As a product of the Compton Unified School District, Leslie Jimenez experienced the consequences of a school system that lacked the appropriate strategy, resources, and supports necessary to address the challenges that plagued it. Inspired to change this for current and future students, Leslie has worked tirelessly to improve the academic outcomes and opportunities, specifically for disadvantaged students, including Latinx, African American, English Learners, and Special Education students. Ultimately, her goal is to address the systemic challenges that prevent these traditionally underrepresented student populations from receiving a high-quality education.
Through the span of her educational career, Leslie has served in both the charter and district sectors and across the K-12 spectrum. Leslie first began her career as a high school science teacher in Venice, California. Since then, she has worked in other culturally rich and diverse communities, including Los Angeles, Compton, San Jose, and Oakland and has served in a range of leadership roles, including Parent Workshop Coordinator, Founding Instructional Lead Teacher, and Assistant Principal. Most recently, Leslie served as the Director of the Office of Charter Schools for the Oakland Unified School District, where she oversaw the accountability of the 35 charter schools authorized by the district.
In each of these leadership roles, Leslie’s work focused on improving the academic outcomes for traditionally underserved student populations. Furthermore, through her expertise in community engagement, she centered the perspectives and feedback of the myriad of school stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, school leaders, central office staff, and district and county boards. Consequently, through these efforts, she made significant accomplishments in improving the academic outcomes of traditionally disadvantaged students and creating systemic change that positively impacted the entire school community. Currently, Leslie is pursuing her doctorate in Education Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Upon graduation, Leslie plans to work in a large, urban school district and lead transformative work. Therefore, her studies are focused on learning about the different management and leadership competencies necessary to bring about systemic change, specifically with a focus on equity.