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About Us


Partnership for Education Advancement is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization committed to supporting social mobility by strengthening mission-focused colleges and universities that primarily serve low-income, first-generation, and under-resourced students and families.  ​

We are dedicated to the following principles as we carry out our mission:

  • Our resources and investments align with students’ future success in evident and measurable ways. 

  • We must acknowledge and uphold the capacity of minority serving institutions, including HBCUs, to lead equity efforts.

  • Transformation requires solutions that are sustainable, scalable, and broadly adoptable.

Our Background


Partnership for Education Advancement (formerly known as Education Finance Institute) was formed in 2018 by Tony James, Executive Vice Chairman of The Blackstone Group, and Jim Runcie, former Chief Operating Officer of Federal Student Aid (FSA), the higher education regulatory oversight and student financing arm of the federal government. Mr. James and Mr. Runcie believe strongly in the benefit of obtaining a college education and have seen first-hand the significant and generational impact of higher education on students’ lives. They have also witnessed  the structural inequities that keep this opportunity out of reach for many Americans.


Our efforts to improve equitable access to educational opportunity include strengthening and sustaining institutions that primarily serve under-resourced students. These schools include minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that play a pivotal role in socioeconomic mobility and social justice within our country. These institutions have served their mission under challenging resource constraints. 

Partnership for Education Advancement collaborates with higher education leaders, philanthropy, socially responsible businesses, and policymakers to develop solutions that advance education opportunities for a more equitable society. 

Management and Staff

James Runcie

Chief Executive Officer

Zina Evans, Ph.D.

SVP, Enrollment Management

and Student Success

Cecilia Marshall

Director of Technology Strategy

Annie Reznik

Chief of Staff

Jane Vo

Associate Director of Technology

Monica Ballinas

Program Associate,


Wendell D. Hall, Ph.D.

Executive Director, Institutional Partnerships

Robin S. Minor

SVP, Institutional Partnerships

and Risk Management

Kenneth Rubenstein

Administrative Associate

Ka'rin Thornburg, Ph.D.

Director of Enrollment Managment

Victoria Walker

Director of Risk Management

Wayne Cummings

SVP, Technology and Project Management Office

William Leith

Managing Director

Aquafie Munroe

Executive Assistant

Tiffany Wilson

Program Partnership Manager

Our Advisory Board

Advisory Board members are nationally recognized leaders committed to improving equal access to higher education and supporting holistic solutions that can benefit students across the country. We are grateful to the following individuals who have agreed to serve:

John Barnhill, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Florida State University

Dr. Doug Christiansen, Vice President for University Enrollment Affairs, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Vanderbilt University

Barbara Gill,  Associate Vice President, Enrollment Management, University of Maryland

Ingrid Hayes, Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management, Spelman College

Kedra Ishop, PhD,  Vice President, Enrollment Management, University of Southern California

Joseph Montgomery, Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success, Tuskegee University

Jim Nondorf,  Vice President, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, University of Chicago

Matt Proto, Vice President, Dean of Admissions, Colby College

Matt Sessa, Executive Director of Student Registration and Financial Services, University of Pennsylvania

Francisco Valines, Director of Financial Aid, Florida International University

Our Partnerships

From professional service providers and colleges and universities to philanthropies, foundations, investors, we partner with organizations that share our commitment to improve equity in education and facilitate social mobility.
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