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Max Espinoza


Senior Program Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Max Espinoza is a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he focuses on building the political and public will for economic mobility and education reforms that close equity gaps in states across the United States. Max currently leads the foundation’s policy and advocacy efforts in California, and previously supported statewide foundation funded advocacy initiatives in Georgia and Kentucky.

Prior to joining the Gates Foundation, Max was senior vice president of education programs and policy at Scholarship America, a national non-profit organization based in Minneapolis, MN, where he provided leadership for the organization’s education programs and established its policy, advocacy, and research agenda. Max began his career in California’s state capital, where he served for 14 years in various key roles, including as a senior advisor to legislative leadership and as an executive leader at the California Student Aid Commission. During his time at the California Student Aid Commission, Max successfully revamped the state agency’s support services to students and schools in the multi-billion-dollar Cal Grant program, implementing responsive and technology-enabled student-friendly services. In the California state legislature, Max worked as the principal consultant on higher education for the Assembly Budget Committee and was a policy advisor for multiple Assembly Speakers (Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Karen Bass and John A. Pérez), shaping state policy and fiscal priorities that advanced equity in postsecondary education access and attainment.

A first-generation college graduate from a working-class immigrant family, Max holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA. At UCLA, Max was a campus and statewide student leader, twice elected by the undergraduate student body as the Academic Affairs Commissioner and serving as the UC Student Regent on the systemwide University of California Board of Regents.

In addition to his service to the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Institute, Max serves as an advisory council member for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. His past board service includes serving as secretary of the National Postsecondary Policy Institute Board of Directors, president of the Chicano Latino Youth Leadership Project Board of Directors, and as a member of the UCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors.