Community Advocate and Strategist
Key Note - Everyone has the power to contribute something towards making change. It is not only the charismatic leader on the microphone or the legislator on the congressional floor who can make a difference. Individual talents, roles, spheres of influence, perspectives, and interests build and shape movements. There is no single right way to engage civically. Movements for large change benefit from a broad base of people engaging, cross-sector, in a variety of ways but moving toward the same goal. Participants will be challenged to think about their vision for the future, priorities for change, and how they can best contribute to making that change a reality.
Reyna Hernandez is a longtime community advocate who has dedicated her career to supporting education, leadership development, and capacity-building, particularly in Latino and immigrant communities. She has worked to empower youth, families, educators, and advocates to better understand, navigate, and engage with the various systems around them, serving as a bridge between communities and policy. She is currently Director of Research and Policy Development at the National Association for Family, School, and Community Engagement.
She also provides strategic support to nonprofits, startups, school districts, and community-based efforts. Reyna previously served as Assistant Superintendent at the Illinois State Board of Education for five years, working to address educational equity across Illinois. She oversaw the Division of English Language Learners, Early Childhood, and family and community engagement initiatives, leading efforts to develop and implement policies for a statewide family engagement framework, a framework for equitable access and excellence for English Learners, the State Seal of Biliteracy, and expansion of state preschool.
She has also served as adjunct faculty at DePaul University, teaching educators about the contextual and policy issues impacting Latinos and English learners in education. Her previous experiences include advocating as a Research and Policy Associate at the Latino Policy Forum, engaging families as the Community Education Parent Facilitator at Waukegan CUSD 60, and engaging youth in their own leadership development as educational director and trustee at the National Hispanic Institute. Reyna graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Harvard University and holds a J.D. from New York Law School.