“If There’s No Seat at the Table, Bring Your Own!” Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship Continues its Impact.

By: Rick Rodriguez, Ed.D.

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We know that representation is important and that students achieve better educational outcomes when teachers, administrators, and other school officials reflect and understand their experiences and identities. Yet only 2% of leaders on executive teams in education organizations and 4% of leaders on education boards are Latino, even though Latinos make up 25% of the U.S. student population (and growing).

We can’t just wait for these numbers to magically change or for the gap to automatically close. We must bring our own seats to the table and sometimes bring the table too. That’s why the Aspiring Latino Leaders Fellowship, launched in 2017, continues to engage and develop some of the most promising Latino education leaders in New England, Texas, and now the Bay Area to advance their leadership journey and ultimately expand their sphere of influence in the education sector to best support nuestra comunidad

Using culturally responsive professional development and engaging with a strong network of local and national Latino education researchers and practitioners, the fellowship has helped participants strengthen their competencies around leveraging Latino identity as a strength to develop professionally, combat systemic racism, build knowledge of the complexities of the policy world to advocate for positive change for Latino students, and more.

In September, we welcomed our newest cohort of ALLF Fellows, and we have some exciting new developments to celebrate. Thanks to new partnerships with Rocketship Public Schools, Boston Public Schools, and YES Prep Public Schools, we are expanding our network of Latino leaders into key geographies and K-12 education organizations. As part of this strategic growth, we are implementing our first cross-site, all virtual Fellowship to build a leadership community across regions. 

With over 60 Fellows participating in this year’s Fellowship and over 200 alumni across our programs, we know there are great things in store for the future state of Latino education across the landscape.

Click to Receive More Information on Future ALLF Applications

This work takes community, vision, and collective action. We encourage and welcome K-12 partnerships in this work. If your organization sits in New England, Texas, or the Bay Area and you too are ready to expand these opportunities to your network of Latino education leaders, please contact: Rick Rodriguez, Director of National Programs, rick@latinosforeducation.org.

But if you’re not convinced, these are some reflections from ALLF alumni on the power of the fellowship:

This was a transformative experience and what I believe is truly just the beginning. I made great relationships, I did a lot of crying and reflecting and it was worth it. I can see so much personal growth that has led to a deeper commitment to education equity and a desire to empower and change my community. 

– Mariah Najmuddin, Greater Houston

I have enjoyed every moment and felt that I learned so much about who I am professionally and how I can continue to develop my leadership skills.  I loved meeting so many Latino educators and finally feeling a strong connection to others who have strong convictions as myself.

– Jackie Herrera, New England

The most valuable thing I will take with me is the thought that I have to ELEVATE my voice. When I began the experience, I was a lot more shy and hesitant to talk/discuss certain things. Through this experience,  I have found myself being more confident and able to share my thoughts and ideas.

– Dora Garza, Greater Houston

During the fellowship, we heard from different leaders and reflected on our own leadership and personal missions. I think it was helpful to see different ways of being a leader, since the norm in so many of our workplaces is based on a white cis-male style of leadership that is not grounded in shared values and community. I look forward to becoming a better leader while staying authentic to myself and building familia in my various spheres of influence.

– Marilyn Flores, New England

It was the most re-energizing time of the month for me. Each session inspired me, gave me more confidence, and heightened my passion to continue fighting for educational equity. 

– Mariela Camarillo, Greater Houston

Mi nueva familia!  For real though – this group is invaluable for me.  Thank you.

– Jovanny Orellana, Greater Houston


Dr. Rick Rodriguez is the National Program Director with Latinos for Education. Rick previously held roles with YES Prep Public Schools and Houston ISD where he led programs aligned with College Readiness, Talent Acquisition, and Learning Technology. He holds a B.A. in Sociology from Texas A&M University – San Antonio, an M.S. in Human Resource Development, and an Ed.D. in Professional Leadership K-12 from the University of Houston. Rick is a strong believer in Latinos for Education’s “Con Ganas We Can” value and is determined to lead efforts that bring about equitable education practices for all students.