Ben always knew that he would end up in Washington, D.C., but the path he took to get here took a few turns along the way. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, he is a proud product of public schools. From a young age, Ben was always interested in education, frequently playing “school” as a child and being constantly inspired, challenged, and motivated to succeed by the educators he encountered across the K-12 system. Combined with the lessons of the value of education he received from his family—namely his parents and grandparents—education remained at the center of Ben’s goals and trajectory throughout his career.

When he enrolled in college, Ben thought his ticket to D.C. would be through going to law school or working on the Hill. After realizing that law school may not be the right path for him, Ben stuck to what he knew that he enjoyed: his on-campus employment experiences in student affairs, and his passion of getting to know people from different places and cultures. Taken together, Ben realized quickly that he could make a career working in international education, and he did so for nearly 8 years, supporting the international students and scholars who enrolled at the University of Georgia in Athens, working in the Division of Student Affairs. It was during this time that Ben took more of an interest in policy and advocacy work, stemming from working with the unique challenges of international students and his experiences as a doctoral student in higher education.

While Ben’s path to higher education policy work has taken several different forms, Ben holds a few truths constant: that higher education is an important driver for socioeconomic mobility, and higher education can, and should, do better to support student outcomes, particularly for students of color, low-income students, and students who otherwise sit in the margins of who higher education should serve. Ben is a mixed-methods researcher, believing in the power of individual stories to further explore the numbers that often tell the story of postsecondary education today. Third Way’s mission and goals for higher education are an ideal match for Ben’s personal vision for improving higher education today.

Prior to joining Third Way, Ben was an Associate Analyst at the American Council on Education and was an author on two of their seminal research reports: The American College President: 2023 Edition and Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2022 Edition. Ben holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the Louise McBee Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia, where his dissertation examined the intersection of internationalization and Confucius Institutes at public regional universities in the U.S. He also holds a masters’ degree in Higher Education from Florida State University and a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Georgia. Outside of work, Ben keeps busy exploring the DMV area with his dog, a corgi-black lab mix named Annabel. He tries to keep up with the D.C. food and restaurant scene and is always ready to try a new place in the area. Beyond that, he enjoys traveling, a healthy dose of streaming TV, and is working through his post-dissertation pleasure reading list.

Published September 18, 2023

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Published August 23, 2023

2023 Economic Mobility Index


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