Our Partners

Rise Prize Sponsors

Our sponsors fund the Prize and its development.

Rise Prize Partners

Our partners help increase awareness of the Prize—and more importantly—the unique needs and strengths of student parents.

Rise Prize Judges

Our judges select the winners from our prize finalists.

Lesley Del Rio

Ascend PSP Parent Advisor

Lesley Del Rio is a Program Manager for PACE (promoting academics, character education), at the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver, helping students with behavior in Denver Public Schools. She is a Florence Crittenton alumna of the 2013 class. While a student at Florence Crittenton, she became an advocate for other young mothers like herself. With support and encouragement from her community, Del Rio started her career at the Colorado Department of Public Health where she worked to improve youth sexual health. Lesley is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in business administration through a hybrid postsecondary model with PelotonU and Southern New Hampshire University and is a Parent Advisor with Ascend at the Aspen Institute and Imaginable Futures.

Maria Flynn

Jobs for the Future

Maria Flynn is president and CEO of Jobs for the Future (JFF), a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. Maria’s commitment to JFF’s vision of economic advancement for all and her leadership in workforce policy have made her a national authority on the future of work, the role of technology in the labor market, career pathways for underserved individuals, and employer engagement. Prior to joining JFF in 2007, Maria held several senior positions in the federal government’s Senior Executive Service in the U.S. Department of Labor. A nationally recognized expert on workforce development and the future of work, Maria has previously served as a judge for the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge, MIT Solve, and the RSA’s Future Work Awards.

Matt Greenfield

Rethink Education

Matt Greenfield is Managing Partner of Rethink Education, a venture capital firm focused on educational technology. Prior to joining Rethink Education, Matt taught at Bowdoin College, where he served on the committee overseeing admissions, and the City University of New York, where he served on a college curriculum committee, helped launch an interdisciplinary learning community program for first-year students, taught in the teacher preparation program, and taught graduate classes in literature to teachers from the New York City public schools. Matt serves on the boards of Allovue, BrightBytes, CareAcademy, Kenzie Academy, NoRedInk, Southern New Hampshire University, and Mouse.org.

Martha Kanter

College Promise

Martha Kanter is Executive Director of the College Promise Campaign and Senior Fellow at the Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy at New York University. Martha joined the College Promise Campaign after nearly five years as the US Under Secretary of Education, a position to which she was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009. Earlier in her career, Martha served as Chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District and President of De Anza College, and she led bond campaigns to improve student access and opportunity to world-class campus facilities in Silicon Valley. She was also an initial founding president of the national Presidents’ Campus Climate Commitment.

Anne Mosle

Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Anne Mosle is a Vice President at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute, a national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move children and the adults in their lives to educational success, economic security, and health and well-being. Prior to the Aspen Institute, Anne served as a Vice President and officer of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Earlier in her career, Anne also served as the President of the Washington Area Women’s Foundation and Senior Vice President of the Center for Policy Alternatives. She is a leading thinker, advocate, and voice in building pathways to opportunity for low-income families and women.

Maia Sharpley

Learn Capital

Maia Sharpley is a Partner at Learn Capital. She brings a strategy and operational background to the firm, with over 15 years of experience working as an education executive in private and public sector organizations. Prior to Learn, Maia was the executive vice president of innovation and strategic initiatives for Charter Schools USA, where she was responsible for developing innovative edtech solutions and new capabilities within the organization. She also previously served as vice president for strategy and innovation of Kaplan, Inc., and as executive director of operations for the New York City Department of Education.

Ariel Ventura-Lazo

Ascend PSP Parent Advisor

Ariel Ventura-Lazo is a first-generation American and the first in his family to attend college. He is entering his senior year at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, under a Management Bachelor of Science degree. In addition to being a student, he is a full-time dad, and he also works part-time with Northern Virginia Community College for The Pathway to Baccalaureate program. In Pathway to the Baccalaureate, Ariel serves first-generation college students as an advisor for the Pathway Advisory Council. Beyond school, work, and his family, Ariel is an advocate for student parents, postsecondary education access, and first-generation Americans. He has shared his success as a working student parent on many platforms nationwide including with former First Lady Michelle Obama. He has been featured on the Washington Post, Telemundo, and published his journey as a first-generation American with Forbes. Ariel dedicates his life to advocating for students to ensure that access and completion to postsecondary education are attainable and feasible for all who wish to pursue it. Ariel is currently a Parent Advisor with Ascend at the Aspen Institute and Imaginable Futures.

Meet Our Advisors

Abigail Seldin

The Seldin / Haring-Smith Foundation

Dr. Adrian K. Haugabrook

Executive Vice President & Managing Director of Horizon Group
Southern New Hampshire University

Bethany Miller

Senior Program Officer
The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program

Brian Fleming

Vice President, Innovation and Strategy
Southern New Hampshire University

Caleb Offley

Senior Advisor for the K-12 Education Program
The Walton Family Foundation

Chandler Koglmeier

Vice President, Product
Guild Education

David A. Croom

Assistant Director for Postsecondary Achievement & Innovation
Ascend at the Aspen Institute

David Soo

Chief of Staff
Jobs for the Future

Jade Grieve

Senior Advisor
America Achieves

Jason Palmer

General Partner
New Markets Venture Partners

Jennifer Zeisler

Senior Program Director of Career Readiness
ECMC Foundation

Jessica Haselton

Director of Program-Related Investments
ECMC Foundation

Julia Stiglitz

GSV Ventures

Dr. Karen A. Stout

President & CEO
Achieving the Dream

Marjorie Sims

Managing Director
Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Michelle R. Weise, Ph. D.

Senior Vice President
Workforce Strategies
Chief Innovation Officer
Strada Institute for the Future of Work

Natalie Murray

Vice President of Student Experience
Western Governors University

Rachel Wexler

SVP of Market Advisory Services
Penn Foster

Rosa Maria Castañeda

Senior Associate
The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Rosye Cloud

President of STRATA9
In Support of College Promise