Program Director, College Success
Monica leads the Fund's strategies and partnerships to advance a level playing field in higher education and reduce financial barriers to a college degree in California.
Monica leads strategies and partnerships for achieving the Fund’s goal of leveling the playing field in higher education and reducing the financial barriers to a college degree in California.
A first-generation college student with a Ph.D. from New York University, Monica joined the Fund in 2023 with extensive experience building and managing initiatives and programs focused on equity and innovation in education at all levels. Most recently, she served as director of strategic initiatives with the Learning Policy Institute, where she played a crucial role in a groundbreaking national effort to broaden the use of alternative assessments to expand access in college admissions in California and nationwide.
Monica grew up in a working-class Mexican American family in Lakewood, Colorado. Of her own experience following her brother to Baylor University in Texas, she said, “I failed fantastically early on. I was so unprepared. I didn’t know how to study. I didn’t know how to ask for help or even if I could get help. I have spent my career trying to make sure other first gen college students don’t have the same experience.”
After graduating from Baylor with a BA in sociology and social work, Monica received a Ph.D. in Sociology of Education and Higher Education Administration from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Education. She started her career in higher education administration before joining the staff at KnowledgeWorks Foundation, where she launched an innovative program supporting K-12 schools and school districts to build technology-rich, student-centered learning environments.
Monica also has worked as an independent consultant to foundations and initiatives focused on K-16 education issues. And, as chief school support officer for the XQ Institute in Oakland, she managed a $150 million portfolio of schools and partners working to transform high school education. She has been appointed by two California governors to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; she also was named to the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics by President Barack Obama.
She lives in Tiburon, California and enjoys hiking in Marin and along the coast near her home in Sea Ranch.
The Haas, Jr. Fund has a record of important work on education issues in the Bay Area and beyond and has big plans for improving access to college education for underrepresented communities in California. I am honored I will have the opportunity to help the Fund map the next steps in this work as we join with partners to make our home state a national model for college success.