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Media Press Releases As Biden Administration Prepares to Deliver Historic Debt Relief, Student Borrower Protection Center Announces New Hires, Promotions, and Transitions

As Biden Administration Prepares to Deliver Historic Debt Relief, Student Borrower Protection Center Announces New Hires, Promotions, and Transitions

October 11, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the Biden Administration fights off legal challenges and prepares to deliver historic, broad debt relief to tens of millions of Americans, the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is once again expanding and elevating its growing team of advocates and experts. 

The SBPC announced today that Aissa Canchola Bañez has joined as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, Ella Azoulay has joined as Research and Policy Analyst, Brandon Herrera has joined as Communications and Digital Coordinator, and Persis Yu, the SBPC’s Policy Director and Managing Counsel, will now serve as the organization’s Deputy Executive Director. In addition to these hires and promotions, SBPC Counsel Claire Torchiana will now serve as an SBPC Fellow as she transitions into a full-time position as a litigator at a leading consumer protection and civil rights law firm.

“As we fight to protect student loan borrowers’ hard-won progress, we are thrilled to announce the SBPC’s continued growth,” said Student Borrower Protection Center executive director Mike Pierce. “Our incredible team of experts, advocates, and attorneys will hold the student loan industry and the Biden Administration accountable for keeping the promises made to families across the country who continue to struggle under the weight of historic student debt burdens.”

The SBPC is proud to announce the following staff and leadership additions, promotions, and transitions:

  • Aissa Canchola Bañez will serve as Senior Advisor for Policy and Strategy, leading the SBPC’s engagement with Capitol Hill and guiding the organization’s work to ensure President Biden keeps his promise to cancel student debt. She brings a decade of experience in Congress, executive agencies, and advocacy working to advance policy solutions to improve the lives of workers and families and create a more just and equitable society. Prior to joining the SBPC, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) where she led the Congresswoman’s policy work, including efforts to protect borrowers and make student loan debt cancellation a reality. Earlier in her career, Aissa served in policy roles at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and as a staff member on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
  • Ella Azoulay will serve as Research and Policy Analyst, helping to lead the SBPC’s investigations and research efforts, focused on holding private-sector companies and the student loan system accountable for mismanagement and abuse that harms students, student loan borrowers, and their families. Prior to joining the SBPC, Ella was the policy and outreach specialist for Higher Education at the Center for American Progress. She also served as the program associate at Generation Progress, and managed the Higher Ed, Not Debt campaign. Ella previously organized on electoral campaigns, including Elizabeth Warren’s 2020 presidential campaign in Iowa.
  • Brandon Herrera will serve as the Communications and Digital Coordinator, supporting all communications, digital media, and public engagement efforts. Prior to joining the SBPC, he was a Digital Assistant at GMMB, focusing largely on the Biden-Harris 2020 digital paid media account. Before GMMB, he spent time in organizing as Regional Organizing Director of Arizona’s sixth congressional district for Organizing Together 2020, Field Organizer in Iowa and Michigan for Elizabeth Warren, and Field Organizer in Iowa for Kamala Harris.
  • Persis Yu will serve as the growing organization’s first Deputy Executive Director and Managing Counsel, bringing a steady hand and unmatched legal and policy expertise to all of the SBPC’s work. For the past year, Persis has served as Policy Director and Managing Counsel, leading the organization’s litigation and policy initiatives. Persis joined the SBPC after a decade at the National Consumer Law Center, where she led a team of attorneys to advocate on behalf of low-income student loan borrowers and where she remains Of Counsel.
  • Claire Torchiana will serve as an SBPC Fellow, as she transitions from her current role as Counsel to join the consumer protection practice at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC. Claire has served as Counsel at the SBPC since 2021, where she has pursued justice for students and student loan borrowers defrauded by predatory lenders, schools, and employers. Prior to joining the SBPC, Claire was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Housing and Economic Rights Advocates (HERA) where she focused on issues around federal student loan debt. She engaged primarily in direct legal services, in addition to impact litigation and policy advocacy.


About Student Borrower Protection Center

The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.

Learn more at or follow SBPC on Twitter @theSBPC.

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