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2021 CEO Search

(formerly Executive Director)

Dear Aim High Community,

On behalf of Aim High’s Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce that Julia Chih will be Aim High’s next Chief Executive Officer. Julia was selected from a pool of talented candidates after an extensive search process led by Aim High’s search committee. She joins us on January 17.

Julia brings with her exceptional experience as a leader and lifelong advocate for educational equity. She joins Aim High after eight years at College Track, most recently as Interim CEO and previously as their Chief Finance & Operating Officer.

During her time at College Track, Julia built the operational infrastructure that grew the organization from $10 million to $40 million, expanding the organization’s geographic footprint, tripling the number of students served and equipping more students with skills to pursue a college degree. She holds a Master’s in Public Affairs and Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Welfare from the University of California at Berkeley.

Julia’s experience as a first-generation college graduate has fueled her commitment to equity in education. She has dedicated her career to breaking down the hurdles standing in the way of college access and has made creating life-changing opportunities for students her life’s work.

“Aim High inspires me with the promise of what is possible when we equip middle school scholars to build academic confidence, discover a love of learning and develop the skills they need to live a life aligned to their passions,” Julia says.

Julia’s human-centered leadership style, dedication to her employees’ individual growth, and genuine warmth align with Aim High’s core values of Community, Opportunity, Respect and High Expectations. Her strong commitment to diversity and inclusion will continue Aim High’s pursuit of excellence as an anti-racist organization.

Julia will take over for Aim High’s incredible Co-Founder and Executive Director Alec Lee when he retires in January after 35 years. We are confident that Julia’s background and experience will create a strong foundation for carrying Aim High’s vision into the future and for deepening our impact on the communities we serve.

Please join us in welcoming Julia to the Aim High community.


Sharon Zezima
Search Committee Chair & Trustee

Search Committee

Sharon Zezima, Trustee, Search Committee Chair
Al Adams, Trustee
Leticia Dorado, Regional Program Manager
Andrea Howard, Trustee, Aim High Graduate ’91
Courtney Klinge, Trustee
Rohan Palekar, Trustee
Denny Tsang, Regional Program Manager, Aim High Graduate ’02

Executive Search Firm

Koya Partners
Medelene Beasley
Michelle R.S. Bonoan
Alexandra Corvin

Dear Aim High Community Member,

It is with tremendous gratitude to the Aim High community that I am writing with the news that I will retire at the end of 2021. It’s been the honor of a lifetime serving as Aim High’s Executive Director for 35 years after co-founding the organization with Eleanor McBride in 1986. Our Board has retained Koya Partners with the goal of finding my successor by the fall of 2021. Please find more information from our Board Chair, Bill Mellin, linked on the right.

If someone had told me when we first started that Aim High would be where it is today, I would have been stunned. Aim High has grown from one summer campus with fifty students to thousands of students at eighteen campuses across Northern California.

Today, there are 15,000 Aim High graduates moving through the world with skills, knowledge and confidence to do anything they set their minds to. Our team of educators—more than 4,000 to date—are the ones behind the scenes, preparing students to thrive in high school, college and beyond. I learn from them every day about what it means to be dedicated, creative and deeply caring.

Alongside our students, graduates and teachers is my team of talented colleagues who bring our mission and vision to life each day, and our Trustees, Ambassadors and Young Leaders who volunteer their time and energy. Our donors and supporters have created a strong financial foundation for the organization, with their belief that high-quality education is a right for all. And our students’ families know the joy of summer learning better than anyone, and are with us every step of the way.

Over this past year, it’s become even more clear that summer learning is essential. Aim High is committed to the collaborative recovery efforts from COVID-19, and I am confident that our program will meet the challenges that lie ahead. How wonderful that my final nine months leading Aim High will be spent ensuring that thousands of middle schoolers enjoy an unforgettable summer where they can learn, connect and thrive.

Thank you for the generous support you’ve given me and this outstanding organization for 35 years. My cup is so very full.

With appreciation,

Alec Lee, Executive Director and Co-Founder

Letter from Board Chair, Bill Mellin