Conversations on the Future of Higher Education Featuring California's Candidates for Lieutenant Governor


California State Senator Dr. Ed Hernandez and Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis sat down with California Competes Executive Director Dr. Lande Ajose to discuss their views and approaches to higher education and the workforce in 2019.

As a University of California regent, a trustee of the California State University, and chair of the Commission for Economic Development, the lieutenant governor is well-positioned to deeply influence higher education policy and practice as well as workforce outcomes. The event featured sequential conversations with the candidates centered around the impact each would have on higher education to benefit institutions, industry, advocates, and most importantly, our state’s two million students and the many more millions of Californians for whom college is only a dream.

The event was livestreamed from the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.



Dr. Lande Ajose, Executive Director of California Competes, is an expert in urban labor markets and higher education policy. Her work in higher education began as an admission officer at Vassar College. She has extensive experience in research and philanthropy, directing programs focused on student success, achieving equitable outcomes, and alleviating poverty. In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown appointed her to the California Student Aid Commission where she currently serves as Chair

Dr. Ajose’s nonprofit commitments include current board service with the Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), Equal Measure, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), and St. Paul’s Episcopal School. She also serves on the Advisory Committee for the Higher Education Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California. 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.


Monica Lozano, President and CEO of College Futures Foundation, works in partnership with organizations and leaders around the state to ensure education pathways are aligned seamlessly for college attainment. She is committed to the vision that California’s low-income students and students of color should have equitable access to bachelor’s degrees and a better life.

Before coming to College Futures, Monica spent 30 years in media as editor and publisher of La Opinión, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in the country, and then as chairman and CEO of the parent company, ImpreMedia.

Monica has been very active in education, especially at the institutional governance level. She served as chair of the California State Board of Education and the Board of Regents of the University of California, spent more than 20 years as a trustee of the University of Southern California, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education.

Media Participant


CALmatters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.

Felicia Mello is the higher education reporter for CALmatters and an award-winning, multimedia journalist who has contributed stories to The Washington Post, The Nation, NPR, and CNN’s Parts Unknown, among others. A Bay Area native, she earned her master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley. She comes to CALmatters from Las Vegas, where she built the digital team at Vegas Seven magazine and served as the Nevada reporter for the Center for Public Integrity’s State Integrity Investigation.