Thomas C. Dawson

Strada Collaborative President


Thomas C. Dawson is president of Strada Collaborative, a nonprofit group of education-focused organizations — CAEL, Education at Work, InsideTrack, and Roadtrip Nation — where he is responsible for ensuring they meet their growth, sustainability, and impact goals. In 2021, Dawson served as Strada Education Foundation’s interim president and chief executive officer following five years as Strada's executive vice president and chief operating officer. In that role, Dawson oversaw the shared services that support the Strada network, including finance, impact evaluation, information technology, and philanthropic partnerships.

Before joining Strada in May 2015, Dawson was vice president, product management, for Laureate Education, where he established partnerships with nonprofit universities to run online and global education programs, including the University of Miami in Florida and Johns Hopkins University. While at Laureate, Dawson also served as a senior fellow with Education Sector, a national think tank, where he wrote both opinion pieces and longer reports on improving outcomes in higher education. His writing and commentary on education and workforce issues has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, San Diego Union-Tribune, Barron’s, Forbes, and other publications nationwide.

He also served for several years as a senior policy officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, helping to launch the foundation’s postsecondary education grantmaking portfolio, and overseeing programmatic and public policy grants dedicated to helping low-income students complete postsecondary programs.

Earlier in his career, Dawson worked in several capacities at the U.S. Department of Education, including as deputy assistant secretary for postsecondary education. In that position, he oversaw the department’s grants to postsecondary institutions around the country, including support to minority serving institutions, foreign language programs, college preparation programs, and the department’s office overseeing postsecondary accreditation agencies.

Dawson graduated cum laude from Claremont McKenna College with honors degrees in government and economics. He resides in Indianapolis with his wife, Jenn, and their two children. Dawson also serves on the boards of St. Richard’s Episcopal School and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership.