Gloria Bonilla-Santiago | Advisory Board

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor, Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She also directs the Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School. Throughout her academic career, she has established a track record in coordinating large-scale programs and private and public ventures that bring together external and internal stakeholders from a range of organizations, including government, business, non-profits and philanthropic sectors at the local, national and international levels.

As a leading scholar, researcher, speaker and international cross-cultural training consultant, Dr. Santiago brings over 25 years of experience in program development, fundraising, strategic planning and leadership training. She writes and speaks widely on the areas of community development, public policy, education, migration, diversity management and organizational leadership. In 1993, she received the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition for teaching given to Rutgers' faculty by the President of the University. In 2008, she received the L’Oreal Paris Women of Worth award, a national recognition that honors 10 women for their exemplary and transcending service to communities.

Dr. Santiago’s record of service and the impact of her work on poor children and their families, minorities, and community are exemplary by any standard. She is a passionate and enthusiastic educator who has focused her professional acumen on helping people to be able to become self-reliant citizens through education and professional development. Her work on behalf of children and families has resulted in the development of a model charter school in Camden City that today serves 1,400 children from infants to high school seniors and has become a hub for serving the families of these children through a number of LEAP portfolio schools in Camden City. Dr. Santiago has built five LEAP schools in Cooper Street, from ELRA (Early Research Academy to LEAP STEM- Science Technology and Engineering. Dr. Santiago is now taking her vision to include an Environmental K-8th school in Cramer Hill Community through a project entitled the Terrazas project. Her educational model and pioneer work is breaking grounds in the field of education nationally and internationally. She has raised more than $50 million to finance her projects. She is known as the “Patron Saint of Cooper Street.”

Dr. Santiago’s work through the Rutgers Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership is broadening and deepening the leadership base in New Jersey’s communities and beyond. She spearheads a number of signature projects with local and national impact in areas of education innovation and school transformation, conflict resolution, diversity management, organizational behavior, and leadership and community development.

As a faculty member, Dr. Santiago’s agenda in the areas of research, teaching and service provide the impetus for her tireless efforts in developing programs and new approaches to tackle fundamental social problems. She has been successful in translating her research and empirical work into real policy strategies that have garnered a number of important contributions, such as charter school legislation in New Jersey, the enactment of important legislation impacting on women and the education of urban children.

Dr. Santiago is the author of numerous articles and two books: Breaking Ground and Barriers: Hispanic Women Developing Effective Leadership and Organizing Puerto Rican Migrant Farmworkers: the Experience of Puerto Ricans in New Jersey. She is also a blogger for US World News, Huffington Post and a commentator for ABC, NBC and CBS News on issues of education.


New Start New Jersey believes our state can do better — better for our families, better for our middle class. Committed not only to exploring, but also to enacting the most effective public policy initiatives to grow the economy and improve our quality of life, New Start New Jersey will work to generate momentum toward fulfilling our considerable promise, ensuring a more prosperous future for our state and all of our citizens.



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