Michael-Sesen Perrilliat

Higher Education Policy Analyst

Sesen (he/him) joins the team as a Higher Education Policy Analyst. Sesen is, first and foremost, a student advocate. His non-traditional educational journey both informs and motivates this work. At Chabot College, he founded the Student Advocacy/ Outreach Office as Legislative Director. He worked extensively with SBBC (a trailblazing organization nationally recognized for its efforts to make education attainable and equitable for black males). At UCLA, he served on staff with the Afrikan Student Union to help secure sustainable funding for its student-initiated retention programs. He secured several other lasting resources for Black Bruins.

He also served as a URFP research fellow with the then-chair of the Af-Am department, Dr. Marcus Hunter, as a faculty advisor, investigating transgenerational housing and employment disparities in Oakland and how this history affects tech/startup culture. He was an Internet Research Initiative (IRI) fellow at UCLA, where he worked with Dr. Kleinrock (co-collaborative creator of the internet) and founded TIED to bridge gaps outlined in his research to help marginalized (yet community-minded & socially-driven) founders who are traditionally excluded from resources in the startup space. He continued this work via Startup UCLA, Blackstone Launchpad, Clinton Global Initiative University, UCLA’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Change, etc.

As a University of California Advocacy Network Ambassador, he advocated for budgetary increases that impact non-traditional students on behalf of California Community Colleges and the UC. He further built upon this work in his UCDC cohort by submitting policy recommendations regarding the quality of education for black students within California’s public higher education landscape.

Sesen is a 4th-generation Oakland resident and great-grandson of the first black woman to own a business in Alameda: a historical fact he’s proud of. In his own words: seek to share access and accompanying skills benefited from with those more marginalized. He’s passionate about utilizing his education, network, research, and resources to develop collaborative, informed, inclusive, and sustainable solutions. He believes that by recognizing and addressing intersectionality in people, problems, and social structures – obstacles can be faced, reduced, and resolved: that only through communal responsibility and earnestness can we create the world we want to see.


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  • Oakland, CA
Higher Ed
Dual Enrollment Programs
Student Mental Health
College Access
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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.