next chapter, with a focus on strengthening college access and success while closing racial equity gaps for students in California and nationwide.

The Board of Directors and the Campaign team are deeply grateful for Michele’s legacy and are excited for her next chapter. Read more in a letter from our Board below.

State Leaders Share Their Support

“California owes a debt of gratitude to Michele Siqueiros for her two decades of unwavering leadership on behalf of students. Jessie Ryan is an incredible policy leader, and I am confident she will build on Michele’s legacy — championing critical student-centered reforms and empowering hundreds of thousands of families. I look forward to our continued work with Jessie and the Campaign for College Opportunity as we develop a transformative Master Plan for Career Education and ensure all students and families have the resources they need to succeed.”
Gavin-Newsom@2x-e1574108021547
Governor Gavin Newsom
State of California
A MESSAGE FROM CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR ELENI KOUNALAKIS

20 Years of Fierce Leadership

Michele has led a tremendous 20-year tenure at the Campaign for College Opportunity, expertly spurring state, student, community, civil rights, and business leaders to envision a California where all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, or ZIP code, have the opportunity and support to access a quality higher education that provides the financial stability and professional opportunities they deserve. Michele, alongside our founders and Board, has built the Campaign into a powerful and influential force of advocacy for equity in higher education through research, policy advocacy, and coalition-building. With her guidance, the Campaign has strengthened transfer pathways, protected and expanded financial aid, advanced equitable course placement practices, secured billions in funding for higher education, and successfully influenced the inclusion of racial/ethnic equity-minded and diverse leaders on our higher education governing bodies and campuses.

Michele will continue her civic endeavors, including serving on the Boards of the California Endowment, Pitzer College, Community Coalition, Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles Advocacy Project Los Angeles County Action Fund, and the Mayor’s Fund of LA. She will be taking time to contemplate her 20 years of impact as a nonprofit executive and first-generation Latina, reflecting on how her story and leadership model can benefit the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. Michele will always be connected to the Campaign as an ardent supporter and will formally serve as an Executive Advisor to Jessie to ensure a smooth transition.

Michele's headshot
THE SEEDS OF CHANGE

A Statement from Michele Siqueiros

“I am incredibly proud of the impact our work at the Campaign for College Opportunity has had for California students, from expanding access to college, strengthening pathways, protecting financial aid, to increasing student success with an unapologetic focus on addressing racial inequities. For 20 years, I have had the privilege of leading this work, and I was able to plant the seeds that birthed a powerhouse organization with the support of amazing Board members and community leaders. I have had the even bigger fortune of seeing that work bear fruit alongside Jessie Ryan. There is no one better poised to take the Campaign to the next level. As her biggest fan, a loyal friend, and forever partner in this work, I can’t wait to see what she does next.”

