StraighterLine Welcomes Seasoned Executive Heather Combs as CEO

  • Trailblazing Provider of Low-Cost Courses Taps Veteran of Growth-Stage Businesses

StraighterLine, a student success company that provides scalable and affordable learning pathways to credentials of value, named Heather Combs as its chief executive officer. Combs joins a seasoned leadership team and brings more than two decades of experience in scaling high-growth companies, most recently as chief commercial officer of the digital product development company 3Pillar Global.

StraighterLine CEO Heather Combs

Since its founding in 2008, StraighterLine has provided an alternative model to build the workforce of tomorrow by serving the learners of today. StraighterLine has provided thousands of learners with affordable and flexible postsecondary education courses that are accepted at more than 2,000 accredited U.S. colleges and universities. These courses are delivered through low-risk online pathway programs that help institutions address enrollment and retention challenges. StraighterLine also partners with employers to deliver flexible, low-cost career paths that align with in-demand skills.

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“The cost of college weighed heavily on me throughout my own journey to completing my degree as I worked throughout my college years and still graduated with student debt.  Now, with my oldest daughter applying to college, affordability and optionality is top-of-mind for me once again,” said Combs, who completed her undergraduate degree in three years, in part by taking on accelerated course loads. “I am excited to join StraighterLine to help expand affordable, flexible postsecondary opportunities and remove unnecessary barriers for today’s students so they can perform at their best and achieve their career goals.”

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With Combs’ arrival, co-founder and chief executive officer Burck Smith will transition to chairman of the board and continue to advise on the organization’s long-term priorities.

“Heather brings an impressive track record of leading company growth and expansion, which makes her an ideal fit to help accelerate StraighterLine’s scale and sustain our impact in higher education and workforce development,” Smith said. “As a former working learner, Heather understands the unique aspirations and challenges of the modern student during this critical time for higher education and is the right leader to guide StraighterLine as we work together to meet the educational needs of future generations of students.”

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