February 06, 2019
Contact: press@caonlinecollege.org

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Online Community College Board of Trustees today voted to approve Heather Hiles as the college’s first CEO. 

Heather Hiles is an innovator, education leader, and successful entrepreneur with a deep commitment to equity in education and creating economic opportunities for underserved people. She has spent the past 30 years helping people succeed academically and economically. 

Hiles is the founder of Pathbrite – the world’s leading portfolio learning platform – and recently served as Deputy Director of Postsecondary Success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she invested more than $100 million to promote student success in higher education and workforce readiness for new economy jobs. Earlier in her career, Hiles founded and built SF Works, training and placing more than 11,000 women from welfare into living wage jobs and co-founded EARN, which has helped more than 30,000 low income San Franciscans acquire their first assets.

To shape and run a completely new kind of college, targeting underemployed Californians statewide and online, the Board was seeking a visionary leader who deeply understands not just education but also how to launch, grow, and run a new technology and social impact venture.

“Ms. Hiles’ wealth of leadership experience across education, technology, entrepreneurship, social innovation, and workforce development makes her uniquely suited to serve as CEO,” said Tom Epstein, president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, which also serves as the online college’s board of trustees. “Nobody better understands the communities the college aims to serve – the needs of both working adults and hiring managers in the modern economy – than she does.”

“California's workers and businesses will only thrive in today's rapidly changing economy if our education and training can keep up,” said Maria S. Salinas, President & CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Heather Hiles' unique background in both technology and education and her proven success helping workers gain the skills to advance their careers make her an excellent choice for CEO.”

“Heather is that rare combination in life — a thoughtful visionary who actually gets things done. She’s lived a mission of educational opportunity and is the terrific choice to lead this work,” said Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council on Education and former U.S. under secretary of education.

About Heather Hiles

Over the past two decades, Hiles has founded five ventures: SFWorks; EARN; the Hiles Group; Pathbrite; and Imminent Equity Social Private Equity Fund. Founded by Hiles in 2012, Pathbrite is the largest digital portfolio platform in the market, being used by more than six million learners and job seekers. Hiles raised the most venture capital of any black woman in history and sold Pathbrite to Cengage Learning at the end of 2015. Hiles is currently on the board of directors of Black Girls Code, and has served on more than a dozen boards of directors, including for the San Francisco Unified School District, Leadership Public Schools, LaborX, UNIFORM, Communities United Against Violence, and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Hiles is married to Debbie Veney, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority Inc. With more than 120,000 followers on her LinkedIn Influencer site, Heather is a thought leader in the areas of technology, talent development, education and the future of work. 

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 115 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success , a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.