WASHINGTON—On Friday, July 1, Evelyn DeJesus, the executive vice president of the American Federation of Teachers, was unanimously elected to serve as the national president of the National Association for Bilingual Education. DeJesus will serve alongside Vice President Josefina Tinajero, Ph.D.; Treasurer Judith Sauri, Ph.D.; and Secretary Belinda Treviño Schouten, Ph.D.
In this role, DeJesus will lead the NABE Executive Board in carrying out its mission of advocating for educational equity and excellence for bilingual and multilingual students. She will work with NABE’s executive director and its affiliates in 18 states to address the needs of these students and the practitioners who serve them in the classroom. NABE is the only national professional organization devoted to representing bilingual/multilingual students, bilingual education professionals, English learner teachers, parents, paraprofessionals, administrators, professors, advocates, researchers and policymakers.
“Growing up an English language learner, I thought all kids spoke more than one language, but I soon realized that wasn’t the case and that I had a superpower,” said DeJesus. “Being elected national president of NABE is a dream come true. I look forward to showing kids that being bilingual/multilingual is in fact a superpower—not a deficit, but a major asset. I look forward to working with the executive board, executive director and NABE affiliates to empower communities and provide them with the educational opportunities and resources that they deserve.”
As the first Latina officer in the AFT’s 106-year history, DeJesus has been a leader and a voice for underrepresented communities across the country. She currently chairs the AFT’s Latino Issues Task Force and serves as the presiding officer of the AFT Asian American and Pacific Islander Task Force and the newly created AFT LGBTQIA+ Task Force.
DeJesus’ deep experience in the field will inform her work as president of NABE. She spent two decades as a K-12 bilingual classroom teacher in New York City’s Chinatown and helped establish strong labor-management relationships to improve teaching and learning conditions for multilingual learners. She has long been a powerful national advocate for multilingual education, visiting dozens of bilingual classrooms across the nation and in Puerto Rico, inspiring hundreds of teachers and students to celebrate multilingualism.
“I’ve always known Evelyn to lead with passion, humility and courage—she is a true advocate for the voiceless and a powerhouse leader when it comes to this important issue affecting educators, kids and parents,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “I know that in this role, she will continue to fight to ensure that educators get the resources and professional development they need to help bilingual/multilingual students feel welcome in their classrooms and be able to learn, grow, participate and interact with their peers so that their school experience is as memorable and enriching as every other child’s.”