Member Since June 2023
Dr. Watson Spiva’s over 25-year career in postsecondary education spans a range of executive leadership, general management, federal government, public affairs, operations and academic officer positions. Dr. Spiva serves as the President of Complete College America (CCA). Headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, CCA is a bold national advocate for dramatically increasing college completion rates and closing equity gaps by working with states, systems, institutions, and partners to scale highly effective structural reforms and promote policies that improve student success. CCA has become a national leader in the movement to dramatically increase the percentage of individuals earning a postsecondary credential. Complete College America is organized as an Alliance of 47 (and growing) states, territories, and higher education consortia where executives have committed to ambitious goals of increasing college completion rates, tracking progress toward their goals and implementing a set of evidence-based practices or “Game Changers” that have proven to dramatically increase college completion rates. Dr. Spiva is the former President & CEO of College Success Foundation (CSF), a national non-profit college readiness, access, success, and scholarship organization headquartered in Bellevue, Washington, which serves nearly 12,000 low-income students, annually, through an integrated system of academic, financial, social and emotional supports to help them access and complete a postsecondary education. Prior to CSF, Dr. Watson Spiva served as CEO/Executive Director of Project GRAD (Graduation Really Achieves Dreams) Atlanta Inc., a nonprofit based in Atlanta, GA, which served as a strategic partner to the Atlanta Public School District as well as hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation to increase the number of low-income, first generation, Atlanta students of color graduating from high school and college. Prior to Project GRAD, she was assistant dean at Trinity College in Washington, DC. Dr. Watson Spiva has also held various positions with the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC, and Atlanta, GA. in the Offices of Postsecondary Education, Student Financial Assistance, and Policy, Planning and Innovation, culminating in her service as Region IV Public Affairs Director in the southeast regional Office of the Secretary of Education. In addition to having authored numerous research articles, Dr. Watson Spiva also coauthored the NAACP Image Award-nominated book, Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents (1881-1953). She has been awarded the prestigious Turknett Leadership Character Award for outstanding leadership in the nonprofit sector. Dr. Watson Spiva earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Spelman College, her master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago and her Ph.D. in higher education from Georgia State University. She also holds a board certification as an executive coach from the Center for Credentialing Education (CCE). Yolanda is married with three children.
Yolanda Watson Spiva
Creating a workplace environment where all employees feel able to communicate their needs is critical to retaining your team. Every business goes through busy and stressful times. While many organizations are able to navigate and overcome these hurdles, it can result in leaders experiencing burnout. This is especially true for mid-level leaders as they tend to direct many different moving parts and interact with individual team members. Fortunately, with the proactive support of the executive team, there are tactics that can be utilized to mitigate or prevent burnout and reinvigorate mid-level leaders. To help, 20 Newsweek Expert Forum members each share one way the executive team can help mid-level leaders get reenergized when they are feeling burned out.
To make lasting, sustainable change, leaders have to be willing to throughly examine their existing culture and make needed changes. A business’s culture is its organizational backbone. As potential customers and employees have become increasingly interested in learning what a business is all about beyond its product or service offerings, culture can set an organization apart from its competitors on the market. Leaders, however, have to be mindful of the culture that is created and preserved. Maintaining the wrong kind of culture is an action that can devastate a brand long term, but the damage can be reduced if leaders seriously commit to making a change. To help, 13 Newsweek Expert Forum members each share one essential step leaders must take when they begin the work of cultural change.
The Supreme Court struck down race-based admissions policies, but there's still plenty of actions education leaders can take to support students from all backgrounds.
Complete College America
Established in 2009, Complete College America is a national nonprofit with a single mission: to work with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations. The need for this work is compelling. Between 1970 and 2009, undergraduate enrollment in the United States more than doubled, while the completion rate has been virtually unchanged. We've made progress in giving students from all backgrounds access to college - but we haven't finished the all-important job of helping them achieve a degree. Counting the success of all students is an essential first step. And then we must move with urgency to reinvent American higher education to meet the needs of the new majority of students on our campuses, delicately balancing the jobs they need with the educations they desire. Complete College America believes there is great reason for optimism and a clear path forward. With a little more support - and a lot of common sense - we can ensure that many more get the high-quality college education that will help them live productive and fulfilling lives. All Americans will share in the benefits of their success.