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Our Team

Three decades of combined experience in higher education.

Focused on student success.

Sarah Ancel

Founder and CEO

Sarah Ancel founded Student-Ready Strategies to accelerate the nation's progress toward a more equitable postsecondary system that serves all students. Sarah has a unique combination of local, state and national experience in higher education policy and practice and a proven record of successful student-focused reforms. She is a policy expert, a strategic and tactical implementer, and a keen analyst of data, environment, and opportunities. She is a leading national voice in serving non-traditional student populations more effectively. 

Before forming Student-Ready Strategies, Sarah served as Senior Vice President for the national nonprofit Complete College America. Sarah grew and coordinated support for its 46-member Alliance of States and its network of CCA Fellows. She provided policy consultation, coordinated with funders, delivered in-state technical assistance, and developed and launched a strategy for returning adults. Before joining CCA, Sarah served as Associate Commissioner for Strategic Planning and Policy for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. In that role, she was responsible for implementing the Commission’s strategic plan, including developing and advancing the Commission’s legislative priorities. She came to that role after spending nearly a decade contributing to the fiscal management and oversight of Indiana’s state and local governments.

​Sarah holds a master’s degree in economics from IUPUI and a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Indiana University Bloomington. She served as an adjunct professor for her alma mater for three years and currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the School of Liberal Arts.

Vanessa Keadle

Chief Strategy Officer

Vanessa Keadle serves as the Chief Strategy Officer for Student-Ready Strategies. In this role, she supports efforts to help more education leaders, institutions, and systems transform through policy and process evaluation, strategic planning and agenda-setting, custom implementation support, and myriad other student-centered, equity-focused higher education services.

​Prior to joining Student-Ready Strategies, Vanessa served as the Senior Strategy Director at Complete College America where she worked with states, systems, and institutional consortia to implement student success strategies. Her expertise is in developmental education reform, particularly corequisite support. Additionally, Vanessa spent nearly three years working for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission as the Coordinator for Research and Evaluation in the Division of Student Affairs.  In that role, Vanessa worked with West Virginia GEAR UP to evaluate the grant program by incorporating data collection strategies to enable rigorous research designs that supported the work of the college access program.

​Vanessa’s prior experience in higher education include serving as the Director of Student Life at Marshall University in West Virginia where she worked for almost five years to assist students, parents, and other university stakeholders in navigating key institutional policies to better support retention and success. Before Marshall University, Vanessa served as the Assistant to the Director of Student Affairs at Penn State, New Kensington campus where she planned student engagement activities, including new student orientation and leadership development workshops.

Josclynn Brandon

Director of Equity Projects

Josclynn serves as the Director of Equity Projects at SRS, where her primary responsibilities include project management, research, and data analysis with an equity lens. She contributes years of higher education experience in research, student affairs, and as an instructor. 

Before joining Student-Ready Strategies, Josclynn served as a Research Project Associate at the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University (IU). In this role, she contributed to the management of three different nationally administered surveys. Further, in her time at IU, Josclynn was an associate instructor for a History of Black Women in Higher Education course. Additionally, Josclynn previously served as the Coordinator for Leadership, Volunteerism and Diversity at Western Kentucky University, where she advised several student organizations, planned service-learning experiences, and implemented leadership development programs. She also was an instructor for the University Experience course at WKU. She has additional experience in career services and residence life.

Prior to a career in higher education, Josclynn’s experience includes serving as an Associate Content Producer for a news station, where she focused her efforts on telling the stories of marginalized communities in the Chicago metro area.

Josclynn holds a doctorate degree in education from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Journalism from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree in Broadcast News from Western Kentucky University. She currently serves as the president for the WKU Society of African American Alumni.

ShoMari Payne

Director of Policy Projects

ShoMari Payne serves as the Director of Policy Projects at SRS where he focuses on researching institutional and state policies to improve equitable outcomes for historically marginalized student populations. ShoMari is a native of Dayton, Ohio and has a wide range of experiences working in higher education over the last decade, including as an academic advisor, success coach, researcher, and faculty member. ShoMari most recently served as the Assistant Director of Annual Giving at Miami University of Ohio.

ShoMari also supported first-generation, low-income students as an instructor for the Young Scholars Program at Sinclair Community College and currently serves at Central State University, an HBCU, as an adjunct professor in the college of Engineering, Technology, and Agriculture.

ShoMari also served as a high school macroeconomics teacher and golf coach, bringing another facet of the educational system to the expertise of the SRS team. He completed his MBA at Miami University and is currently approaching the dissertation stage of his Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, also at Miami University, where his research focuses on occupational outcomes for African American male students that attended high-poverty urban schools in the Dayton region. In 2020, he delivered a TEDx Talk entitled, “The Inheritance of Poverty” which chronicled his personal experience navigating familial and community poverty.

ShoMari is also the founder of the Rust Belt Neighborhood Development Corporation, a multifaceted neighborhood development organization aimed at catalyzing strategic investments in neighborhoods throughout the Rust Belt region.


Let’s Work Together

880 West Monon Green Blvd

Carmel, Indiana 46032


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