Complete College America Strengthens Board of Directors to Scale Institutional Capacity-Building and Transformation Strategy

  • July 10, 2024
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Indianapolis, July 10, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Complete College America (CCA),  a national nonprofit organization on a mission to raise postsecondary attainment in the United States and build a more effective and equitable system of higher education, today welcomed the addition of three new members to its Board of Directors: Bevelyn Coleman, executive vice president and deputy general counsel, Consumer Banking Group at Regions Bank; Lorenzo Esters, president of The Indianapolis Foundation; and Landon Pirius, president of Red Rocks Community College. The new board members bring diverse expertise and experience to CCA, demonstrating the organization’s ongoing commitment to scaling national strategies on student success and equity in higher education and advocating for economic and educational opportunity for all.  

“We are thrilled to welcome these impatient reformers and relentless advocates for college completion to the Board of Directors during a pivotal time for the completion movement,” said Yolanda Watson Spiva, PhD, president of Complete College America. “This group of leaders brings financial and legal expertise, significant experience in generating philanthropic and institutional capacity to support student success, and leadership in academic affairs and student affairs. Their perspectives, knowledge, and unwavering commitment to student success will be invaluable as we continue our mission to increase college completion rates and close equity gaps.” 

The three new board members collectively add decades of management and leadership experience to the board:  

  • Bevelyn Coleman, JD, Executive Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Consumer Banking Group at Regions Bank. Deputy General Counsel Coleman brings extensive legal and financial expertise to CCA’s board, along with a deep understanding of consumer banking and its impact on college affordability and access. With a 27-year career at Wells Fargo and its predecessor banks, Coleman has held leadership roles in various areas, including operations, enterprise functions, and consumer and retail banking. 
  • Lorenzo Esters, EdD, President of The Indianapolis Foundation. Dr. Esters holds a wealth of experience in higher education, having served as chancellor for the Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis service area, vice president for advancement and member engagement with the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and executive director for higher education partnerships at Educational Testing Service. His professional experiences have focused on generating philanthropic and institutional capacity to support student access, completion, and career readiness efforts, particularly for those from marginalized backgrounds. 
  • Landon Pirius, PhD, President of Red Rocks Community College (RRCC). Prior to his current role at RRCC, Dr. Pirius served as vice chancellor for academic and student affairs for the Colorado Community College System, providing strategic leadership related to all aspects of academic affairs, student affairs, and institutional research. He has also held leadership positions at North Hennepin Community College, Inver Hills Community College, Walden University, and Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

 The new board members will join the current Complete College America board of directors. Existing board members include:  

  • Estela Mara Bensimon, EdD, Director, Bensimon & Associates; University Professor Emerita and Founding Director of the Center for Urban Education, University of Southern California  
  • Barbara Damron, PhD, RN, FAAN, Chief Government Relations Officer & Professor, University of New Mexico 
  • Board Chair Emeritus Jim Geringer, BSME, Former Wyoming Governor; Director, Policy and Public Sector Strategies, Environmental Systems Research Institute 
  • Adrian Haugabrook, EdD, Former Executive Vice President for Social Impact, Southern New Hampshire University 
  • Vistasp Karbhari, PhD, Professor & Immediate Past President, University of Texas at Arlington 
  • Board Chair Robin Martin, EdD, Former Deputy Director of Strategy, Planning and Management for the Postsecondary Success Team of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 
  • Edward Smith, PhD, Senior Policy Advisor, EducationCounsel LLC 
  • Yolanda Watson Spiva, PhD, President, Complete College America, ex officio 

 Additionally, Bob Bauman, JD, counsel and secretary at Gambs Mucker and Bauman, serves as Board Secretary. 

 The addition of these new board members comes as Complete College America continues to scale its work in supporting higher education institutions in implementing evidence-based strategies to improve student outcomes, particularly for historically underserved populations. 

Founded in 2009 and now celebrating its 15th anniversary, Complete College America has built a national higher education reform network that uses evidence-based research, policy, and collective action to help more students achieve degrees and credentials of value and close attainment gaps among the most marginalized and underrepresented students. The CCA Alliance includes senior leadership from states, systems, institutional consortia, and partner organizations committed to significantly increasing the number of students who successfully complete college. 


About Complete College America: Complete College America (CCA) builds movements for scaled change and transforms institutions through data-driven policies, student-centered perspectives, and equity-driven practices. Since its founding in 2009, CCA connects a national network of forward-thinking state and higher education leaders and introduces bold initiatives to help states and institutions confront inequities, close institutional performance gaps, and increase college completion rates, especially for marginalized and historically excluded students. For more information, visit

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