Erin Kimura-Walsh, Ph.D., is the Director of Santa Clara University’s LEAD Scholars Program which supports first-generation college students on campus. Erin has overseen the program since 2009, and currently is responsible for strategic planning, partnership building, and development for the program, while managing day-to-day operations. Under her leadership, the program has expanded to support approximately 420 students in 2021 through a comprehensive suite of programs and initiatives that support their transition to SCU, ensure that they thrive on campus, and enhance their success beyond college. Eighty-eight percent of LEAD Scholars graduate in six years or less, compared to 56% of US college students.
Originally from Seattle, Erin graduated from Santa Clara University in 1998 with degrees in English and Japanese Language and Literature. She went on to earn an M.S. in Counseling from San Francisco State University and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.
After earning her M.S. in Counseling, Erin worked in SCU’s Drahmann Academic Advising and Learning Resources Center and Office of Multicultural Learning. During this time, she helped to found and develop what is now the LEAD Scholars Program. In 2003, the first LEAD class had 30 participants.
In addition to overseeing LEAD, Erin is also the Chair of the Undocumented Student Working Group and incoming Vice-Chair of the Student Affairs University Policy Committee. She has won the Outstanding Student Advocate Award from the National Center for First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, and the Cedric Busette Award from SCU’s Ethnic Studies Department. She is a frequent speaker at higher education conferences on the topics of first-generation college student support and student affairs fundraising. Erin also oversees a regional group of higher education professionals supporting first-generation college students through NASPA’s Center for First-generation Student Success, and is a board member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Redwood City, CA.
When not on campus, Erin enjoys time with her husband Matt (who she met freshman year in Swig Hall!), and her daughters Clare and Nellie.