Dr. Janice Hicks, new Deputy Director of Education Grantmaking
Ascendium is pleased to welcome Dr. Janice Hicks to our Education Philanthropy team. As our new deputy director of education grantmaking, she will support grantmaking across portfolios focused on strategies to transform postsecondary education institutions and systems to better serve learners from low-income backgrounds.
Janice comes to Ascendium with deep experience in field-leading reform at several types of postsecondary institutions, including universities, community colleges, and a medical center. Most recently, she served Odessa College as its vice president for institutional effectiveness. In this role, she was involved in several initiatives aligned with Ascendium's strategy. Such initiatives included adopting guided pathways reforms, building a culture of belonging, restructuring the academic calendar to better serve working and adult learners, and connecting programs to good jobs so that learners have clear pathways to upward mobility.
Janice has first-hand experience designing and implementing data-driven strategies to close the postsecondary education equity gap. For much of her career, she has researched the impact of higher education policies on college readiness, access, and success for underrepresented populations. She then put that research into practice in her administration roles. One example is her leadership of Odessa College’s engagement in Unlocking Opportunity: The Post-Graduation Success and Equity Network. This Ascendium-funded initiative builds a nationwide network of community colleges to align their programming and student supports with workforce needs.
Janice holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of North Texas with an emphasis on community college leadership, as well as teaching and learning in higher education. She also holds a Master of Science in counseling and student affairs administration from the University of Central Arkansas and a Bachelor of Science in education psychology with a minor in counseling education from Mississippi State University.
“Janice’s hands-on understanding of what it takes to bring about change to make postsecondary institutions work better for all learners will strengthen the potential for our grants to have real impact,” said Vice President of Education Philanthropy Keith Witham. “Her expertise will be invaluable in helping us refine our strategy as we lay the blueprint for future grantmaking.”
“I am deeply honored to be a part of Ascendium Education Philanthropy, an organization with a legacy of supporting innovation in higher education and transforming the lives of students, families, and communities,” said Janice. “Joining this mission-driven team is more than a role — it's a commitment to empowering the dreams of students with similar lived experiences as mine. I eagerly look forward to contributing to projects that unlock opportunities and create equitable outcomes for students benefiting from Ascendium’s philanthropic efforts.”