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Vice President, Initiatives
Wilson Finch joined CAEL in 2014 via dual roles with the higher education and the workforce and economic development teams. In 2020, he began overseeing CAEL’s advising and program support work, which includes delivery of higher education, workforce, and economic development projects and products. Finch also has delivered and overseen a variety of complex projects, with primary focus on statewide and systemwide approaches to prior learning assessment (PLA); institutional, system, and state policy and processes regarding PLA and Adult Learners; and strategy development for PLA implementation. He was the lead on projects with state systems and consortia in Alabama, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, several multi-state projects, and Australia while assisting on state projects in Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Texas. Finch is the author of “The Adult Learner: A Critical Ally for State Economic Development” in the Council of State Government’s Book of the States 2016 and “Adult Learners: Activating Prior Knowledge and Acquiring New Skills” in the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2018 Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers.
Prior to joining CAEL, Finch was the Assistant Director for Postsecondary Completion Initiatives for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). His main responsibilities were to direct and coordinate grant-funded policy and program initiatives related to completion efforts, particularly in the areas of adult education and PLA.
Finch holds a bachelor’s degree from The University of the South in Sewanee, TN and a master of philosophy degree in Early Modern History from the University of Cambridge.
Links to Related Work
- The Adult Learner: A Critical Ally for State Economic Development” in the Council of State Government’s Book of the States 2016
- Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s 2018 Investing in America’s Workforce: Improving Outcomes for Workers and Employers
- Linking Public Workforce Systems and Community Colleges through Prior Learning Assessment: Learnings from a National Pilot Project (2018)
- Recommended Standards in Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Policy and Practice for Tennessee Public Colleges and Universities (from 2012 while at THEC)
Areas of Expertise
Wilson has extensive expertise on approaches to adult learners in postsecondary education, as well as in advocating for, designing and implementing high-quality prior learning assessment (PLA)/credit for prior learning (CPL) programs. Other areas of expertise include institutional change management, strategies for offering PLA in conjunction with public sector job training, higher education policy and process, and making the case for why adult learners matter to states, postsecondary education systems, workforce agencies, and employers.