California Competes Executive Director Joins New Administration

We are excited to announce that Dr. Lande Ajose, who has served as Executive Director since 2015, has been appointed Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education in California Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Ajose for her years of service in making higher education a priority for the state. “Governor Newsom shares my commitment to ensuring that higher education meets the joint goals of expanding economic opportunity, promoting equity, and stimulating economic growth,” Dr. Ajose said. “I am so honored to serve in his administration and to continue to serve the people of the State of California.” 

The California Competes Leadership Council has appointed Ria Sengupta Bhatt to assume the role of Interim Executive Director, effective January 28, 2019. We will continue our role as a critical higher education voice for state lawmakers and credible resource on analysis and data to help inform and shape sound policy.

Dr. Lande Ajose (left), Ria Sengupta Bhatt (right)

This is an exciting time for the State of California.

“We are grateful for the dedication and leadership Dr. Ajose brought to California Competes to shape our statewide position as a leading voice for higher education policy research and reform,” said Elizabeth Hill, Chair of California Competes’ Leadership Council. “Since joining the organization in 2011, Dr. Ajose has carved a path to advance California Competes’ mission to improve postsecondary education and drive economic growth. I am certain that the new administration and all of California will benefit from her service in this new role.”

Ms. Bhatt has been with California Competes since 2017 as Deputy Director guiding the strategic direction of the organization, overseeing the organization’s research agenda, and managing the team. "I speak on behalf of the entire team when I say Dr. Ajose will be truly missed, and her contributions to the organization will be felt for years to come. I am proud of what California Competes has accomplished under Dr. Ajose’s leadership, and I look forward to transitioning the organization into its next phase,” she said. “This is an exciting time for the State of California. We know exactly the right person is moving into this new role in Governor Newsom's Administration."

Ms. Bhatt brings 15 years of experience in education—conducting policy research, providing strategic consulting, and evaluating programs. Prior to California Competes, she was Project Director with Informing Change, a strategic consulting firm, and a researcher at the Public Policy Institute of California.

“We are confident that Ms. Bhatt’s leadership and robust experience will not only guide the organization through this new leadership transition but will also help forge a path toward a bright future for advancing higher education for all,” Ms. Hill said.

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