Meet our National Latino Educator Advisory Council Members

By Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon, Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer

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All policy change and innovation starts locally, and then spreads nationally. If you look across the country, there are many Latino-led organizations that are doing transformational work to improve our nation’s education system so it better serves Latino students, teachers, and families. Their work and voice is critical, as it shows us that a different approach, a different model, or a different perspective is possible when addressing the academic, emotional, cultural and linguistic needs of Latino students and multilingual learners.

For the past three years, Latinos for Education has been championing educator diversity in Massachusetts by building a broad base coalition of educators, administrators, and advocates to make the Educator Diversity Act a reality. This bill would not only transform the state’s educator pipeline so that more Latinos can pursue careers in teaching, enter the workforce, and stay and grow within the profession, but it will send a strong message that Latino and diverse educators matter and the state will invest in them.

We know that we are not alone in our efforts to increase the voice and representation of Latinos in the nation’s education system, that is why we are convening the National Latino Educator Advisory Council, a new six-member board formed to lift up the voices and efforts of seasoned, Latino education leaders and influence conversations and actions around increasing educator diversity at the state and national level.

We’re excited about the geographic representation of the Council as well as the diverse perspective each member of the Council will bring:

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  • Vanessa Aramayo, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Better Community has been increasing the political and civic power of Latinos in Los Angeles through a robust Latino Scorecard that includes education.
  • Phyllis Hardy, Executive Director of the Multistate Association for Bilingual Education-Northeast promotes and supports school districts implementing and sustaining bilingual and dual language education programs that support bilingualism and multiculturalism for educational success.
  • Erika Méndez, Associate Director of Education for the Latino Policy Forum is building the power, influence,and equitable access to high-quality early learning and K-12 opportunities that are responsive to linguistic and cultural diversity.
  • Edgar J. Palacios, President & CEO of the Latinx Education Collaborative works tirelessly to retain and increase the representation of Latinx education professionals in Missouri’s K-12 system.
  • Stephanie Parra, Executive Director of Arizona Latino Leaders (ALL) In Education is elevating the voice of Latinos in Arizona’s education system by empowering parents, community leaders and educators to become change agents.
  • Gini Pupo-Walker serves as State Director for Tennessee at the Education Trust where she works alongside advocacy organizations and stakeholders to increase educational opportunity and achievement among historically underserved students.

Here is what each member is hoping to accomplish through the Council:

  • Vanessa Aramayo: “For over 20 years, ABC has been a champion on educational issues for Latino/a students in Los Angeles County. More recently, ABC’s Latino/a Scorecard Report highlighted key data supporting the need to significantly increase teacher diversity.  Investing in the educator pipeline, recruitment, and retention to ensure educators reflect our students and the communities in which they teach is key to maximizing student achievement. I am thrilled to join the Latino Educator Advisory Council and work with Latinos for Education and key partners across the country to advance these goals. It’s time to prioritize increasing Latino/a educators and accelerate learning for Latino/a students.”
  • Phyllis Hardy: Bilingual and Dual Language Education programs need highly qualified staff. With the current shortage of bilingual teachers, alternative pathways to licensure and increased targeted professional development is needed to sustain these programs. We support Latinos for Education in the goal of educator preparation, development, and mobilization efforts informed by Latino educators. ”
  • Erika Méndez: “The Latino Policy Forum’s education department has a long-standing history elevating the need for bilingual and Latino teachers in Illinois. Well-prepared bilingual teachers, most of whom in our state are also Latino, play a pivotal role in English Learner success.  It is vital to support teachers to be prepared with this specialized skill set. The Forum is proud to be a part of national coalition-building calling for investments aimed at cultivating a future teacher workforce rich with racial, ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity.”
  • Edgar J. Palacios: “The Latinx Education Collaborative is proud to join the Latino Educator Advisory Council and affirms its collective approach to close the representation gap between Latinx students and teachers. Latinx students are the fast-growing student demographic in K-12 and it is critical that they see themselves reflected in the teachers that serve them.”
  • Stephanie Parra: “When students see themselves reflected in their school leaders, they can achieve more academically. This truth guides our work which is centered on ensuring the Arizona student population – which is made up of 45% Latino students – is represented across classrooms and boardrooms. By joining the National Latino Educator Advisory Council, I’m excited to contribute to the national conversation on educator diversity and elevate some of the work we are doing in Arizona to develop bold, courageous and values-based Latino leaders from the grassroots to the grass tops in hopes that it inspires other states to do the same.”
  • Gini Pupo-Walker: “The South’s dramatic rise in Latino students in both urban and rural settings has created urgency regarding the need for Latino teachers, counselors, and administrators in our schools. The Education Trust knows the solutions lie in our communities, and we must connect their experiences to the policies and practices that ensure our students and families are seen and supported across their K-12 experience. Serving on the Latinos for Education Advisory Council will allow us to collaborate with national experts, and ensure our recommendations are grounded in the unique experiences of our students in the South, and across the country.”


Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon is the Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer at Latinos for Education (L4E). Prior to joining L4E, Feliza served a five-year term of the California State Board of Education where she championed the passage of the asset-based, English Learner Roadmap policy.