MEET THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chair of the Board
Chief Operating Officer, JEVS Human Services.
Workforce Development Program Manager for Outreach and Advising,
Education Business Coalitions, UNITE-LA
Su Jin Gatlin Jez
Chief Executive Officer,
Burning Glass Institute
Chief Learning and Innovation Officer,
American Council on Education
Co-Founder, Secretary/Treasurer Senior Advisor,
Committee of Seventy
Co-Founder ~ President & CEO
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Sallie is a civic entrepreneur who has dedicated her career to building and nurturing collaborative structures focused on major social issues, with a passion for efforts that unite the expansion of opportunity for individuals with the economic growth objectives of companies, regions, and countries. She joined The Graduate! Network as CEO in 2020; prior to that she served on the organization’s board of directors and chaired the board from 2012-2018.? Professionally, for the decade prior she was the principal of SJM Consulting LLC, an independent practice with clients in the government, corporate, foundation, education, and non-profit sectors.?
Sallie is the founding executive of the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board, which was established in 1999, and served as the chief executive officer and corporate secretary until 2010.? In that role, she established the Board as a $6 million non-profit corporation that provided leadership to align the skills of the labor force to meet the needs of industry in support of the region’s growth and prosperity, as well as oversaw the investment of over $100 million in annual public allocations.? In addition to co-founding Graduate! Philadelphia, an initiative designed to significantly increase the number of Philadelphia adults who hold a post-secondary degree, and The Graduate! Network, she is co-founder of the Life Science Career Alliance, a regional partnership that later expanded statewide to address workforce issues in the life science industry, and the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN), a fund established to seed innovation in advancing low skilled workers along a career continuum to self-sufficiency.? Sallie also launched Excel Philadelphia, marked by the release of Help Wanted, which described the economic impact of low adult literacy levels and presented a blueprint for action around this critical workforce issue.? She shaped and was the primary spokesperson for A Tale of Two Cities, published in 2007 and widely recognized as a landmark document in creating an inclusive economic development agenda in Philadelphia.
Sallie holds a master’s degree in Education and a bachelor’s degree in History from Temple University, has completed two executive leadership programs of study at the Harvard Kennedy School, and is certified by Rutgers University, Center for Applied Appreciative Inquiry in appreciative inquiry for strengths-based leadership and innovation in the public and non-profit sectors.
Sallie is the co-producer and host of the Network’s podcast Moved By Degrees. Season One, which shares the stories of three Comebackers, premiered in late 2021.
Bridgett R. Strickler
Chief Strategy Officer
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Bridgett has a unique 25-year background combining education and entrepreneurship to advance scalable practices and policies that lead to more equitable outcomes for students of all ages. She leads the Network’s research to action portfolio and is the co-creator of Bridging The Talent Gap (BTTG), an award-winning employer and employee engagement initiative (SHRM Pinnacle Award 2018). She also leads TGN’s long-standing Data That Move Us longitudinal research practice, which is powered by a one-of-a-kind dataset that seeks to understand how adults navigate their journey back to and through degree completion. She currently serves on the advisory board for the University of Louisville’s Organizational Leadership and Learning program and on the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education’s Educational Attainment Team. A veteran educator, immediately prior to joining The Graduate! Network staff in 2016, Bridgett led initiatives in Louisville, Kentucky and southern Indiana related to adult degree completion.
Bridgett earned her Master’s in Business Administration as part of University of Louisville’s and University of Kentucky’s Joint Executive MBA program in 2015. She also holds a master’s in teaching from University of Louisville. In 2016 she was awarded an honorary Associates Degree from Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg, IN, for her work as the founding Executive Director of Education Matters Southern Indiana.
In 2020, Bridgett became a member of the Network’s executive team. Among her many important contributions in this new role, she has aligned all aspects of the Network’s research practice – inclusive of a decade of quantitative analysis; qualitative insights offered by Comebackers, postsecondary partners, employers, and other stakeholders; and various collection methodology – and designed a model for collection and analysis that translates data into actionable intelligence.
