As CEO, Dr. Su Jin Jez leads California Competes’s work to develop nonpartisan and financially pragmatic recommendations for improved higher education and workforce policies and practices across California.
Prior to joining California Competes, she served as a professor of public policy and administration at California State University, Sacramento. She also served as the Director of the statewide CSU Student Success Network, Academic Advisor for the California Executive Fellows Program, and Associate Director of the Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership.
Dr. Jez is an accomplished researcher whose work appears in a variety of publications including Teachers College Record, Education Policy Analysis Archives, Research in Higher Education, Community College Review, and Michigan Journal of Race & Law. Through her applied research, she has provided guidance to the Regents of the University of California, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and Board of Governors, the California State University system, and California’s Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. She presents across the country and internationally on key issues in higher education and systems change, including economic and workforce development, college readiness and success, student college choice and decision making, and institutional effectiveness.
She currently serves on the following boards and councils: California’s Cradle-to-Career Data System Governing Board, The Graduate! Network’s Board of Directors, Tipping Point Community’s Leadership Council, Credential Engine’s Board of Directors, Board of Advisors for Urban Institute’s Data-to-Action Campaign for Parenting Students, the Every Learner Everywhere Equity Advisory Board, the Campaign for College Opportunity’s Policy Research Advisory Board, and the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan Committee.
She holds a PhD in education administration and policy analysis and an MA in economics from Stanford University. She received a BA in statistics and a minor in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
What motivates you to advance California Competes’s mission?
This work is deeply personal to me. My parents ended up in California after leaving challenging circumstances — my mom from rural Korea and my dad from Arkansas. As a first-generation college student, California provided me the opportunity to grow as a person, scholar, and community member. The benefits of higher education have profoundly impacted my life. I want all Californians to have this opportunity to reach their potential, regardless of their background or what life throws at them. Moreover, as a state, we must make this happen if we want to grow, or even maintain, our state’s standing as a world leader.