Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Magaly Lavadenz

Second Advisor

William Perez

Third Advisor

Maria Ott


Across the nation, Latina/o educational leaders who serve large urban school systems face the challenges of educating historically marginalized Latinx student populations, many of whom represent a diverse group of English Learners (ELs) in school systems designed for monolingual English speakers. This study is an exploratory, qualitative, multiple case study, using testimonio methodology to document the experiences of seven Latina/o leaders across the nation to arrive at new understandings of their practices. The review of the literature focused on the sociopolitical history of Latina/o education, linguistic hegemony in schooling, and theories of leaders of color. These concepts were used were used to develop cross-testimonio analyses of the seven testimonios, which revealed five cross-case themes: (a) personal moral compass, (b) relating to students and families, (c) systemic inequities are revealed, (d) bilingual/bicultural connections, and (e) proving the right to lead.

The leaders approached their leadership through their identity as bilingual members of the same communities they led, they used their lived experiences to hire bilingual teachers, implemented dual language programs, used bilingual text, renamed English Learners to Emergent bilingual and made public data to reveal areas for improvement. They led with sympathy, compassion and a sense of community to ensure they proved why they were the right leaders. Recommendations include the need for national, state and local policies to use an asset based lens for educating Latina/o and English Learners, identification and support for more Latina/o leaders and creation of a Latina/o Leadership Framework.