Jeanne Contardo

Managing Director, Capital CoLAB, Greater Washington Partnership


Jeanne Contardo, Ph.D., is the founding Managing Director of the Capital CoLAB (housed within the Greater Washington Partnership), an action-oriented partnership of business and academic institutions collaborating to build, at scale, the digital technology ecosystem needed in the Capital Region, which includes Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Richmond. At the CoLAB, Dr. Contardo leads a dynamic team that maximizes business investments to create inclusive growth in the region, equips educators with the information they need to develop cutting-edge digital tech curricula, and provides students throughout the region with work-based learning opportunities (including internships, mentoring, and other professional opportunities).

Prior to joining the CoLAB, Dr. Contardo was a higher education consultant specializing in strategic planning and facilitation, convening cross-sector groups to facilitate business-higher education workforce partnerships, research and policy analysis, and workforce development. Before launching her business in 2016, she spent over 15 years in a variety of higher education and non-profit settings, including most recently as the Vice President of Regional Operations for Excelsior College, where she managed the current and emerging units and activities in the Washington, DC region. Her clients include the leadership teams from a number of higher education associations, colleges and universities, and select consulting firms.

Dr. Contardo prides herself on results-oriented engagements that are customized to an organization’s goals and leadership teams. Under her leadership at Excelsior, the college focused on providing adults from underrepresented groups with the skills and credentials needed to earn a livable wage in the Washington, DC region. Dr. Contardo led the growth of Excelsior’s regional presence through innovative partnerships with both the Federal and local governments, the launch of a comprehensive branding initiative to serve working adults, and on-going collaboration with military and veteran offices and underserved adult students in the DMV. Prior to her work with Excelsior serving adult students, she spent nearly a decade at the Business-Higher Education Forum, overseeing the organization’s research agenda and its College Readiness, Access, and Success Initiative. While there, she collaborated with university presidents and Fortune 500 CEOs to build regional partnerships that would grow high-demand career pipelines and drive action around improving student interest and proficiency through regional engagements in areas such as Louisville, KY, Des Moines, OH, and College Park, MD.

Before BHEF, she was a research fellow at the National Defense University, focusing in part on the changing workforce needs in the United States. Dr. Contardo also worked at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, where she collaborated on studies targeting underserved populations in higher education, including prisoners and foster youth; the University of Maryland, where she worked with a group of women engineers to address issues around STEM undergraduate education; and the University of Washington Honors Program in Seattle, where she helped design and implement policy to increase access and success in higher education. Since 2011-2012, Dr. Contardo has also taught courses on higher education finance, cross sector partnerships, and research theory at The George Washington University.

Dr. Contardo earned her Ph.D. in higher education policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, a master’s degree in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her bachelor’s degree (cum laude) in English from the University of Washington.