Las Madrinas Senior Advisory Council

Catalina Cifuentes, Executive Director, Riverside County Office of Education

Catalina Cifuentes is a passionate educator and fierce advocate who has demonstrated the power behind effective school counseling, college affordability and higher education advocacy on behalf of all students.  She is currently the Executive Director of College and Career Readiness for the Riverside County Office of Education and is a California Governor appointed Commissioner for the California Student Aid Commission.

Catalina also serves on various local, regional, state, and national committees to have a voice in the decisions that affect our student’s access to a quality education and a promising future. She was also the recipient of the Visionary Award from the California College Guidance Initiative (CCGI), the 2018 Western Association for College Admissions Counseling (WACAC) Joe Allen Human Relations Award, the 2018 National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) Inclusion, Access, and Success Award and the 2019 Riverside County Office of Education Certificated Administrator of the Year. As a first generation college graduate, she strives to show the impact that can be made when educators have high expectations for all students and when students pursue their post-secondary dreams regardless of the odds against them and the zip code they live in.

Karla Estrada, Ed.D., Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation, California Collaborative for Educational Excellence

Dr. Karla Estrada has spent over 20 years as an educational leader committed to successfully addressing educational opportunities and inequities.  She believes that in order to attain the educational promise we have made to all students, students being able to actualize their fullest potentially, we must work collaboratively, systematically, and innovatively.  Dr. Estrada is currently the Director of Systems Improvement and Innovation for the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE), a statewide agency. The CCEE aims to address instructional improvement and transformation through technical assistance and support provided to local educational agencies, charter schools, and county offices of education (COEs).

Dr. Estrada is deeply focused on supporting Districts and schools in attaining successful outcomes for students.  She works collaboratively with national content experts and California state agencies, including the California Department of Education, County Offices of Education, Special Education Local Plan Area, to ensure those closest to students receive the best direct technical assistance. CCEE is a state-wide agency within the California State System of Support and is responsible for supporting county offices of education, school districts, and charter schools in eliminating opportunity and learning gaps. 

Previously, Dr. Karla Estrada served the 56,000 students in Boston Public Schools as the Deputy Superintendent of the Office of Academic and Student Support for Equity Team (ASSET), which included the Office of Opportunity and Achievement Gap, Office of English Language Learners, Office of Special Education Services, Office of Social Emotional Learning and Wellness and Academics & Professional Learning. As a proud graduate of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s alternative education program, she was honored to work as a teacher and administrator working with local school and district leaders in attaining successful educational outcomes for all students. 

Hilda Maldonado, Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified School District

Hilda Maldonado’s mission is to create student focused transformation of school cultures.  Her focus is on assets based systemic change to accelerate learning and academic success of all students.  Ms. Maldonado strongly believes in the inclusion of all students especially those who are speakers of languages other than English.  She promotes bilingualism and biculturalism in order to prepare our students in becoming future global leaders. Her personal experience informs her professional mission. As a Spanish speaking child immigrant from Mexico, she credits supportive teachers and visionary leaders in helping her excel in school. She learned English while her mother ensured she maintained her Spanish language and cultural traditions at home. 

Her school experiences in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) led her to choose a career as a bilingual teacher. As a school principal, she led school conversions to improve social emotional supports, appropriate language supports, academic success and school culture transformation that are inclusive of all students. As a district leader, she supervised school principals, transformed English Learner programs, and informed leadership development on policies and programs in Multilingual and Multicultural Education P-12.

Under her leadership, LAUSD increased dual language/bilingual programs, increased Seal of Biliteracy student awards, reduced the number of Long-Term English Learners and developed technology tools to assist school leaders in monitoring student progress to ensure all students are recognized for progress and achievement. In her current role she is focused on working with district leaders, school leaders and external partners to develop collaborative solutions that address equity, achievement and resource gaps. 

Ms. Maldonado has been awarded the Stanton Fellowship Award by the Durfee Foundation. She recently began studies towards a doctorate degree in Social Justice Leadership at Loyola Marymount University. Her hobbies are hiking, traveling and enjoying time with family and friends.

Dr. Rosita Ramirez, Director Constituency Services, NALEO Educational Fund

Dr. Rosita Ramirez is the Director of Constituency Services for the Education Portfolio at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. NALEO Educational Fund is the leading nonprofit organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. In this capacity, she is responsible for the overall design, implementation and development of professional development opportunities and programmatic efforts within the organization to promote the governance and education policymaking capacity and success of Latino elected and appointed officials. 

Dr. Ramirez’ areas of expertise include: education policy; governance and government relations; English Language Learners; standards and assessments; and alignment between the early years, K-12, and postsecondary education. Prior to joining NALEO Educational Fund, Dr. Ramirez was a Project Specialist at the Center for Urban Education (CUE) at the University of Southern California where she designed and developed instructional and dissemination materials for institutions of higher education.  

Before joining CUE, Dr. Ramirez was a member of the WKKF-funded ENLACE y Avance research team while working as a Research Assistant in the Chicano Studies Institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).  She also holds practitioner experience in her work within Student Affairs as an Academic Advisor in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at UCSB.  Dr. Ramirez holds a master’s degree in Education and bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in Spanish from UCSB.  She earned her Ph.D. from UCSB with an emphasis in Cultural Perspectives and Comparative Education. 

Delia Pompa, Education Policy Senior Fellow, Migration Policy Institute

Delia Pompa is Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Migration Policy Institute’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy where her work focuses on research and policy analysis related to improving educational services for immigrant students and English Learners (ELs). Ms. Pompa was Senior Vice President for Programs at the National Council of La Raza, overseeing its education, health, housing, workforce development and immigrant integration work, and where she previously served as Vice President of Education. She has had a key role in shaping federal education policy through her positions as Director of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs in the U.S. Department of Education, and as Executive Director of the National Association for Bilingual Education.

Ms. Pompa came to Washington, DC to serve as Director of Education for the Children’s Defense Fund after serving as Assistant Commissioner for Program Development at the Texas Education Agency. Her previous experience as Executive Director for Bilingual and Migrant Education in the Houston Independent School District and as a bilingual classroom teacher and instructor to prospective teachers at the graduate level has anchored her work.

Martha Zaragoza-Diaz, Founder, Zaragoza-Diaz and Associates

Martha Zaragoza-Diaz is founder of Zaragoza-Diaz and Associates, a government relations firm in Sacramento California. She is a registered lobbyist with the State of California and has over thirty years of experience advocating for public policies that maintain and advance the interests of students in California’s  K-12 public education system, including students who are English Learners. Her work also includes monitoring and acting on proposed regulations affecting her clients. Her many years of education policy making and advocacy has allowed her to develop relationships with key policymakers and staff in the State Capitol and relevant state entities.  

Prior to establishing the firm, Ms. Zaragoza-Diaz served as Director of Governmental Affairs to the State Department of Education, legislative representative for the State Council on Developmental Disabilities; Senior Consultant to the Assembly Health Committee and Executive Director of the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center in Union City California. Her accomplishments include writing and shepherding legislation such as the English Language Development standards, primary language academic assessments, the State Seal of Biliteracy, skilled nursing home reform and the establishment of the licensing category for chemical dependency recovery hospitals.

Ms. Zaragoza-Diaz has a Master's Degree in Public Health from the School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Mills College in Oakland California.