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OPE: Office of Postsecondary Education
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Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education -
Staff Contacts


  • Ralph Hines

    Mr. Hines serves as Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). FIPSE’s primary legislative mandate is the encouragement of reform and improvement of, and innovation in, postsecondary education and the provision of educational opportunity for all students. Through its grant competitions, FIPSE supports the implementation of innovative reforms, evaluates how well they work, and shares lessons learned with the education community. As Director, he has overall responsibility for program planning, policy development, application review and grants initiation, and grants management. He also leads ad hoc groups of staff in the development and execution of special projects and initiatives for the Department’s senior officers. Mr. Hines serves as the Designated Federal Official in matters concerning FIPSE’s National Board and, with the Board Chair, is responsible for convening Board meetings and setting agendas for these meetings with a view to securing the best counsel of the Board regarding FIPSE’s objectives and procedures. Prior to coming to FIPSE, Mr. Hines served as Director of the Department’s International Education Programs Service, which is now called the International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) service. The IFLE administers the international education programs authorized under Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA) and Section 102(b)(6) of the Fulbright-Hays Act. As such, he managed the major federal programs dedicated to the maintenance and development of a national capacity in foreign language, area studies and international business. Mr. Hines has held a variety of administrative, programmatic and management positions in his more than 41 years of service with the Department. Mr. Hines has served the public in a great variety of professional activities, including work on governmental and non-governmental advisory groups and task forces in the United States and abroad that focused on the totality of the federal education effort, particularly in the areas of international education and exchanges, graduate education, and postsecondary education reform and innovation. His professional activities have included travel and consultations in the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He holds BA and MA degrees from Norfolk State University and the George Washington University, respectively, and the Senior Executive Fellows certificate from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

    (202) 453-7414

Program Staff

  • Sarah Beaton

    Sarah joined the FIPSE staff in July 2007. She is a Senior Program Manager for the Fund for Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), where she is responsible for coordinating the First In The World Development Grant Competition. Sarah has also served as the coordinator of the HSI-STEM and Articulation Title III, Part F program and her grant portfolio included the forty-eight 2012-15 California HSI-STEM grantees. She manages the FIPSE budget and she oversees priorities and contracts for all FIPSE programs and initiatives. This has included designing and crafting priorities and guidelines to meet the President’s 2020 Graduation Goal. During her FIPSE tenure, she managed the Institute for International Education grant that created the successful International Academic Partnerships Program (IAPP). In addition, Sarah serves as the FIPSE Board liaison. Before joining FIPSE, she designed and managed the interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate student and faculty exchange programs between Brazil and the United States (U.S.-Brazil FIPSE/CAPES Program); the European Union and the United States (EU-U.S. Atlantis Program); and Canada, Mexico, and the United States (North American Mobility Program). Previously, Ms. Beaton served as Team Leader on the Office of Postsecondary Education’s International Studies Team, where she was responsible for seven discretionary grant programs that included an annual budget that exceeded $30 million. Authorized under the Title VI Higher Education Act as amended and the Fulbright-Hays Act, these programs served academic institutions and non-profits in their creation of internationalized curricula and programming. In her work for International Studies, she oversaw national and international conferences and numerous research projects. She designed and implemented international faculty development conferences that brought US and foreign institutions of higher education together. Sarah earned her B.A. in Business and Economics from the College of New Rochelle, in New Rochelle, New York, and her Master’s in International Studies from George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia.

    (202) 453-7221

  • Claire Cornell

    Claire rejoined the FIPSE staff in 2015, where she serves as a First in the World Program Officer and is responsible for a Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success grantee portfolio. Her earlier professional efforts included a six-year term in FIPSE, the creation and management of academic, science-focused non-profit, health services, and government agency grants offices. In addition, she worked as a freelance technical writer and managed a grant development consulting firm. During her 2008-2013 FIPSE tenure, Claire directed the Off-Campus Community Service Program, the Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program, and served as a Program Officer for the Comprehensive Program, the Special Focus Competitions, the Hurricane Education Recovery Program, and the Pilot Program for Course Material Rental. Claire has served on a variety of other Office of Postsecondary (OPE) initiatives. She earned a B.A. degree in English Literature from Queens College of the City University of New York, in New York, New York, and while founding and directing a large NE Iowa childcare center, she completed graduate credits in Early Childhood Education and Nutrition at the University of Iowa.

    (202) 453-7958

  • Frank Frankfort, Ph.D.

    Dr. Frankfort is a Senior Program Manager for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, where he serves as the lead Program Coordinator for the First In The World grant program. During his tenure in FIPSE, he directed several grant programs including the European Union-U.S. Atlantis Program, North American Mobility Program, and the U.S.–Brazil Program.

    Dr. Frankfort received his B.A. in History and Classical Languages from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Medieval Studies from the University of Cincinnati. While a professor of History at Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, he conducted numerous overseas seminars in cultural history and taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in European history and multicultural studies.

    Dr. Frankfort received an American Council on Education fellowship and served as the special assistant to the president of Oberlin College. In that capacity he was the author of a national report on science education at selective liberal arts colleges. Dr. Frankfort later joined the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), where he served as the Coordinator for Science and Humanities higher education projects in an initiative that linked the NEH, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation. While at NEH, he managed a broad portfolio of humanities grants. He later served as a Professor of Humanities and Dean of Arts and Sciences at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.

    (202) 453-6173

  • Kelly Harris

    Kelly joined the FIPSE staff in March 2014, where she directs the Centers of Excellence for Veteran Student Success Program and serves as a First in the World Program Officer. In addition, she has designed and managed a host of Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) discretionary grant programs. Prior to joining FIPSE, Kelly served as a Senior Program Officer for the Strengthening Institutions Division, where she served as Program Manager for the Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Program and managed an annual budget of more than $20 million. She was the team lead of the Title III Parts Designation of Eligibility process. Mrs. Harris has enjoyed great success in program coordination, administration, budget management and policy development. She has more than twenty-five years of federal service in various offices within the Department of Education where she has administered a variety of discretionary grants and cooperative agreements. She is an alumnus of the President’s Management Council Interagency Rotation Program, where she served in the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Kelly received her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    (202) 453-7346

  • Stacey Slijepcevic

    (202) 453-6150

Administrative Staff

  • Beverly Baker
    Management Program Analyst

    Beverly’s work at FIPSE has been varied. Currently her focus is on grant closeouts and reconciliation of accounts, but she has worked in some capacity with every major FIPSE program over the years. She is also the contracting officer's representative (COR) for FIPSE on the database contract. Beverly was awarded the "Secretary's Anchor Award" for her services to the Department of Education in 1996.

    (202) 453-6162

FIPSE office location and general mailing address:

Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education
U.S. Department of Education, OPE
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W., 4th Floor
Mail Stop LBJ 4-4W206
Washington, DC 20202
Fax: (202) 401-8466
E-mail: fipse@ed.gov
Web Site: www.ed.gov/ope/fipse/index.html



Last Modified: 06/15/2016