Paola Santana is a strategy officer for state policy at Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. In her role, Santana supports states’ efforts to increase education attainment and eliminate racial disparities through the implementation of Lumina’s state policy agenda.
Prior to joining Lumina, she led the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce’s college access and success portfolio. She was responsible for the implementation of direct service programming, the development of the chamber’s higher education policy advocacy agenda, and providing strategic support to the local Talent Hub. Santana began her career working for the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, where she advised board members on policy issues and worked with educators, administrators, students, and families to improve educational opportunities in the country’s second-largest school district.
Santana is a graduate of the Riordan Leadership Institute, the Pahara NextGen Network, and the California Education Policy Fellowship Program.
She has served on the board of directors of the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges and as the Foundation’s representative on the district citizens’ oversight committee. A first-generation and community college transfer student, Santana holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s in higher education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.