MICHELE’S LEADERSHIP & OUR TWENTY-YEAR HISTORY
“On behalf of The Coalition, we would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Michele Siqueiros on the remarkable 20 years of dedication and leadership as President. Your unwavering commitment to advocating for students in California has been truly inspiring, and your numerous achievements have significantly shaped the landscape of California Community Colleges.” Full statement
the coalition cc
THE COALITION
A2MEND, APAHE, and Colegas | California Community Colleges
“A voice for the voiceless. That’s immediately what comes to mind when I think of Michele’s legacy. She’s a fierce champion for underserved populations and has been committed to making college available to ALL Californians. Because of her persistence and perseverance over the last 20 years, she’s made it possible for thousands of students to go to college. And in the process, she’s transformed the Campaign for College Opportunity into a powerhouse in the higher education landscape in California.”
Sonya-02
Dr. Sonya Christian
Chancellor | California Community Colleges
“It takes a genuine leader to know when to pass the baton, and Michele Siqueiros is among the best. Michele has built from scratch one of the country’s most influential higher education advocacy organizations razor focused on racial equity. Her unapologetic advocacy throughout her 20 years with the Campaign has transformed thousands of students’ lives for a better California and America. I am eager for the Campaign’s and Michele’s next era of impact, and know that her legacy will resound for generations to come.”
2013-New-Headshot-Eloy-Ortiz-Oakley-resize-3-.jpg
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
President & CEO | College Futures Foundation
“What Michele Siqueiros has built at the Campaign for College Opportunity is extraordinary… I was especially pleased to see that Michele received the prestigious Irvine Leadership Award this year. I had the opportunity to chair the selection committee for two years when this recognition first started while I served on The Irvine Foundation’s Board of Directors. It is a full circle moment to now see Michele’s 20 years of impact with the Campaign honored, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving.”
photo-peter-taylor-2023
Peter J. Taylor
Former President | ECMC Foundation
“I commend Michele for making this monumental decision and celebrate her transformational role leading the Campaign for College Opportunity over the past 20 years. Michele will no doubt continue to be a trailblazing leader wherever she decides to focus her many talents, and I am confident that the Campaign will continue to champion victories for California students. Congratulations, Michele! You will be a change-driver wherever you go.”
marlene_garcia2023
Marlene Garcia
Executive Director | California Student Aid Commission
“When it comes to Michele Siqueiros, two words come to mind: LIVING LEGEND. She has been a gift to educational equity in California and the nation. The Campaign for College Opportunity – now celebrating 20 years of student-centered impact – is in great hands. I look forward to our continued partnership as we work towards a shared goal of improving student outcomes and ensuring that race, ethnicity, and income are not predictors of college success.”
GA169054_Patrick_Methvin_20130916_0030
Patrick Mevthin
Director of Postsecondary Success and Interim Director of Pathways | Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
“I join a large chorus of well-wishers in thanking Michele for her leadership of the Campaign for College Opportunity over the last twenty years. Under Michele’s leadership, the Campaign inspired significant policy changes that helped ALL California students obtain meaningful higher education access.”
Amy-Costa
Amy Costa
President | California Community Colleges Board of Governors
“I applaud Michele in this decision and congratulate her on so many accomplishments that have always been student centric. Michele Siqueiros has been an unwavering advocate for students, amplifying the voices of those unheard and those that need the most representation. In continued partnership with the Campaign for College Opportunity, I know our policy work and commitment to first-generation students, underserved students, undocumented students, and transfer students will ensure that higher education is equitable, affordable, and achievable.”
Kristen-Soares-300x300-1
Kristen Soares
President | Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
“Michele’s legacy is undeniably a positive one for California students. Over the past 20 years, her leadership and The Campaign for College Opportunity’s work have been instrumental in making college access and success a priority for the state’s leadership and in securing important wins that help more students achieve their postsecondary dreams. Put simply, much of the state’s progress would not have been possible without Michele’s acumen and leadership and the state owes her a debt of gratitude.”
Christopher-1
Dr. Christopher J. Nellum
Executive Director | Ed Trust–West
“Michele’s legacy cannot be overstated. She is an unflinching advocate for students of color in California and has influenced policy changes that will advance the trajectory of countless lives for generations to come. Her tireless work in California spreads across the nation, inspiring advocates. and learners from all walks of life. We are grateful for Michele’s longtime partnership with Lumina Foundation and look forward to continued excellence from the Campaign for College Opportunity under Jesse’s leadership.”
michelle-asha-cooper
Dr. Michelle Asha Cooper
Vice President for Public Policy and Executive Director | Lumina Foundation
“Michele Siqueiros leaves behind an enduring mark on California’s higher education landscape. Her visionary leadership at the Campaign for College Opportunity has empowered countless students, making education more accessible and equitable. Michele inspires many women by showing that motherhood doesn’t define limits, but rather fuels determination. While Michele will be missed dearly, wherever her journey takes her next, those fortunate to have her will undoubtedly benefit from her exceptional leadership.”
download
Maria Linares
Trustee Emerita '21-23 | California State University
“Michele embodies hope for aspiring college students, particularly as a first-generation Latina. Her relentless efforts as the President for the Campaign have opened doors to higher education for those who once believed it out of reach, leaving behind a legacy of equity and accessibility in California, so all students, regardless of background, can affordably pursue their educational goals.”
monica martinez cropped
Monica Martinez
Program Director | College Success
“The Campaign has been steadfast allies to California’s college students over the past two decades. More personally, working alongside the Campaign as a student advocate during the Great Recession helped give me a solid foundation for my career in public policy and advocacy. Here’s to Michele for her incredible work on behalf of higher education in California, and congratulations to Jessie (an exceptional advocate in her own right) for being selected as the next President of the Campaign for College Opportunity.”
Chris Chavez 12 2022
Chris Chavez
President | California State Student Association 2010-11
“Under her steady and courageous leadership, Michele Siqueiros has successfully transformed the Campaign into a powerhouse advocacy organization, unapologetically fighting for students traditionally furthest from opportunity and advancing significant system-level changes at the state’s postsecondary institutions on their behalf. Generations of students will feel Michele’s positive impact for years to come.”
Max-BMGF-Headshot-scaled-3-1536x1101
Max Espinoza
Senior Program Officer | Global Policy & Advocacy – North America Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Jessie Ryan Selected as Next President

