Senior Higher Education Policy Analyst for Texas
Andrea manages and evaluates research projects to identify structures and policies that support Texas students’ postsecondary persistence and completion and develop policy agendas that advance educational equity.
For over a decade, Thurston has worked toward educational equity as an educator, strategist, and consultant. She has led institutions around the nation in achieving strategic plans for more inclusive campuses, increased funding for mental health departments, and recruitment and retention of Black faculty. Her platform comes from her endeavors at the University of Missouri post-Ferguson to encourage the institution to confront its inequities, using past shortcomings as a framework to create an equitable and intersectional learning environment for the future. For these efforts, she was awarded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and featured in the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
As a Chicago native and the granddaughter of freedom fighters, Thurston earned a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Missouri and a Master of Science in Education and Education Policy from Johns Hopkins University. Her journey navigating inequitable systems fuels her passion for closing achievement, attainment, and opportunity gaps. She seeks to continue to yield successful policy change on the local and state level while keeping the voices of historically excluded communities at the center.