Jessie Ryan is the Associate Director of the Campaign for College Opportunity. She grew up in the Central Valley and was raised by a struggling single mother. While life was often challenging, Jessie’s mother taught her that being economically disadvantaged did not mean a lifetime of...Read more
Jessie Ryan is the Associate Director of the Campaign for College Opportunity. She grew up in the Central Valley and was raised by a struggling single mother. While life was often challenging, Jessie’s mother taught her that being economically disadvantaged did not mean a lifetime of disadvantage. She instilled the belief in Jessie that through education and civic participation individuals could vastly improve their quality of life. It was her mother’s strong sense of civic service and empathy for others that inspired Jessie to seek a college education, something her mother had always dreamed of doing, and devote much of her professional life to making it possible for others to follow their same college dream.
As the Associate Director for the Campaign for College Opportunity, Jessie leads the organization’s advocacy and policy efforts to increase the number of California students accessing higher education and impact the rate that students succeed in reaching their educational goals. A proud product of California’s Community Colleges and California State University System, last year Jessie was thrilled to shepherd historic transfer reform legislation to simplify the transfer pathway from community colleges to four-year universities.
Most passionate about educational opportunity, leadership development, and elevating California’s Central Valley, before joining the Campaign Jessie served as a Circuit Rider for the Great Valley Center’s Community-based Assistance Programs (CAPs) working to support activities and organizations that promote the economic, social, and environmental well-being of California’s Great Central Valley. Acting as a technical advisor on local issues throughout the 21-county region, Jessie provided extensive outreach and capacity building services to rural and underserved communities.
Jessie also graduated from the Women’s Policy Institute, a program offered by the Women’s Foundation of California and created to increase the number of women leaders in California who are actively involved in shaping and implementing policies that affect the health and well-being of women and girls. She was a 2005 fellow in the Institute for Developing Emerging Area Leaders (IDEAL) program, which is dedicated to engaging a diverse group of valley stakeholders in strengthening effective public policy decision-making. Jessie was also selected to represent the valley in the Pew Partnership’s LeadershipPlenty – a program that teaches participants civic skills such as taking action, managing conflict, building partnerships, and engaging diverse communities in creating long-term positive community change.
In her spare time, Jessie enjoys serving as the President of the board of the IDEAL Alumni Association, sitting on the California Endowment Building Healthy Communities Steering Committee, traveling, volunteering for political campaigns, and supporting the anti-poverty work of Americorps* Vista (of which she is an alumna).
She attended Sacramento City College, was the recipient of a Kelly Broadcasting scholarship, and holds her bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Electronic Communications from San Francisco State University. Jessie recently received her Master of Arts in Leadership Studies from Saint Mary’s College of California where she penned her thesis, “Pipeline to Power: Harvesting Women’s Leadership in California’s Great Central Valley”. She resides in Sacramento with her husband, Arsenio Mataka, Assistant Secretary for Environmental Justice at the California Environmental Protection Agency.