Elizabeth González Joins College Futures Foundation as Chief Program & Strategy Officer

December 18, 2018

College Futures Foundation has appointed Elizabeth González as its Chief Program and Strategy Officer.

González is a strategist, philanthropic program director, and researcher who has worked for more than twenty years to improve socio-economic outcomes for young people and the public sector systems that impact them. She will step into the new position in January of 2019.

“At College Futures, we believe that nothing is more transformative for individuals, our economy, and our society than educational opportunity, and that the pathway to a college degree should be clear and open to the diverse students of California,” said Monica Lozano, President & CEO of the Foundation.

“Elizabeth shares that belief. She brings to this role a deep understanding of educational equity, economic mobility, and systems change in California. Her keen intelligence and deep passion are evident to all those who have worked with her. We are so glad to have her join our team.”

College Futures is a private foundation that partners with organizations and leaders across the state to catalyze systemic change, increase bachelor’s degree completion, and close equity gaps so that the vision of a seamless, student-centered educational path to opportunity becomes a reality—and one that’s available to every student, regardless of zip code, skin color, or income.

The Foundation recently announced a new strategic framework, wherein it affirmed commitment to its core mission while acknowledging that solving California’s higher education and economic inequality problems requires bolder leadership, deeper partnership, and willingness to tap a full complement of tools and resources beyond traditional grantmaking.

“Elizabeth’s talents will significantly contribute to our ability to achieve the ambitious goals we have for low-income students of color in this state, and for the future we all share,” said Lozano.

“This work is deeply personal to me,” said González. “The story of higher education in California is also my story: my older brothers were community college transfer students who went on to graduate from CSU Los Angeles, and our mother received her teacher’s aide certification at East Los Angeles Community College. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants who raised five children on a garment worker’s salary, and as a first-generation college graduate, the value of a postsecondary education to my intellectual, social, and financial well-being has always been abundantly clear to me. I am driven by the challenge to ensure that my family’s story is still possible in today’s California.”

Throughout her career, González has focused on addressing intergenerational mobility, with an emphasis on how public sector systems of support impact young people. Most recently, she has developed and supported secondary and postsecondary strategies for increasing college readiness and completion for low-income youth.

For the past five years, González has worked as a portfolio director and senior program officer at The James Irvine Foundation, where she initially oversaw the Youth program and, more recently, the Better Careers initiative, postsecondary success grantmaking, and Linked Learning, Irvine’s effort to integrate academic and career-technical education for better student outcomes in high schools throughout California.

Prior to her work at the Irvine Foundation, González was a postsecondary success program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she focused on building community partnerships and aligning K-12 and higher education policy to improve college completion rates. At First 5 Los Angeles, González served as a senior program officer, developing and managing investments in community capacity building and early learning while leading the organization’s strategic planning.

A researcher by training, González has worked on issues of welfare reform implementation and labor market inequality in California. She earned a Ph.D. in sociology at UCLA and her undergraduate degree at Columbia University.

“California is at a crossroads in shaping its economic future and well-being,” said González. “While its public colleges and universities provide mobility for many first-generation students, these systems still struggle with completion challenges and suffer from achievement gaps by race and income. Since nearly one-quarter of all low-income young adults in the country live in California, these challenges provide an opportunity for our state to demonstrate what it means to embrace a diverse future and create educational pathways that lead to mobility for families and generations to come.”