ISLA Appoints New Executive Director Lwiza Escobar Garcia
December 28, 2022 | Press Release |
For Immediate Press/News Release
Date: December 28, 2022
Contact: Mary Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAPEL HILL, NC – The Board of Directors of ISLA has named Lwiza Escobar Garcia as the new Executive Director of ISLA.
Escobar Garcia’s background, combined with her deep passion for the ISLA community, will help to further the mission of the organization that celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. “We feel proud that we incorporated our Comunidad during the search process and to have found the perfect fit, someone who is part of our Latino/x community and has a long history of working for equity,” says Mary Jones, ISLA Board of Directors President. “Lwiza is ready to continue ISLA’s important work, building leadership in our youth and families through education, ensuring our community’s voice is heard, and its wisdom, language, values and culture are upheld! We welcome Lwiza to our ISLA Familia with open arms and we ask our friends and partners to join us in welcoming Lwiza as our new leader.”
When Escobar Garcia assumes the role on January 16, she will manage all day-to-day operations for North Carolina’s leading Latino/x cultural immersion and heritage language organization, known for its education and community programs. Escobar Garcia will also lead fundraising programs, as well as marketing and community engagement initiatives.
“It has been an honor to be invited into the ISLA family and to be considered to fulfill this great responsibility. ISLA is a resource that I longed for as a child; a place where I could feel safe and celebrated for all that I am. It fills me with joy and pride to step into this role. Together, with the families that ISLA serves, we will continue to highlight the power, knowledge, and values of our community,” says Escobar Garcia.
Escobar Garcia is a community engagement leader and capacity builder with over a decade of experience in developing and implementing programs that address the needs of marginalized communities in New York City (NYC) and North Carolina. These programs focus on education, health literacy, and mental health, and aim to build trust and reduce vaccine hesitancy in underserved communities.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Lwiza emigrated to the United States with her mother in the early 1990s. She was raised in Queens, New York where she started her career as a Lead Community Organizer in the very neighborhood where she grew up. This experience of working for communities that she belongs to has allowed for a deep understanding of community needs and a commitment to programs that transform lives.
Lwiza grew up navigating different languages that were allowed in specific spaces; speaking her native tongue Spanish at home and only English while at school. There was rarely a space where both were welcomed, let alone celebrated. Today as a mother of two bilingual and bicultural girls, she strives to make this experience easier for her daughters and other Latino/x children sharing this lived experience. Escobar Garcia brings to the role the cognitive flexibility and resilience that helped her excel as a bilingual child in a non-nurturing environment growing up, in the hopes that ISLA can continue to be that safe space where children can be nurtured and celebrated for all that they are.
Escobar Garcia succeeds long-time Executive Director, Jenice Ramirez, who successfully led the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic, and grew ISLA’s budget, staff, and Board of Directors, all the while continuing to support families and students.
ISLA was founded in 2012 to empower Latino/x youth and their families through innovative heritage language immersion programs aimed to close the opportunity gap. At the core of ISLA’s programming is ISLA Los Sábados, a free weekly educational heritage language immersion program for children ages 3 to 18. The program serves more than 200 primarily low-income, Latino/x multilingual students and their families. ISLA elevates language and culture by providing culturally affirming spaces for this community of first- and second-generation Latino/x multilingual immigrants, who are otherwise confronted daily with challenges due to immigration status, discrimination, structural racism, and other complex social systems of oppression.