Ashanti Hands

2022-23 Aspen New Presidents Fellow
Dr. Ashanti Hands is an equity-minded practitioner with a deep commitment to diversity, justice, inclusion, belonging, and student success. She began serving as the president of San Diego Mesa College on July 1, 2022. Hands’ “WHY” is rooted in creating conditions for students to succeed. She is a proud faith-based, family-centered, equity-defending, disruptor of status quo.

As a member of Mesa College’s executive management team, Hands has led the institution to become a leader in equity and excellence. Her leadership has launched student equity, guided pathways, promise, and basic needs programs that focus on the minoritized and underserved. Her college is widely recognized for its adoption of data-informed decision-making to ensure equitable outcomes. Prior to joining Mesa College as dean of student affairs and vice president for student services, Hands served as dean of student affairs at the University of California, San Diego.

Hands is humbled to have been selected for the presidency at the very college she has called home for more than 14 years. The ability to live her purpose at a college with deep commitment to equity and excellence brings her immense joy. She is intentional about supporting the completion goals of students and closing equity gaps for disproportionately impacted students. She is dedicated to inspiring a shared vision, enabling the community to act, disrupting processes, celebrating success, and telling the incredible, dynamic, and multifaceted story of San Diego Mesa College.

A native of Inglewood, California, Hands earned a doctorate of education in educational leadership from San Diego State University. She also has a master of arts in education with an emphasis in multicultural counseling from SDSU and a bachelor of arts in sociology with a minor in ethnic studies from the University of California, San Diego.