Jessica Soja

Strategy Manager

In her role at MCAN, Jessica oversees departmental grantmaking, including offering pre-reviews to applicants, maintaining the online grantmaking system, coordinating internal grant review teams, and processing grant agreements. She also supports statewide community mobilization initiatives by providing technical assistance and coaching to Local College Access Networks (LCANs), as well as operationalizing the Community Ambassador program. 

Over the past 12 years, Jessica has led projects, teams, and programs in higher education, government, for-profit, and nonprofit sectors in Washington, DC, West Africa, Massachusetts, and Michigan. In these roles, she has worked for the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Agency for International Development, Accenture, The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Urban Neighborhood Initiatives, uAspire, and Bunker Hill Community College, as well as served in the Peace Corps in Mali. These experiences helped her appreciate how cohesive teams, shared goals, mutual accountability, and a student-centered lens lead to equitable, innovative, and lasting solutions. Prior to joining MCAN, Jessica is most proud of leading a 23-person team of faculty, staff, and community partners to develop and launch an inaugural guided pathway program between Bunker Hill Community College and the University of Massachusetts-Boston (UMB).  

Jessica earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Providence College and a Master of Social Work degree in community organization from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. College was always an expectation for Jessica, but as a first-generation college student, Jessica and her family stumbled through completing college applications, the FAFSA, and the world of student loans. While her family helped her navigate the college access process, Jessica credits her college completion to mentors and friends at Providence College and the University of Michigan. They helped her develop a sense of belonging and purpose in the confusing world of higher education and gave Jessica the skills and language to channel her skepticism and resentment for educational inequity into a passion for sustainable systems change.  

As a new transplant to Michigan, Jessica enjoys eating and drinking her way through the Mitten State and exploring the outdoors. She sings with the Steiner Chorale, loves DIY home projects, and lives in Lansing with her husband and fur baby. 

1st generation college grad
Providence College Bachelor of Arts, Political Science
University of Michigan Master of Social Work, Community Organization