The Campaign is excited to welcome Jessie Ryan as its President in a leadership transition cultivated in years of partnership and rooted in racial equity.

Jessie is a state and nationally recognized education equity leader that has been with the Campaign for 19 years and has served as the chief architect of the Campaign’s ambitious policy agenda to dramatically improve racial equity in higher education. She has shepherded the Campaign’s major policy victories, including historic transfer reform, the elimination of remedial education, the creation of a community college scorecard, and a new funding formula that balances access with student success. As a first-generation, low-income product of community colleges and a college graduate from California’s Central Valley, Jessie has a first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing today’s students and has a track record of courageously tackling the systemic causes— rooted in racism and classism—of those challenges with urgency. Understanding the core importance and value of uplifting student voice in higher education policy advocacy, Jessie created a pipeline of nearly 1,000 student leaders over nearly two decades through leadership development and training programs at the Campaign. Many of these student leaders have gone on to run for elected office, work for policymakers, serve in higher education governance or leadership positions, or are otherwise engaged in social justice work.

For the past two years, Jessie has also led our federal efforts to transform national transfer policy, expand financial aid, and advance strategy for equal opportunity in higher education in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision on race-conscious admissions.

BLOSSOMING INTO A NEW ERA

A Statement from Jessie Ryan

“Higher Education was my pathway out of poverty, changing the trajectory of my life. To be entrusted with leading the Campaign for College Opportunity, an organization that I helped build, deeply love, and that has transformed the lives of countless students is a dream come true.  I am grateful to Michele Siqueiros for her partnership, sisterhood, and modeling of unapologetic leadership over my 19-year tenure at the Campaign. Michele has centered racial equity in all we do. I share that commitment and understand that our incredible coalition, powerful research, and groundbreaking policies would not have been possible without the unwavering support of our Board, community partners, students and remarkable team. Together, I am looking forward to tackling the urgent work before us while always keeping students our North Star.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT JESSIE
“I am super excited that Jessie Ryan is being named the new president of the Campaign for College Opportunity. Jessie has spent nearly two decades driving the transformational equity-minded policy work that the Campaign is known for. There’s no one more qualified to boldly lead the organization into the future. Jessie has devoted her professional life to making sure Californians have access to higher education and are able follow their dreams. I look forward with anticipation to her leadership in this new chapter for the Campaign.”
Sonya-02
Dr. Sonya Christian
Chancellor | California Community Colleges
“We extend a warm welcome to Jessie Ryan as the incoming President of the Campaign for College Opportunity. We are excited for the wealth of experience and passion Jessie will bring to this role. We have every confidence that she will continue to build upon Michele’s successes, working tirelessly to advance opportunities for students across California.” Full statement
the coalition cc
The Coalition
A2MEND, APAHE, and Colegas | California Community Colleges
“Congratulations to the Campaign for College Opportunity for appointing Jessie Ryan to lead this remarkable organization and continue the extraordinary work and leadership in California higher education. Though there are not many people who can follow in Michele’s footsteps, Jessie is one of them. She is an incredible leader who doesn’t cower in the face of adversity. I applaud the wisdom of the Campaign and Michele for prioritizing a smooth transition and pulling in a leader who has the vision, strength, and ability to take the organization to the next level.”
