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Aurora Institute

iNACOL Welcomes Layla Avila and Felicia Cumings Smith to Board of Directors

Education Domain Blog

Author(s): Communications Staff

Please join us in congratulating and welcoming Layla Avila and Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith to the iNACOL Board of Directors. Their terms run from 2019 to 2023.

Layla Avila

Layla Avila (@Layla__Avila) serves as CEO/Executive Director of Education Leaders of Color, which she founded along with Kaya Henderson, Aimée Eubanks Davis, and 18 other prominent education leaders to expand the faces, voices, and emphases of education efforts and build the bridges needed to create transformational change at scale.

“I am honored to join the board of iNACOL, an organization that is driven by a mission I believe in,” said Avila. “Together we will work to redefine the purpose and expectations of our education system and ensure that all children attain high levels of academic skills and are successfully prepared for the next stage of their development. It is critical that, as we innovate, we ensure our innovations expand opportunity for students and communities of color. I’m excited to work with the iNACOL community to ensure our collective work is working for all students.”

Previously, as Executive Vice President, Layla led TNTP’s efforts to broaden TNTP’s impact through strategic partnerships. She also served as Chief of Staff for CEO Dan Weisberg, and she oversaw TNTP’s new business development and federal grant strategy, external research and evaluation, and organizational accountability. Layla also oversaw TNTP’s work to recruit and train new teachers where TNTP’s Teaching Fellows programs pioneered new ways of preparing teachers to be effective in the classroom. Before that, as Vice President and Partner for TNTP’s Teaching Fellows programs, Layla managed the design and implementation of projects across the Southwest.

Layla started her career with Teach For America in 1997, working as a bilingual and ESL teacher at August A. Mayo Elementary School in Compton, CA, and serving on the school’s Leadership Team. She also served as an analyst for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, an interagency working group to increase educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans.

Layla holds a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University and an M.A. in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Layla was elected to the South Whittier School District Board of Trustees in 2005.

Dr. Felicia Cumings Smith

Dr. Felicia Cumings SmithDr. Felicia C. Smith (@JCPSAsstSuptTL) is an Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning at the 26th largest urban district in the country, Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, Kentucky). There she provides oversight of the district’s strategies for implementing curriculum and instruction, federal programs, library media supports, and professional learning.

Her efforts are focused on the district’s vision for deeper and more personalized learning for students and educators. Prior to this role, she served as a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, developing and implementing the Principal and Teacher Leadership strategy. Prior to joining the foundation and a role with the National Institute for School Leadership (NISL), Smith served as an associate commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE). During her tenure at KDE she led the college- and career-ready  strategies focused on the implementation of new standards, educator effectiveness and professional learning systems, and special education. She also has experience in higher education as a faculty/lecturer in teacher preparation.

“I have seen firsthand what happens when innovation meets day-to-day practice. I’m excited to help draw insights from what we are learning from bright spots all around the country and from what we are learning from research to make a greater impact on students’ learning experiences,” she said. “I’ve been a fan of iNACOL, from a distance, for many years. Its mission and vision match exactly the commitments I have made, and the core values especially are compass points for my career. I am thrilled to be a part of iNACOL and looking forward to the next five to 10 to 20 years of the organization advancing this work.”

She received her doctoral degree in educational administration and instruction from the University of Kentucky with an emphasis on leadership and instruction. There she also completed her Rank I to receive her school superintendent certification. Her master’s and bachelor’s degrees are from the University of Louisville in Elementary Education with a K-12 reading specialist endorsement.