Dr. Ana F. Ponce is the executive director of Great Public Schools Now. Most recently, Ana was the chief executive officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a network of six charter schools and an early education center serving more than 3,600 students in central Los Angeles. Her accomplishments prompted Forbes Magazine in 2011 to name her one of the top seven most powerful educators in the world.
Ana is the youngest daughter of Mexican immigrants and the first in her family to graduate college. She earned a full scholarship to Middlebury College in Vermont, a world away from Pico Union, the neighborhood where she grew up. Her first teaching job was a Teach for America assignment at a public school in South L.A. After three years in the classroom, she landed a fellowship at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York, where she earned a master’s degree in bilingual education.
Determined to close the achievement and opportunity gaps for low-income minority students, she returned to Los Angeles and helped open the first independent charter school in South L.A., where she taught for seven years before joining Camino Nuevo in 2001. At Camino Nuevo, she found herself working with families in the neighborhood where she grew up, investing them and their children in being College Ready, College Bound.
During her tenure as CEO, Ana was instrumental in driving the success of the organization and championing high quality educational opportunities for kids. She has demonstrated that schools comprised almost entirely of English learners, in some of the city’s poorest and densest neighborhoods, can achieve extraordinary results and serve as models of excellence.
Ana holds a second master’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles and a doctorate in educational leadership from Loyola Marymount University. A veteran of the charter schools movement in California, she serves on several boards and committees, including the Board of the California Charter Schools Association, the Educators of Color (EdLoc) Leadership Committee, the L.A. County Commission on Local Government Services, and UnidosUS.