About Deborah Bial

Deborah Bial, founder and President of the Posse Foundation, is an education strategist who addresses the challenges of college access for underrepresented populations by identifying and fostering latent talent and opening opportunities for them to pursue higher education.  Traditional admissions metrics such as grade point average, class rank, and entrance exam scores have long been recognized as inadequate predictors of success for some undergraduates. Through her Posse Foundation, she offers an alternative model for identifying promising young people from less advantaged, urban environments. Working with public high schools and other community organizations, she evaluates potential candidates using a rigorous assessment process based on qualities such as leadership, teamwork, communication skills, and motivation - qualities that are as critical to successful navigation of undergraduate education as academic track records. The most promising students are invited to join a “posse,” a small group that participates in an eight-month, pre-collegiate training program that builds individual and team skills and serves as an essential social support system once students arrive at college. In parallel, she develops partnerships with admissions officials from dozens of highly selective liberal arts colleges and universities, including Carleton, offering a powerful means to augment the cultural and economic diversity of their institutions. Carleton welcomed its first Posse class in the fall of 2001. Ms. Bial is now refining her model to provide a focused program for students specifically interested in science and medicine. Today, 90 percent of “posse” students graduate, a rate significantly higher than the national average. By demonstrating the importance of less-recognized skills in educational achievement, she continues to open doors for thousands of students and to reframe college admissions into a more successful and inclusive process.  She received a B.A.(1987) from Brandeis University and an M.A. (1996) and Ed.D. (2004) from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. She has served as the founder and president of the Posse Foundation since 1989. She is also a founding partner of the consulting company Firefly Education LLC.

  • Created 15 September 2008; Published 17 October 2008
    Opening Convocation: Deborah Bial

    Deborah Bial, president and founder of The Posse Foundation, was the featured speaker at Carleton’s opening convocation for the 2008-09 school year, with an address titled “Make It Happen: The Importance of Transformative Leadership.” The Posse Foundation is a youth leadership development and college access program that identifies, recruits, and trains youth leaders from urban public high schools and sends these groups as teams, or “posses,” to top colleges and universities around the country.

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