The Faith and Education Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) is a very select group of key faith leaders across the United States identified by their commitment to education, particularly among the Hispanic population. They were chosen to provide a voice in representation of high/equal standards in education comparable across every state. We will look to them to assist us in calling upon the family of faith to stand up for education equity in our American public school systems so that we might have high and equal stands comparable across all states. (Leadership Advisory Council Members are listed National first, then alphabetically by state.)
Dr. Antipas L. Harris (National)
Dr. Harris is a man of many talents. From humble beginnings in a small Holiness-Pentecostal church, founded and pastored by his parents, to ultimately becoming an accomplished leader in many industries. Dr. Harris approaches every project and assignment with passionate effort to fulfill God’s purpose for his life. His objective is simple; to help people overcome distress, to reinforce faith, to impart comfort through the arts and to provide stability through education. Harris is a true force to be reckoned with, and he’s not done yet. His motto is “Rise to the Call.” Antipas grew up in a small rural town called Manchester, Georgia, with a population of approximately 4,000 people. He is the second born of eight children– five boys and three girls. Harris discovered his passion for religion, music and the arts in his parents’ church. A child prodigy, Harris first revealed his gifts of music at 2 years old. By 12 years old, Harris was the lead musician at his home church.
Antipas’ passion was further realized when he founded a singing group with his family that became known as A7. A7 often infused R&B and gospel elements into their “urban inspirational” music. The group became internationally known with their Billboard chart hit single, “Don’t Walk Away”.
Elda M. Rojas (National)
Elda Rojas has more than 20 years of strong pedagogical and leadership experience, she has been very successful in initiating and implementing support services for Newcomers and English language learners, which have led to significant increases in student academic performance and an increase in graduation rates. Her strengths include results-based leadership, excellent communication and networking skills and the ability to lead and inspire a team in order to increase student achievement and build district capacities. Due to positive student outcomes and program impact, many of the initiatives she helped to pioneer have been recognized at the national level through the U.S. Department of Education and has been asked to present at numerous national and international conferences in order to share with other leaders. Elda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s from Harvard University (B.A. 1992), and Summa Cum Laude with a Master’s from Texas State University (M.Ed.1998).
Dr. Dee Stokes (National)
Ministry, intentional leadership, and kingdom education are the areas closest to Dr. Dee Stokes’s heart. Dr. Stokes spent 18 years as a basketball coach before her desires and dreams shifted and led her to retire from coaching to work in ministry full time. Her desire to be the best in her field as a coach was replaced with the call to ministry.
Dr. Stokes worked at such institutions as the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Texas A&M University, Winthrop University, and the University of Nebraska as an assistant coach. Stokes was head coach at East Carolina University, Winston-Salem State University, and Southeastern University. She was also an Assistant Professor of Education at Southeastern. She also has 10 years as a University professor, facilitator, adjunct, and school administrator while serving as the President/CEO of Dee Stokes Ministries, Inc.
Dr. Stokes holds the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership, and an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) in Educational Leadership from Liberty University. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from UNC Charlotte as well as a Masters of Public Administration from DeVry University. Her research interests include emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, transformational leadership, and burnout. Because of her research in these areas, Dr. Stokes travels globally preaching and presenting cultural intelligence and leadership workshops.
While continuing to evangelize and operate the ministry, Pastor Dee is also a member of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s (NHCLC) Faith and Education Coalition (www.faithandeducation.com), and a member of the United States National Prayer Council. Always a lifelong learner, Dr. Stokes loves studying Theology, and has done so at Asbury Theological Seminary, with the goal of one day teaching Theology at a Bible school or Seminary.
Yvette Santana (California)
Yvette Santana has served the Lord and the Church since her youth. Her passions are education and women’s ministry and ensuring that all have an equal opportunity to fulfill their dreams and live up to their God-given potential.
She holds a Masters degree in Educational Psychology and a Bachelor’s in Sociology. She served as a counselor in a K-12 urban school setting, working specifically with at-risk youth. Currently, she serves as Women’s Discipleship Coordinator for the Church of God SW Region.
