Lande Ajose is a vice president and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California. She was previously the senior policy advisor for higher education for California Governor Gavin Newsom. She was responsible for developing and shaping the governor’s higher education policy agenda, which is focused on protecting college affordability, preserving college access, and increasing system efficiency to meet the state’s need for a skilled and educated workforce. Prior to that appointment, Ajose served as the executive director of California Competes, a nonpartisan, nonprofit project that develops and advocates on behalf of policies to equitably boost California’s postsecondary degree attainment.
Ajose's experience in higher education includes work in college admissions at Vassar College, education and workforce development funding at the James Irvine Foundation, and research and evaluation at MDRC, where she managed a comprehensive evaluation of the Achieving the Dream Initiative. An ardent advocate for college affordability, in 2014 Ajose was appointed to the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) by Governor Jerry Brown and served as chair for two years until her resignation in May 2019. She has served on boards of the Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS) and the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), and, until her appointment to the governor’s office, was a WASC Senior College and University Commissioner. Ajose currently serves on the advisory committee for the Higher Education Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California. A graduate of Occidental College, she earned her master’s degree from the School of Public Affairs at UCLA and holds a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Occidental College.