AFT Vice President
Karla Hernández-Mats is the president of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers union in the southeastern United States. Hernández-Mats served her first term as president from 2016 to 2019 and was elected for a second term by 73 percent. Prior to becoming president, she served as UTD’s secretary/treasurer from 2013 to 2016.
In 2018, Hernández-Mats led the charge to mobilize teachers and the Miami-Dade community, helping to pass Referendum 362, an initiative put forth by the United Teachers of Dade to give public school teachers a salary raise and improve security in schools. To date, this is the largest pay increase in the history of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, garnering support from more than 70 percent of Miami-Dade voters.
Her goal as a UTD leader is to have a profound impact on education policy and ensure a sound future for all children attending Miami-Dade County Public Schools. In July 2019, Hernández-Mats was recognized by Miami Today as part of its Achiever Series for her work in advancing public education throughout the Miami-Dade community.
Hernández-Mats serves on the Florida Education Association Governance Board, the FEA Executive Cabinet, the Florida AFL-CIO’s executive board, the Children’s Trust’s executive board and the Education Fund’s executive board, and she serves as the chairperson of the AFT’s Women’s Rights Committee.
She often speaks to national groups about the challenges public education teachers face and is an ardent advocate for immigration reform and the protection of children’s rights. In this role, she has served as a featured speaker and presenter for the AFT, the National Education Association, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, the Miami Women’s March and the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
Born and raised in Miami, Hernández-Mats is a first-generation American of Honduran descent and is the first Hispanic officer to be elected to the United Teachers of Dade. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in emotionally handicapped education and a master’s degree in business management from St. Thomas University.
Before dedicating her life and career to advocating for public education, Hernández-Mats expressed her love for public service in the classroom, where she taught for more than 10 years. In 2010, she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School for her outstanding work with special needs children. In 2017, she took a delegation of Miami-Dade educators to Haiti to educate students and staff at Sant Twa Ti Flé school.
Hernández-Mats is happily married and the mother of two. In addition to her advocacy and social justice work with the United Teachers of Dade, she is an active member of her church, where she volunteers her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.
Biography updated October 2020