about us

Meet Our Staff


Dr. James Toscano


Dr. James Toscano is the president of Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust and is a national leader in the fight to make college more affordable for American students and parents.

Toscano is a former senior higher education administrator and an open government advocate with fifteen years of experience in local, state and federal policy development.

During Toscano’s tenure as a vice president at Tidewater Community College (TCC), the college was the nation’s leader and model for lowering the cost of education for students through the innovative use of open educational resources.

A policy entrepreneur, Toscano spearheaded the development and adoption of an expanded public comment policy for governing boards, which gave greater access to citizens in public decision making. Toscano has held policy board appointments under two governors, was the legislative director to the assistant majority leader in the Virginia House of Delegates, and was a Governor’s Fellow under then-Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner.

Toscano’s experience in university governance dates back to the days when he was a student, as the first student in 18 years to be appointed to his university’s board of visitors under a new state law. Toscano holds a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University, a master’s in public policy and management from the University of London, and a bachelor’s in communications from Old Dominion University.

Toscano has worked as adjunct faculty in the Christopher Newport University Department of Political Science and as a consultant to K-12. Toscano’s work can be found in GOVERNING, Government Technology, Public Management magazine, and in a recent book, Citizen Engagement and Public Participation in an Era of New Media, published by IGI Global.


Mr. Matthew Farrey


Matthew Farrey is Vice-President for Development and Projects at Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust. Farrey has more than 24 years of experience in fundraising, management, and issue advocacy in the nonprofit sector, including at advocacy organizations, think tanks and in higher education.

Prior to joining Partners, he was Senior Director for Development at Families USA, a nonprofit that advocates for state and federal policies that will ensure that high quality health care is available to everyone in the U.S. He was previously Director of Philanthropic Partnerships for the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan “fact tank” that informs the public about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world. Before joining Pew, he was Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at American University and at Mount Ida College, where he was also an adjunct professor of Political Science.

Earlier in his career, Farrey was the Associate Director of the Alliance for Better Campaigns where he helped design and direct a series of advocacy campaigns that aimed to increase and improve television coverage of elections to open up the democratic process to more candidates and new ideas. He was also Director of Election Services at the League of Women Voters of the United States, where he managed voter registration campaigns and directed a nationwide public opinion research and education project about money in politics.

Farrey holds an MA in political science from the School of Public Affairs at American University and a BA in communication from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Ms. Stacie Gordon


Stacie Gordon is the State Advocacy Manager at Partners for College Affordability and Public Trust. Stacie has extensive experience working in both the political and legislative fields, having previously worked on both state and federal campaigns and as a legislative aide in the Virginia House of Delegates. 

A longtime political activist, Stacie has spent several years advocating for college affordability and addressing student loan debt. In advocating for higher education reform, she has led efforts in fostering civic engagement amongst younger voters and has crafted policy solutions with state legislators. 

In 2016, she co-founded a Millennial-focused advocacy organization, holding a series of roundtable policy events in college towns, organizing a rally to highlight student loan debt at Longwood University before the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate, and hosting a weekend policy summit event. During Virginia’s 2016 statewide elections, Stacie led efforts to host a statewide candidate debate, featuring candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. During her tenure as co-chairman, the organization welcomed young activists from across the country as host of a policy forum on higher education and workforce development at the White House.

Stacie holds a BA in Political Science from Virginia Tech.