Publish Date
Sophia M. Gehlhausen Anderson, DPA
Senior Associate Director for Policy, Illinois Board of Higher Education
Doctor of Public Administration

Dissertation: "Postsecondary educational attainment: The importance of living-learning communities, validation, and non-cognitive factors in affecting student outcomes"

Hometown: Chatham, IL

Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, BS Plant Biology

Graduate Institution and Major: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, MS Plant Biology

Bio: Dr. Sophia Gehlhausen Anderson currently serves as Senior Associate Director for Policy at the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE). She leads the development of a policy agency consistent with A Thriving Illinois, Illinois’ strategic plan for higher education, ensuring it is informed by strong data analysis and research. She oversees the implementation of key policy initiatives; provides analysis on pending legislation, recent reports, and innovative practices; plans and executes various reports for the General Assembly and other audiences; collaborates with counterparts at other agencies and organizations to advance higher education initiatives related to strategic goals; and functions as staff liaison to the Illinois State Board of Education, including serving as ex officio member of the State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board and on various committees addressing the educator shortage. Previously, as Assistant Director for Academic Affairs at IBHE, she handled institution and program approval for independent and public colleges and universities, focusing on consumer protection. Before moving to Springfield, Sophia lived in Honduras, Central America for fourteen years; there, she worked for a nonprofit organization dedicated to the economic and social empowerment of women in rural communities through microcredit and education, for which she was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation in 2010. Prior to that, Sophia taught middle and high school sciences in La Ceiba, Honduras.

Relevant Professional Experience: Assistant Director for Academic Affairs, Illinois Board of Higher Education (2018-2021); Coordinator of Programs and Outreach, University of Illinois, Springfield, Springfield, IL (2014-2018); General Manager, Adelante Foundation of Honduras, La Ceiba, Honduras (2010-2014); International Development Coordinator, Adelante Foundation of Honduras, La Ceiba, Honduras (2008-2010); High School Sciences Teacher, Mazapan School, La Ceiba, Honduras (2002-2008); Middle and High School Sciences Teacher, Santa Teresa Bilingual School, La Ceiba, Honduras (2000-2002)

Research Interests: Access, equity, and student success in postsecondary education; retention initiatives; validation theory; and state and federal education policy

Honors and Awards: Presented dissertation research at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting (2020); DPA Program Student Marshal (2019), Ally for Equity (2018), and Mentor of the Year (2016) Awards at the University of Illinois Springfield; and Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International (2010)

Professional Affiliations: Illinois State Educator Preparation and Licensure Board (ex officio member), Illinois Association for Institutional Research (member), Pi Alpha Alpha Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration (member), American Educational Research Association (member)

Volunteer Activities: Springfield Immigrant Advocacy Network Member (2017-2018), Illinois Innocence Project Volunteer (2015-2018), Adelante Foundation Board Member (2014-2015), Guaruma/Fotokids Board Member and Treasurer (2003-2009)