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2021 Latina of Influence | Vanessa D. Marrero, MSW

2021 Latina of Influence | Vanessa D. Marrero, MSW

Hispanic Lifestyle is pleased to recognize Executive Director, Vanessa D. Marrero, MSW as a 2021 Latina of Influence. Annually Hispanic Lifestyle acknowledges the achievements of Latinas who make a difference in our community.

Mrs. Marrero shares her bi-cultural and bi-lingual skills, dispositions, and experiences to cultivate others like me to ensure we serve as change agents for the country’s most vulnerable young people. With her over 20 years of service to educational initiatives focused on students in incarceration, rehabilitation, and alternative education settings, she has ensured systems of care where they persist and thrive in the world. My excitement about the opportunity to highlight her service role stems from her demonstrable fervent passion and commitment to support system leaders, practitioners, and their teams to build models of care and alternative initiatives that strengthen the human, social, and economic conditions of our most impacted communities. As a visionary leader, Mrs. Marrero brings to every facet of work a diversified background coordinating and managing educational initiatives as well as institutional and legislative expertise within juvenile justice and non-profit agencies to research, build capacity, and use data-informed practice when developing programs. She leads with a future-focused, strategic planning mindset, rooted in culturally-responsive policies, practices, and people.

This work has centered around empowering and building relationships between educational programs, coalitions, and stakeholders to develop equitable access and mitigate the school-to-prison pipeline. She possesses the training, experience, and demonstrated proficiency in 1) employing an entrepreneurial mindset to transform strategic plans into tactical initiatives; 2) implementing solutions to organizational challenges and leveraging decisiveness to minimize risk and maximize performance; and 3) motivating and coaching cross-functional teams to develop creative problem solving for complex issues.

Currently, Mrs. Marrero serves as a state-wide, senior-level leader responsible for the oversight, evaluation, and growth of Cal-PASS Plus, an intersegmental data science and equity initiative serving 3 million public school students across the state of California from K-12 to the workforce. As a strategic advisor to a variety of economic prosperity initiatives across the state, she collaborates with national foundations to implement strategies for professional learning to bolster state and federal categorical programs and increase the visibility of external partnership campaigns.

Prior, as Director III of College and Career Readiness for Sacramento City Unified School District, Mrs. Marrero spearheaded a team of district, non-profit, and parent leaders to implement systematic support services to grow inclusive practice frameworks in three initiatives: 1) redesigned the High School Specialty Programs Admissions Process, including launching new California Partnership Academies; 2) partnered to conduct civic action research about Defense of Learning and Dual Enrollment using analysis and recommendations to inform state-wide policy for college and career success indicators; 3) convened a city-wide cross-sector coalition of non-profit, governmental, industry, post-secondary, and research organizations to identify equity-focused community solutions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 4) developed and implemented strategic fiscal fundraising and partnership development of a 3-year plan for acquisition, development, and sustainability of workforce development efforts. This last initiative included recruiting and managing high level volunteers, revenue generation activities, expense and fiscal controls, marketing/promotions, and logistics resulting in departmental revenue growth of $4 million for 2018-2020 years for
a total budget of over $12 million.

As a systems builder, Mrs. Marrero demonstrates action and execution in her work through positions with various large urban districts and a variety of statewide professional service organizations, community-based organizations, and professional training programs. For example, as Board President of Love. Learn. Success, a non-profit extended learning organization, Mrs. Marrero was charged to ensure fiduciary governance of Prop 49, After- School Education & Safety Program (ASES), for some of the East Bay’s most economically disadvantaged K-8th grade students.

In addition, Mrs. Marrero proudly serves as a four-year advisory member of the ABMoC (Alliance of Boys and Men of Color), providing subject matter expertise and support for various state legislation. During this time, she co-authored Assembly Bill 1176, increasing GED, HiSET, College Placement preparation time for young people of incarcerated and rehabilitative institutions. She has also spoken at the Network for Public Education, a symposium for ABMoC, to ensure charter school implementation of Education Code to decrease student suspensions. Additionally, she developed a diverse and multi-generational approach to violence intervention and prevention and served as an advisor to San Francisco Unified School District senior leaders, which resulted in the passage of the first Restorative Practice Board of Education policy. Later, as co-author of the district board approved curriculum Be Real Be Ready, which addresses healthy relationships and the cycle of violence for all youth, Mrs. Marrero developed an evaluation metric that assessed results across 19 high schools to inform programmatic improvements.

Furthermore, through her relentless service and expertise with professional organizations such as the California Association of School Social Workers and Coalition for Early and Middle Colleges, she has focused on building the capacity of leaders across the state of California within all segments of education to embolden the promise of equity by instituting regional collaborations and summit events focusing on cutting edge practices, such as early college (dual enrollment) schools and use of data science to support foster youth high school and college students. With a moral imperative and urgency, Mrs. Marrero is steadfast in leveraging systemic initiatives so we can all position young people and organizations to execute competencies and aptitudes that ensure thriving social, economic, and productive life outcomes.

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