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Blog Post · August 16, 2021

Policy Leader Lande Ajose to Head New Research Initiative

photo - California Poppies on a Hillside

PPIC is pleased to announce that Dr. Lande Ajose will join the organization in October as vice president and senior fellow and will hold the Walter and Esther Hewlett Chair in Understanding California’s Future. PPIC recently received $1 million from the Hewlett Foundation to establish this chair, and we are thrilled that Ajose will be the first to receive this important recognition.

photo - Lande Ajose

Currently the senior policy advisor for higher education for the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom, Ajose has deep expertise in education, poverty alleviation, workforce development, and equity. At PPIC, Ajose will lead research on key demographic, economic, environmental, and political trends, the challenges and opportunities these trends present, and their implications for public policy. We talked with Ajose about her vision for this new research focus at PPIC.

What attracted you to this role with PPIC?

PPIC has been a part of my DNA for a long time. I wrote my dissertation while at PPIC more than 20 years ago, so returning to the institute is a natural fit.

I’ve always been bullish on California, and never more so than now. So the opportunity to shape and lead a new research focus that is inextricably linked to the future of the state is irresistible. I look forward to joining with fantastic colleagues in contributing to the leadership of this institution, building out the ways in which PPIC can identify practical and timely solutions to California’s most pressing challenges, and engaging the public and policymakers on issues of such critical importance.

Whether it’s climate change, housing and homelessness, education, or immigration, we need to fully examine the implications of a changing California. As a society we can’t address our challenges unless we have common agreement on the facts that undergird them, and this is the kind of information that PPIC specializes in.

How do you see this focus on understanding California’s future contributing to the state’s public policy environment?

The complexity involved in addressing the state’s challenges is enormous. It’s nearly impossible to move any one policy lever without causing substantial ripple effects across a wide range of other issues. The information and insights we’ll generate will help policymakers and the public make sense of this complexity, by not only examining our state’s direction but also identifying actionable policy solutions to key challenges.

Policymakers need to rely on timely, rigorous information to make decisions. They also need to assess what important trends mean for the state’s future in order to make policy choices that broaden opportunity in the coming years and over the long term.

What does success look like for this new initiative?

Great question! Ultimately, I think the success measures we develop will be co-constructed by the staff and leadership, with input from a range of stakeholders beyond PPIC. But for me personally, I’ll know we’re successful when policymakers of all stripes turn to us for data, information, and policy insights to help inform their decision-making about the state’s most pressing challenges and opportunities, and when the public at large turns to us for the same reason. This is a role that PPIC already plays, but I’m excited and inspired by the prospects for deepening our engagement and expanding our impact.

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Public Policy Institute of California