2023 LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER
Voice4Equity is excited to announce Dr. Carmen I. Ayala as recipient of the first annual Voice4Equity Lifetime Achievement Award. Each year, this award will be given to one executive education leader who is recognized as a major contributor to the work of equity and social justice in our nation’s schools and school systems. Due to her lifelong dedication to the field of education, her leadership at the classroom, school, district and state level, Dr. Ayala is a well deserving candidate. She will be recognized in person at the When Women Lead Summit, taking place in Vancouver, WA, June 19-21, 2023.
Dr. Ayala became superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education in March 2019. Prior to her appointment at the state level. she served as the superintendent of Berwyn North School District 98, where she made a lasting impact by steadfastly turning around lower-performing schools. Over her nearly 40 year career in education, she held a variety of roles, including assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Plainfield District 202, and director of School Improvement and Programs at Community Consolidated School District 300. She was also assistant superintendent, director of Bilingual Services, and teacher in Aurora East School District 131. She began her career in education as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools.
Dr. Ayala’s service has included numerous boards and committees, including the Illinois State Board of Education Bilingual Advisory Council, Illinois Women in Educational Leadership, Illinois Resource Center, and the Illinois Professional Review Panel for Evidence-Based Funding. She also served as an executive board member on the Latino Policy Forum, where she championed equitable funding and increased resources for English Learners.
Throughout her career, Dr. Ayala has received multiple honors, including the 2020 Puerto Rican Arts Alliance Distinguished Woman Education Award, 2019 Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents Leaders in Education: Latinx Impact Award, 2018 Leadership Award, and the 2002 Excellence in Education Award from the League of Latin American Citizens, as well as the 2002 Kane County Distinguished Educator Award. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College with a focus on bilingual-bicultural education and Spanish literature. She later earned her master’s degree in business administration from Dominican University and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago.