Director of Leading from the Middle and Senior Researcher
Ireri Valenzuela joined the RP Group as a Senior Researcher in 2014 bringing with her a breadth of experience in qualitative research, program design and implementation, and technical assistance provision. In 2017, Ireri assumed the role of Lead Coaching Coordinator for Leading from the Middle; subsequently moving into the position of Associate Director in 2018, and in 2020 accepted the role of Co-director.
Prior to joining the RP Group, Ireri spent five years as part of MDRC’s Young Adults and Post-Secondary Education Policy Area, where she worked on two national demonstration projects: the Learning Communities Demonstration and the Performance Based Scholarship Demonstration, which were designed to explore new ways to improve college access, persistence, and success for low-income and underprepared students. She also co-authored an early findings report on the Adelante Performance Based Award Program at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ and a Technical Assistance Guide to Performance Based Scholarships.
Formerly, Ireri worked at California Tomorrow where she developed, implemented, and directed the Campus Change Network (CCN). The CCN was a yearlong program focused on building the capacity of California Community College faculty, administrators, staff, and students to address equity gaps among underrepresented students by equipping them with skills and strategies to advance structural reform efforts through a focus on systems change.
While attaining her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Ireri taught English to Latino and South East Asian immigrants in the Central Valley. Inspired by her students’ resilience and witnessing the impact education has had on their lives, Ireri returned to school for a master’s degree in Adult Education from San Francisco State University. By applying a systems lens and the principles of adult education to her work, Ireri has been able to focus her career on supporting social justice and structural reform efforts in higher education.
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