marlene_garcia2023
Marlene Garcia
Executive Director | California Student Aid Commission
“I am thrilled that Jessie Ryan will continue her work at the Campaign as the next President. Jessie’s personal story and commitment to higher education ground all of her work. I’m excited to see what Jessie brings for the next chapter of the Campaign’s work.”
Amy-Costa
Amy Costa
President | California Community Colleges Board of Governors
“Congratulations to Jessie Ryan on her selection as The Campaign for College Opportunity’s next President! As long standing partners in this work, I have no doubt our collaborative efforts will continue to support students under her leadership. I am excited to see what this next chapter brings for the Campaign with such a well-connected and dedicated leader at the helm.”
Christopher-1
Dr. Christopher J. Nellum
Deputy Director of Research and Policy | Ed Trust–West
“Congratulations to Jessie Ryan on her well-deserved appointment as the next President of the Campaign for College Opportunity. Jessie’s ability to balance motherhood and work commitments, dedicating time to her family while passionately driving initiatives for student success, truly embodies her commitment to both her personal and professional endeavors… I am confident that under her leadership, the Campaign will reach new heights, positively impacting the lives of California students.”
download
Maria Linares
Trustee Emerita '21-23 | California State University
“I cannot think of a more capable and passionate leader to take the reins of the Campaign than Jessie Ryan. Her policy expertise and tenacity will guide the Campaign into a new era of impact in California.”
Eloy+Ortiz+Oakley
Eloy Ortiz Oakley
President & CEO | College Futures Foundation
“For over a decade, Jessie Ryan has built and valiantly led the Campaign’s advocacy operation, creating broad-based statewide coalitions and deploying innovative advocacy strategies that have resulted in historic state policy reforms supporting student success. As the chief strategist and architect of the Campaign’s major policy victories, Jessie is a proven executive leader who is well poised to lead the Campaign as its next president, continuing to defend and advance student-centered policies and institutional changes.”
Max-BMGF-Headshot-scaled-3-1536x1101
Max Espinoza
Senior Program Officer | Global Policy & Advocacy – North America Team, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
“I am deeply inspired by Jessie Ryan’s selection as the next President of the Campaign for College Opportunity… I am humbled to have served alongside her as school board members in the greater Sacramento community, creating the opportunities for educational excellence for communities who are often left behind. I am looking forward to continuing our work to build a future where all children will have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams, as she takes on this role.”
JackieThuHuongWong
Jackie Thu-Huong Wong
Executive Director | First Five California
“Michele Siqueiros has achieved impactful work at the helm of the Campaign, and I am excited to see a seamless leadership transition with the announcement that Jessie will be stepping up as President of the Campaign. I cannot think of a better leader than Jessie who has been at the side of Michele for 19 years. Jessie Ryan has been a respected thought leader in so many spaces and I am over the moon that she will be taking over the reins at the Campaign.”
pamela haynes
Pamela Haynes
Immediate Past President | California Community Colleges Board of Governors
“Jessie Ryan exemplifies true leadership, focusing not only on systemic changes but also on uplifting others. She is committed to ensuring every student has the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background, so that they may all reach their full potential.”
Tran May 2023
Lena Tran, Ph.D.
President | Columbia College
Governor Newsom and Students

Transform higher education with us