Charles S. Gilford III (Colorado)
Charles Salvador Gilford III is a 29-year-old A Colorado native and aspiring leader of social reform and innovation, His undergraduate degree was ascertained at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s (CU) Leeds School of Business with a Bachelor of Science in Management/Human Resources with a International Business, Leadership, and Law Certificate. During his tenure at CU, Charles served on several boards and because of his dedication to the interests of all students became one of the youngest Student Body President’s in the +30,000 student institution’s history. Known during his term for his passion for equality, diplomatic solutions, and grassroots leadership, Charles had the unique opportunity of seeing how leaders can, as Rudyard Kipling would put it, “walk with kings nor loose the common touch.” His tenacity for justice, connection to the people, and his ability to inspire people to action is what makes him unique. A proud husband, future father, resident of Aurora, man of Faith, civic servant, and God Father of 5 beautiful God daughters, and 1 God son; Charles believes that world can change for the better with every passing day. Known for his encouraging posts on social media, his empowering speeches to thousands of youths, as well as his grassroots presence and service in the community, Charles is a source of motivation, wisdom, and advocacy. He is gifted in his ability to use everyday occurrences, challenges, and experiences to inspire a person to see the greatness that lies within them. Life is not an arbitrary phenomenon but was predestined gift to us all in the eyes of Charles. We all have a sense of destiny as an arrival point, the vehicle of life as transportation, and the fuel of faith and passion to get us there. The issue often lies with knowing what our destination is. Charles’ purpose is to be the alchemist that patiently provokes you to seek the latitude of interpersonal relevance and the longitude of celestial connection to help you realize that the coordinates of your destiny and greatness lie within you. He presently serves as President of the Urban League Young Professionals group, is a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a member of DAAP (Denver African American Philanthropists), recently graduated the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Denver program, as well the Impact Denver Leadership Program, and remains heavily involved in his community and his beloved church.
Rigo Mendez (Colorado)
Rigo Mendez was born in Denver, CO, and raised in El Paso, Texas. He graduated with Honors from Ashford University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology. He is a former Teacher of the Year Award Winner and taught elementary students for 10 years. Rigo is currently working as a case manager with children with disabilities ranging from newborns up to 17yrs old. Rigo has extensive experience under the non- profit sector as a District Youth President for the Messengers of Peace, Youth Pastor, and currently serves as an Assistant Pastor/Elder at The Potters House of Denver (La Casa Del Alfarero) under the direction of Dr. E. Christopher Hill.
Nitza Diaz (Connecticut)
Nitza M. Diaz is an Education Consultant, with the State Education Resource Center and the CT Parent Information and Resource Center. Through the provision of training, coaching and technical assistance, Nitza provides and designs professional development for educators, community organizations, and faith-based leaders. As Latina/Puerto Rican, parent, and educator she draws from her own experience to help others understand of how systemic racism, poverty and inequities have an effect in schools and in communities. Nitza holds B.A. degree (1995) from Mount Holyoke College, a Masters in Public Health and Masters of Arts from the University of Connecticut (2007) and is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Anthropology of the University of Connecticut.
My commitment to education reform has been shaped by experiences gained since the age of fifteen when I arrived to a high school in the United States. It was there that I was learning English, and also educating others about my identity and culture in ways that promoted positive collaboration and minimize biases and negative assumptions. During this period, I learned that as an educational leader, one must be able to be innovated, visionary, passionate about equity and diversity, a collaborator and view others from a strength based perspective. I learned that working in collaboration and from a strengths-based perspective is a way to create and sustain change, while minimizing biases and perceptions about others.
Daniel Sarmiento (DC & surrounding areas)
Daniel Sarmiento serves as Pastor of Connections at Fairfax Community Church (FCC) located just outside of Washington D.C. Prior to serving at FCC, Daniel was the Executive Director at Edu-Futuro, a non-profit dedicated to the mission of empowering Latino and immigrant youth to become the next generation of leaders and professionals.
Born in in Denver, Colorado, he is the son of Mexican immigrants and is passionate about preparing students and parents to succeed via the power of education. He has dedicated his life’s work to helping youth become leaders through his work in ministry, as a youth pastor, by directing a national college empowerment program at the Hispanic College Fund and through his work at Edu-Futuro. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Hope International University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude. Daniel and his wife have two small children and enjoy exploring historical sites in the area.
