Families In Schools (FIS) is pleased to announce the recipients of the ninth annual Excellence in Parent Engagement Awards. FIS established the Excellence in Parent Engagement Awards in 2010 to honor the legacy and leadership of Maria Casillas, our founding president. As an agent of change, Maria Casillas has dedicated her life to building partnerships to strengthen our schools, our communities, and our civic society. She is an exemplary role model and advocate for parent engagement who led FIS from 2000 – 2010.
This award recognizes the extraordinary achievements of community leaders in successfully promoting and implementing policies or best practices that facilitate opportunities for underserved families to guide, support, and advocate for their children’s education.
After a thorough selection process conducted by a committee of esteemed community members, the top three recipients have been selected. The winners include:
- Maribel Lopez, Director of Community Leadership, GO Public Schools – West Contra Costa
- Lilia Mitre, Director of Parent Partnerships, Equitas Academy
- Bilma Ruano, Parent Volunteer, Anaheim Elementary School District
- Erika Tracy, Education Director, Hoopa Valley Tribe
It was our honor to celebrate these outstanding leaders at the 2019 Alliance Summit & Excellence In Parent Engagement Awards. To learn more about these outstanding leaders please read their bios below.
Erika Eva (Chase) Tracy is the Education Director of the Hoopa Valley Tribe where she lives and works in Na:tinixw, the Hoopa Valley Reservation, located in the northern interior of Humboldt County, California. She is an enrolled citizen of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and also a descendant of the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York. She is a graduate of Hoopa Valley High School, holds a B.A. from Stanford University in Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, and an M.A. in Human and Social Development from the University of Victoria. She has proudly spent the majority of her career working with Indigenous students of all ages, in her homelands, striving to strengthen community-based education that is reflective of and centered around the rich cultures, languages, experiences, strengths, and values each student holds.
Bilma Ruano, is the proud mother of three girls attending Mann Elementary in the Anaheim Elementary School District. Seven years ago, she met with the Principal and the FACE Community Liaison. She was critical, defensive, and felt uncomfortable. She was supported with translation and was invited to look at the school from the ‘inside out’. She became involved in the school as a volunteer, in the Parent Teacher Association (PTA), School Site Council and saw an improvement in her daughters’ academics and attitude towards education. She has grown as a parent and parent leader in a variety of roles including facilitating multiple parent education classes, being a part of the PTA leadership, and as a Parent Leadership Institute instructor. As a result of these experiences, she is currently serving as the chairperson of the district DAC/DELAC advisory committee supporting twenty-three schools. She is a champion for her children’s school, district, and most importantly, a role model for her girls.
Lilia Mitre serves the students and families of Equitas Academy as the Director of Parent Partnerships. As the first university graduate in her family, she knows the power and endless opportunities that come with a college degree. Lilia strongly believes in the Equitas mission of preparing students to graduate from four-year colleges and universities and works relentlessly to ensure they are prepared for college and beyond all while engaging their families on the path to and through college. Lilia finds great joy working closely with families and supporting parents in becoming strong advocates in their child’s education. Being the daughter of immigrant parents, Lilia sees her own family’s experience in the families she supports. She works closely with parents to support their leadership development, as parent leadership is essential and key to achieving significant change within schools and communities. She is passionate about building and growing strong relationships amongst all stakeholders that will ultimately lead to high academic achievement and success for all scholars.
Maribel Lopez is the Director of Community Leadership for GO Public Schools WCC in Richmond, CA. She has deep experience as a former West Contra Costa student, teacher, and current parent of two daughters that attend WCCUSD schools. Maribel was named WCCUSD teacher of the year in 2015 and uses her experiences to help create trusting relationships with families and decision-makers centered around social justice. Maribel developed and leads the GO Family Leaders Program (FLP) which is a structured, cohort-based experience in which Family Leaders Program (FLP) which is a structured, cohort-based experience in which Family Leaders learn to harness their innate power by developing skills and strategies to support their advocacy efforts. Maribel holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley in Social Welfare, a CA multiple subjects teaching credential and a Masters in Urban Education from Loyola Marymount University.