Dr. Elaine Ruiz López
Chief Executive Officer & Founder
Caribbean L 24 ife, February 4-10, 2022
As an urban educator for more than forty years, I was witness to a
vicious cycle of poverty, abysmal academic achievement, and
alarming high school dropout rates for Latino and African-American
students in New York City’s public schools. In 2003, the New York
City graduation rate for African-American and Latino students was
less than 54%, and the social and economic future for our youth
This cycle motivated me to envision and develop a community
grown high school that offered rigorous college preparation and
held its students to the highest academic standards. Driven by
my desire to provide a viable option for a world class education
for families throughout the Bronx, I founded the International
Leadership Charter High School in 2005 after several years of
intense planning and preparation.
My experiences in the neighborhoods in which I was raised and as a
community organizer also contributed to the birth of my vision and
Puerto Rican, I was born and raised in the South Bronx during the
the many challenges faced by working class and ethnic families, such
as racial and economic inequalities, poor educational opportunities,
and inadequate healthcare. My childhood was also marked by the
assassination of such leaders as Dr. Martin Luther King and President
John F. Kennedy.
More locally, I experienced the epidemic of “slumlords” burning down neighborhood buildings for insurance money,
including two of the buildings I lived in with my parents and siblings. The Bronx was literally burning, as famously
documented in several books and movies in the 80’s such as Paul Newman's Fort Apache. As an adult, I joined other
community activists in protest of this stereotypically racist movie.
Throughout my life, however, education has remained my highest priority both as a teacher and as a lifelong learner.
After graduating from high school, I enrolled in CUNY, attending the City College of New York until earning a Bachelor
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I taught in the South Bronx. I also earned a Master of Science in Special Education from Bank Street College of
Education and a Doctoral Degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
I emphatically do not believe that being in a disadvantaged community is an excuse for a school to underserve its
It is an honor and privilege to serve as the leader of this tremendous school community and to dedicate my life to
creating opportunities for our students to become the leaders of tomorrow and to discover the world around them.