Joel Ceballo (Florida)
Joel Ceballo advises the NHCLC’s Education Initiative on engaging parents, church leaders, and educators on actionable strategies to lower the national Hispanic high school drop out rate. A champion of Higher Standards, Joel works to ensure that students graduating from high school are well prepared to enter college or join the workforce and thrive. Joel earned his Bachelor of Science from Syracuse University and has a Certified Financial Planning Certificate from Barry University. Recently, Joel served as architect of Hispanic America: Faith, Values and Priorities – a landmark study published by Barna and commissioned by American Bible Society, Barna: Hispanic, OneHope and the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. A South Florida resident, Joel enjoys being mentor and dad to his three sons and being coached by his exceptionally smart and tenacious Papillon, Mio.
Cecilia Negron-Martinez (Illinois)
My name is Cecilia Negron-Martinez. I was born in Chicago, IL. I am currently Associate Pastor for Church of God I work alongside my Pastor and Bishop, Efrain Navas. I have been in ministry since I was 18 years old. Started out as President of our Youth Association. After I got married in 1989, I became a Sunday School teacher, then Superintendent of Christian Education. Afterwards, I became the Director and Pastor of our Children’s Ministry for 10 years. I have been an Associate Pastor for seven years and received my credentials 2 years ago. I am currently a student at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary and will be graduating in May with a certificate in Biblical studies. I am the mother of two beautiful daughters, Mitzie and Michelle and have been married to my very supportive husband Martin for past 26 years! My motto is, “I was born to do great things and those great things are to serve others and to serve God!”
Dr. Art McCoy (Missouri)
Art McCoy, Ph.D., is a champion for students and an inspiring education leader who has led over 120,000 students in the St. Louis region and supported over 1 million students and 2,500 schools and colleges across America. In 1996, he became the youngest certified teacher in Missouri teaching mathematics in at age 19. He became a Grade Level Principal in 1999, District K-12 Gifted Director in 2002, and Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UM-St. Louis) as well as guest lecturer and speaker at the College of William and Mary, Lindenwood, Maryville, and St. Louis Community College from 2003 to date. In 2005, Dr. McCoy became the Executive Director of VICC and Student Services for Rockwood and created scores of programs and added new procedures for greater student support, access, and achievement. In 2008, he became Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, was later named the youngest and, also, the first African-American Superintendent of Ferguson-Florissant School District in December 2010 at 33. Dr. McCoy led the district to earn much recognition including the Urban Overachiever Award for outstanding graduation rates. Dr. McCoy is a state and national leader for Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity Initiative and economic development grants for developing college and career pathways for students (grades 7-14). He is the founder and president of SAGES Consulting LLC and SAGES Academy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. In 2014, he served as an education adviser to the Missouri House and Senate and helped write state laws for education equity. He served as Superintendent-in-Residence of MIND Research Institute for the 2014-15 school year and Base 11’s national advisory board, consulting on workforce development programs. Dr. McCoy earned his doctorate of philosophy in education with an emphasis in education leadership and policy studies from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and is an alumnus of Harvard University’s Leadership Institute for Superintendents post-graduate program. He is a recipient of Harvard’s Pathways to Prosperity grant for workforce development and career pathways. He has been recognized for numerous awards a few of which include the National Bar Association Sankofa Award, the Extraordinary African-American Trailblazer Award by The Royal Vagabonds, Inc., which is a non-profit philanthropic organization, and the Silver Beaver Award by the Board Scouts of America.
Benjamin Beato (New Hampshire)
My name is Benjamin Beato. I was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I’m the oldest of three siblings. I was 15 years old when I came to the United States in 2005. I graduated high school with high honors in 2008. The same year that I reconciled with my Lord Jesus Christ. I was the first in my family to go to college and get a degree. I had to face numerous challenges to succeed, such as the language barrier and the lack of financial resources but nothing stopped me from reaching my goals.
In parallel, the Lord allowed me to work in the ministry inside and outside the church, from directing the radio ministry, cleaning the temple and being part of the executive board. I also had the opportunity to travel in several missions to the Dominican Rep.
My passion has always been working with young people. Currently, I am a teacher and youth leader at my church. I have been given the chance to work at the regional level too, including churches in RI, PA and SC. Also I am employed full time for a utility company. In both areas, my job is to work and guide people all the time.
My goal is to use my example to help other young people to fight and work for your goals personally and spiritually as well. Today I can say that I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. It has been a long process but with effort and constancy we can reach even further.
