ALBANY, NY May 27, 2011 - Maria Neira, vice president of New York State United Teachers, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
Neira was sworn-in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor during a ceremony Thursday in Washington.
Widely recognized as a national expert on education policy and issues, Neira is a former New York City elementary bilingual teacher. In her role at NYSUT, she oversees the union's initiatives on educational policy, and serves as its liaison to the state Education Department and Board of Regents.
Neira, (whose full bio is available online) said she was honored by the appointment.
"I believe this initiative will empower educators to better meet the needs of our Latino students and give them the opportunities and support they need to attain educational excellence," Neira said. "I am confident the commission's work also will help advance the important mission of the Dream Act."
The president in October signed an executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The initiative aims to work directly with Hispanic communities nationwide in public-private partnerships, and links together key individuals and organizations from within and outside the education system to establish - and increase - communitywide education initiatives.
The Presidential Advisory Commission brings together a national network of education and community leaders charged with providing input and advice on the development and implementation of education policy and programs that impact the Hispanic community. The commission will hold its inaugural meetings Thursday and today in Washington.
NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi hailed Neira's appointment: "This is truly a tremendous honor for Vice President Neira, for NYSUT and for New York's educational community. But most importantly this recognizes the dedication and excellence exhibited by Maria in every aspect of her work on behalf of all students and, especially, the Hispanic community."
Meanwhile, Neira also has been appointed to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's Advisory Council. With the Latino population poised to take on an increased role in the nation's economic success and future, the council works on guiding the Institute in its mission of developing the next generation of Latino leaders.
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.