Molly Lasagna is a senior program officer. She is responsible for strategic grantmaking in support of Ascendium’s Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison focus area, which seeks to identify and scale effective strategies for ensuring that incarcerated learners have access to and success in high-quality postsecondary education. She joined the organization in 2022.
Molly comes to Ascendium with 10 years of experience working in service of incarcerated communities. In her most recent role, Molly served as executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Initiative (THEI), a nonprofit organization that brings degree-bearing college programs to prisons in Tennessee. She was at the forefront of efforts to build a collective of Southern postsecondary education in prison programs and led the creation and growth of a statewide network of state agencies and institutions of higher education called the Tennessee Prison College Coalition. Prior to her role at THEI, Molly worked as a policy analyst on the educator quality team of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she co-authored the book “Improving Teacher Quality: A Guide for Education Leaders.”
Raised in New England, she earned a Master of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Arts degree in urban education policy from Brown University, a Master of Teaching degree in secondary English education from the University of Virginia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Columbia University.