Martha Kanter


College Promise

Dr. Martha Kanter leads College Promise, a national nonpartisan initiative to increase college access, affordability, quality, and completion. To increase the social, economic, and civic mobility of Americans, College Promise supports programs in more than 337 communities across 47 states and in 29 entire states plus DC since its launch in September 9, 2015, Dr. Kanter specializes in policy efforts to identify and apply evidence-based education interventions, financing models, and behavioral incentives to raise America’s high school and college graduation rates. Dr. Kanter also serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at NYU’s Steinhardt Institute for Higher Education Policy.

From 2009-2013, Dr. Kanter served President Obama as the U.S. Under Secretary of Education, overseeing all federal postsecondary statutory, regulatory, and administrative policies and programs for the U.S. Department of Education. She led the successful implementation of the Direct Student Loan program, resulting in a 50-percent increase in college enrollment for low-income Pell grant recipients, growing from 6 to more than 9 million students.

From 1993-2009, Dr. Kanter served as President of De Anza College and then Chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in Silicon Valley, California, after serving as the state’s Community College Vice Chancellor for Policy & Research. Dr. Kanter holds a B.A. degree in Sociology from Brandeis University, an M.Ed. from Harvard University, and an Ed.D. from the University of San Francisco. Her education career began in the 9th grade teaching reading at the South End House in Boston followed by teaching economically disadvantaged high school students in a church basement.