Calbright College

Fast, focused, flexible
Calbright College logo

From 2019-2021, I served as the Chief Technology Officer for Calbright College, California's online community college, designed specifically to meet the needs of working adults.

"Calbright College is committed to increase economic mobility and close equity gaps for working adults who lack easy access to traditional forms of higher education. Calbright is designed to offer online, flexible, affordable skills-based programs that provide tangible economic value for both working adults and hiring managers."


In June of 2018, legislation was signed and passed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown, and the College was founded. The California Online Community College Act, codified as California Education Code §75000-75012 (PDF), details key aspects of the design of the college. In June of 2019, the college was named Calbright College, and in October of 2019, the college welcomed its first students.


The enabling statute includes a schedule of milestones that the college is expected to achieve. The college publishes annual reports summarizing progress and status updates with respect to these milestones, such as the 2021 Milestone Report (PDF).


  • Team building - Built a talented and committed remote-first technology team responsible for engineering, automation/integration, early product development, product management, systems, security, end-user support, UX design, data analysis, and external reporting.
  • Hiring - Chaired or served on 25+ hiring committees.
  • MVP - Implemented the initial version of Calbright's end-to-end student experience, leveraging no-code and low-code tools and integrations.
  • CRM - RFP, Salesforce implementation, and continued iteration.
  • LMS - Adopted the Strut learning platform, designed specifically for Competency Based Education.
  • Accreditation - Preparing systems, processes, documentation, metrics, and reporting in support of the accreditation process.
  • ERP & SIS - Extensive RFP process culminating in selection of Anthology.
  • Automation - Invested heavily in automation and cross-platform integration from Day 1. Integrating and automating the wide large variety of technologies underlying Calbright programs in order to avoid exposing this complexity in the student-facing experience.
  • A/B testing - Built a cross-platform A/B testing infrastructure, and used it to run and evaluate randomized controlled experiments with respect to student outcome metrics.
  • Pace and Progress - Understanding pace and progress is a non-trivial problem in flexibly-paced Competency-Based Education (CBE) programs, but is critical to tracking progress, timing student support, and setting expectations around timelines. Data analysis and data visualization offer a path forward.

Invited Talks & Panels

Future Trends ForumReal innovation in higher education14 Jan 2021 Visit external link
Community College League of California Annual ConventionCalbright College: Lessons from Year One18 Nov 2020
EDUCAUSE Annual ConferenceThe Innovation Landscape in Higher Education27 Oct 2020 Visit external link
UCLA Educational Leadership Program (2019 EdTech Conference)1 June 2019

Related Publications

Bader-Natal, A. CCCApply and OpenCCC Issues and Opportunities. [Memorandum] (2020, October)
Abstract PDF PDF

We appreciate the many benefits of all colleges in the California Community Colleges being able to share a common infrastructure for the student-facing college application process. CCCApply serves as a "gateway to the California Community Colleges," and its existence eliminates the need for each college or district to independently procure and customize (or build and maintain) its own application system, and its annual improvements benefit colleges system-wide. But while all colleges in the system share the benefits of this common infrastructure, all colleges also share the limitations of this infrastructure. We focus on six key issues with CCCApply and OpenCCC today that affect prospective students and the colleges that serve them. We believe these recommendations will result in (a.) a more streamlined, cohesive experience for incoming students system-wide, and (b.) an enhanced ability for colleges to remotely support all of their prospective students more equitably through the entire application process.

Professional Service

Governance Council Member - Calbright College (2020-2021)
Accreditation Steering Committee Member (Institutional Effectiveness) - Calbright College (2020-2021)

CCCApply Memo

In addition to operationally standing up the new college, Calbright has asked to contribute findings of value back to the other 115 colleges in the California Community Colleges system. Towards this end, I led an effort to document and share our experiences with the centralized college application system used by all colleges in the system. In this work, I highlight the key issues that affect the prospective students and the colleges using these systems, and I make concrete, actionable recommendations for changes that directly address these issues. My initial work on this was published online as an Interested Parties Memo: CCCApply and OpenCCC Issues and Opportunities.