Statement from Ryan J. Smith, Executive Director of The Education Trust–West, on affirmative action and supporting diversity on college campuses


“Increasing diversity at colleges and universities is part of actualizing the American dream. We should be doing more – not less – to reach students who have been historically and traditionally underserved.

This past November marked the twenty year anniversary of California’s passage of Proposition 209 which barred affirmative action in the public sector. Unfortunately, despite California’s and the nation’s increasing demographic diversity, Black and Latino students, along with some groups of students within the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community, continue to be underrepresented at California’s public universities. We believe now more than ever it’s important to continue to expand – not limit – diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on campuses across the country.

I am disturbed by the news that despite the barriers many students of color still face, the Trump administration appears to be directing resources to fight efforts to increase diversity in the very spaces that nurture our next generation of business and civic leaders. This is a detrimental course to chart on civil rights.

We applaud and support the institutions that embrace diversity and champion equity on their campuses and through their policies and practices. This work makes us a better state and a better nation. The Education Trust–West will continue to stand with and work with the administrators and student leaders who fight for more supportive, inclusive, and equitable pathways to and through higher education.”


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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.