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Katherine Wheatle, Ph.D. is the strategy officer for federal policy and equity at Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Based in Lumina’s office in Washington, D.C., Wheatle supports the development and advancement of the foundation’s federal policy priorities to increase education attainment and affordability. In this role, she has worked with key federal policy and research partners, civil rights organizations, student advocacy groups, intermediaries, think tanks, and other policy advocates to enhance understanding of racial equity and deepen the collective commitment to achieving it. Her work is central to the foundation’s Equity First framework, which embeds racial equity and justice in all aspects of Lumina’s work. She co-produces and co-hosts the foundation’s video and audio podcast, Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Talent.
In her prior role at Lumina, Wheatle focused on issues affecting college affordability and finance, including state-level efforts to support the success of adult learners, the challenges and opportunities facing borrowers of color, and innovative funding approaches such as increasing the influx of private capital to minority-serving institutions.
Prior to her time at Lumina, Wheatle worked as an analyst for applied research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, as a research associate at the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University, and as a consultant with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. She began her career in higher education as a student affairs practitioner.
A first-generation college graduate, Wheatle holds a bachelor’s degree in African and African American studies from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in health policy and health service research from Emory University, and a doctorate in higher education from Indiana University. Her intellectual and research pursuits explore the history of race and racism enacted through higher education policy.