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Bringing your full self to the board room

  • Antonio Pares

Antonio Parés jokes that he married LEE. From being a Policy & Advocacy Summer Fellow to being the spouse of one of LEE’s first employees — and a whole host of volunteering and programming in between — he’s gotten pretty close.

But Antonio is also a civic leader, serving as a gubernatorial appointee to the Colorado Charter School Institute Board. Appointed roles on boards or commissions are a powerful way to make an impact on students, grow policy and elected leadership experience, and advise the government in key decision making. Antonio believes too few people know about appointed roles and how they allow citizens to leverage their expertise in a voluntary advisory capacity to the local government.

“We often assume that these types of opportunities are reserved for an elite few, but it’s the complete opposite. These positions are for us, all of us, and we just have to be willing to step up and take it.

Along with eight other board members, Antonio oversees 39 charter schools, serving 17,500 students between prekindergarten and 12th grade each year. He is responsible for an annual budget of over $300 million and makes decisions about the opening of new charter schools, renewing of successful ones, and closing of underperforming locations.

Antonio brings his experiences as a Latino, former educator, and Colorado native with him to the board. He recognizes that educational equity sits at the intersection of gender, ability, sexuality, class, and race and that in order to fairly represent students, we need diverse experiences and voices at the decision-making table.

“The only way we end educational inequity is sharing power and access with those who are most marginalized and harmed by the system. If you’re deciding to open a school or change a policy and you’re not talking to and bringing in the youth, families, and individuals that are impacted, then you are not going to solve anything. You might make things worse.”

If you want to learn more about appointed opportunities in your community, and how LEE can help you become a decisionmaker in your community, apply for your region’s Board and Commissions Cohort by September 30.