A Public Advocates “Voice of Conscience” honoree for his work to rein in abuses by for-profit colleges and student loan companies, Bob Shireman currently directs California Competes, a nonprofit project aimed at addressing the state’s higher education challenges. Previously, Shireman spearheaded the Obama Administration’s successful efforts to reform student lending, increase Pell Grants, simplify the financial aid process, strengthen consumer protections, and focus national attention on college completion. In 2004, Shireman launched the Institute for College Access and Success, where his early leadership on the issue of rising student debt prompted Congress to adopt income-based repayment for student loans. Inside and outside of government Bob Shireman has worked to improve campus diversity, reform high schools, recruit new teachers, and renovate crumbling schools. His efforts on student loans and college access earned him Money Magazine’s “money hero” status in 2012.
As Deputy Director of California Competes, Lande Ajose spearheads the organization’s work calling for a Higher Education Investment Board to provide innovative solutions for coordinating the state’s education and workforce challenges. An expert in education and job training of low-income adults, Lande has extensive experience in developing effective change strategies through her work at Informing Change where she directed complex client projects related to education, poverty alleviation, workforce development and issues of inequity. Community college success was a major focus of Lande’s previous work both at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream initiative, and during her tenure at the James Irvine Foundation. Named to the California Student Aid Commission by Governor Jerry Brown, Lande holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Studies from MIT and an M.A. in Urban Planning from the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Occidental College.
Brittany Bieber is the Program Associate at California Competes. Brittany is responsible for California Competes’ research activities, with a focus on the California community college growth funding formula, which will provide priority funding to districts identified as having the greatest unmet need in adequately serving their community’s higher educational needs. Other focus areas include accreditation and the degree and achievement gaps. In addition to her research and writing responsibilities, Brittany also creates content for California Competes’ social media campaigns and manages communications. Prior to joining California Competes, Brittany worked as a paralegal at Paul, Weiss, Rifkand, Wharton & Garrison LLP where she conducted extensive research for several political asylum pro bono cases. She also worked as an intern at the ACLU of Massachusetts where she conducted a research project regarding immigration students’ rights. Brittany attended Boston College, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in international studies.