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Indiana's Commissioner for Higher Education

“Indiana’s colleges and universities provide much of the fuel in terms of education, training and research to support individual growth, investments and innovations of employers. By bringing together leaders from our higher education institutions, employers, K-12 partners, nonprofits, philanthropy, government and other stakeholders, we can blur the lines and increase the value proposition of higher education."

About the Commissioner

Chris Lowery
Commissioner for Higher Education 


Associate Commissioner for K-12 Strategy

Michelle Ashcraft leads the K-12 outreach team in efforts to increase Indiana’s college-going rate. In her role, Michelle oversees and collaborates on strategy to increase middle school students’ enrollment in the 21st Century Scholars program, high school Scholars’ completion of eligibility criteria to achieve 21st Century Scholars awards in higher education, high school students’ completion of the Indiana College Core and other early college credit, and FAFSA filing. Prior to joining the Commission, Michelle served as the director of Purdue Promise at Purdue University and previously worked for the University of Kentucky in New Student & Parent Programs.

Michelle earned a bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and master’s degree from the University of South Carolina. She anticipates completing her doctoral degree at Purdue University in May 2023.

Michelle Ashcraft
Associate Commissioner for K-12 Strategy


Associate Commissioner for Marketing & Communications

Charlee Beasor leads marketing and communications at the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. In her role, Charlee oversees internal and external strategic communications, PR, media and marketing strategies and is currently focusing on driving the state’s new communications campaigns around the value of education and training beyond high school. Most recently, Charlee served as communications director for the Commission and previously worked for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, writing for its award-winning BizVoice® magazine.

She started her career in local journalism and earned a bachelor’s degree from Franklin College.

Charlee Beasor
Associate Commissioner for Marketing & Communications


Associate Commissioner for Public Policy

Josh Garrison is responsible for the administration of Indiana’s state financial aid programs, including the 21st Century Scholarship, the Frank O’Bannon Grant and the Workforce Ready Grant. Garrison oversees the Commission’s legislative agenda and the implementation of new programs created by the Indiana General Assembly. Prior to joining the Commission, he held positions with Iowa State University and the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Garrison holds a B.S. in Politics and Government from Illinois State University and a Juris Doctor from the Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Josh Garrison
Associate Commissioner for Public Policy


Associate Commissioner for Business Enterprise Solutions & Chief Technology Officer

Rajinder Heir focuses on mission-critical solutions and the Commission’s utilization of myriad IT services in alignment with strategic and operational initiatives. Her team delivers improvements to serve financial aid, data collection, budgetary, academic program inventory, and case management functions. She is an active and engaged member of the Governor’s Executive Council on Cybersecurity.

Heir’s varied IT experience includes high-tech start-up, telecoms, insurance, nonprofit, consulting (cybersecurity) and in the public sector as COO of IT for the City of Indianapolis. Her board service includes Women & Hi Tech, Girls Inc, and the FBI Citizen’s Academy. She is a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Leadership program. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Technology (Purdue) with Honors.

Rajinder Heir
Associate Commissioner for Business Enterprise Solutions & Chief Technology Officer


Associate Commissioner for Finance and Operations

Seth Hinshaw provides financial, budget, and policy analysis regarding higher education finance issues in Indiana. He serves the agency by overseeing financial operations, operating budgets that support the Commission’s statutory mission, legislative mandates and human resources.

Hinshaw has served in various roles and capacities in state finance since 2014, most recently serving as a fiscal analyst with the Indiana Senate. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies from Ball State University and is pursuing a Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University.

Seth Hinshaw
Associate Commissioner for Finance and Operations


Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer

Dr. Ken Sauer oversees new program approvals and program reviews, transfer of credit, dual credit, and campus mission statements/policies. He is also the executive director of the Indiana Board for Proprietary Education, liaison to the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the Governor’s Health Workforce Council.

Sauer leads Indiana’s inter-agency participation in the National Governors Association Community of Practice on Learning and Employment Records, the Credential Engine Indiana initiative and the Indiana e-Transcript Program.

Since 2007, Sauer has been the Governor’s designee on the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) and is a past chair of the Compact. He is also a member of the Midwestern-State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA) Regional Steering Committee and the National Council-SARA Data Committee.

Previous employers include the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCES), where he helped lead the development of the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), which NCES still uses for annually collecting data from all U.S. colleges and universities.

He holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from St. John Fisher College and a Ph.D. in Government/International Relations from Claremont Graduate University.

Ken Sauer, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Commissioner and Chief Academic Officer


Associate Commissioner for Business Intelligence & Chief Economist

Sean Tierney directs the Commission’s business intelligence research and data efforts, including the higher education reporting process. Prior to joining the Commission in 2016, he was state policy officer at Lumina Foundation. Previously, Tierney held fiscal policy and data research positions with the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

He graduated from Vanderbilt University with a bachelor's degree in economics, English and sociology in 2009 and a master's degree in public policy in 2011.

Sean Tierney
Associate Commissioner for Business Intelligence & Chief Economist


Associate Commissioner for Adult Strategy

Dr. Stacy Townsley is responsible for the Commission’s adult strategy for postsecondary attainment, leading the development and implementation of policies, partnerships and programs designed to remove barriers and enhance supports for adults seeking to further their education or training.

Prior to serving in this role, Stacy was vice president for adult strategy and statewide partnerships at Ivy Tech Community College. Previous roles in higher education include overseeing research and analysis at the Commission and various academic administrative and adjunct faculty roles at four-year institutions.

Townsley has contributed to the development of national policy and practice frameworks supporting adult learners related to the expansion of the awareness and utilization of credit for prior learning, stakeholder engagement, and data quality. She is a member of the Education Design Lab’s Designer in Residence program and is actively involved with the Indiana Talent Network.

She earned her Ph.D. in organizational systems from Saybrook University with a focus on sustainable cross-sector collaboration and holds a master’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and international relations from the University of Tulsa.

Dr. Stacy Townsley
Associate Commissioner for Adult Strategy


Allison Kuehr
Communications & PR Manager


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