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Martha Ellis PhotoPhone: 512.232.2261

Dana Center Role

Martha works alongside the Dana Center’s executive director to establish strategic direction and priorities in programmatic and partnership development. She leads the day-to-day mobilization of the Center’s personnel and programs to achieve the strategic priorities. Martha represents the Center in key state and national networks on math and education programs and policies. In addition, she leads the Center’s resource development efforts, including supporting proposal preparation and serving as the primary contact to prospective funders to sustain the Center’s annual operating budget.

Before assuming this position, Martha spearheaded the Dana Center’s strategic planning for the Dana Center Mathematics Pathways, a transformative redesign to modernize entry-level college mathematics programs through working with states, systems, universities, and colleges. The DCMP continues to enjoy unprecedented growth and rises to the challenge of meeting the increasing demands across the nation. Martha’s experience as a former university associate vice chancellor, college president, and leadership coach for Achieving the Dream is serving the Center well in this work.

Martha teaches doctoral courses in higher education leadership at UT Austin.

Before Joining the Dana Center

Martha came to the Dana Center from the Roueche Graduate Center at the National American University, where she was vice president/dean of graduate faculty and professor. She provided leadership for graduate faculty in course development, professional development, teaching, and dissertation committee assignments. In addition, Martha taught doctoral courses, oversaw practicums, and chaired dissertation committees in the Community College Leadership program.

Before joining National American University, Martha was associate vice chancellor for community college partnerships, leadership development, and online learning for the University of Texas System, providing leadership for academic affairs issues for 9 universities and 225,000 students. In this role, she addressed state policy issues negatively impacting seamless transfer for students and institutions of higher education and developed and implemented new models for student completion and leadership development.

Martha has also served as president of Lee College (Baytown, Texas) and Texas State Technical College (Waco). She has been a faculty member at two- and four-year institutions for more than 25 years.

The U.S. Congress and Texas House of Representatives have recognized Martha for her outstanding leadership in higher education.


Ph.D., Higher Education Administration and Research, University of North Texas
M.S., Developmental Cognitive Psychology, University of Texas at Dallas
B.A., Religion and Music, American Christian College

Selected Recent Appointments, Panels, and Advisory Boards

National Transfer Advisory Board, HCM Strategists, 2020–present

Core partner, Solution Network for Strong Start to Finish, Education Commission of the States, 2019–present

Member, AACC Pathways Collaborative, American Association of Community Colleges, 2017–present

Site evaluator, Aspen Prize for Excellence, Aspen College Excellence, 2018–present

Member, Advisory Committee, Texas Student Success Council, 2012–present

Resident faculty, Board of Trustees Institute, Texas Success Center, 2016–present

Guided pathways coach, Texas Pathways Project, Texas Student Success Center, 2016–present

Leadership coach, Achieving the Dream, 2009–present

Selected Publications

Ellis, M. M. (editor). (2021). Vision for opportunity: John Roueche and the community college movement. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ellis, M. M., & Garcia, L. (2017). Generation X presidents leading community colleges: New challenges, new leaders. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Ellis, M. (2016, April 27). Reimagining college rankings: What information do students truly need? The EvoLLLution: A Destiny Solutions Illumination. Retrieved from

Ellis, M. (2015, May 5). Greater student understanding central to overcoming challenges facing graduate education. The EvoLLLution: A Destiny Solutions Illumination. Retrieved from

Selected Presentations

Leadership in change: Policy and practice. Presented at the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness conference, New York, NY (November 2019).

Tackling transfer. Presented at the Grantmakers for Education annual conference, New Orleans, LA (October 2019).

Future of community colleges in Texas. Presented at the Texas Community College Instructional Administrators annual summer conference, Irving, TX (June 2019).

Correlations Between Student Graduation Rates and Impact on Trustee Policymaking. Presented at the American Association of Community Colleges annual convention, Orlando, FL (April 2019).

Math pathways and the workforce: Nursing and manufacturing. Presented at the League for Innovation in the Community College’s Innovations Conference, New York, NY (February 2019).

Texas faculty leading major community college reform. Presented at Texas Community College Teachers Association annual convention, Houston, TX (February 2019).

Aligning math pathways with guided pathways. Presented at DREAM 2019, Long Beach, CA (February 2019).

Math pathways to promote students success. Presented at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Texas Statewide Policy Institute on Higher Education, San Antonio, TX (January 2019).