Board of Directors

Aaron Thompson, Ph.D. - Chair of the Board
Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education 

 

Christina R. Milano - Treasurer of the Board 
Education Consultant

 

Lisa Brady Gill - Secretary of the Board

Strategic Education Consultant

Gill and Associates

 

Gerald P. Beaulieu 
Retired

 

Martha A. Cantu, Ed.D. 
Former Vice President for Student Affairs
The University of Texas-Pan American

 

Scott A. Giles, Ph.D. 
President and CEO
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation 

 

Mary Sylvia Harrison, J.D.

Vice President for Programs

Nellie Mae Education Foundation

 

Sylvia Evans Robinson 

President 

SER Associates 

 

Ex-Officio

 

Ranjit Sidhu
President & CEO
National Council for Community and Education Partnerships

 

Aaron Thompson, Ph.D.

Chair of the Board

Dr. Thompson is the Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and a Professor of Sociology in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. Thompson has a Ph.D. in Sociology in areas of Organizational Behavior/Race and Gender relations.  Thompson has researched, taught and/or consulted in areas of assessment, diversity, leadership, ethics, research methodology and social statistics, multicultural families, race and ethnic relations, student success, first-year students, retention, and organizational design.  He is nationally recognized in the areas of educational attainment and academic success, leadership, equity and gap closing, diversity and cultural competence, law enforcement training, curriculum development, African American fatherhood, divorce in the Black family, and Black and White differences in marital expectations.

His recent authored or co-authored books are, Peer to Peer Leadership: Changing Student Culture from the Ground Up; The Sociological Outlook; Infusing Diversity and Cultural Competence into Teacher Education; Humanity, Diversity, & the Liberal Arts:  Foundation of a College Education; Thriving in the Community College & Beyond:  Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development; Diversity and the College Experience; Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development; Focus on Success; and Black Men and Divorce.

He has more than 30 publications and numerous research and peer reviewed presentations.  Thompson has traveled over the U.S. and internationally and has given more than 800 workshops, seminars and invited lectures in areas of leadership, strategic planning, race and gender diversity, living an unbiased life, overcoming obstacles to gain success, adult learners, creating a school environment for academic success, cultural competence, workplace interaction, organizational goal setting, building relationships, the first-year seminar, and a variety of other topics.  He has been or is a consultant to educational institutions, corporations, non-profit organizations, police departments, and other governmental agencies.  In addition, Thompson’s research has been cited in popular publications such as CosmopolitanBaltimore SunOrlando Sentinel, Tampa Tribune, and others. 

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Christina R. Milano

Treasurer of the Board
Christina Milano is a nationally recognized expert and consultant in the field of college access and success. For fourteen years she managed the Cleveland Scholarship Programs (CSP), the nation's oldest college access program. During her tenure at CSP she increased its budget from $600,000 to $5,000,000, added successful programming for low-income traditional students and adult learners and dramatically increased the number and value of scholarships awarded to students. She also led the organization's first endowment campaign raising $10,000,000.

Milano was instrumental in the formation of the first statewide college access network - the Ohio College Access Network - and served as an early executive director of that organization. In 2001, she co-founded the National College Access Network and became its executive director. During her time at NCAN, the organization increased in size from 23 to more than 300 organizational and institutional members. Today, the membership is comprised of hundreds of organizations that, in the aggregate, serve more than one million future first-generation postsecondary students each year.

Milano is a graduate of Lehman College in New York City with a degree in accounting.

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Lisa Brady Gill 

Secretary of the Board

Lisa Brady Gill currently serves as a Strategic Education Consultant, advising organizations working to engage, inspire and empower all students to succeed. From 2000 until April 2015, Ms. Gill held a variety of leadership positions in the Education Technology Group of Texas Instruments which included Executive Director, Education Policy and Practice and Executive Director, North America Marketing. In these positions she headed up a staff of professionals that provided strategic direction in the areas of federal and state education policy, teacher professional development and content creation, strategic alliances and partnerships including GEAR UP grants, public relations, communications and marketing, and systemic interventions. This work included partnering with national organizations on STEAM education reform, as well as college access and success.

Before joining Texas Instruments, a few of Ms. Gill's career achievements include becoming one of Voyager Expanded Learning's founding members and serving as an educator in the Richardson Independent School district.

In addition to the NCCEP Board of Directors, Ms. Gill currently serves on the Teaching Channel Board of Directors and was most recently a member of the 2015 ACT National Selection Committee for College and Career Readiness. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master's Degree from Texas A&M, Commerce. 

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Gerald P. Beaulieu

Gerald P. Beaulieu has more than 40 years experience in senior level financial management of nonprofit organizations. For 30 years, Mr. Beaulieu led the financial operations of four District of Columbia hospitals. He was at Georgetown University Hospital for 21 years, and served as their Chief Financial Officer for ten years. For a decade, Mr. Beaulieu served as the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of a national membership organization of nearly 20,000 members with an annual budget of $11 million.

Mr. Beaulieu has served on the Board of Directors for two regional nonprofits related to health care for more than six years each. These organizations with budgets approaching of $20 million have been fortunate to have Mr. Beaulieu serve as Treasurer, Chair of the Finance Committee and/or Chair of the Audit Committee.

Mr. Beaulieu is a native of New Hampshire. Mr. Beaulieu has a BA from St. Mary's Seminary & University and an MBA from George Washington University. Mr. Beaulieu retired in August 2009 and resides in Washington, D.C. He continues to serve as an active volunteer in the community and enjoys traveling around the world.


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Martha A. Cantu, Ed.D.

