NILSL Cohort V Biographies
Ana Martinez, Midwest Executive Director, New Leaders
Ana has dedicated her career to closing the achievement gap in our country. Born in El Salvador and raised in the United States, Ana believes that educational equity is the key to success in today’s global economy.
Ana is currently the Midwest executive director of programs for New Leaders. In this role, she serves as the senior instructional leader overseeing program implementation and driving student achievement in the region.
Ana was the founding principal of Rowe Elementary School, a Tier 1+ public charter school in Chicago aimed at ensuring that all scholars are set up for colleges, careers, and citizenship. Ana served Teach For America in California and Florida in various roles, including placement director, director of talent recruitment, and program director before she was recruited by the Northwestern University Settlement Association and Bain & Company to lead Rowe Elementary. Her deep passion stems from her earlier years in Los Angeles Unified School District where she went to school and ultimately served as a second and third grade teacher. Ana received her Bachelor of Science degrees in political science and public policy from UCLA. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education from Loyola Marymount University.
Catalina Kaiyoorawongs, Associate Executive Director, Unidos Now
Catalina attended Barnard College of Columbia University. Catalina’s first professional experience was at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Child Abuse Bureau working with child abuse victims. She then joined the United States Peace Corps as a community health educator in one of the poorest regions of Guatemala with the highest maternal and infant mortality rate.
Catalina experienced first-hand the link between poverty and the lack of basic education in the daily lives of the indigenous and marginalized, where 87% of the population was illiterate. Catalina developed a pictorial and health education manual in Spanish, which is still used today. She educated 42 health promoters from 22 villages. Catalina trained the health promoters to teach more than 1,000 primary school children basic sanitation practices. She was elected by her peers to serve on the Gender and Development Committee where she developed activities to empower young Guatemalan women. She brought her passion for education back to her hometown to an immigrant integration organization, UnidosNow. Catalina focuses on the college attainment gap and started the Future Leaders Academy.
Dr. Christopher R. McBride, Director, Mariposa Academy of Language and Learning
Chris is honored to serve as principal/director for Mariposa Academy in Reno, Nevada. Mariposa Academy is a pre-K–5 charter school that has the mission to put every student on the pathway to graduate high school with a seal of biliteracy, prepared for college, and life success. Before coming to Mariposa, Chris worked in education as an assistant principal, dean, regular education teacher, and special education teacher at the middle and elementary school levels. He found his love for education and children working as a wilderness youth counselor for at-risk youth in North Carolina. Chris has a B.A. in psychology from Wabash College, a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of Nevada. He is a part-time faculty member for the University of Phoenix as well as a national presenter and former member of the Nevada Air National Guard. Chris believes that all students can graduate from high school college- and career-ready if they are provided with a safe environment, excellent teaching, and family support.
Dr. Dalila Duarte, Director, Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center
Dalila is the director of Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center, a prekindergarten hub of Metro Nashville Public Schools whose current student population represents more than eight different languages. Over the past ten years, Dalila has served as an educator in the Chicago, Hackensack, Miami, and Nashville public and charter school setting. She holds a B.A. in elementary education from Loyola University Chicago, an M.A. in reading education from Florida International University, and an Ed.D. in education administration from Tennessee State University. During her doctoral studies, Dalila interned with the Nashville Mayor’s Office of Children and Youth, Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools’ Department of Family and Community Services, and the Tennessee Board of Regents with the Office of Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Effectiveness. In addition to her work with Casa Azafrán, Dalila serves as a board member for the Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce and is a commissioner for the Nashville Community Education Commission. In 2014, she was selected for the Nashville Emerging Leaders class. Dalila continues to live out her commitment to mentor and inspire by volunteering with the YMCA Latino Achievers and FUTURO, a professional association for Latino college students.
Jesús F. Sanchez, Director of Programs, Esperanza Inc.
Born in Carolína, Puerto Rico, Jesús spent the majority of his childhood in Lorain, Ohio, where he graduated and earned his high school diploma from Lorain Admiral King High School. Jesús went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and wildlife management from the University of Findlay in 2004. Upon completion he landed an internship with the horticulture department at Cleveland Botanical Garden in the summer of 2005. In 2006, he went on to serve as a site manager of the Esperanza Learning Farm for Cleveland Botanical Garden’s Green Corps program where he provided direct service and education to high school age youth in urban agriculture as well as 21st-century skills. In fall of 2006, Jesús began a graduate assistant in the Biology department at John Carroll University ultimately earning his Master of Science degree in biology with a focus on plant ecology and physiology (2008). Upon completion, Jesús returned to the Cleveland Botanical Garden in December of 2008 as the youth manager focusing on youth education and recruitment. Jesús was later promoted to program director overseeing the entire Green Corps program. Jesús became director of programs at Esperanza Inc. in July of 2013, where he currently manages and oversees program staff as well as outreach and educational support programs within the Cleveland Hispanic and Latino community.
