Equity Transformation Specialist
Ismalis Nuñez is a second generation, Afro Puerto Rican Cuban American equity champion, with skills in facilitating, designing, and delivering adult and student learning experiences focused on racial equity. She worked as a school social worker in various settings, which gave her a frontline view of how educational systems marginalize children and families of color ultimately leading to further economic and social disparities. Her passion and commitment grew as the first Family & Community Engagement Coordinator for Evanston/Skokie District 65 where she focused on the inclusion of families, particularly families of color, in district dialog and decision-making. Her efforts led to the development of Black and Latinx parent advisory groups with an emphasis on policies and procedures with a racial equity lens.
Ismalis expanded her role, becoming the first Director of Equity & Family Engagement where she served as an agent of change, with extensive experience in designing and leading systemic change initiatives. As a natural collaborator, she led system-wide efforts to build awareness and capacity to embed racial equity into every aspect of district work. Ismalis’ efforts led to implementation for all staff to be trained in Beyond Diversity, designing and leading year-long Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity (SEED) seminars for 150 staff and parents, launching and supporting racial affinity groups for staff, co-designed and co-led a student-centered racial equity summit, and a districtwide equity leadership team (DELT) to review and advise on policy and best practices.
Ms. Nuñez holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. She served on various committees, including Safe & Supportive School Climate, Instructional Leadership Team, and the District’s Crisis Team. She also served as the co-chair for Evanston’s Cradle to Career Family Engagement subcommittee, elevating the voices of Black, Brown, and Latinx families who have traditionally been marginalized. Ismalis has presented at conferences including the 2017 YWCA Racial Justice Summit and the 2017 Community Schools National Forum on issues related to equity. Her experience in recruiting and facilitating SEED seminars has led to the expansion into the Evanston community setting. She is a Leadership Evanston class of XXIV alumni and was nominated for the 2017 Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy (CAAIP) Social Justice Champion Award.
What calls me to do this work?
My personal and professional experiences as a Black Latina gave me a perspective into a world where discussing race was never at the forefront, but I somehow always saw the impact that it had on me and the loved ones surrounding me. My personal equity journey has pushed me to create space for intraracial and interracial dialog to bring together families, students and staff in dynamic processes to narrow the racial disparities that exist in our educational systems and beyond. As I continue on my own racial equity journey, I have realized the importance of addressing race and examine how it drives my beliefs, which impact my decisions that impact results. I truly believe that my liberation cannot exist in isolation and is dependent on the liberation of others. It is my hope that I can continue to support my growth as I continue to inspire and help transform others with loving accountability.