Leticia Tomas Bustillos

Leticia Tomas Bustillos, Ph.D. is a first generation college student and only daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is guided by the belief that all students must have access to a high quality education program that cultivates the skills and aptitudes necessary to succeed in PreK, K-12, college and beyond. Recognizing that not all students have equitable access to education, she has devoted her professional career to eliminating barriers and improving opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations. Dr. Bustillos has nearly two decades of experience working across the P-20 education pipeline, both inside and outside the formal system of education.

Dr. Bustillos is the Director of Policy Research for the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based nonprofit dedicated to ensuring the next generation of Californians has the opportunity to go to college and succeed. She is responsible for generating research and analysis that informs the public discourse on higher education and suggests strategies for advancing policy reforms. She co-authored Left Out: How Exclusion in California's Colleges and Universities Hurts Our Values, Our Students and Our Economy, a groundbreaking report drawing attention to the lack of diversity in critical leadership positions in California public colleges and universities.

Dr. Bustillos's experience in education began in the Montebello Unified School District where she was a teacher, technology coordinator and reading specialist between 1997 and 2004. Upon receiving her Ph.D. in education policy, Dr. Bustillos taught preservice teachers and postsecondary administrators as an assistant professor at Loyola Marymount University, and adjunct professor at Whittier College and the University of Southern California. She was selected as an Education Pioneer Fellow with the 2008 Los Angeles Cohort wherein she worked with the Riordan Foundation to evaluate the impact of an early reading program implemented in 20 school settings in 5 urban school districts across Los Angeles County. In 2013, Dr. Bustillos was selected by the Southern Education Foundation as a Fellow for Innovation and Change, joining a cross-section of talented and active professionals interested in developing cutting-edge research, policy solutions, and innovative practice to improve the educational outcomes of all students from pre-kindergarten to higher education.

Between 2013-2016, Leticia was the Associate Director of the Education Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). As Associate Director, she set the strategic direction for NCLR's education policy work at the federal and state levels on issues important for Latino students in K-12 and higher education policy, college/career readiness, and education reform. As co-director of the Policy Research on Preparation, Access and Remedial Education (PRePARE) Project at the University of Massachusetts Boston between 2007-2013, Leticia engaged in education research that examined developmental education policies and practices on a national scale in partnership with the Education Commission of the States (ECS). As a consultant on the MSI-Models of Success Initiative, a three-year initiative (2010-2013) led by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), she worked with California State University Monterey Bay and Salish Kootnai College and their community college partners to develop plans and implement change to their remedial education programs.

Leticia is the author of articles, book chapters and blog entries and is a co-author of The State of Developmental Education: Higher Education Public Policy Priorities, published in 2014. She served as a grants panelist for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), served as a mentor with the College Bound Today program within the Montebello Unified School District (CA) and served as a board member of Girls on the Run of Los Angeles County. Leticia is a graduate of Columbia University (A.B., 1994), Whittier College (M.A., 2000) and the University of Southern California (Ph.D., 2007). She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband John Ross, and her daughter Isabella Jolie.