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Pepperdine-Hanna Skandera

Hanna Skandera

Visiting Professor of Education Policy and Impact
School of Public Policy


Hanna Skandera has more than two decades of executive leadership experience in a variety of national and state-level private, public, and nonprofit organizations.

Currently, Skandera is CEO of Mile High Strategies, serving as an education and employability thought leader and advisor in leadership development and strategy, growing organizational impact, and transforming organizational culture. Skandera is also the editor-in-chief of The Line, founder of Pathway 2 Tomorrow, chief in residence with Chiefs for Change, co-founder of the Women in Leadership Initiative, and the Visiting Professor of Education Policy and Impact at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy.

Recently, Skandera served as secretary of education for the State of New Mexico under Governor Susana Martinez. In this role, Skandera oversaw a budget of $2.7B, created a high-performing team of more than 300 employees while cutting the agency operating budget by one-third. She realized record-breaking outcomes including graduation rates reaching an all-time high—up 10 percentage points, AP course enrollment more than doubling, a one-third increase in the number of high-achieving schools, and the dramatic reduction of high school graduates' college remediation rates—down 17 percentage points.

Much of Skandera's recent success stems from her systemic yet innovative efforts in large, complex, bureaucratic organizations as well as in the launch of several national, state, and local profit and nonprofit entities. These endeavors capture her clear commitment to realize greater returns on investment, expand choice and competition, transform system incentives, and empower the ultimate customer.

Previously, Skandera served as undersecretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, deputy commissioner for Governor Jeb Bush and deputy chief of staff and senior policy advisor for US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Skandera was also a Research Fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow. Skandera graduated cum laude with a degree in business from Sonoma State University and graduated from Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

Skandera also currently serves on the board of the Colorado Community College System, Academic Partnership Board of Directors, Newsela Board of Directors, Daniels Fund Board of Directors, Code.org Board of Directors, Harvard Kennedy School's Mayoral Leadership in Education Network Advisory Committee, Senior Fellow and chair of the Education Policy and Impact Initiative at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, George W. Bush Center Education Advisory Board, and former chair of Chiefs for Change, a bipartisan policy and advocacy organization she launched.

Skandera is recognized for her ability to grow organizational impact, transform organizational culture, and deliver results as well as her extensive network that spans private, public, charitable, and academic spheres.


  • MPP, Pepperdine School of Public Policy
  • BS, Sonoma State University


  • Bipartisanship Policy Solutions
  • Education Policy
  • Leadership Development and Strategies
  • Organizational Culture


  • MPP 647 Education Leadership, Policy and Politics