Free and open to the public Reception to follow Join the conversation on Twitter: #policytalks About the speaker: Roberto J. Rodríguez serves in the White House Domestic Policy Council as Special Assistant to the President for Education. Previously, Rodríguez was Chief Education Counsel to United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. In this capacity, he managed the Democratic education agenda for the Committee and led policy development and strategy for legislation addressing early childhood education, elementary and secondary education, higher education, and adult education. Rodríguez began his tenure on Capitol Hill working for the Senate HELP Committee on the development of the No Child Left Behind Act. He has worked on various reauthorizations of federal legislation, including the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Head Start, Child Care, Higher Education, and the America COMPETES Act. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Rodríguez worked as Senior Education Specialist at the National Council of La Raza, where he conducted research and analysis of federal and state education reform issues, as well as the development and evaluation of community-based education programs. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan and of the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Cambridge, Massachusetts. About the event: Roberto Rodríguez will present at the opening plenary of the two-day conference on student loans and growing debt burdens. The conference is jointly sponsored by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, the Education Policy Initiative of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the Spencer Foundation. This topic has received extensive popular media coverage, but there has been a paucity of rigorous research, and what little there is has been isolated. The goal of the conference is twofold. One purpose is to summarize available data on student loans and to synthesize what has been learned by researchers about the impact of student loans on student higher educational experiences and employment-related outcomes. The second purpose is to consider the details of current public policies that affect loan terms, repayments, and defaults, and to elicit potential improvements in such policies. The presenters include leading researchers in higher education finance from the academic, government, and public policy sectors.