85th Annual ACHE Conference

Leaders, Innovators, Change Agents: Continuing Higher Education’s Role in Improving Access and Success

Join us in Charleston, South Carolina
October 16-18, 2023

Keynote Speakers

Sarah Ancel, M.A. 

Founder and CEO, Student Ready Strategies

Sarah Ancel, is a leading voice on student success with an economist perspective from her time at the Higher Ed Commission in IN, Complete College America, and now as the CEO of Student Ready Strategies.

Student-Ready Strategies (SRS) is a consulting and technical assistance organization that supports post secondary institutions in dismantling inequitable structures. We envision a world in which colleges and universities believe every student can succeed and purposely evolve to ensure they do. We partner, plan, and problem-solve with community colleges, minority-serving institutions, and four-year open-access institutions, as well as the system offices, nonprofits, and foundations that support them. Our work specifically focuses on the success of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, poverty-affected, and older students. In our engagements with institutions, we center these students’ lived experiences to identify exclusionary post secondary practices, and add capacity to efforts to establish equitable policy and process. We specialize in areas such as credit for prior learning, accelerated scheduling models, adult-focused programs and supports, developmental education reform, open educational resources, and asset-based communications.


Yolanda Watson Spiva, Ph.D.

President, Complete College America

Yolanda was born and raised in Rochester, NY where she was proudly educated in the public school system and graduated from a magnet public high school.  Having an “in-house college and career counselor,” in the person of her mother, Yolanda assumed that all students had a plan, a path and a process for going to college.  She soon discovered that was not the case, as many of her friends either did not attend college or attended briefly, only to return home after a semester or two.  She garnered many academic scholarships and was able to attend Spelman College, a private, residential, liberal arts, historically black college which set the path for her continued educational endeavors.

Yolanda is a music afficionado and loves all genres from classical to [old school] hip hop.  She is a vocalist and has had stints singing background for jazz and R&B artists in live and studio sessions. She has an uncanny knowledge of the lyrics to thousands of songs from Broadway show tunes, to folk, to gospel, to rap, to rock. She is a serious thinker but enjoys raucous laughter and doing impressions for family and friends. Yolanda holds many important roles, the most important of which are: wife, mom of three children, eldest of three girls, sorority sister, active community member and loyal friend.