Lande Ajose

Lande Ajose is the Executive Director of California Competes. An expert in urban labor markets and higher education policy, Dr. Ajose advocates for bold yet pragmatic policy improvements to equitably boost California’s postsecondary degree attainment while fueling the state’s economy.

Her work in higher education began as an admission officer at Vassar College, where she recruited students nationwide and oversaw student yield and the campuses’ transfer program. At the James Irvine Foundation, where she was a senior program officer, Dr. Ajose oversaw statewide portfolios in workforce development and civic engagement. She has also worked as a researcher at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream initiative. Prior to joining California Competes, Dr. Ajose was the Managing Director at Informing Change, a boutique consulting firm that helps nonprofits and foundations develop and assess their strategic initiatives.

In November 2014, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the California Student Aid Commission. Dr. Ajose was reappointed to CSAC in 2018 and currently serves as Chair. An appointee to the WASC Senior College and University Commission, Dr. Ajose serves on the board at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and is a member of the Advisory Committee for the Higher Education Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California. Dr. Ajose’s commitment to the nonprofit sector also includes current board service with Equal Measure and St. Paul’s Episcopal School. Dr. Ajose holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MA from the School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an AB from Occidental College.

What motivates you to advance the mission at California Competes?

"The dark side of economic prosperity is that it has become almost synonymous with California's growing income inequality. Higher education, and the benefits that come with it, are the only durable way of addressing this inequality. I am motivated by the idea that California's higher education system has the potential to reduce inequality in ways that create racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic equity."

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