With the strong support of Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois State Board of Education named Dr. Carmen Ayala MBA ’87 as the 30th State Superintendent of Education, making her the first woman and first person of color to serve as the permanent superintendent. Prior to her arrival at the Illinois State Board of Education, Dr. Ayala had served since 2012 as the superintendent of Berwyn North School District 98, where she steadily turned around lower-performing schools.
Dr. Ayala has held a wide variety of roles in her 36-year education career. She was the assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Plainfield District 202 prior to her service in Berwyn. Additionally, Ayala served as the director of School Improvement and Programs at Community Consolidated School District 300. She also served as an assistant superintendent, director of Bilingual Services, and teacher in Aurora East School District 131. She began her career in education as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools.
She previously served as an executive board member on the Latino Policy Forum, where she championed equitable funding and increased resources for English Learners. Dr. Ayala has held positions on numerous boards and committees, including the Illinois State Board of Education Bilingual Advisory Council, Illinois Women in Educational Leadership, Illinois Resource Center, and the Illinois Professional Review Panel for Evidence-Based Funding.
Throughout her career, Dr. Ayala has received multiple honors, including the 2018 Leadership Award and the Excellence in Education Award from the League of Latin American Citizens, as well as the Kane County Distinguished Educator award.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College with a focus on bilingual-bicultural education and Spanish literature. She went on to earn her master’s degree in business administration from Dominican University and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago.
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