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District 196 hires Hernandez Espinosa to be next equity coordinator

District 196 Superintendent Mary Kreger announced the hiring of Violeta Hernandez Espinosa as the district’s next coordinator of equity and inclusion.

Hernandez Espinosa will join Director Virgil Jones in the district’s Equity and Inclusion Department, which became its own department earlier this year with Jones’ hiring and the district’s renewed commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. She will start in the position July 1.

Hernandez Espinosa brings a variety of professional experience in both the public and private sectors, including recruiting diverse students and employees, and advocating for underserved populations in the legislative process. She graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with degrees in international management and Spanish, and started as a field recruiter and commodity merchant for Cargill Corporation for the first four years of her career. In 2009, Hernandez Espinosa returned to Gustavus as the school’s assistant dean of admissions and coordinator of multicultural recruitment. That is where she first worked with Jones, who was director of Gustavus’ Office of Multicultural Programs during her time there.

Between 2012 and 2016, Hernandez Espinosa was a Princeton in Latin America Fellow, working with the Mexican Ministry of Education, and a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow with the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minn. During that time, she also completed her master’s degree in international development at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and volunteered for the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation and the CLUES Youth in Action Mentoring Program, working with high school-aged Latino students and their families.

In 2016, Hernandez Espinosa took a position with the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs (MCLA) as their education legislative and policy director. In that role, she advocated for Latino Minnesotans in the legislative process and served as liaison to the legislative and executive branches on issues relating to achievement gaps and other equity initiatives. She also co-led an ongoing, multi-agency legislative effort to address the shortage of teachers of color and American Indian teachers in Minnesota schools. Hernandez Espinosa left MCLA in 2019 and for the last two years has been consultant to La Michoacana Purépecha, a Minneapolis-based Mexican ice cream business, while also studying Mandarin Chinese and leading a political campaign for municipal presidency in her native state of Michoacán, México.

“As a social justice advocate, I believe that true, positive societal change rests in creating equitable access to opportunities for underserved communities,” Hernandez Espinosa said. “This position gives me the opportunity to continue that work and improve the lives of all children and families in District 196.”