Dr. Martha A. Cantu most recently served as the Vice President for Student Affairs at The University of Texas Pan American. Prior to her appointment as vice president, Cantu was the director of UTPA's Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). The UTPA GEAR UP Project was the second largest grant in the nation and under Cantu's leadership was recognized nationally as a model of best practices by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Her professional experience at UTPA began over twelve years ago as an adjunct faculty member teaching graduate classes in the College of Education.


Her passion for students began in 1985 as an educator in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District and later served as the director of special education for the McAllen Independent School District. Her extensive professional working experience with principals and superintendents in the Rio Grande Valley K-12 school districts was an important component of the University's outreach efforts in the Rio Grande Valley and was actively involved with the

P-16 Council and UTPA's Leadership Alliance. Cantu received her bachelor, master and doctoral degrees from UTPA.

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Scott A. Giles, Ph.D.

Scott Giles is President and CEO at the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation (VSAC).  He previously served as Vice President for Operations, Social Marketing and Strategy.  Prior to joining VSAC, Mr. Giles served as Deputy Chief of Staff of the House Committee on Science. In that role he advised the Chairman on education, space and research policy and managed the Subcommittees on Research and Space and Aeronautics. From 2008-2009 he served as Chair of the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he was regularly consulted by Congress and the executive branch on matters related to access and affordability. Giles has also served on the professional staff of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions where he advised the Chairman on budget, education and research policy.


Prior to joining the Committee, he worked for ten years as a Senior Associate and team leader at Cassidy & Associates where he provided government and public affairs services to colleges, universities, hospitals and non-profit organizations. From 1982-1986, he served as legislative director for the Honorable Frank Horton (R-NY).

He holds a BA in religious studies from St. Lawrence University and an MA in religious ethics from the University of Virginia. He holds a doctoral degree in ethics from the University of Virginia.

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Mary Sylvia Harrison, J.D.
 

Mary Sylvia Harrison is Vice President for Programs at the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Prior to joining the Nellie Mae Education Foundation in 2008, Harrison was President and CEO of The College Crusade of Rhode Island. Under her leadership, the organization became the state's most comprehensive college readiness and scholarship program for students in low-income urban school districts. Harrison served on the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education from 1994 to 1999, and represented The College Crusade as Core Partner with the Providence Public Schools in a Carnegie Corporation-funded High School Redesign initiative.

Prior to joining The College Crusade, she was Executive Director of Times2, a nonprofit provider of math and science enrichment programs for underserved learners. Harrison holds a B.A. from Villanova University and a J.D. from Antioch School of Law.


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Sylvia Evans Robinson
 

A seasoned professional with over twenty five years' experience in higher education administration and non-profit management, Sylvia Evans Robinson currently serves as president of SER Associates, a management consulting firm. Her previous positions included three years as Executive Director and Assistant Vice President of the GED Testing Service at the American Council on Education (ACE) and nine years as the Executive Director of the Career Education Center at Georgetown University. Ms. Robinson was previously the Executive Director of the American Heart Association's, Nation's Capital Affiliate; Executive Director of Rhode Island Children's Crusade for Higher Education, and Dean of the Class of 1986 at Wellesley College.

Ms. Robinson earned a bachelor's degree in history from Stanford University, a master's degree in education from Occidental College, and took doctoral courses in American Civilization at Brown University. In 2008, Ms. Robinson received an honorary doctorate in business administration from Johnson and Wales University, where she served on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2010. Other board service included the Board of Directors for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) and Leadership Rhode Island.

An avid student of excellence and leadership, Ms. Robinson participated in the NACE Management Leadership Institute and the Center for Creative Leadership's Leadership at the Peak, Developing the Strategic Leader and Leadership Development programs. She is a graduate of Leadership Washington (1995) and Leadership Rhode Island (1988). Her awards for community service include the 1996 Award for Excellence in Non-Profit Management from the Washington Council of Agencies, the 1994 Distinguished Leadership Award for the National Association for Community Leadership, and the 1993 "David E. Sweet Annual Leadership Award" from Leadership Rhode Island.


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 Ranjit Sidhu

Ranjit was appointed President & CEO of the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) in May of 2015.  He has a long history of service to NCCEP and its primary constituency, GEAR UP, having served on NCCEP’s Board of Directors, and years prior as a member of the staff executive team. His career has been consistently anchored in creating opportunities for students from low-income families, and in leading organizations to enhance social impact and growth.

Prior to assuming this role, Ranjit served as senior vice president for strategy and new product development at the College Board.  There he was responsible for the development and integration of the organization’s comprehensive strategy, working across the organization to determine how all current and future work can achieve significant and positive social impact.  Ranjit also directed new product development, including career and technical education work, and higher education product strategy and offerings.

Ranjit’s previous roles include serving as senior vice president for strategic initiatives at ACT, where he played a significant role in developing the education division’s strategic plan and future product development efforts.  He led ACT’s national efforts focused on policy development, advocacy, and partnerships in the education and workforce development arenas.  Ranjit also served as executive vice president at NCCEP, and as executive vice president & COO at the National Association of Partners in Education. Early in his career he was a high school social studies teacher in the Washington, D.C. and Prince George’s County, Md., public school districts.

Ranjit holds a master’s degree in education from George Washington University, a master’s degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh, and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Mary Washington.

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GEAR UP Program Locator

Are GEAR UP services available in your state or region? You can find out by clicking on this interactive map. Here you will find where GEAR UP programs currently serve students, the size of their grants, how many students they serve and a link to their website for more information.