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Meet MAEC Staff – Jenny Portillo-Nacu

Collaboration and shared learning are key ingredients in how we approach equity work at MAEC. In this blog series, we want to further this idea by introducing you to an innovative, dynamic, and rising leader in our team, Senior Education Equity Specialist Jenny Portillo-Nacu! 

Read on to learn about Jenny’s book suggestions for work and relaxation, her social justice hero, and her favorite pets!

Who is an advocate or activist that you admire, and why?

Dolores Huerta – I met her at a conference this February, and it was amazing. She was a teacher and saw a great need in the communities where she taught. She then devoted her life to fighting for the rights of others. She continues to support and uplift communities through her foundation and continues “en la lucha” through activism at age 93.

What does education equity mean to you?

Education equity means designing schools as places of liberation and democratization for students, families, and communities. We often think about schools as places where kids learn so they can be prepared for the future. However, children and youth have the capacity and desire to be active citizens now. It’s our job as educators to create systems that support students to develop the knowledge and agency needed to be active in their communities throughout their lives. 

Tell us about a book in your office you think everyone should read.

I have so many, but if I had to pick one, I would highly recommend Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. I first read this book in graduate school after being a classroom teacher for a few years.  Freire’s work helped me understand the ways in which intentional pedagogy can be a force for liberation.

Tell us about a book on your bedside table you think everyone should read.

I read it a few years ago, but I still think about it – Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

What is one thing that brings you joy?

DOGS! My husband and I have two amazing dogs and started fostering dogs this spring. We’re currently on our third foster pup. Their energy and personalities always bring a smile to my face

MAEC's blog is designed to engage hearts and minds of school and district leaders across the country to engage in issues that you have identified as being essential in education. Opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the organization.

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