Mala Thakur, senior program director, leads MDC’s talent development portfolio, which includes the Network for Southern Economic Mobility, workforce development, postsecondary education, and state policy initiatives. She is working with NSEM sites to expand the network and develop a multi-sector approach to helping youth and young adults prepare for careers.
Micah Anderson, program manager, is supporting the NSEM initiative by developing deeper partner relationships, providing support, and researching and writing about its learnings.
Thakur brings years of experience leading efforts on workforce and education issues. Prior to joining MDC, she served as executive director of the Children’s Opportunity Fund at the Greater Washington Community Foundation, where she led an investment strategy to expand education opportunities for under-served children, youth, and families in Montgomery County, Md. Earlier, she was Executive Director of the National Youth Employment Coalition, where she led advocacy efforts to ensure the preservation of youth provisions and funding in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and led a multi-site demonstration to advance postsecondary attainment for low-income youth.
Thakur also helps lead MDC’s work with the My Future NC Commission, a broad coalition of elected officials, businesspeople, university leaders, and others to set a postsecondary attainment goal and policy recommendations for North Carolina. She plays a senior role in MDC’s postsecondary work for the University of North Carolina system and the Lumina Foundation.
“I believe that young people can be the drivers and catalyst for progress and change,” she says, “so I am excited about engaging youth, community, system, and state partners to develop solutions to advance their mobility together.”
Micah Anderson previously trained advisors in rural high schools to help them direct more students to postsecondary education. He comes to MDC after working for two and a half years at N.C. State University, where he was assistant program coordinator for the College Advising Corps, leading training programs for 21 college advisors working to increase college enrollment in rural N.C. high schools. His efforts yielded a 7 percent increase in Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion and a 5 percent increase in college applications in one year.
“I care deeply about youth on the edges of opportunity and working with others to systemically impact the systems that support and provide services to these young people,” he says. “I am excited for the opportunity to contribute to the Network and learn from the vast experience of MDC to create holistic, community involved, and sustainable approaches.”
Before his work at N.C. State, Anderson was a program manager at College Bound St. Louis, leading a team of five AmeriCorps college coaches and managing programs serving more than 100 11th graders, helping them with college access, test preparation, and summer programming. He also has pursued his commitment to collaboration and conflict resolution as a long-time volunteer with the National Coalition Building Institute.
Anderson grew up outside of Atlanta and attended Washington University in St. Louis, where he majored in Women and Gender Studies.
MDC benefited greatly in its recruitment of Thakur from the services of Commongood Careers, a nonprofit that conducted a nationwide search with support provided by the Kresge Foundation.