The Ayers Foundation Announces Two Senior Leaders for Nationally-Acclaimed Ayers Scholars Program

Feb 20, 2023

PARSONS, Tenn. – Janet Ayers, President, and Burton Williams, CEO, of The Ayers Foundation announced today two key leaders to help lead the statewide expansion of the foundation’s nationally-acclaimed Ayers Scholars Program.

Troy Grant, currently Senior Director of College Access for the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, will join the Foundation in mid-March as the Ayers Chief Scholars Officer.

Dr. Angela Marshall, currently a Lead Counselor with the program, is being promoted as the new Director of Expansion and Development for the Ayers Scholars Program.

“With the continued growth of the Foundation and the statewide expansion of our Scholars Program, we have the opportunity to look both internally and externally for the leaders we need to continue building on the outstanding work of our exceptionally strong team,” said Janet Ayers. 

“We have worked very closely with Troy for many years. He brings more than 16 years of higher education leadership and experience in working with local district and school leaders and counselors in all 95 counties of the state. 

“Troy also has important access to and an understanding of the state players and policies important to our work. He will be very helpful to all of us in informing and influencing key decisions as we continue to expand to more schools and students. We are so excited to have Troy joining our team.”

Dr. Marshall, a former classroom teacher, has been with the Ayers Scholars Program as a college access counselor since 2018. 

Dr. Burton Williams, who recently joined The Ayers Foundation as CEO, said Marshall knows the vital role Ayers counselors play and what they need to help students succeed.

“Angela will work closely with Troy and will be on the leading edge in developing the relationships we’ll need with new district leaders, high school principals and counselors, and other key partners as we enter and expand our Scholars Program into new counties, districts, and schools across the state.

“We are proud of all Angela has accomplished and all she will continue to do as a key leader of our team,” said Williams.

Both Grant and Marshall were first-generation college students and bring a unique understanding of student needs. Grant earned his bachelor and master’s degrees at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. Marshall earned her bachelor degree at the University of Tennessee in Martin and her master’s and doctorate degrees from Trevecca Nazarene University.

The Ayers Foundation Scholars Program is a nationally-recognized highly effective college access and counseling program delivering outsized results for students in more than 20 high schools across 12 rural Tennessee counties.

Serving primarily low-income, first-generation, rural students, The Ayers Foundation Scholars Program defines success in terms of moving the needle on student access and completion, and it invests in the resources students need to realize those opportunities.

Founded in 1999 in a single high school, the program has shown dramatic success in increasing college-going, persistence, and completion rates for students who enroll in a range of postsecondary experiences, including technical, community, and four-year colleges and universities, and the military.

In 2021, with the support of Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, The Ayers Foundation partnered with the State of Tennessee through the Governor’s Rural Education Foundation to scale The Ayers Foundation Scholars Program to even more priority rural communities.

Detailed county-by-county 2022 college-going results for the seven most recent AFSP expansion counties are attached.

The Scholars Program has achieved this success through an unwavering commitment to its unique model: investing in an expert, full-time, trained advisor to serve as the student’s champion, coach, guide, and technical and emotional supporter from 8th grade through the postsecondary experience and beyond.

For more information about the many programs of The Ayers Foundation, please visit