Oakland, CA – Calbright College, California’s online community college dedicated to increasing economic opportunity for low-income working adults, today announced the selection of Ajita Talwalker Menon as interim President and CEO.
Calbright’s former President and CEO, Heather Hiles, resigned in January. Menon will serve as the college’s chief executive until the Board of Trustees concludes its search for a permanent replacement.
“We are delighted to welcome Ajita Menon as the interim CEO of Calbright,” said Tom Epstein, President of the Board of Trustees. “As a nationally recognized expert on higher education and workforce training innovation, Ajita will evaluate the progress Calbright has made and bring new ideas to refine and improve our service to Californians. She brings excellent management skills, public sector experience, and a commitment to educational equity that will keep the college moving forward during this transition period.”
“I’m excited to temporarily lead the effort to help Californians improve their skills and find better jobs,” said Menon. “I firmly believe in Calbright’s potential to tackle income inequality in California through new high-quality learning opportunities designed to fit the lives of working adults and respond to the talent challenge facing California employers.
“With hundreds of students already enrolled during this start-up period, fulfilling their needs is of utmost importance while we also continue to build and improve the college based on their experience. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to understand their expectations and collaborate to ensure the college’s success.”
Menon has extensive experience in government, with expertise in higher education and workforce policy and leadership. In prior roles, she served in the Obama White House as Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education as well as a Senior Policy Advisor for Higher Education in the U.S. Department of Higher Education. Recently, she is a principal at EX3, LLC, where she provides strategic advice and expertise to build innovative, high-quality, and equity-centered solutions for higher education institutions, foundations, nonprofits, and other enterprises.
Menon earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin.
Her contract with Calbright will run at a rate of approximately $23,750 per month, pending Board approval.
About Calbright College
Calbright was established by state law late in 2018 as California’s first wholly online community college designed to meet the needs of working learners. Its mission is to help millions of low-income and disadvantaged Californians move up the economic ladder by improving their job skills through flexible competency-based education. Since launching eight months ago, Calbright has developed technology infrastructure, educational content and supportive services which serve more than 400 students. Calbright expects to learn from this start-up pilot cohort how to improve its online instruction and support services.
Calbright is the 115th California community college and 73rd district, governed by an independent Board of Trustees serving concurrently as the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.