Director of Higher Education Policy
Robyn Hiestand directs the higher education policy team at The Education Trust, where she promotes legislation to improve access, affordability, and success for low-income students and students of color.
Prior to joining Ed Trust, Robyn spent over eight years at the U.S. Senate Budget Committee where she specialized in budget, appropriations, and education policy for Sens. Conrad (D-N.D.), Murray (D-Wash.), and Sanders (I-Vt.). She has drafted key pieces of legislation, including Sen. Sanders’ “College for All” Act and Sen. Murray’s “In-STATE for DREAMERs,” and she took a lead role in drafting and developing the Bipartisan Budget Act (the “Murray-Ryan” budget agreement) to provide sequester relief. In addition, Robyn developed several annual budget resolutions, provided scoring guidance to relevant committees and worked directly on the education titles of two reconciliation bills — Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act and the 2007 College Cost Reduction Act. Before her time in the Senate, Robyn worked on higher education issues for tribal colleges, where she managed a comprehensive data collection project. She also staffed the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee as a senior legislative assistant for Congressman Martin Sabo (D-Minn.) immediately after college.
A Midwestern native, Robyn received her bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Augsburg College and her Master’s in Public Policy from the London School of Economics.
Being hired as a senior analyst on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the “Super Committee”). I learned new policy issues, new skills, and made a lot of new friends. Although the Super Committee did not reach agreement, the work done formed the basis for the Murray-Ryan budget agreement two years later, and the experience taught me that knowledge is cumulative and cyclical.
Why are you passionate about working at Ed Trust?
Education provided me a ladder into the middle class. I paid for college on Pell grants, subsidized student loans, and institutional aid. I graduated with minimal student loan debt. But students today face significantly more challenges and barriers to the opportunities I had in college, and that needs to change.