As true solution partners, the Economic Mobility Systems team is committed to a set of core beliefs. Everything we do is based on our commitment to more equitable outcomes, collaboration and trust, and always putting the student first.
We develop partnerships with the sole purpose of producing a strong ROI in the form of equitable student college and workforce outcomes to include: improving college readiness, increasing college enrollment, promoting college persistence and completion, and achieving workforce alignment, entry, and living wage attainment.
Our solution partnerships are built foremost on trust and relationships. Helping partners build community is the foundation from which we work to design, develop, and execute effective college and career strategies and produce results.
We never lose sight of what is best for students and how to empower them on their journey to success, as we engage through regional collaborations and with state agencies and policy makers to build more coherent and interdependent approaches to address inequities.
Throughout his extensive career, Eric has made an impact in education, from strategically linking high school reform to economic development in Greater Chicago to leading statewide initiatives for Dallas County Promise. In 2020, Eric founded EMS as a coalition under the Commit Partnership. Prior to his leadership role with Dallas County Promise, Eric was Senior Vice President of Program Innovation at Academic Partnerships, where he developed programs and solutions for universities to better serve students through online programs around the world.
As principal of Crown Point High School in Greater Chicago, Eric founded the College Acceleration Network, linking high school reform to economic development. During his tenure, he led the school in a remarkable transformation, using college readiness instruments and data that gained Crown Point High School the designation of the first ACT college acceleration research high school in the country. His innovations to produce next generation affordable, accountable and accessible dual credit classes with Indiana University Northwest and Purdue University Calumet were featured in Ed Week.
Before serving as a high school principal, Eric worked to build scalable models of K-12 and university programming with Dallas-based Higher Ed Holdings, where he served as Vice President of Research and Development and Executive Director of University Partnerships. Eric began his career as a high school chemistry teacher and basketball coach in Bloomington, Indiana. He moved into administration and then into a visiting professor role at the Indiana University School of Education where he reinvented the university’s student teacher performance system, launched the Indiana Reading Academy, and developed the teacher
leadership master’s program.
Eric received a BS in Science Education, MAT in Chemistry, and Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Indiana University.
Vision to Relentless Execution
Dr. Tonni Grant was born and raised Pine Bluff, AR. Her passion lies in helping students make informed decisions as they enter into their postsecondary journey. As a child she did not have that and slipped through the cracks. That’s why she is driven to make sure every student is aware of what opportunities are available to them as they make important steps to become the future, not only today, but tomorrow.
Prior to joining the Commit Partnership, her various educational experiences over the past 23 years have been in teaching, campus administration (both assistant principal and principal), and district leadership positions surrounding College Career and Military Readiness and academic advisement counseling support services. She also has experience in both technical and early college high schools.
She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Grambling State University, a master’s degree in educational leadership from Dallas Baptist University, and a doctorate in educational leadership at Tarleton State University.
She is the proud wife of MSG Irving Grant with four children; Shawn, Nicole, Kasey, and Jalen. Jalen, the youngest, is a student at Texas Christian University where he is studying Business.
Implementation for Impact
A leader in higher education and student success, Dr. Anabel Romero-Juarez joined EMS from Dallas College, where she served for a decade, most recently as the college’s inaugural Dean of Recruitment and Retention. As a proud first-generation college graduate, Anabel’s career in higher education has taken her from Washington State to Louisiana before returning to Texas, where she also received her doctorate.
Her nearly 20 years in higher education has included various leadership roles and educational institutions, encompassing experiences in student success and enrollment management, such as recruitment, financial aid, academic advising, and federal TRIO grants. She also brings deep experience in developing regional partnerships, so vital to successful regional talent strategies, from her work as a GEAR UP Site Director at rural Washington State University, and from her tenure with Dallas College.
Outside of higher education, she has been active in coordinating Get out the Vote, local and state campaign efforts in Texas and Washington.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History, a master’s degree in Public Administration and recently earned a Doctor of Education in Learning and Organizational Change from Baylor University.
She is married to Albert Juarez, and they are proud parents to Lilly Aurora.
