College Possible appoints Dr. Siva Kumari, an educator with national and global experience in both K-12 and higher education, as its next chief executive officer
ST. PAUL, MN. (MAY 11, 2023) – College Possible, the pioneering national nonprofit on a mission to boost college access and success by connecting high school and college students with near-peer coaches, announced today that its Board of Directors has selected Dr. Siva Kumari as its new CEO after an extensive national search. A lifelong educator, educational researcher and an expert on the high school-to-college transition, Dr. Kumari brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having previously served as the first female Director General of the International Baccalaureate (IB) from 2014 to 2021. She succeeds interim CEO and former board chair Al Fan who will return to a seat on the board later in 2023.
“Dr. Kumari has dedicated her career to expanding access, equity, and opportunity in education. She brings impressive accomplishments and skills as an executive, administrator, educator, and an academic expert in her own right,” said Joanna Burleson, chair of College Possible’s National Board of Directors. “We believe Dr. Kumari will bring a new level of executive leadership and experience to our organization, and we’re thrilled to welcome her to College Possible as our new CEO.”
Dr. Kumari brings extensive experience in education policy, practice and pedagogy from more than two decades as an academic researcher, institutional leader and non-profit executive. During her time at IB, she led a global team responsible for providing high-quality programs for K-12 learners and educational services including school authorization and evaluation of schools across the world, professional development for teachers worldwide, IB examinations, research and evaluation, and university outreach and recognition of the IB Diploma.
Before joining IB, Dr. Kumari spent more than 15 years at Rice University in Houston specializing in K-12 partnerships and outreach where her last post was as the Associate Provost for K12 initiatives. In this role, she oversaw more than 80 outreach initiatives, including programs that served underrepresented and first-generation college students. She led a team that won competitive grants from the National Science Foundation, corporate foundation funding, and national and regional research awards.
“My career has been fueled by the unwavering belief that K-12 education is society’s greatest equalizer and that higher education is the gateway to choice-filled lives of opportunity and mobility,” said Dr. Siva Kumari. “College Possible’s work is helping to address inequities that have for too long created barriers to earning a college degree. I look forward to working with this dedicated, talented and inspired team to build new infrastructure and support needed to serve even more students. This is an exciting and humbling opportunity to build on College Possible’s impressive legacy of accomplishments and student impact.”
Dr. Kumari joins College Possible during an exciting chapter of innovation and impact for the organization, building on the nonprofit’s 20-year history of training AmeriCorps service members as college access and success mentors to help high school juniors and seniors from low-income backgrounds enroll in – and complete – college. Its evidence-based near-peer coaching model leverages the power of passionate, dedicated, recent college graduates to offer advice and mentorship as students navigate the complex world of college completion. Expanding from its flagship, site-based programming, College Possible expanded its reach in 2018 with the Catalyze college success coaching program, and CoPilot in 2021, an industry-leading student information system that empowers student support professionals with a 360-degree view of actionable student data.
Annually, the organization works with more than 25,000 high school and college students from underinvested communities at 169 high schools and 107 colleges, spanning eight cities and 10 partner university campuses nationwide. According to a randomized Harvard University study, students who participate in College Possible’s program are three times more likely to earn a four-year college degree within six years than their peers who are not involved in the program.
Dr. Kumari is a longtime resident of Houston, Texas, from where she will lead College Possible’s distributed team. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from India, a Master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati, a certificate in instructional design from the University of Texas Health Science Center and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Houston focused on instructional technology and curriculum.
About College Possible: As one of the largest and most successful college access and success programs in the country, since 2000 College Possible has helped more than 80,000 students from under-represented communities get into and through college through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. Its pioneering model matches students with a near-peer coach and an evidence-based curriculum designed to help students overcome the most common barriers to getting into college and completing their degree – all at no cost to students or their families.
Nationwide, College Possible students are three times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years than their peers from similar backgrounds. Headquartered in Saint Paul, MN, College Possible operates: regional sites in Chicago, IL; Milwaukee, WI; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, OR; and Seattle, WA; College Forward in Austin, TX; and Catalyze partnerships in California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee. Learn more at CollegePossible.org.