Executive Leadership Team


Judith Berry Griffin, Founder and President

Ms. Griffin founded Pathways to College in 1994 while serving as national president of A Better Chance. Her vision was to create an after-school initiative to help high-potential students of color develop critical thinking skills and habits of mind to make achieving a college education an attainable goal. Nine years later, she launched Pathways as an independent non-profit organization that continues to grow under her leadership.

Ms. Griffin was executive assistant to the assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education. She has been an elementary school principal and a visiting lecturer/faculty member at three colleges. She is the author of three acclaimed children’s books.

Ms. Griffin earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and her graduate degrees from the University of Chicago and Columbia University. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by Gettysburg College. In 2008, she was a recipient of the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education.


Charles K. Gleason, Chief Operating Officer

Mr. Gleason has worked closely with Ms. Griffin in developing Pathways to College from its earliest inception at A Better Chance to its present independent nonprofit status. He was executive vice president of A Better Chance from 1985 to 2003. Prior to that, he served as director of development at the Dana Hall School, vice president for development and public affairs at Wheaton College, and director of development at Clark University.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Clark University and a graduate degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Virgil E. Ecton

Virgil E. Ecton, CFRE, Vice President for Advancement

Mr. Ecton served for three decades at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), effecting educational opportunities for tens of thousands of African Americans at the organization’s 39 private Historically Black Colleges and Universities. As UNCF’s Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, he was responsible for unprecedented growth and support from the private sector, raising more than $1.6 billion during his tenure. He later served as Vice President for University Advancement at Howard University, and is credited with revitalizing and strengthening the institution’s financial underpinnings and securing its leadership position in higher education for the 21st century. After eight years at Howard, he assumed the role of Vice President of Federal Affairs and Capital Campaign at Tuskegee University. Most recently, he held the position of Executive Vice President of Development at the NAACP.

He holds an undergraduate degree from Indiana University, a graduate degree from Xavier University, and he completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard University Business School.

Sylvia B. Adams

Sylvia B. Adams, National Program Director

Dr. Adams has lengthy leadership experience in urban schools, magnet schools, and new school formation, including service in the Minneapolis Public Schools as a classroom teacher and citywide Title l Coordinator. She served the district as a principal at two schools before being appointed founding principal of Northrop Urban Environmental (Magnet) Learning Center. She is a former member of the Advisory Board of the Principals’ Center of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education where she also served as co-chair. She has consulted with school district superintendents, boards and principals on leadership development, strategic planning, and career coaching.

Dr. Adams earned her Bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and her M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Administration from the University of Minnesota.