News Release

Top Latino Educators Named 2016 Fellows for NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders

Unique program enhances advocacy efforts on behalf of Latino students

February 25, 2016

Camila Gallardo
(305) 215-4259

WASHINGTON, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased to announce that 10 exceptional school leaders from California, Utah, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, Nevada and Florida were selected from a competitive pool of applicants as the 2016 fellows for the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL). The program is generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The selected fellows have invested decades in the field of education working with Latino students, the majority of them English learners, from low-income communities. Designed for high-potential mid- to senior-level education leaders, the NILSL program will equip NCLR fellows with the advocacy and communication skills needed to influence policy and serve as spokespeople for NCLR.

NILSL, launched in 2011 by NCLR in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is the only institute that trains tenured school administrators and community-based organization leaders to advocate for federal- and state-level policies that strengthen the education of Latino students and English language learners. Since its inception, the NILSL program has recruited four cohorts and trained 33 fellows and five master fellows from eight states and the District of Columbia. This is the fifth cohort and will be composed of 10 fellows from seven states.

The ultimate goal of this institute is to elevate the voices of school leaders advocating for reform measures, accountability systems and quality programs aimed at improving the educational outcomes for students in the Latino community.

“In light of important changes to our nation’s education system, particularly the passage of a new ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act), these fellows will play a critical role in helping to improve educational outcomes and accountability for our nation’s Latino students who represent about one-quarter of the nation’s school children,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR.

Over the course of two years, the fellows will receive in-person and virtual training sessions that will equip them with the necessary skills to fulfill the envisioned dual role of serving as NCLR spokespeople as well as active agents in the policymaking process.

“We are extremely fortunate to have such a group of talented and devoted educators participate in this program and enhance their advocacy skills. They have dedicated years to helping students in some of our nation’s underserved communities excel, ” said Margaret “Peggy” R. McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR.

The NILSL fellowship will kick off with two-day training on March 7–9, 2016 in Washington, DC. Fellows named this year include:

Fellow’s Name




Jose Enriquez

Executive Director

Latinos in Action


John Joseph Monteleone


Lorain City Schools


Rafael Gaeta


LAUSD - Nightingale Middle School


Mayra Samantha Lopez-Zuniga

Lead Education Organizer

The Resurrection Project


Christopher R. McBride


Mariposa Academy of Language & Learning


Marla Angelita Fernandez


South Bay Union School District


Jesus F. Sanchez

Director of Programs

Esperanza Inc


Ana Martinez

Executive Director

New Leaders


Dalila Maria Duarte


Casa Azafrán Early Learning Center


Catalina Kaiyoorawongs

Associate ED

Unidos Now


NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.