With more than two decades of combined experience in higher education, the Student-Ready Strategies team is well-versed in national student success efforts, with particular expertise in supports for adult students and developmental education reform. Learn more about us.
Founder & 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.
Senior Vice President
Vanessa Keadle serves as the Senior Vice President 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.
Vanessa is currently working towards her education doctorate degree and is writing her dissertation which focuses on corequisite support and college student persistence. She holds a master’s degree in higher education administration from West Virginia University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bethany College.
Theo Meek, Ph.D.
Director of Strategic Implementation
As Director of Strategic Implementation, Theo Meek works closely with SRS's clients and other partners to ensure the highest level of support is provided and student-ready goals are met. Most recently, Theo served as a Senior Policy Analyst for the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), advancing the goals and priorities of the NSHE Chancellor and the Nevada Board of Regents. In this role, Theo worked with NSHE institutions, system leadership, and national partners to examine data, conduct research, and implement reforms focused on closing achievement gaps for minoritized student groups.
Notably, Theo led the research and policy development that ultimately led to Nevada's developmental education redesign, impacting 110,000 students. He also secured $1.1 million in grant funding to support implementation of the corequisite support strategy, helping to ensure that approximately 15,000 students of color and students from Pell-eligible backgrounds will avoid the detrimental cycle of remedial education each year.
Previously, Theo served as the Director of the University Advising Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, where he worked with undeclared and interdisciplinary students and implemented equity and implicit bias training for the academic advising team, and as a Registration Coordinator in the University’s Registrar Office. These professional experiences, along with his own background as a first-generation student, informed his co-authorship of two books, Access for All and Success for All, documenting and contextualizing how Northern Nevada's higher education institutions promote access and support success for students historically marginalized. Theo completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno where he studied the causal effects of corequisite support.