Research Associate

Areas of Expertise: Access to Higher Education, Investing in Single Mothers' Higher Education, Student Parent Success Initiative

Susana Contreras-Mendez is a Research Associate at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), working on student parent success and other postsecondary education issues as part of IWPR’s Center on Equity in Higher Education. Susana came to IWPR with expertise in increasing equitable access, opportunities and success in early and postsecondary education.

Prior to joining IWPR, Susana was a Policy Intern at Lumina Foundation’s Washington, DC, office where she supported efforts to increase the attainment of high-quality credentials and postsecondary education. During graduate school, Susana worked to support the recruitment of diverse graduate students through Minority Serving Institutional partnership initiatives and the Summer Research Opportunity Program. For over three years, Susana was a program specialist at Denise Louie Education Center, a Head Start and Early Head Start program in Seattle, WA. As a former Head Start child, first-generation college student, and McNair Scholar she has first-hand knowledge on the impact of educational inequities and the benefits of a postsecondary education.

Susana holds a Master of Higher Education with a concentration in Diversity and Social Justice from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's dual degree from the University of Washington in Sociology and American Ethnic Studies with a minor in Education, Learning and Society.


Head Start-College Partnerships as a Strategy for Promoting Family Economic Success: A Study of Benefits, Challenges, and Promising Programs

Introduction and Summary   Improving family economic security in the United States requires new strategies to support parents while they develop skills and attain education to prepare them for well-paid jobs. Postsecondary education brings a range of benefits to graduates and their families, including enhanced economic stability and mobility, improved health and well-being, and better…