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.
Meet Ethel Ajanga—a consummate professional, adept in harnessing the power of data to drive informed decision-making within our team.
Ethel Ajanga is a dedicated team member with a profound commitment to transforming data into compelling narratives. Her extensive background encompasses seasoned expertise in Tableau development, meticulous data analysis, and adept strategic collaboration. Ethel serves as the driving force behind impactful data visualizations and insights within our team.
Born in Kenya and raised in the DFW area, Ethel brings a diverse perspective to her professional endeavors. Her professional journey spans across various education sectors, including private, charter, public, and community college institutions. This breadth of experience underscores her adaptability and proficiency in addressing the unique challenges within each sector.
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
Sam joins EMS from Dallas ISD where he served as a principal, assistant principal, and math teacher – all at the high school level. Most recently, Sam was Principal of North Lake Early College High School. In 2023, 98% of Sam’s graduating senior class earned both their high school diploma and their associate degree from Dallas College. Sam is a passionate advocate for education reform and building strong and safe public schools. He is particularly focused on expanding access to high-paying career and technical education for K-12 students. Sam moved to Dallas, TX in 2018 after graduating from George Washington University with a double major in Economics and International Affairs. Sam served in the 2018 Teach for America Corps in Dallas and taught high school mathematics at L.G. Pinkston High School in the Dallas Independent School District. During his time teaching, Sam earned his master’s degree in education (M.Ed.) with a focus on education policy from Southern Methodist University. Sam speaks English, Spanish, and Arabic.
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
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
Jonathan’s educational journey continued to evolve as he embraced new challenges and opportunities. Graduating from Grand Prairie High School, he became a participant in the Dallas County Promise program, setting the stage for his pursuit of higher education. Jonathan dedicated two years to Dallas College, immersing himself in the world of technology and laying the groundwork for his future endeavors.
Fueled by his passion for technology, Jonathan decided to further his studies and enrolled in Texas A&M-Commerce, where he successfully earned a degree in Computer Science in the spring of 2023. His academic achievements, combined with his commitment to learning and innovation, led him to an internship at EMS. Here, he delved into the dynamic intersection of technology and education, gaining valuable insights into the implementation of systems crucial to student success.
Acknowledging his potential and dedication, Jonathan has now moved into a new position as the Data and Systems Associate at EMS. In this position, he plays a crucial role in developing, integrating, and analyzing technical resources, as well as ensuring smooth operation of systems integral to the EMS team’s efficiency and effectiveness. His journey from an intern to a Data and Systems Associate exemplifies his dedication to growth and excellence in the field of technology.
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.
Michelle Marin is a seasoned Executive Assistant with over 20 years in the field. She has extensive experience in all
administrative tasks, including working with board of directors, planning events and marketing. Having held positions in
law enforcement, legal and the education fields. Michelle is certified as a Field Training Officer by The Colorado
State Patrol and has tailored this training to fit the needs of any organization. She is also certified as a process
and systems improvement leader.
One of Michelle’s greatest work accomplishments was developing a process to track, manage and approve efficiency for inmate
grievances for The Denver Sheriff’s Department, which eventually lead to opening an entire Grievance Unit employing
one captain, two sergeants and four civilian staff members by demonstrating how data is crucial for many reasons.
In addition to her duties as an Executive Assistant, Michelle is active in the community by volunteering for community
engagement and outreach programs. Michelle walks with God by faith and is a Proud Mother to her son Jordan.
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.
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
Imran was born and raised in a small town in Central California. From an early age he experienced first-hand educational inequities in both resources and opportunities for students and has pursued opportunities over the years to work on closing these gaps.
He joins EMS not only passionate about its work but also strongly committed to a data-driven approach to recognizing and helping students who may be at risk of falling through the cracks. He brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge in data systems including how to leverage Salesforce for student outcomes data.
Prior to EMS he has worked in college access, microfinance, as well as on the corporate side doing media planning and strategy at a global media agency. He has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Sports Media Studies from the University of Southern California along with a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University. In his free time he is an avid sports fan, swimmer, and enjoys baking sweet treats for friends and family.
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
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
Sarah joins EMS with a deep background in program and product management and strategy at several global educational technology and learning companies. Her student-centered focus is built on empathy developed first-hand as an instructor and coach at Texas Christian University and Remington College. This multi-faceted experience drives her belief that education is the answer to so many of the things we desire for ourselves, our families and society. As a Tarrant County resident, and graduate of Fort Worth ISD schools, the opportunity to impact educational access and equity in the community that supported and educated her her is a great honor.