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Changing the Equation in Higher Education Policy



Pamela Burdman is an independent policy analyst on college access, readiness, and the founder of Just Equations, a project of the Opportunity Institute in Berkeley, California. An expert in higher education policy, her insights on emerging research help policymakers and practitioners redefine problems and devise new strategies. Her recent work has focused on re-thinking the role of mathematics in educational equity.


As a program officer for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, she created and implemented the foundation’s investment strategies for college readiness and community college student success in California. These investments helped generate statewide initiatives on community college student success, college access, faculty leadership, data-sharing, K-16 curricular alignment, and university transfer. 


Since leaving the Hewlett Foundation, she has advised foundations on investment strategy and authored policy reports for think tanks. Her clients have included the Gates, Lumina, Irvine, Haas Jr., and Spencer Foundations as well as the Institute for College Access and Success, Jobs for the Future, LearningWorks, and the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research. 


As a journalist, Burdman covered not only education, but also immigration, law enforcement, and Asian affairs. She spent seven years as a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, receiving numerous awards, including the Livingston Award for Young Journalists, for her 1994 series on the smuggling of Chinese immigrants into the U.S. In addition, her freelance writing has appeared in The New York Times, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Salon, Lingua Franca, Change, National Crosstalk, the Far Eastern Economic Review, and other publications. She also served as associate producer for Media Matters, a public television show about the media, and taught journalism at City College of San Francisco. 


Pam hails from Youngstown, Ohio, and earned a B.A. degree  from Princeton University in Philosophy and East Asian Studies and Masters degrees from UC Berkeley in Business and Asian Studies. She lives with her daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area.


"Your analytical insights and bridge-building skills helped forge a network of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers working collectively to improve education outcomes for California community college students." 


Martha J. Kanter,

Distinguished Visiting Professor of Higher Education, New York University;

Former U.S. Under Secretary of Education 

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