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Agenda: The Path Forward Forum

Wednesday, March 31

The Post-Pandemic Learner

Materials and links to session recordings are provided below.




Welcome - Why The Path Forward Forum?

Dr. Aaron Thompson, President, Council on Postsecondary Education



Kentucky’s Path Forward: Improving Postsecondary Access and Success in a Post-Pandemic Environment

Matt Gandal, President and CEO, Education Strategy Group



FAFSA Report

Equity and Quality Report

Student Perspectives: How COVID Has Changed the Landscape of Postsecondary Transition and Success

Prichard Committee on Academic Excellence:

  • Brigitte Blom Ramsey, President and CEO, Prichard
  • Perry Papka, Deputy Director - Policy and Research
  • Rachel Belin, Managing Partner, Student Voice Team
  • Coping with COVID Postsecondary Student Impact Study team members



Thursday, April 1

The Post-Pandemic Toolkit

Links to recorded sessions below.




Building Your Post-Pandemic Toolkit: Guided Action Plan Sessions

Admissions Track


Jenny Sawyer, Director of Admissions, University of Louisville

Shara Savage, Program Consultant II, Division of Assessment and Accountability Support, Kentucky Department of Education



Hybrid Learning Track


Alicia Pennington, Instructional Designer, The Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, Western Kentucky University

Jennifer Mills,Technology Integration Specialist, Knox County Public Schools



Racial Equity Track


Dr. Ahmad Washington, Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, University of Louisville

Dr. Houston Barber, Superintendent, Frankfort Independent Schools



Mental Health Track


Miriam Silman, MSW, Project AWARE/Trauma Informed Care Program Administrator, Dept. for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities

Dr. Melissa Bartsch, Director, Eastern Kentucky University Counseling Center



Affordability/Value Track


Karen Miller, Community and Technical College Representative Board Member, KASFAA; Financial Aid Director, Madisonville Community College

Sherlyn Bratcher, School Counselor, Butler County High School



Key Takeaways and Connections




Friday, April 2

The Post-Pandemic Transition

Links to recorded sessions and materials below.




Keynote Address

Dr. Cia Verschelden, Special Projects Advisor for the Integration of Academic and Student Affairs, Association of American Colleges and Universities


Resource Packet

Closing - Vision Casting: Postsecondary Education in Post-Pandemic Kentucky

Dr. Aaron Thompson, President, Council on Postsecondary Education




Our Featured Speakers

Aaron Thompson

Dr. Aaron Thompson
President, Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

As a first-generation college student from rural Clay County, Kentucky, Thompson experienced first-hand the transformative power of a college credential. As President of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, he works to ensure all Kentuckians have an equal opportunity to improve their lives through postsecondary education.

Before taking the helm of CPE, Thompson served as interim president of Kentucky State University; CPE executive vice president and provost; and faculty member and administrator at Eastern Kentucky University. He has extensive leadership experience within the private and non-profit sectors and is a highly sought-after national speaker. Dr. Thompson has authored or co-authored numerous books and peer-reviewed publications on diversity, cultural competence, first-year experience programs, retention, and student success, among other topics.

Matt Gandal

Matt Gandal
President and CEO, Education Strategy Group

Gandal is the founder of Education Strategy Group, which supports states, national organizations, and foundations committed to dramatically improving the capacity and performance of the U.S. education system. He brings more than 20 years of experience leading policy development, advocacy and implementation work in both the K-12 and higher education sectors.

Gandal previously served as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan where he led a new division responsible for providing policy and implementation support to states. He also served as a member of the Secretary’s Advisory Team that met regularly with the Secretary to take stock of progress and establish priorities for the Department of Education.

Prichard Committee

Representatives from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

The Prichard Committee is an independent, solutions-oriented, and citizen-led non-profit focused on bettering public education through research and advocacy. Priorities include a strong accountability system, adequate and equitable funding, and sustained and expanded engagement, with the goal of making Kentucky a top tier education state within this generation.

Cia Verschelden

Dr. Cia Verschelden
Special Projects Advisor for the Integration of Academic and Student Affairs, Association of American Colleges Universities

Verschelden, who recently retired as Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs at Malcolm X College - City Colleges of Chicago, is the Special Projects Advisor for the Integration of Academic and Student Affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

Verschelden taught for more than 25 years at two- and four-year institutions in social work, sociology, women’s studies, nonviolence studies, and first-year seminar. Her administrative posts have included department chair, institutional assessment lead, and vice president of academic and student affairs. She is the author of Bandwidth Recovery: Helping Students Reclaim Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Racism, and Social Marginalization and Bandwidth Recovery for Schools: Helping Pre-K-12 Students Regain Cognitive Resources Lost to Poverty, Trauma, Racism and Social Marginalization.

Last Updated 4/2/2021