Dan Ash, Ph.D.
Vice President of Research
An expert in workplace psychology and training program development, Dr. Dan Ash served as the founding executive director of Metropolitan College at its inception in 1998, which has since established itself as a national and international model for education business partnerships and has received praiseworthy coverage by a multitude of media outlets including CNN, the Chronicle for Higher Education, the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and the Wall Street Journal. Metropolitan College provided more than $7 million in educational benefits to more than 8,000 participants who successfully completed more than 89,000 college credit hours. Dan was instrumental in establishing similar programs at Norton Healthcare, Humana, ResCare, and the UPS Chicago Area Consolidation Hub.
Throughout his career, Dan has served in multiple leadership roles including appointments as the Mayor’s Liaison for Education and Workforce Development in Louisville, KY, chair of the Advisory and Planning Council of the Education to Work Initiative for Public Policy for the Midwestern Governors Association, executive director of Metroversity, a higher education consortium in Louisville, KY, Vice President of External Affairs at Jefferson Community and Technical College in Louisville, KY, and on the leadership team responsible for creating a regional education initiative—55 Thousand Degrees—with the goal of moving Louisville into the top tier among its peer cities by raising education attainment.
In 2015 Dan was named a Research Ace, one of eight academic/practitioner professionals selected nationwide by the ACT Foundation, and in this capacity, developed the initial model for the Bridging The Talent Gap initiative, and with Bridgett Strickler, further developed the concept into a diagnostic tool that has become the centerpiece of The Graduate! Network’s strategy to activate employers in support of career mobility for economically vulnerable adults seeking to continue their education.
After working as a nearly full-time consultant with The Graduate! Network for several years, Dan joined the team as Vice President of Research in July 2021. This step enabled him to better contribute his expertise across the organization and expand his focus beyond Bridging The Talent Gap. Immediate results of his new role include the creation of a Community Feedback Report, which will assist practitioners to optimize their services and serve as the first ever searchable repository for data on the progress of all adults engaged with Network programs.
Misty currently serves as the Operations Coordinator at TGN ensuring that all operations are carried out in an appropriate, cost-effective way. She focuses on improving overall operational management systems, processes and best practices for example coordinating the implementation of workflow software (Monday.com), enterprise communication software (Slack), and time management software (Clockwise) across the organization. She is also responsible for formulating and implementing operational objectives to meet organizational strategy needs and finding ways to increase the quality of TGN’s customer experience.
A native of Northern California, Misty enjoys travel and diversity in cultures around the world. She has always valued the importance of education for those of all backgrounds, motivated by the thought that we share a responsibility to each other in the community. Misty spent 9 years volunteering in the Cambodian community and assisting with advancing education among second language learners. She’s been deeply shaped from life changing experiences while living and volunteering in Cambodia, along with assisting the deaf Cambodian community within the rural areas of the country. She finds the deepest satisfaction knowing she can help teach or motivate others to learn, even when they come from a background of little to no education. Misty’s motivation for helping others is driven by the knowledge of how education and exposure to other possibilities can change the course of a person’s lifetime, that outcome is well worth any effort involved.
Micaela joined The Graduate! Network as a team member in 2020 after 5 years working in college access with the San Antonio Education Partnership. While there, she served as the program director in the launch of Upgrade, a Graduate! Network-affiliated program that serves adults with some college who have not yet completed a credential.
Since joining the Network, Micaela has updated and improved the organization’s training practices, launched an affiliate-informed learning community, led the execution of the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion program, and designed and implemented our Comebacker Voices project. She also was the lead trainer for Michigan Reconnect and several other training conducted throughout 2021 and 2022.Micaela’s other experience included serving as a College Access & Success advisor in cafecollege, which is a one-stop college access center open to the community, working in the K-12 setting, and providing mental health services.
