Connie Dawes serves as Director of College Readiness for the Institute for Public School Initiatives, where she leads the UT Austin GEAR UP 2017 and 2018 partnership grants. Previously she was Project Manager for the 2012 Texas GEAR UP State Grant technical assistance office. Her interest in college access and success initiatives combined with her experience in managing large-scale grant programs has led her to leadership roles with the College Advising Corps at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Advise TX at The University of Texas at Austin; and Generation TX, a statewide initiative of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board that promotes college and career readiness among first-generation students. She also spent three years as account director at Milkshake, a brand strategy firm in Austin, where she provided guidance and strategic recommendations to clients. She holds a master’s degree in student affairs practice in higher education from the University of Virginia, where she studied the adjustment and acclimation of transfer students.