Paul Perez (New Mexico)
Paul Perez Program & Compliance Director at The New America School Albuquerque NM. Educational Consultant at Pathways Program Management. Associate: Community Development Consulting Associates Albuquerque, New Mexico Area New Mexico Hispanic Education Advisory Committee – Student Achievement Team Member (HEAC-SAT) Paul Perez has over 27 years of experience in serving multicultural communities with a background in Leadership, Human Services Management, Education, Psychology, Resource Management, and Organizational Climate. He has experience in virtual learning serving as the Project Coordinator at the High School Virtual Learning Opportunity Center in rural New Mexico and currently serves as Program & Compliance Director at The New America School Albuquerque NM. The mission of The New America Schools is to empower new immigrants, English language learners, and academically underserved students with the educational tools and support they need to maximize their potential, succeed and live the American dream. He is a School Board of Education founding member for the Pecos Connections Virtual Academy K-12 , Carlsbad, New Mexico. He also serves on the New Mexico Public Education Department Hispanic Education Advisory Committee – Student Achievement Team Member (HEAC-SAT). Paul received his Bachelors of Science in Human Services Management and a Masters of Education in Teacher Leadership from the University of Phoenix. Paul is currently pursuing his doctorate in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University. Paul also served in the United States Navy from 1986-2006.
Rev. Luis R. Vizcarrondo, MDiv. (Ohio)
I was born in Santurce, P.R. and raised in Carolina, P.R. During my childhood, I dedicated my time and self to sports, mainly baseball. During this period, I traveled all over different cities in P.R., won championships, titles, and represented P.R. in this sport. Baseball helped me stay away from drugs, develop leadership skills, and much more. During my last year of high school, from 1978-1979, I accepted Jesus as my savior and dedicated my life to following Jesus. I have been with the same church organization from which I accepted Jesus into my life, since 1978.
After my high school graduation in 1979, I started studying at the Inter-American University from P.R. (main campus) in which I graduated in 1983 with a Bachelor in Arts with two degrees, accounting, and management. Most of my initial spiritual formation was learned during this time. Also, I was honor to preside the “Asociacion Cristiana Universitaria” (ACU) during my last year of college (1982-1983).
On July 19, 1987, God opened the doors for me to travel to Cleveland, Ohio and plant a church with the same organization. I was ordained as a minister in June 1987 in Rio Piedras, P.R. In March 1989, I married my lovely wife Regina M. Diaz in her hometown of Bethlehem, P.A. We have two kids, Luis R. Jr. and Natalie M. I have been blessed with four grandkids from my beautiful children. My daughter’s kids are Aydenn, Aidanesse, and Avenn. My son has a daughter named Aaliyah.
In 1988, I started working for the Ohio Department of Taxation as an auditor in the sales and use tax, audit division. Next year, I am planning to retire from this company. In 2001, I got certified as Microsoft Office Master trainer and currently support the audit division in computer applications with training and some special projects.
In 2012, I obtained a diploma in Theology of Hispanic Studies from Ashland Theological Seminary, offered through the Galilean Theological Center in Cleveland, Ohio. It was during these studies that my life changed and found a new purpose in ministry for education, especially during this time in my career. I continued my theological studies at Indiana Wesleyan University, where I completed my master degree in Divinity on April 30, 2016.
I am still a bi-vocational pastor of the same church I started in Cleveland, Ohio since 1987. As a pastor, I have been involved with the community, city council and the mayor to assist and improve our communities.
Robert Reyes, Ph.D., CFLE (Pennsylvania)
Dr. Robert Reyes is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico. At Messiah College he serves as Professor of Human Development and Family Science. Most recently he served as research director for the Center for Intercultural Teaching and Learning (CITL) and professor of sociology at Goshen College (Goshen, Indiana). Prior to moving to Indiana in 2007, he served for 11 years at Messiah College as assistant and associate professor of human development and family science and director of the Latino Partnership program.
The aim of CITL (now Center for International and Intercultural Education) was to study and disseminate findings on the nature and process of intercultural teaching and learning, particularly as it related to issues of access, transition and adaptation to college by Latino students in the Midwest. At CITL Dr. Reyes was instrumental in the development of the Center’s post-doctoral research fellowship program, as well as, the development of a demographic/ educational study of Latinos in North Central Indiana. The study was done in collaboration with the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Dr. Reyes earned a Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Studies (1995) and Master of Divinity in marriage and family (1992) from Fuller Seminary. He is a Certified Family Life Educator and Clinical Member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. His research interests include: the study of acculturative stress and coping among Latino families, and the study of moral/social capital among immigrant parents and its impact on parental involvement.
