Yuanxia ding, Vice President of Strategy and Business Operations

Yuanxia Ding is the Vice President of Strategy and Business Operations for Opportunity@Work, where she leads strategy development and planning, ensures operational effectiveness, promotes innovation and knowledge sharing, and develops new partnerships. As a first generation immigrant, Yuanxia has dedicated her career to the growth and development of America’s human capital to ensure our nation’s long-term economic competitiveness. Having lived in nine different States spanning four time zones, Yuanxia has experienced first-hand wide-ranging differences in access to opportunity across the U.S., and has worked tirelessly to level the playing field so that everyone can contribute their skills and talents.

Yuanxia Ding was most recently the Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, appointed by President Obama. In this capacity, she provided daily counsel to Under Secretary Ted Mitchell regarding the full range of the Obama Administration’s priorities in higher education; supervised the policy, communications, and operations staff working in the Office of the Under Secretary; and worked closely with senior management staff throughout the Department of Education. Yuanxia met weekly with the Secretary of Education on higher education priorities and liaised regularly with the White House Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, and the Office of Management and Budget, as well as senior staff at other agencies including the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Treasury. Prior to her role as Chief of Staff, Yuanxia was a Senior Policy Advisor and led the design, launch, and implementation of several innovative projects in higher education, including the Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP) experiment, the Competency-Based Education experiments, the Dual Enrollment Pell experiment, and Second Chance Pell.  

Though Yuanxia is proud to have worked on improving college access, affordability, and completion under the Obama Administration, she believes that we as a nation must also focus on the quality of higher education, in terms of what a degree or a credential can actually do to improve and expand opportunity and socioeconomic mobility. She believes that the market value of a credential should reflect genuine skills and knowledge development, rather than be a product of the inflation of credential requirements. Many institutions of higher education and related organizations are already adapting -- competency-based education, new providers of learning and training, credentialing systems that allow individuals to take their credentials with them and stack them as they progress -- but higher education cannot make this shift alone. Employers, industries, state and local governments, and communities must all work together with providers of education and training to solve this collective action problem. 

Prior to joining the U.S. Department of Education, Yuanxia led teams of consultants working in the Education and Economic Development practices of McKinsey & Company, where she advised CEOs and executive leadership teams on strategy and growth. She also previously worked on the management staff of Teach For America, where she launched and ran a teacher-training institute as its head of operations. Yuanxia holds a B.A. in Economics and International Studies from Northwestern University, and an M.B.A. in Strategic Management and Social Impact from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Yuanxia, her husband Stuart, and their two cats reside in Washington, D.C.