We Need More of Us in Every Room Across the Country
By: Betsy Castro, VP, Finance and Operations
As a child of immigrant parents, I never realized that my name was difficult to pronounce.
It wasn’t until our family moved to a predominantly white neighborhood and I started attending public school in that neighborhood that this became a reality for me. I remember vividly the day my teacher couldn’t pronounce my name “Betsabe” and decided to give me a nickname which I still embrace today, Betsy. At the time, I didn’t understand the dynamics or repercussions of this simple action, I was young and happy to have been given a nickname.
But as I reflect now on how that shaped my educational and professional journey, I wonder: how different would it have been if the teacher would have taken the time to learn how to pronounce Betsabe? Or if I had been matched with a Latino educator who celebrated my name and identity?
Unfortunately, not much has changed since I was in elementary school. Today, millions of Latino students will go through school without ever having a Latino educator. But I’m excited to join an organization that is working to change that by getting more Latinos into the education sector and elevating the voice of Latinos within education policy.
As Latinos for Education’s first ever Vice President of Finance Operations, I am finally able to bridge my professional experience in finance with my passion for education.
I started my career in finance and spent almost 20 years working in that field, doing everything from auditing to corporate finance. In this field, I was often one of the few Latinas in the room, but I didn’t allow that to deter me from being great at my job.
After a career switch, I got my start in the education space first as a founding leader of a charter school in Staten Island, New York, that serves predominantly Latino students and English Language Learners. That experience was transformative, as I was able to build something for students who come from and share similar experiences like mine. A career in education quickly followed as I served in leadership roles for organizations like Princeton University, Princeton-Blairstown Center, and Innovate Public Schools.
Latinos for Education aligns with my values and as I step into my new role I look forward to using my many years of experience in finance and building opportunities to scale and sustain the work of this amazing organization.
It’s not lost on me that I would not be where I am today without a community of mentors and peers who always encouraged me to keep going. That is why I’m stepping into an organization that is offering that to so many other Latinos at the right time.
We cannot standby and allow the education system to continue undeserving Latino students because our nation’s future is at stake. As Latinos we make up a significant amount of the workforce. That percentage is only going to continue to grow, that is why the work of Latinos for Education is so important. I have learned that the education system is not set up for each student to be afforded the same opportunities as the student they are sitting next to. Until we decide to equitably offer education to each student our country will not thrive until. For that to happen we need more of us not only in classrooms but in every room across the country.
We are changing the way education leaders see and support Latino students and our work is just getting started.
Betsy Castro is the founding Vice President of Finance and Operations at Latinos for Education, where she is responsible for stewarding financial strategy and planning for optimal scaling. She is also the founder of Castro Concepts, LLC, a boutique consulting firm providing fractional chief financial services to mission-driven organizations. In 2020, Betsy received the Harold L. Conover Leadership Award for exhibiting exemplary leadership qualities in a non-profit organization. Betsy holds a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Rider University. She has over 15 years of experience in finance, operations, project management, entrepreneurship, and strategy.