UnidosUS Announces Inaugural Cohort of the National Institute for Latino School Leaders-California

Promising Latino leaders will work to advance education equity for English learners

WASHINGTON, DC—UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza), the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today the selection of 11 Latino educators and leaders to the inaugural cohort of National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL) in the state of California.

“We are pleased to name our first cohort fellows to the NILSL-CA. Since the launch of the Institute, we have had the pleasure of meeting and working with a talented array of education professionals across the country and this year’s cohort is no exception. As we continue to navigate this unprecedented time, I am encouraged by the expertise and insight these leaders will bring to the program, and the collective impact they will have in shaping and strengthening education policies for Latino students and English learners,” said Peggy McLeod, Deputy Vice President of Education and Workforce Development Programs, UnidosUS.

NILSL 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, dual language learners and English learners (ELs). Members of the inaugural cohort of NILSL-CA will advance the Institute’s core mission with a specific emphasis on EL advocacy. California is currently home to the highest population of ELs, where they comprise nearly 20 percent of the state’s total public-school enrollment.

The Institute will equip fellows with the tools and training they need to effectively advocate on behalf of the students and communities they serve and offer these leaders a platform to participate in the policymaking process. NILSL-CA is made possible thanks to the generous support of the Sobrato Family Foundation.

The inaugural cohort of NILSL-CA Fellows includes:

  • Frances Baez, Local District East, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
  • Graciela García-Torres, Sacramento County Office of Education
  • Nereyda Gonzalez, Hemet Unified School District
  • Rocio Gonzalez-Frausto, California Collaborative for Education Excellence
  • Veronica Madrigal, Grant Elementary, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Dr. Natalie Mejia, Equitas Academy #2
  • Alma-Delia Renteria, Rivera Elementary School, El Rancho Unified School District
  • Jonathan Tiongco, Alliance Marine – Innovation & Technology 6-12
  • Evelia Villa, Amethod Public Schools
  • Maria Villa Marquez, California Association for Bilingual Education
  • Dr. Jose Manuel Villarreal, Oceanside High School Oceanside Unified School District

UnidosUS will also convene the Las Madrinas Senior Advisory Council to support the work of the fellows and guide the implementation of the EL roadmap. The Madrinas Council is made up of state and district leaders as well as national advocates who have championed education outcomes for Latino students, dual language learners, and ELs. Members of the Madrinas Senior Advisory Council include Catalina Cifuentes, Riverside County Office of Education; Hilda Maldonado, Santa Barbara Unified School District; Dr. Karla Estrada, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence; Dr. Rosita Ramirez, NALEO Educational Fund; Delia Pompa, Migration Policy Institute and Martha Zaragoza-Diaz, Zaragoza-Diaz and Associates.

Learn more about NILSL-CA here.