Kris Palmer

Lead Responsibilities: Kris Palmer is Senior Director at the Career Ladders Project (CLP) where she supports California Community Colleges to create stronger education and career opportunities for all students and especially for those disadvantaged by discrimination and poverty.  Kris’ primary work at CLP has been collaboratively designing initiatives that demonstrate practices to improve student success in college and learning from the results.

Kris also works with many colleges statewide to design and strengthen career pathways by facilitating communities of practice wherein educators learn, experiment and take action.  She leads CLP technical assistance teams on large-scale education reform initiatives focused primarily on improving the transition from high school to college and adding more structure, student engagement and relevance in the first year of college. With community college leaders and their partners in secondary schools, universities, industry, philanthropy and community-based organizations, she collaborates to reform public education and training institutions at systems-wide levels, inform policy change and to find resources to support such efforts.

Among the CLP’s technical assistance projects that Kris currently leads are: the Career Advancement Academies, the East Bay Career Pathways initiative, the Skyline Promise meta-majors/pathways redesign work and the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative.  Her leadership and technical assistance at CLP is supported by multiple funders including the California Department of Education, the Irvine Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropies, SAP and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.

Areas of concentration: Initiative and program design, career pathway design and mapping, organizational strategy, resource development, community of practice facilitation, strategic planning and evaluation.

Experience: Part of CLP’s team for the past nine years, Kris has provided leadership and assistance in nearly every CLP initiative and endeavor.  Her role has grown from being primarily focused on initiative design and evaluation to leading technical assistance on large-scale pathway design initiatives.

Previous to CLP, as a program officer at the Hewlett Foundation, Kris made $8 million in grants annually to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and California Central Valley. She served as the Chair of the Evaluation Committee of the Bay Area Workforce Funding Collaborative, a group of 16 local funders and the California State Employment Development Department making $2 million in grants annually for allied health and biotechnology-related workforce development initiatives. As an Associate Director and Interim Executive Director for the Bay Area Video Coalition, a digital media production facility and training provider for industry, independent artists, disadvantaged adults and youth, Kris raised funds and improved internal systems. With the Center for Community Change, Kris provided research and technical assistance for California Central Valley organizations to improve economic and workforce strategies in the health sector. She also conducted research and interviews in four states to co-author the US Housing and Urban Development-published study: Strengthening Rural Economies: Programs that Target Promising Sectors of a Local Economy. 

Kris earned a Master’s Degree from Princeton University in Public and International Affairs and Urban and Regional Development.  She earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University.