Biography

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She also directs the Community Leadership Center and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School. Throughout her academic career, she has established a track record in coordinating large-scale programs and private and public ventures that bring together external and internal stakeholders from a range of organizations, including government, business, non-profits and philanthropic sectors at the local, national and international levels. As a leading scholar, researcher, speaker, and international cross-cultural training consultant, Dr. Santiago brings over 25 years of experience in program development and innovation, social entrepreneur, research, fundraising, strategic planning, school development and leadership training. She writes and speaks widely on the areas of community development, public policy, School Leadership and education, migration, diversity management and, organizational leadership. In 2016-2017, Dr. Santiago was the recipient of the Fulbright bright Specialist Award for research and professional training in Paraguay, South America. In 2017, Dr. Santiago received Cabrini Ivy Young Willis & Martha Willis Dale Award, which recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions in the field of Public Affairs and Community Development. Dr. Santiago is also the recipient of the 2018 Power of Woman Award, Presented by Lupe Fund. In May 2018, Dr. Santiago was the Keynote Speaker at the Cabrini University Commencement for the Master’s Degree Students and received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Dr. Santiago’s record of service and the impact of her work on poor children/families, minorities, and community are exemplary by any standard. She is a passionate and enthusiastic educator, who has focused her professional acumen on helping people to be able to become self-reliant citizens through education and professional development. Her work on behalf of children and families has resulted in the development of a national and international model for public schools for poor children. Her model LEAP charter school in Camden City today serves 2,000 plus students from infancy through college and has become a national model for serving families and children through a number of LEAP portfolio schools in Camden City. Dr. Santiago has built and designed a pipeline from cradle to-16th five LEAP schools in Cooper Street, from ELRA (Early Research Academy) to LEAP STEAM-Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. She has a 100% graduation and college placement rate for all her graduates. Her educational model and pioneer work is breaking grounds in the field of education nationally and internationally. She has fundraised over 100 million dollars to finance her projects. She is known as the “Patron saint of Cooper Street”. Dr. Santiago’s work through the Rutgers-Community Leadership Center is broadening and deepening the leadership base in the USA and International communities and beyond. She spearheads a number of signature projects with local, national and international impact in areas of School Leadership, Innovation, School Transformation, Social Entrepreneurship, diversity management, organizational behavior, leadership development and community development. As a faculty member, Dr. Santiago’s agenda in the areas of research, teaching, and service provide the impetus for her tireless efforts in developing programs and new approaches to tackle fundamental social problems. She has been successful in translating her research and empirical work into real policy strategies that have garnered a number of important contributions, such as charter school legislation in New Jersey; the enactment of important legislation impacting on women and the education of urban children. Dr. Santiago is the author of numerous articles and three books, entitled The Miracle on Cooper Street, Lessons from an Inner City, Breaking Ground and Barriers: Hispanic Women Developing Effective Leadership and Organizing Puerto Rican Migrant Farmworkers, available for purchase at Amazon.com. She is also a blogger for US World News, the Huffington Post, and is a commentator for ABC, MSNBC, NBC, and CBS News on issues of education and Community Development.

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Introduction Puerto Rico’s recovery after the catastrophic events caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 requires a sustained and large-scale strategy that engages multiple sectors, the political establishment, and the residents of the Island. Given that Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States, it also requires a bipartisan …

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