Susana Contreras-Mendez joined ESG in 2022 to support its Postsecondary Attainment portfolio. Prior to joining ESG, Susana was an Associate Learning and Impact Officer at Ascendium Education, where she worked in partnership with the philanthropic team to measure its performance and to support collective learning about its strategy and operations. Previously, she was a researcher at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a policy think tank in Washington, D.C. She conducted research on strategies to increase upward mobility for families, with a particular focus on the postsecondary experiences of student parents.
Other professional experiences include interning at Lumina Foundation and directly supporting low-income families through nonprofit and government programs. Outside of ESG, Susana serves on the board of Alimentando al Pueblo, a non-profit working to promote healing through comunidad, comida, and celebración (community, food, and celebration).
As a former Head Start child, first-generation college graduate, and TRiO Alum, Susana has firsthand knowledge of education’s transformational benefits. Susana holds a Master of Higher Education degree with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Michigan and a dual bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education, Learning, and Society.
Why are you in this work?
With first-hand experience of the impact of economic inequities, I intimately know the power of equitable policies and programs. Growing up the daughter of immigrants, I was the first of twelve siblings to go to college, and I knew that I wanted to advance higher education initiatives like the ones that allowed me to succeed.
Given that Education Strategy Group is a mission-driven firm that focuses on access and equity within higher education, the opportunity to contribute to system change strategies and initiatives to promote a just society is what drew me to the organization and team.
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