Micaela is from Gonzales, California, and holds a BS in Psychology from Santa Clara University and a MS in School Counseling from San Diego State University.
Director of Data and Technology
Zach Zimmerman currently serves as The Graduate! Network’s Director of Data and Technology. After completing his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at Ithaca College, Zach began his career working in the private sector, specializing in project management and coordination in the construction field. During this time, he pursued his interest in education by supporting students through Mathematics tutoring. Looking to change careers, he left the construction industry in 2015 to pursue a more fulfilling career and follow his passion for education. He joined the Graduate! Network team as the Community Account Coordinator, serving in a support role for new and existing Graduate! Network affiliate communities. He quickly became a “jack-of-all-trades” at The Graduate! Network, supporting all staff across multiple projects with a focus on data and technology.
In 2020, he began his role as Director of Data and Technology, which focused his portfolio on moving the organization’s research goals forward through two projects: Bridging the Talent Gap and Data That Move Us. He provides Salesforce training and ongoing support to affiliate organizations across the country as they work through their unique data collection needs. Zach has extensive experience in Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRMs.
Dan Bradley is a freelance data analyst who helps non-profits use their data to gain insight into their programs. He serves as the Data Analyst on The Graduate! Network’s Data That Move Us Project. He knows that non-profits are key to strengthening our communities and data plays a critical role in strengthening non-profits. Dan holds a bachelors degree in Mathematics from Arcadia University.
Principal Investigator, Data That Move Us
Annette B. Mattei is a research consultant with more than 20 years of experience supporting non-profit organizations and government programs in developing and executing research projects and other mission-related activities. She is Principle of Metro Metrics LLC, an independent research consulting practice and certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) based in Philadelphia, PA. Ms. Mattei has completed a range of research projects, from large-scale regional economic impact studies, to sector analyses, to organizational-level strategic plans and program evaluations. Before becoming an independent consultant, Ms. Mattei served as Director of Research for the Eastern Division of the Pennsylvania Economy League (now known as the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia), the Commonwealth’s leading regionally based statewide public policy organization. Currently, she also is serving as Project Manager for the Data That Move Us initiative, a project of The Graduate! Network. In this role, she is facilitating the work of a national advisory board, which is charged with evaluating the network’s shared measurement system and developing recommendations to leverage it in support of significant growth projected over the next five years.
Joi’s work reflects her passion for improving equitable outcomes for all historically marginalized and oppressed people. As a consultant with The Graduate! Network, she will draw upon her time leading DegreesWork, which helped adults and non-traditional students achieve degree-completion. This program was anchored at KentuckianaWorks, metro Louisville’s workforce board. Following that experience, Joi was program coordinator at KentuckianaWorks, leading a program to create career pathway opportunities for high-school students to prepare Louisville’s future workforce. Joi’s other experiences include working as a college admissions counselor at Spalding University, which has a deep commitment to adult learners.
Currently, Joi is the Project Manager for Lean Into Louisville in Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Equity – an initiative focused on addressing and confronting the history and legacy of all forms of racism and discrimination in her city, through a series of presentations, conversations, art exhibits and events.
Joi holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from University of Kentucky and a master’s in higher education administration from University of Louisville. When not running after her one-year-old daughter, Joi volunteers with Meals on Wheels, Hip-Hop Cares Community Outreach, Westend neighborhood cleanup projects, and voter registration drives. She recently completed her term on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Maryhurst, Inc. and the Executive Committee for the Kentucky Derby Festival Block Party.
The Challenge to Complete
The seeds for The Graduate! Network were planted in 2005 with Graduate! Philadelphia and the joint call to action with the Pennsylvania Economy League – Southeastern PA and the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board. Together they published The Challenge to Complete, a report focused on the need for a high quality workforce in Philadelphia that would be fueled by native Philadelphians who had stopped out of college and returned to complete their degree. This report not only coined the phrase Comebacker, but also highlighted the importance of this often overlooked group and a crucial piece of economic growth.