Rebecca Villarreal_Headshot.jpg

Rebecca Villarreal is a senior director at Jobs for the Future. A member of the Center for Justice and Economic Advancement, she is responsible for helping stakeholders change the narrative and remove structural barriers that systematically exclude the more than 70 million people with criminal records from opportunities for economic advancement.

Her skills and areas of expertise include:

  • Postsecondary education and workforce training
  • Postsecondary education in prison
  • Partnership development
  • Program design and development
  • Leadership development
  • Community and economic development

Before joining JFF, Rebecca was the director of education philanthropy at Ascendium, a national philanthropy committed to increased socioeconomic mobility through postsecondary education and workforce training for learners from low-income backgrounds. Before that, she served as a program officer on the education team at The Kresge Foundation. She also held positions at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the University of Maryland, College Park.

She says that she was drawn to JFF because of “JFF’s comprehensive commitment to creating and curating research, working with partners, especially impacted leaders, to promote advocacy and awareness leading to policy and systems change to drive transformations that bring equity and opportunity to people impacted by the justice system.”

Rebecca has a doctorate and a master’s degree in higher education policy and leadership from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's in strategic communications from Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

She says that, outside of work, “I love to travel and spend time enjoying the outdoors—camping, kayaking, and hiking. My partner and I are cat parents and are outnumbered by Ricky, Lucy, and our newest addition, JJ.”