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NYU Metro Center Announces New Deputy Executive Director of School Change and Community Engagement Programs

Headshot of Maria Hernandez

NYU Metro Center is pleased to introduce our new Deputy Director of School Change and Community Engagement Programs, Dr. María G. Hernández, who succeeds Richard Gray’s two-year tenure in the role. We are thankful to Richard Gray for his outstanding efforts and contributions over the last five years. NYU Metro Center is also thrilled that Dr. María Hernández has agreed to take the charge and we have the uttermost confidence in her ability to run with the baton during this next leg of the Center’s journey. María joins a knowledgeable and inspired NYU Metro Center senior leadership team focused on advancing equity and excellence through education, connecting to legacies of justice work through critical inquiry and research, professional development and technical assistance, community action, and collaboration.

María is an accomplished director, researcher, and administrator experienced in building the capacity of youth, families, community members, educators, and administrators to build robust and equitable schools and school districts. 

Throughout her career, María has centered a comprehensive vision of equity that serves every student by intentionally working to disrupt our nation’s history of denying educational opportunities to students of color (in particular Black, Brown, and Native/ Indigenous students), multilingual students, students with an IEP (Individualized Education Program), and those at the intersections of these identities. Newly designated Co-Director of the Innovations in Equity and Systemic Change, Reed Swier, describes Dr. Hernández’s leadership style as incorporating both empathy and advocacy. “She has cultivated countless relationships across the country based on an approach that leads with the heart, actively challenge[d] inequities and [has been] unwavering in centering our students who deserve to be seen, celebrated and affirmed in our schools.”

Dr. Hernández has over 15 years of experience working with and researching recently arrived immigrant Latinx children and families. In addition, she has overseen various elementary school programs; developed and managed extended summer learning programs for English/multilingual learners; created partnerships between schools, communities, and families; and worked with families of young children with developmental delays. She has also served on task forces developed to improve access to equitable education and experiences, and academic outcomes for Latinx students.

As the founding Director [and now Co-Director alongside Reed Swier] of the Innovations in Equity and Systemic Change (IESC) at NYU Metro Center, María guided the creation and execution of action plans with multiple school districts to change system policies and practices to develop equitable education systems. For a decade, Dr. Hernández coached pre-K-12 school leadership and educators in developing culturally responsive-sustaining education practices by providing technical assistance and training as well as developing systemic evidence-based solutions.

NYU Metro Center Executive Director, Fabienne Doucet, describes Dr. María Hernández as “...a thoughtful and gifted leader … [who] brings years of experience providing research-informed technical assistance and professional learning support to school districts, education leaders, and educators.” 

The Deputy Executive Director of School Change and Community Engagement plays a critical role in conducting the mission of NYU Metro Center by supporting our School Change and Community Engagement sub-units in building the capacity of youth, families, community members, educators, and administrators to develop equitable schools and school districts that foster student success. 

Within her new role, Dr. María G. Hernández will lead the administrative, programmatic, and strategic plans for NYU Metro Center’s school change initiatives. As the Deputy Executive Director of School Change and Community Engagement, María will also bolster outreach and external partnership opportunities with educational service and management providers across the country. She will also work with the NYU Metro Center sub-units to augment systems-building, evidence-based practices, and coaching techniques for education advocates and organizers.

We are excited to have Dr. María G. Hernández assume this senior leadership position with NYU Metro Center. Fabienne Doucet, NYU Metro Center Executive Director lauds the selection of Dr. Hernández to this impactful role, noting that “... her vision for the School Change and Community Engagement unit will ensure its continued success and the success of the NYU Metro Center as a national leader in championing equity efforts on behalf of historically marginalized youth, families, and communities.” Longtime colleague, Reed Swier, also marvels at the dynamism that Dr. Hernández brings to her new position with NYU Metro Center. “She has moved individuals and [school] systems and carved a path for so many (including myself) to do the same.” The Deputy Executive Director of School Change and Community Engagement will play a vital part in the execution of NYU Metro Center’s mission to advance excellence in education, diligently leading efforts to bring equity-based solutions to the schools, classrooms, and the other settings that impact the lives of our children.

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