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    While Latino children are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. school population, only 8% of teachers, 4% of board members, and 2% of senior education leaders are Latino (Fernandez, 2018). The majority of Latino Catholic school children, may never be instructed or led by a Latina/o teacher, principal, or administrator.

    Research shows that representation matters, and Latino leadership is essential. A shared student and teacher identity (home language, ethnicity, background knowledge, lived experiences, etc.) can lead to improved academic outcomes (Dixon, 2017). Additionally, “by exposing Latino children to more leaders who look like them, it helps them imagine what they want to become and can reinforce strong self-efficacy around the value of their identities and Latinidad. It’s been said ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’” (Fernandez, 2018).


    The Alliance for Catholic Education and the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) have partnered to offer a new and exciting opportunity. The Latino Educator and Administrator Development (LEAD) program aims to strengthen the Latino voice in both the classroom and school level nationally. This initiative is designed to invite, advance, and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools, as well as develop a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this landscape.

    The LEAD program consists of a virtual welcoming gathering on July 22-24, 2020, followed by a one-year fellowship experience centered around:

    • COMMUNITY via networking
    • SPIRITUALITY through a retreat atmosphere
    • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT through presentations and workshops

    Fellowship teams, facilitated by a mentor, will work through a series of modules made available online each month. An additional opportunity for in-person fellowship will take place at the NCEA 2021 Convention and Expo in the spring. Participants will also gather for a culminating experience in July 2021 at the University of Notre Dame.

    The LEAD conference will begin with a virtual kick-off from July 22 - 24, 2020.


    Due to the generous support of an anonymous donor, the $1,600 fee of the LEAD program is being graciously underwritten. The LEAD Fellowship Scholarship covers the following expenses for cohort member's participation in the conference: summer 2021 experience (travel to campus, lodging for two nights in summer, all meals while on campus, and all materials). Additionally, the LEAD Fellowship Scholarship includes an experienced mentor who will work closely with the cohort member over the course of the academic year.

    We are looking for Latina/o educators who are passionate about improving educational opportunities for Latino children and have an interest in learning more about and pursuing leadership opportunities in Catholic schools.
    • Israel
    • Anna-Marie Silva
    • Toni Vaeth
    • Israel "Buddy" Martinez
      Principal, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School | McAllen, Texas

      Israel Martinez

      Israel “Buddy” Martinez Jr. is proud to be the principal of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School in McAllen, Texas. In 2000, Buddy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Baylor University. He would go on to complete his master’s degree in Educational Leadership in August 2012 from The University of Texas Pan American, and is expected to complete his Ed. D. in Educational Leadership in May of 2021.

      Buddy has been in education for 18 years and will be starting his 2nd year as principal of Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School. Over the past 18 years, he has worked as a coach, teacher, senior-level leader, and administrator in both the traditional and charter school system, but he considers his greatest role to be an advocate for children. Buddy’s desire to do Christ’s work is what led him to being a principal of a Catholic school. Buddy believes that being the leader of a Catholic school is a vocation and a calling. His passion for leading adults and children is what drives him daily - most significantly, his vocation and dedication to being a servant leader, and a teacher and mentor to our youth through spiritual awareness, guidance, education, and discipline.

      Buddy has been married to his wife, Lucy Martinez, D.D.S. for 12 years, and has four children, Benjamin Martinez (graduate of St. Mary’s University in SA and now graduate student at the University of the Incarnate Word), Jenna Martinez (Freshman at Texas State University in San Marcos, Class of 2024), Buddy James is a 6th grader at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School, and Madison is a 3rd grader at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School.

      Learn more about Buddy Martinez in this LEAD Mentor Spotlight.

    • Anna-Marie Silva
      Associate Superintendent | Archdiocese of Los Angeles

      Anna-Marie Silva

      Anna-Marie is a product of K-12 + Catholic education. She recently completed her fifth year as a principal at the Catholic elementary school she attended as a child. Because Anna-Marie was educated by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, she lives the mission of Transforming the World through Education. It is for this reason she decided to serve at Santa Isabel School, a Los Angeles inner-city elementary school dedicated to educating the high poverty, heavily Latino population. Despite the challenges, her school community collaboratively built relationships that helped accomplish five consecutive years of increased enrollment, technology 1:1 integration, facilities expansion, and a strategic plan created to ensure sustainability and continued growth. These relationships involved the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Loyola Marymount University, University of Notre Dame's Catholic School Advantage Campaign, numerous foundations, a research-based Professional Learning Community, and their best marketers-the parents.

      Anna-Marie is looking forward to using all of her learning experiences combined with her Loyola Marymount University education: consisting of a Masters in Education, Masters in Catholic School Administration, and Doctoral Candidacy in Educational Leadership for Social Justice. She hopes to use all she has learned as she continues to serve Catholic education in her new leadership role as a regional supervisor for the Los Angeles Archdiocese Department of Catholic Schools.

    • Toni Vaeth
      Associate Superintendent | Archdiocese of Denver

      Luis R Fraga

      Toni Vaeth grew up in a family of ten children and was only the second in her extended family of hundreds to go on to college, attending with a full-ride scholarship. She was always interested in teaching, but instead chose to first pursue a career in business. With an MBA and CPA, Toni worked in accounting, marketing, auditing, and technology management for Deloitte-Touche, Johns-Manville and The Kroger Company over a span of 15 years. She then felt called to education and pursued a Master’s in Education and started teaching in her children’s Catholic school.

      After eight years as a 5th grade teacher and participating in an archdiocesan principal formation class, she was asked to be the principal at St. Therese Catholic School in Aurora, CO. After five years at St. Therese, Toni was named Associate Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Denver. Toni and her husband have two children - a daughter who is currently attending St. Louis University and a son who will begin as a freshman at Creighton University this fall.

  • Thank you for your interest in the inaugural LEAD conference! The application to join this year's cohort is now closed, but please check back in January 2021 if you're interested in joining our next cohort. 


    • January 15, 2020: Application opens with rolling admission
    • May 13, 2020: Application deadline
    • July 22-24, 2020: LEAD Summer Conference
    • August - May, 2020: Online Modules and Mentoring
    • July 2021: On Campus Conference

    For any questions, please contact Itzxul Moreno at or 574-631-2758.

Interested in LEAD?

Applications to join the 2021 LEAD cohort will open in January. 
If you know of a Latina/o educator who is interested in learning more about pursuing a leadership opportunity in Catholic schools, you can nominate them by clicking the link below and we will reach out to him or her.
If you have any questions, please contact Itzxul Moreno (). 

LEAD 1: Important Dates

January 15, 2020: Application Opens
May 13, 2020: Application Deadline
July 22-24, 2020: Virtual Summer Conference
August - May, 2020: Online Modules and Mentoring
July 2021: On Campus Conference

Applications for LEAD Cohort 2 will open in January 2021.