photo of Ajita Talwalker Menon

Ajita Talwalker Menon

Sr Advisor
Lumina Foundation

Ajita Talwalker Menon recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area after serving in the Obama Administration as Special Assistant to the President for Higher Education Policy at the White House Domestic Policy Council. Ms. Menon focuses her work on supporting government agencies, higher education institutions and systems, non-profit organizations, and philanthropies in their efforts to drive better outcomes in higher education, including serving as Senior Advisor to the CEO of the Lumina Foundation, the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education and Senior Advisor to the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges, the nation’s largest community college system serving more than 2.1 million students. While at the White House, she helped lead the Administration's work to expand college opportunity, affordability, and completion, ensuring more Americans could access the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the nation’s growing economy and building the ranks of the middle class. The Obama Administration worked to transform the culture and landscape of American higher education by driving greater focus on reforms leading to improved postsecondary outcomes through efforts such as: America’s College Promise to make two years of college free for responsible students; First in the World innovation grants to expand the use of scalable, promising and evidenced based approaches to improve student learning while reducing costs; $2 billion in support to community colleges to create and expand education and job training programs in in-demand fields under the TAACCCT program; large increases in federal student grant and tax aid under the Pell grant and American Opportunity Tax Credit programs to help families pay for college; regulatory efforts such as Gainful Employment designed to ensure strong accountability for colleges and universities receiving federal taxpayer funds; resources like the College Scorecard designed to help students and their families make better college choices and aligning the timing of the college search and financial aid application processes through earlier availably of the simplified Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); and actions to support borrowers struggling with federal student loan debt. Prior to working at the White House, Ms. Menon served for two years as senior policy advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education and has also served as education policy advisor to the House Committee on Education and Labor, policy analyst at The Institute for College Access & Success, and as James H. Dunn Fellow in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she served as student body President, organizing campaigns to expand educational access for students; and served a two-year term leading the United States Student Association. Ms. Menon also holds a master's degree from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

[Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.]

Programming descriptions are generated by participants and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SXSW.

Events featuring Ajita Talwalker Menon
Events featuring Ajita Talwalker Menon