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Maria Hernandez Ferrier
OELA Director, U.S. Department of Education

OELA Director Maria Hernandez Ferrier

Maria Hernandez Ferrier was appointed to the position of director of the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students (OELA) on March 8, 2002. In her position, Ferrier serves as principal adviser to the U.S. secretary of education on all matters related to limited English proficient students.

In Ferrier's 17 years of experience as an educator, she created numerous award-winning models for assisting underserved children and youth. From the development and establishment of the first in-school mentoring program in San Antonio to the founding of the model Kelly Air Force Base Mentoring Partnership with Southwest Independent School in San Antonio, she has worked to ensure that no child is left behind. In the early 1970s, she founded church-based pre-school for limited English proficient children to prepare them for entering public school.

Ferrier served as a founding member and creator of the Community Education Leadership Program (CELP), a program designed to develop leaders for working in diverse communities. She also served as the director of English as a second language for San Antonio's North East Independent School District's Community Education program and is a founding member of CELP, a yearlong fellowship to prepare leaders for working in multicultural settings.

Prior to her appointment to OELA, Ferrier, served as the executive director of City Year, the program model for AmeriCorps, where she led young people from diverse backgrounds in serving children in low-income elementary schools, many of which had a large number of limited English proficient students.

In addition to her work in education and community service, Ferrier hosted and served as the executive producer of the "City Spirit," a weekly television program that featured America's Promise and AmeriCorps and offered volunteer opportunities for the San Antonio Community. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame, The United Way Volunteer of the Year, The Minority Leadership Award from the National Community Education Association, The Mind Science Foundation's Imagineer Award and The Hispanic Heritage Month Education Award.

Ferrier served as director of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Languages Affairs (OBEMLA), now OELA, in the final month of the Bush administration in 1992.

Ferrier has served on numerous boards and commissions including the San Antonio Literacy Commission, the San Antonio Rotary Board, the National Campfire USA Board, the City Year National Board, San Antonio Air Force Community Council, the Governors Restructuring Middle School Task Force and the Corporation of National Service Board. In 1999, Ferrier was selected as the first distinguished visiting professor for Our Lady of the Lake University Center for Leadership Studies.

Ferrier earned an Ed.D. in education administration from Texas A&M University, and a master of education degree and a bachelor's degree in speech from Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio, Texas.

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans
The White House White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans