News Release

Promising Latino Educators Selected for NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders 2017 Cohort of Fellows

March 2, 2017

Camila Gallardo
(305) 215-4259

WASHINGTON, DC—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) announced nine outstanding Latino educators selected to join the National Institute for Latino School Leaders (NILSL), a unique program that offers educators and community leaders the advocacy skills needed to impact education policy for Latino and English learner students. Generously supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the NILSL fellowship offers Latino educators a platform to establish a presence in education reform debates and become active in the policymaking process.

The institute, first launched in 2011, provides training for school administrators and community advocates with an interest in shaping the federal- and state-level policies that guide our education system. Since its launch, NILSL has trained its fellows to become NCLR spokespeople and strong advocates for pressing education matters, including discussions around reform measures and accountability systems.

Every year, the NILSL fellowship attracts a competitive pool of applicants with a shared mission: to improve educational outcomes of students in the Latino community. This year’s cohort, composed of educators from New York and Colorado, represent a talented group of professionals who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to providing a quality education to young Latinos in public schools. It also marks the first time a state-specific cohort of fellows has been selected to concentrate on key regions that stand to be impacted by recent changes to the Every Student Succeeds Act.

“As we head into uncertain times and prepare for changes in our education system, I am encouraged by the drive and dedication of our fellows, and strongly believe their work will be vital to ensure the continued progress of our Latino students,” said Margaret “Peggy” R. McLeod, Deputy Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, NCLR.

The 2017 NILSL fellows are:

New York

  • Alexandra Hernandez, Principal
  • Cristal Rodriguez, Special Needs Coordinator, Beginning with Children Charter School 2
  • Irene Leon, Principal, PS 89 Cypress Hills Community School
  • Jose Luis Jimenez, Principal, NYC Department of Education


  • Amanda Arellano, Program Coordinator/Teacher, Risley International Academy of Innovation
  • Deborah Van Roy, Community Liaison/ELL Support Coordinator/Instructional Coach, Ricardo Flores Magon Academy
  • Felipe Vieyra, Bilingual Organizer, Together Colorado
  • James Nicholas, Assistant Principal of Instruction, STRIVE Preparatory School
  • Karolina Villagrana, Administrative Assistant, Knapp Elementary School

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States— works to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.