Ortiz-Licon is the senior director of K-16 education for the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the nation. She lives in Long Beach.
She said she was “humbled and privileged” by the appointment and thanked the governor for the opportunity to serve on the board. “As a product of the public school system, and parent of two public school students, I view this appointment as an opportunity to serve the 6.2 million students pursuing a K-12 education,” Ortiz-Licon said.
She noted that many of California’s public school students reflect the same “at-risk profile” that she had as young student. She came from an immigrant family that struggled to make ends meet and learned English as a second language.
“I believe that my personal story is shared by many,” she said, “and that my experience can serve as an example of possibility when high expectations, quality policies, and equitable and responsive programs are centered on student needs.”
Ortiz-Licon received an Ed.D. in educational administration and leadership in 2009, as part of a joint doctoral program offered by Cal State LA and UC Irvine. She credited the program for “assembling a cadre of high caliber faculty that are well-versed in the pressing issues impacting students in the public school system.”
“In particular, I appreciate the mentorship and support of Cal State LA faculty who encouraged critical-thinking and focused on issues of equity,” Ortiz-Licon said. “The joint partnership provided an excellent combination of theory and practice and I hope to leverage my learnings to inform my role on the State Board of Education.”
She earned dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and Chicano studies from UCLA and a master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley.
The Board of Education is the policy-making body for academic standards, curriculum, instructional materials, assessments and accountability for public school children from kindergarten through high school. The board has 11 members, all of whom are appointed by the governor and serve staggered four-year terms, with the exception of the student member, who serves a one-year term.
Ryan Smith, executive director of Education Trust-West, signed a letter in support of Ortiz-Licon’s appointment. He wrote to the governor that she “has a history of fiercely advocating for English learners in her work nationally and in Los Angeles with the school board. She helped bridge the gap between community groups and the school board in L.A. and will do the same for the state board.”
Ortiz-Licon has been senior director of K-16 education for the National Council of La Raza since 2013. Prior to that, she served for six years as the organization’s regional director of education for California and the far west.
She also was director of policy for Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member David Tokofsky and a teacher for two years in the Long Beach Unified School District.
(Photo: Courtesy of Feliza Ortiz-Licon)