Student-centered pathways to college and workforce success
Mark’s vast experience covers nonprofit to corporate, anchored by a passion for leveraging innovative technology to enhance and expand access to quality education.
Prior to joining Commit and EMS, Mark served as Chief Information Officer and SVP of Distance Learning Systems at Whitney International University System (now Ilumno), where he created a scalable distance-learning model to support the company’s vision of global mass access to quality higher education. He developed the IT strategy and led IT organizations at seven university partners across Latin America to create and implement technology-based solutions supporting the development and delivery of campus-based and online, degree-based education programs, serving more than 100,000 students. Additionally, Mark served as the president of ADEPTCentral, a division of Avalon Consulting, LLC, specializing in the design and development of customized learning solutions for Fortune 500 companies and Higher Education institutions.
Mark began his career starting up and building Westcott Communications, a pioneering distance education company serving various industries, including first responders, healthcare professionals, and high school students. His career there spanned two decades and two acquisitions, serving in various executive leadership roles including VP Information Technology and VP Operations. A native Texan, Mark is a proud graduate of Irving ISD and Dallas County Community College District colleges, and received a BBA in Management with a minor in International Business from Northwood University.
Design and Deliver Solutions that Matter
A visionary and goal-driven operations executive, Amy brings to the EMS team extensive experience from non-profit to commercial sectors, underscored by a deep commitment to supporting young people through programmatic services.
Prior to joining EMS, she served as VP of Field Operations for Right at School, a nationwide provider of educational enrichment programs, and VP of Operations for YMCA Dallas. During her ten years with YMCA Dallas, Amy provided strong leadership to the organization operationally, financially and strategically – ensuring prudent fiscal management, reporting and controls while overseeing daily operations.
Amy began her career with YMCA of Coastal Georgia before moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as district manager for the Learning Care Group and later as regional manager for Texas with Knowledge Universe. Highly skilled in operational management and organizational planning, she is an effective, collaborative team leader who is accomplished coaching, mentoring and training peers and colleagues.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Services at the University of Georgia.
Robert brings more than 16 years of in-depth experience in education technology, including expertise in Salesforce, to the EMS team.
He comes to Commit and EMS with a great balance of experience with educational products, custom software development, data integrations, client-facing collaboration and management of technical resources. Over the years he has enjoyed learning new skills and implementing new software. He believes that technology will come and go but the vital need for student success will always remain.
Prior to joining Commit, Robert gained diverse experience in education technology, having worked for a top community college, the largest higher education software company and an education focused non-profit startup. As a Certified Salesforce Administrator, Robert has worked with Salesforce to develop systems to assist students’ transition from high school to and through college. A first generation American, Robert grew up in the Houston area and received an Associate’s degree in Application Programming from San Jacinto College.
High Tech High Touch Data and System Support
Karen brings to EMS a passion for education that springs from her direct experience as an immigrant to the United States as well as a blend of grassroots community-building and state-level policy experience. As Manager of Partner Support, she is responsible for project management processes that are essential to supporting EMS’ partnership programs and goals.
Prior to joining Commit and EMS, Karen served as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives, where she helped develop progressive policy around women’s healthcare, education, immigration, juvenile justice and family issues. In this role, she played a key role in the passage of Texas House Bill 3005, which was developed to help immigrant families receive the right to an interpreter during child custody evaluations. Previously, Karen worked as a community organizer for Jolt Texas, a progressive organization in Texas, where she focused on creating networks of young people of color across the state to build collective voice, power, and influence through civic engagement.
Born in northern Mexico and raised in Texas, Karen’s experience as an immigrant navigating the American education system inspired her to focus her career on helping others like herself and hopes her experience in policy and community building can help pave the way to a more equitable world. Karen began her higher ed journey at Dallas College, and graduated from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs & Community Service and a minor in Nonprofit Leadership.
Where Implementation Meets Customer Service
Cornelia McCowan brings to EMS more than 20 years of experience in college and career readiness through various roles in higher education and K-12. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness in Grand Prairie ISD.
