Susana Contreras-Mendez is an associate learning and impact officer at Ascendium. She works in partnership with the philanthropic team to measure its performance and to support collective learning about its strategy and operations. Susana joined the organization in 2021.
Previously, she was a researcher at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a policy think tank in Washington, D.C. She conducted research on strategies to increase upward mobility for families, with a particular focus on the postsecondary experiences of student parents. Other professional experiences include interning at the Lumina Foundation and directly supporting low-income families through nonprofit and government programs. Outside of Ascendium, Susana serves on the board of Alimentando al Pueblo, a non-profit working to promote healing through comunidad, comida, and celebración (community, food and celebration).
As a former Head Start child and first-generation college graduate, Susana has firsthand knowledge of education’s transformational benefits. She holds a Master of Higher Education degree with a concentration in diversity and social justice from the University of Michigan and a dual bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in sociology and American ethnic studies with a minor in education, learning and society.