His wife Audrey is a Registered Dietitian and works as a clinical dietitian at West Shore Hospital in Mechanicsburg, PA. They are also the proud parents of three wonderful children: Kelsey (18 yrs. old), Lyndsey (16 yrs. old) and Daniel (14 yrs. old).
Summer Vertrees (Tennessee)
Summer Vertrees has been a educator for 12 years, teaching students ranging from 7th grade summer school and high school dual enrollment, to juniors at four year universities as well as on-line college enrollees. Her main focus is in the realm of English Rhetoric and Composition, where she has spent most of the past decade instructing and inspiring students to be better writers.
Danny Cancino (Texas-Central)
Danny Cancino currently lives in Pflugerville, Texas and works to serve his local community through volunteering at his local church. He has served in non-profit, faith based organizational leadership roles over the past 17 years. As a husband, father and Ph.D. student in Organizational Leadership at Regent University, education and faith are both close to his heart. Growing up in a bi-vocational Pastor’s home, he understands and values the importance of faith based, Christian leadership principles in both business and church leadership.
Mateo Magdaleno (Texas-North)
Mateo Magdaleno is an internationally known, community servant leader and speaks to a wide spectrum of audiences throughout the northern hemisphere on breaking down boundaries, activating your purpose, and defying the urge to quit. Currently, Raul serves as Chief Education Officer for the IDQ Group Inc., providing innovative strategies to Fortune 500 corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, universities and school districts committed to building a stronger future by combatting the literacy epidemic, reducing the high school drop out rate, and increasing college enrollment and retention among underserved students. In this capacity, Raul serves as a bridge connecting not only public and private entities but communities as well by surpassing the labels of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and income level through the recognition that our education problem can only be solved when we move beyond what divides us and stand together as one to empower and activate our future. Raul previously served as Special Assistant to the Dean and established the Department of Diversity and Community Engagement for Southern Methodist University (SMU) Meadows School of the Arts. Under Raul’s leadership SMU enrolled more minority students in 2010 than any other year in the 100 year history of the university; he was also instrumental in securing over $10 million in financial aid for underserved students. Raul is the Founder and Chairman of The Magdaleno Leadership Institute, a non- profit organization devoted to building young servant leaders to serve as change agents and leaders in our community. Most recently, Raul was appointed by the U.S. Senate Majority Leader and confirmed by Congress, to serve a four-year term on the U.S. Congressional Award National Board of Directors, who present Congress’ highest award for youth. He also serves as an advisory board member and national spokesman for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and on the Texas Advisory Council for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. Raul currently resides in Dallas, TX where in addition to managing his own business and philanthropic work, he serves as the caregiver for his elderly mother, Maria, and is in the process of adopting his older sister, Sylvia Magdaleno, who is gifted with down syndrome.
Almarie E. Munley, Ph.D. (Virginia)
Almarie E. Munley, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and the Dean of University College at Hampton University. She assumed this position in the summer of 2014 and has committed to grow the efforts of the HU University College to provide exceptional educational programs, revitalize the Hampton Roads community, and extend the global reach of the university. She has experience in designing, developing, and implementing exceptional higher education programs in various organizational settings with success among the on-line learning platforms.
She is an invited scholar and lecturer for Leadership Studies at several renowned universities across the globe, some to include: Hong Kong Polytechnic University, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Universidad Catolica de Portugal, University of St. Joseph-Macau and Universidad Francisco Marroquin-Guatemala. Her publication list includes books, articles, and academic- conference proceedings in the areas of leadership with particular emphasis in areas of cross-cultural leadership, global leadership competencies, diversity in the workplace and women in a leadership role.
Born and raised in Guatemala, she earned her Ph.D. degree in Organizational Leadership at Regent University’s School of Global Leadership and Entrepreneurship; her M.A in Education from Regent University; her B.S from the prestigious Universidad Del Valle de Guatemala.
Info coming soon:
Hector Santos (Massachusetts)