Her career journey includes extensive experience helping first-generation students navigate and graduate from college, as Program Supervisor for the Academic Bridge Program at The University of Texas at Dallas. Prior to Grand Prairie ISD, she managed the College and Career Readiness Center in Lancaster ISD and served as a strategic educational program consultant to a variety of non-profit and faith-based organizations across Texas.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from The University Texas at Dallas and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from Dallas Baptist University.
She is the proud mother of Daniel and Taylor McCowan.
James brings more than 20 years of experience in education technology, including expertise in software development and data management, to the EMS team. Throughout his career at both private and public organizations, he has interacted with multiple and varied stakeholders as he pursued his passion for providing meaningful data to administrators and students so they can make the best possible decisions along their journey to success.
Most recently, James served as Manager of the Dallas County Promise program at the Commit Partnership, where he ensured the quality, security, and efficient processing of data across the program’s multiple partnering institutions. In addition to setting up the transfer and authentication of student Promise Pledges from participating ISDs, he also managed Salesforce accounts supporting Promise program case management.
Prior to joining Commit, James held the dual role of Programmer/Database Administrator at Duncanville ISD, where his efforts led to significantly improved data accuracy and distribution throughout the district and saving hundreds of staff hours by automating manual data entry and transfer methods. He not only designed web applications, exchange scripts and interactive reports, he also created detailed documentation which he offered along with one-on-one support to help others involved with data management and delivery.
In addition to his programming and database management experience at Dallas area public school districts, James’ diverse experience in education has also included working in customer support and training for a regional education service center and as an applications developer for a special educational software company.
A naturalized Texan for more than 40 years, James attended Austin Community College and DeVry University in Irving, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems.
Nimisha is a strategy and marketing executive, specializing in education and healthcare. She has over 25 years of experience successfully building businesses and driving institutional results. Generating creative but practical solutions, she is recognized for successfully managing complex business models while ensuring an unrelenting student and client focus.
Her career has spanned working for Fortune 500 companies, higher education and start-ups, gaining diversified industry experience in higher education both on-campus and online, healthcare technology, medical devices & consumer products. She has completed public offerings, divestitures and acquisitions.
As Founder and CEO of N-Vision Strategies, Nimisha has partnered with Economic Mobility Systems, Dallas County Promise, local colleges and universities and education technology companies to provide students and parents information and services that will help them enroll, persist and graduate from college, and enter the workforce with a living wage job. Prior to starting up N-Vision Strategies, Nimisha served as Chief Marketing Officer for IntelliCentrics, a healthcare technology company; as Vertical Chief for Healthcare at Academic Partnerships, an OPM for online higher education; and, as Vice President for Communications, Marketing and Public Affairs at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She joined the medical center from ConvaTec, formerly a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, where she spent over a decade in a variety of management, marketing and communications leadership roles. Nimisha has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Villanova University. She also participates in Wharton Fellows and other executive education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Strategic Marketing, Communication, and Design
Sarah Jensen has widespread experience as an education advocate and brings to the EMS team her dedication to expanding students’ access to and success in postsecondary education. Prior to joining Commit and EMS, Sarah served as Research Analyst for the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI). In that role, she produced case studies highlighting the impact of NMSI’s teacher professional development program on teacher practices and student performance. Sarah also provided analysis on trends, issues, and perspectives in education and published findings through print and online media. While in graduate school, Sarah interned for the Texas Senate Committee on Education and the Government Affairs division of UT Arlington.
She was also a Graduate Intern for The Meadows Foundation in Dallas where she assisted in the foundation’s strategic planning process. As the daughter of a middle school librarian and high school band director, Sarah grew up in a household of public school educators. Her own dedication to education was developed prior to graduate school during her time as an Admissions Representative for Texas Lutheran University counseling prospective students on admissions and financial aid. She continues to volunteer as
a college adviser for Dallas students through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor 2.0 program.
Sarah earned a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and graduated from Trinity University with a B.A. in Political Science and Communication.
Where College Access meets Improvement Science