Supporting Success at the Postsecondary Level

Supporting Success at the Postsecondary Level
Supporting Success at the Postsecondary Level


While the U.S. has expanded access to college in recent years, it is becoming increasingly apparent that getting in the door to college does not necessarily lead to the completion of a college degree. The myriad challenges that youth, particularly low-income and first-generation college students, face as they contemplate the postsecondary environment too often prevent them from persisting beyond the first year of postsecondary education, and gaps in college graduation rates remain. This discussion group meeting highlighted effective programs that support students as they make the transition to postsecondary education and persist in their studies, and examined policy implications for increasing the college and career success of students from underrepresented groups. Participants explored opportunities for collaboration between education leaders working at the K-12 and postsecondary levels, in order to leverage collective efforts to close achievement gaps across the educational pipeline.




Click here for the Agenda for this meeting.



Lorelle L. Espinosa, Ph.D., is the director of policy and strategic initiatives at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). She provides leadership in aligning IHEP research, policy initiatives, and institutional relationships with the organization’s strategic direction and manages collaborative external partnerships to meet key organizational objectives. Included in this directive is her management of the Pathways to College Network and Coalition for College Completion. An expert on various higher education topics, Espinosa is well versed—as both a practitioner and researcher—on issues of postsecondary access and persistence of underrepresented groups, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Espinosa holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles. She received her B.A. from the University of California, Davis and her A.A. from Santa Barbara City College. Prior to her graduate work and arrival at IHEP, she worked in the areas of student affairs and undergraduate education at the University of California, Davis, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Frank Garcia has been Executive Director of the Puente Project for five years, and has over thirty years of leadership experience in the field of higher education. He started his own academic career as a high school dropout and community college student at Cabrillo College in Aptos (Santa Cruz), California. While there, he helped raise the necessary funds to start the Educational Opportunity Program and hire the College’s first Latino counselor.   He completed concurrent bachelor’s degrees at UC Berkeley in Sociology and Chicano Studies, and later continued his studies at Stanford University, concentrating on bilingual/multicultural education and access and retention of students of color in higher education. Frank is an experienced educator, having taught at San Francisco State University (SFSU), at Fresno State University in the Elementary and Secondary Education Teacher Training Programs, and at Washington State University as an Assistant Professor in the School of Education and the Department of Comparative American Cultures. At SFSU, Frank held a series of academic and administrative positions: Assistant Professor of Education, Director of the Mission Academic Complex Academic Support Group, Director of the Accelerated Schools Project, and Coordinator of the Step to College Program.  In addition, he was a founding staff member of the Oakland Street Academy Alternative High School, where he taught social studies and later served as principal. Frank’s commitment to access, equity and quality in education also led to eight years of service on the Hayward Unified School District–Board of Trustees and he continues to be active in a number of community organizations. Frank has a deep understanding of the challenges facing today’s underserved students. He has devoted his career to ensuring that students are able to maximize their academic, personal and professional potential, and has demonstrated great tenacity in his own educational and professional careers.  He demonstrates commitment to students and their families work in higher education administration, and service to his community.


Neil Horikoshi joined the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) in 2008 as the President & Executive Director after a distinguished 30-year career at International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), where he served in a variety of legal and executive management positions in the United States and Asia Pacific.

Based in Washington, D.C., APIASF is the country’s largest non-profit organization devoted solely to providing college scholarships to Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. APIASF strives to ensure that all Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have access to higher education and resources that cultivate their academic, personal and professional success regardless of their ethnicity, national origin or financial means.

Prior to joining APIASF, Neil served as IBM’s Managing Director of Global Business Development, Global Services, where he led industry discussions on regulatory and procurement issues affecting the information technology industry, developed external relationships with key governmental agencies on behalf of IBM, participated in Congressional and Executive Branch advocacy meetings, and spoke frequently at trade association and federal government conferences on procurement issues.

In addition to his vast corporate experience, Neil is active in the community. He serves as Chairman of the Board of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, Advisory Council member for both the Asian American Justice Center and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

Neil was recognized in 2008 as one of the top Federal Computer Week’s  Federal 100 people who contributed as an “Agent of Change” to Federal IT market.  Neil was also awarded the “Outstanding 50” Asian American Business Leaders in 2008 by the Asian American Business Development Center in New York.   In 2010, Neil was honored with Leadership Awards from the International Leadership Foundation and by the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP).

He holds a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of Hawai’i and a Juris Doctorate degree and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. He is a member of the New York State Bar and the American Bar Association.


Dr. Bernice Duffy Johnson received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in 1985, and is a leading scholar in professional development, with 42 years of educational experience in secondary schools and the university.  She is a Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences and Dean of the University College at North Carolina Central University (NCCU) in Durham, North Carolina, where she leads in ensuring the success of over 3,000 new students.  Other positions held at NCCU include: Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Science Bowl Coordinator, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Services and Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.  As Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, she led science department chairs in designing a $36 million science complex.  The Science Bowl team brought home the national trophy in 2010.  During her years as Dean of Arts and Sciences, 100 new courses, 10 new degree programs were offered, six programs gained initial accreditations and six achieved re-accreditation.  Dr. Johnson taught 17 courses, conducted workshops and published in areas related to Leadership Development, Research and Resource Management.  She, with three colleagues, wrote a textbook, Dimensions of Learning.  She was awarded more than $6 million in research and training grants by the National Science Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.  Dr. Johnson resides in Durham, North Carolina, where she enjoys singing, playing word games, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.


Deborah A. Santiago, is the co-founder and Vice President for Policy and Research at Excelencia in Education and brings her extensive experience in education policy and research to the challenge of accelerating Latino student success in higher education. She is recognized as an expert in higher education issues and has been quoted in many diverse publications, such as The Economist, New York Times, AP, The Washington Post, Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Recent publications include, Ensuring America’s Future: Federal Policy and Latino College Completion; and Leading in a Changing America: Leadership at Hispanic-Serving Institutions.







The American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional development organization based in Washington, DC, provides learning opportunities for policy leaders, practitioners, and researchers working on youth and education issues at the national, state, and local levels. AYPF events and publications are made possible by contributions from philanthropic foundations. For a complete list, click here.