The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) welcomes two new staff members and announces a promotion for another staff member in 2024. NCHEMS welcomes Artemio Cardenas as a research associate and Jacquelyn Villa as a project and communications manager. Along with these new staff members, NCHEMS is excited to share the promotion of Stacey Zis as the director of operations and board relations.
NCHEMS President Brian Prescott said, “As the postsecondary education industry wrestles to adapt to emerging conditions, NCHEMS’ expanded team assures that it remains well positioned to support states, agencies, systems, institutions, and funders that are seeking fresh yet practical ideas that respond to these challenges.”
As a research associate, Cardenas will support higher education policymakers and leaders in making decisions that will help make higher education more affordable, accessible, and equitable. Cardenas’ past professional academic work focuses on higher education finance, policy and STEM equity. He said, “To me, NCHEMS has always been and will continue to be at the forefront of using data to help higher education policymakers and leaders navigate challenges and changes. I look forward to creating change and working to make higher education more sustainable, accessible, affordable, and equitable.”
Cardenas’ recent dissertation addressed the topic of demographic changes and public regional colleges and universities. Cardenas also worked as an assistant director of science, diversity, equity and inclusion at The Pennsylvania State University, and as a senior policy analyst for the University of California on the campus and systemwide level. He earned his Ph.D. in higher education at Penn State and earned his master’s degree from California State University – East Bay.
The project and communications manager is a new role at NCHEMS. Villa will assist in the development, implementation and maintenance of a communications strategy for the organization. Villa will also track and oversee project timelines, as well as manage processes to meet the needs of each project and the project partners.
Villa brings almost a decade of communications and project management experience to NCHEMS. Most recently, she served as a project manager for Education Commission of the States. In this role, Villa led event email marketing, the review process for external presentations and supported implementation efforts for the organization of different internal processes. Prior to ECS, Villa worked in higher education at the University of Denver for six years. She completed her bachelor’s degree in English and attended the Denver Publishing Institute.
Zis’ promotion to the director of operations and board relations brings a new change for NCHEMS and the overall organizational management. In this new role, Zis will manage the administrative and operational needs of the organization and the NCHEMS Board of Directors.
Before this promotion, Zis served as a senior consultant, senior research associate and research associate at NCHEMS starting in 2006. She worked at the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education prior to NCHEMS. Zis has a broad history in policy analysis, research, student and academic affairs, and working collaboratively in nonprofit organizations for useful solutions. She was elected to and served on the board of the Boulder Valley School District from 2019 to 2023. She completed an Education Specialist degree in education leadership and policy studies from Virginia Tech, a Master of Education and certificate of advanced graduate study in counseling and student personnel from Springfield College in Massachusetts and a Bachelor of Science in management from SUNY-Binghamton.
Prescott adds, “I am pleased to welcome Artemio, Jacquelyn and Stacey to our team. Each of them boasts a background marked by highly relevant experience, a track record of difference-making, and creative project execution that will extend NCHEMS’ ability to address the evolving needs of higher education leaders and policymakers.”
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