News Release

Talented Latino Educators Selected for UnidosUS National Institute for Latino School Leaders 2019 Cohort of Fellows

October 4, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC— UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today that 15 leaders from across the country were selected from a competitive pool of applicants as the 2019 Fellows for the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL).

The 2019 NILSL cohort is comprised of educators from California, Arkansas, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas. They are leaders with credibility and history in their communities, who speak up tirelessly and have demonstrated impact, and they bring diverse perspectives as seasoned teachers, nonprofit leaders, principals and student affairs professionals.

NILSL, launched in 2011 by UnidosUS in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the only institute that prepares experienced education and community leaders to advocate for national- and state-level policies to strengthen the education of Latino students and English learners. The fellowship offers these leaders a platform to participate in the policymaking process on behalf of the students and communities they serve.

“We are thrilled to welcome such a talented and devoted group of educators to the Institute. These exceptional leaders bring a unique and valuable perspective grounded in the knowledge and experience they have gained working closely with Latino students and their families. There is no doubt their voices will be critical as we work to improve educational outcomes for students in the Latino community,” said Margaret R. McLeod, Vice President, Education, Workforce Development and Evaluation, UnidosUS.

The 2019 NILSL fellows are:

  • Alma Velazquez, Woodlawn PK-5 School (Portland, OR)
  • Celia Garcia Alvarado, Cesar Chavez Foundation (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Devon Teran, Guadalupe Center Schools (Kansas City, MO)
  • Elizabeth Garcia, Voces (Battle Creek, MI)
  • Isaac Cardona, Jason Lee Elementary (Portland, OR)
  • Jordan Harrison, Reality Changers (San Diego, CA)
  • Jorge Lopez, Families in Action (Oakland, CA)
  • Juanita Franklin, NorthWest Arkansas Community College (Bentonville, AR)
  • Marcela Alvarez, Para Los Niños (Northridge, CA)
  • Maria Paula Zapata, Conexión Américas (Nashville, TN)
  • Oscar Romano, YES Prep Public Schools (Houston, TX)
  • Paul Yumbla, The Moxie Collective (Denver, CO)
  • Sandra Peloquin, Lorain Public Schools (Lorain, OH)
  • Sergio Jara Arroyos, Teach For America- Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
  • Victor Ruiz, Esperanza Inc. (Cleveland, OH)

The first training session will take place in Nashville, TN, on October 2-4, 2019.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.