The Team

Robert Shireman

Executive Director

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.

Lande Ajose

Deputy Director

An expert in education and job training of low-income adults, Lande has extensive experience in developing effective change strategies through her work at BTW Informing Change where she directed complex planning and evaluation engagements related to education, poverty alleviation, workforce development and issues of inequity.  Community college success was a major focus of Lande’s previous work at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream initiative, and at the James Irvine Foundation. Lande holds a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an M.A. in Urban Planning from the School of Public Affairs, University of California at Los Angeles. She earned her bachelor’s in Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College.

Remmert Dekker

Program Associate

Remmert supports the organization’s research activities, manages the online presence and communications for California Competes, and has led the efforts to compile accreditation materials from public and private institutions in the state. Remmert’s previous experience includes research on K-12 policy issues for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, D.C., and work as a Cal-in-Sacramento fellow at the state’s Little Hoover Commission where he researched health care policy. Remmert is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UC Berkeley where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in Spanish.