We are thrilled to announce a new chapter for ISLA (Immersion for Spanish Language Acquisition) as we welcome new leaders to guide our organization towards an even brighter future. With a strong focus on empowering Latine youth and their families, ISLA has been at the forefront of innovative heritage language immersion programs since our establishment in 2012. Today, we introduce our esteemed Interim Co-Executive Directors, Josue Cordova and Susana Benites, as well as our new President of the Board of Directors, Dayson Pasion. Together, they will drive ISLA's mission to build community and leadership through educational Spanish language and cultural immersion programs.
Dayson Pasión is an educator and advocate dedicated to creating inclusive and equitable learning environments, where all students feel heard and seen and are equipped with the necessary tools and skills to define success for themselves.
In the Alamance-Burlington School System, Pasión served as a STEM educator and instructional coach. He was recognized as Teacher of the Year at his school and was a finalist for the district’s Teacher of the Year. He later served as an equity specialist in the Office of Equity and Inclusion for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Dayson currently serves as the Teacher Advisor in the Office of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
Pasión graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in biology. He received an M.Ed. in Education Policy and Leadership from American University and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student in the Education Policy and Leadership program at American University.
Pasión joined the Board of Directors for ISLA in 2019. He is a member of Elon University’s School of Education Advisory Board for Middle Grades, and is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Alamance Teacher Leadership Academy. Dayson remains an active alumnus of the Kenan Fellows Program for Educational Leadership. He also serves as the Chair of the Education Committee of the Alamance branch of the NAACP. In 2022, he was recognized as a 50 CAN National Voices Fellow.
We are confident that under the guidance of our new leaders, ISLA NC will continue to provide an inclusive and nurturing environment for our community. Their shared passion for empowering Latine multilingual students and their families aligns perfectly with our organization's core values.
It gives us great pleasure to introduce our two new Interim Co-Executive Directors Susana Benites and Josue Cordova.
Susana Benites is a passionate educator, mother, proud Latina, and advocate for bilingualism and cultural immersion in education. As the Interim Co-Executive Director of ISLA NC, Susana is dedicated to growing Latino leaders through a lens of cultural and language justice.
With a background in Special Education from the Women's University of the Sacred Heart and Diagnostics and Intervention in Children with Speech Difficulties from San Marcos University in Lima, Peru, Susana brings a wealth of expertise to her role. Susana's instructional approach is grounded in child development principles, allowing her to provide effective scaffolding and maximize student achievement academically and socially. Her five-year tenure as a Dual Language Teacher in Durham, combined with her role as a Saturday heritage language teacher at ISLA, highlights her commitment to bilingualism and preserving cultural heritage.
In 2019, Susana assumed the position of Director of Education Programs at ISLA, where she has demonstrated exceptional leadership and a deep understanding of the organization's mission. Her vision for nurturing Latino leaders in education and promoting cultural and language justice aligns perfectly with ISLA's goals. She also develops ISLA’s curriculum that focuses on cultural education, inquiry and exploration, and an interdisciplinary approach. As a mother of her Afro-Latine son, she is committed to continue ISLA’s mission and preserve a culturally affirming safe space for Latine students, educators, and families.
Susana Benites embodies education advocacy and cultural immersion. Her passion, expertise, and commitment to creating inclusive educational environments have a profound impact on the lives of students at ISLA NC. As an Interim Co-Executive Director, Susana's leadership ensures that the organization continues to empower Latine youth and their families through transformative heritage language immersion programs.
Josue Cordova is a Latine Queer leader and immigration and refugee advocate. With a B.A. in International Relations and a Minor in Human Rights and Global Peace from San Francisco State University, Josue brings a wealth of knowledge to his role. He is a Willie L. Brown Fellow at the City and County of San Francisco Human Rights Commission and a Humanitarian Crisis, Refugee, and Human Rights Fellow from the Duke Global Policy Program in Geneva, Switzerland.
As the Operations Manager at ISLA NC, Josue plays a crucial role in building leadership and community. He is an active member of the "Rainbow Collective for Change'' (RCC) advisory committee, working to create LGBTQ+ and gender-inclusive school spaces. Josue also serves on the Durham Public Schools Equity Advisory Committee, advocating for equitable education.
Josue completed a Master's Degree in Global Studies, specializing in Global Migration and Labor Rights, from the University of North Carolina. His research focused on the experiences of El Salvador wartime children diasporas in the American school system, highlighting his dedication to immigrant communities and inclusive education.
With his diverse background, commitment to social justice, and passion for empowering the Latine community, Josue Cordova is driving positive change as an Interim Co-Executive Director at ISLA NC. His leadership will continue to uplift Latine youth and their families, fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.
As we embark on this new era, we would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the outgoing leaders and board members for their remarkable dedication and contributions to ISLA NC. Their unwavering support has allowed us to grow and transform countless lives over the years.
Embracing change is beneficial and essential for growth. At ISLA NC, we will continue to work hard in providing the community with top-notch educational Spanish language and cultural immersion programs. At ISLA NC, we will always strive to be innovative, adaptable, and fully committed to our mission.
We will always work hard to make a meaningful impact in the world, and we hope that more people will join us in this mission.