A New Year’s Message from Executive Director Su Jin Jez


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Happy New Year! I hope everyone is entering 2023 rejuvenated from the holiday season and ready to seize the opportunities ahead of us.

Over the past few years, we have tackled social, economic, and health challenges head on, growing stronger and more resilient, leaning on each other because we know the progress we need is only possible together. I’m thrilled to see the collective action taken to leverage the changes ushered by the pandemic to begin building better pathways to prosperity for all Californians. With a global recession looming, it is imperative that we continue the incredible momentum of driving change across California’s higher education and workforce systems in order to strengthen our state’s economic vitality.


Reflecting on 2022

As we embark on the new year, I want to take a moment to look back and share my gratitude to the amazing California Competes teamLeadership Council, and partners. Together, we advanced equity-centered policies and practices, so more Californians can obtain a postsecondary credential, connect to good jobs, and propel their communities forward. Bright moments from 2022 I’m especially proud of include:

  • Driving systemic shifts and momentum to better serve student parents, including the passage of AB 2881 that will improve connections to basic needs resources and access to priority registration;
  • Championing four research-practice-policy partnerships to improve education and workforce outcomes for underserved populations, including the work driven through CaliforniaAttain! and the LA2CCC Career Ready Pilot;
  • Supporting the efficient development of data tools to provide a clear picture of opportunity across California through my role on the Cradle-to-Career Data System Governing Board, as well as through improvements to California Competes’s own Postsecondary to Prosperity Dashboard (updates to be released soon!);
  • Growing the California Competes team and Leadership Council with four passionate experts in their respective fields to strengthen our organizational capacity for impact; and
  • Celebrating California Competes’s 10th anniversary with over 100 policy leaders and partners and reflecting on what we’ve collectively accomplished.

A look back on 2022 brings me great optimism and inspiration for the year ahead.


Welcoming 2023

California is poised to become the world’s 4th largest economy, but our economic strength will falter if our formula for ascent exacerbates existing opportunity gaps rather than narrowing–and ultimately–closing them. In 2023, we will continue our work to achieve that mission. Highlights of California Competes’s forthcoming efforts includes:

  • Fueling integration of various benefit programs and sectors to support the modern student. Today’s postsecondary institutions serve diverse communities of learners with distinct needs. Our upcoming research and advocacy will focus on bringing forth an improved system of higher education where the myriad of state and federal support programs are streamlined, so students can access the wraparound resources they are entitled to and thrive throughout their educational journey.
  • Forging a path forward for quality and accessible online education. The pandemic has driven a realization that digital modes of learning are here to stay, and we need to understand how to expand their transformative potential. We will continue to collaborate with key stakeholders to create the foundations of a statewide strategy for online education that centers quality and effectiveness while advancing equity.
  • Supporting optimization of the Cradle-to-Career Data System tools in development. We are dedicated to promoting inclusion and equity in the design of the new analytical tools for the state’s longitudinal data system. Our efforts in 2023 will focus on ensuring the data system is a widely used resource for improving education and career outcomes for all Californians.
  • Coalition-building to advance student parent success. Our advocacy and research from the previous years has led to improved policies to serve the postsecondary aspirations of student parents. This year, we, along with our partners at EdTrust-West, will launch, collaborate, and drive coalition efforts to accelerate the systems change needed to support student parent college success and long-term economic mobility.
  • Advancing policies and practices that prepare students to succeed in the workforce. We will deepen our work on how colleges can better share and leverage resources from neighboring colleges, employers, and local governments to boost career readiness among students and communities. We initially started this project in Los Angeles and will expand to the Bay Area and other interested regions.
  • Rebranding and launching our new website. We have been working with intention and thoughtfulness to create a new website that makes it easier for our partners to find resources they need and opportunities for collaboration. We will also have a refreshed brand identity that exemplifies who California Competes is and what we stand for. Stay tuned–we can’t wait to share it with you soon!

Thank you for your continued support and dedication. We look forward to creating a brighter future for all Californians!

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Su Jin Gatlin Jez, PhD
Executive Director
California Competes

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