John Monteleone, Administrator, Lorain City Schools
John is a lifelong resident of Lorain, Ohio. In 1998, he graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor of Arts and Science with a concentration in education. John continued his education at Bowling Green State University and earned a Master of Education in the area of curriculum and instruction in 2005. He has been honored to serve as an educational leader for the past 16 years in a variety of roles in Lorain City Schools. As an instructional leader, John has the responsibility of improving teaching and learning by providing professional development in synthesizing data, instructional programs, best practices, and the Ohio Improvement Process. He works with the District Leadership Team and Building Leadership Team to identify data sources and instructional strengths and challenges, develop action steps to improve instruction, identify monitoring tools and resources, and create a timeline related to goals and actions.
Dr. Jose Enriquez, Executive Director, Latinos in Action
Jose is an immigrant who was born in El Salvador and grew up in East L.A. He attributes much of his success to his hardworking mother who sacrificed everything to give him and his siblings a better life. He graduated from John Glenn High School with a full-ride scholarship to wrestle at Brigham Young University where he obtained three degrees: a B.A. in secondary education Spanish ESL, a masters in educational leadership, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership. His previous positions include director of Title III and special programs at the Utah State Office of Education, director of diversity for Alpine School District, served 11 years in both Alpine and Provo school districts as an assistant principal, and taught Spanish for three years prior to that. He was appointed a commissioner on volunteerism by Lieutenant Governor Bell’s Utah Commission on Volunteers in 2010, and as a commissioner to the Office of Multicultural Affairs by Governor Herbert in 2012. Currently, Jose is living his dream as the full-time executive director of Latinos in Action (LIA), a nonprofit program he has built from the ground up since 2001 and which officially became a nonprofit organization in 2010. LIA is currently implemented in 110 schools across Utah, Idaho, Washington, Texas, and Florida. Jose is married to Jaymilyn Bonnett Enriquez and is the father of five children: four girls and one boy.
Marla A. Fernandez, Principal, South Bay Union School District
Marla is a native San Diegan who grew up in Southeast San Diego. Her grandparents were from Mexico; her father was born in Tijuana and mother was born in San Diego. Her first language was Spanish, and while attending a neighborhood school, she began to feel comfortable with English at fourth grade due to the efforts of her teacher who inspired her to be an avid reader. After sixth grade, her mother decided to place her in a volunteer integration busing program for both junior and high school.
She was encouraged by her aunt and high school counselor to apply to local colleges and was accepted to San Diego State University where she obtained by liberal arts degree and teaching credential. She also obtained a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction and an administrative credential from her alma mater. Marla’s educational career and various roles as a bilingual teacher, coordinator, resource teacher, literacy coach, assistant principal, and principal have been in the South Bay Union School District. She is currently in her seventh year as an elementary school principal at Oneonta Elementary in Imperial Beach, California, home of the Oneonta Orcas. On a personal note, her mother still lives in the home she and her brother, Fernando, grew up in. She has extended family in San Diego; Baja California, Mexico; and Spain. Ella disfruta de su familia, sus amistades y las experiencias bonitas que la vida le ha brindado.
Mayra S. Lopez-Zuniga, Education Organizer, The Resurrection Project
Mayra is the proud daughter of immigrant parents who moved to Chicago from Mexico in search of a better future. Her family settled in the Back of the Yards community, where she grew up confronted by the realities of growing up in a low-income immigrant community. School became her haven. Thus, she believes education equity is the most important factor for progress in low-income communities, changing the life trajectory of families. In the past five years, Mayra has worked as an organizer with The Resurrection Project (TRP) where she has organized on education, redistricting, and immigration issues. Mayra led a successful campaign in 2011 to advocate for a new ward in the City of Chicago’s redistricting process. The campaign specifically demanded to consolidate the number of wards that encompassed the Back of the Yards community, leading to the creation of the new 15th ward. In 2013, Mayra’s work shifted to focus on education and parent engagement. She led the implementation and expansion for the Parent Mentor Program for The Resurrection Project. Her work has grown TRP’s partnerships with community schools where she is currently the lead education organizer, crafting an education agenda for the organization focusing on parent engagement. In 2015, Mayra took a short break to work as a field organizer for the Garcia for Chicago campaign. Her voter turnout strategies for four wards in the southwest side of Chicago helped mayoral candidate Chuy Garcia enter the first-ever mayoral run-off in the history of the city. Mayra graduated from University of Chicago in 2010 with a B.A. in anthropology and Latin American studies. She is an advocate for at-promise youth, art, and culture and serves on the board of ElevArte Community Arts Studio.
Dr. Rafael Gaeta, Principal, Los Angeles Unified School District
Rafael has invested roughly 15 years in the field of education. He has assumed several education positions including, but not limited to, teaching, curriculum development, and school site administration. He is currently the principal at Nightingale Middle School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Despite an array of professional and personal life experiences, Rafael has always been an advocate for Latino students, specifically English learners.
Dr. Rafael Gaeta holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in sociology, a master’s degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills in educational leadership, and a doctoral degree in education leadership for social justice from Loyola Marymount University. His doctoral dissertation focused on the instructional and schooling factors that affect long-term English learners. Rafael resides in Los Angeles.