Innovations 2023 Sunday Keynote Louis Soares

General Session Keynote
Sunday, March 12
9:00 - 10:00 AM

Louis Soares

Chief Learning and Innovations Officer, American Council on Education

Keynote Address

Institutional Transformation: Leveraging Instability, Trends, and Leadership for Community College Change

Over 70 million Americans already in the workforce lack a postsecondary credential. Income inequality is impeding both social mobility and economic competitiveness. The half-life of skills learned in college is five years. The nation’s racial and social fabric is frayed by discrimination and division. Learning anew how to be workers, entrepreneurs, citizens, and community members in an age of disruption and instability remains a critical shared challenge for the nation. 

Community colleges, themselves a uniquely American social innovation, have always operated at the frontlines of America’s social and economic challenges—creating the future one student and community at a time. Today, innovation is needed again. In this session, we will explore the trends driving increased pressures on community colleges; how instability can be harnessed for positive change; and academic and business models, both existing and emergent, that community college innovators are implementing to meets society and student needs.


Louis Soares serves as American Council on Education’s (ACE) Chief Learning and Innovation Officer. In this role, he incubates and scales ACE’s executive leadership networks as well as catalyzes compelling research and innovation initiatives across the council. Working with colleagues, Soares integrates the work of ACE’s leadership, research, and innovation teams to optimize membership value for colleges and universities by developing programs and services to advance the success of senior leaders, diversify the executive talent pipeline, and facilitate partnerships to enhance institutional performance. Soares’ prior roles at ACE include Vice President for Policy Research and Strategy (2013–2016) and Vice President for Strategy, Research, and Advancement (2016–2018).

With more than 20 years of experience in postsecondary education policy and practice, Soares is an accomplished policy analyst and thought leader on emerging trends in higher education. While at ACE, he published two landmark papers, Post-traditional Learners and the Transformation of Higher Education and Evolving Higher Education Business Models, that advanced the public dialogue on adult student needs and acceptance of innovative education delivery models.

Soares has developed and successfully implemented innovative education/training programs for, and in collaboration with, college, university, and employer partners for frontline workers, business executives, and higher education administrators. These innovative projects garnered support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lumina Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, TIAA Institute, ACT, Verizon Foundation, Fleet Bank, CVS, Bank of America, U.S. Department of Education, and U.S. Department of Labor.

Prior to coming to ACE, Soares served as the Director of the postsecondary education program and Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a premier Washington, DC based think tank. Prior to CAP, he served as Director of Business/Workforce Development under Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri and as Director of Education Partnerships for the Rhode Island Technology Council.

Soares was appointed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to serve on the National Board of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in 2011-2014. He holds a master’s in public administration from Harvard University (MA) and a bachelor’s in business economics from Brown University (RI). ​​​​​

Adwords test: