Puerto Rican, advocate for vulnerable city populations to serve on Philly Board of Ed.
Leticia Egea-Hinton is one of nine Philadelphians appointed to the city’s Board of Education, which will assume local control of the School District for the first time in 16 years this July.
On Wednesday, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the nine appointees to the city’s new Board of Education for the School District of Philadelphia — a select group which includes a Latina leader who has been lending her voice and ear to the city’s vulnerable populations throughout her career.
Leticia Egea-Hinton, a Puerto Rican and advocate for shelter and housing services, grew up a “nuyorquina” in Brooklyn, NY, and moved to Philadelphia as a teenager. A graduate of Chestnut Hill College and Alvernia University, she received her Masters of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. Egea-Hinton is currently a professor of social welfare at Alvernia University and most recently worked as the Assistant Managing Director for the Office of Supportive Housing. She has also held management positions in Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services/Adult Services and served as director of the Office of Emergency Shelter and Services.
“My hope is that being on the board, I’m able to be that voice in the wilderness. I’ve always been an advocate for disenfranchised populations...so my hope is that the community will have an opportunity to come out and have a level of comfort knowing that there’s someone out there that represents their interests as well,” Egea-Hinton said, adding that her background has prepared her to serve the needs of different communities throughout the city.
“Because I have come from a family [where] I was the first to graduate from high school, I was the first to get a college degree, I know what education can do. I know that every child in the city of Philadelphia deserves that opportunity, whether they speak English or Spanish, or whatever other language they speak,” said Egea-Hinton.
Citing Egea-Hinton’s experience as a parent of a School District student and her professional knowledge of the city’s needs, Mayor Kenney said that she will “draw on her personal experience as well as her expertise in the service of Philadelphia’s children.”
In terms of representing the city’s Latino and Spanish-speaking communities, Egea-Hinton said her first step will be listening.
“You’ve got to talk to the people, otherwise you don’t know. While I have a sense...I can’t claim that I know everything that every Latino in Philadelphia wants. But I certainly will be talking to people,” she said.
The other board members appointed at City Hall on Wednesday include Chris McGinley and Joyce Wilkerson, both former members of the School Reform Commission, as well as Angela McIver, Mallory Fix Lopez, Maria McColgan, Lee Huang, Julia Danzy, and Wayne Walker.
Board member Julia Danzy said that she felt that the group was “representative” of the city, adding that “the biggest thing is that we’re each committed.”
“To listen to their fervor as they spoke, it came from not just, ‘Gee I’m good at this,’ but from something deep,” Danzy said of her fellow board members, each of whom spoke at the event with the exception of Chris McGinley, who was not present.
Kenney chose the appointees from a pool of 45 total candidates that the nominating panel had selected from over 500 applications, with 18 of the 45 candidates recommended after the mayor requested additional names on March 16 following the first set of 27 nominations.
The new board will take over from the School Reform Commission, a state-administered entity that has governed the School District of Philadelphia for the past 16 years.
In his remarks at the event, School District Superintendent William Hite said that finally transitioning to local control is important for the future of not only the School District of Philadelphia but also the city as a whole.
“This is about making sure that all children, irrespective of where they are in the city, have access to a high-quality education and that no one is left behind as a part of their public education, and that public education is our path forward as we think about our city and as we think about economic development opportunities,” said Hite.
In his closing remarks, Kenney emphasized the need for investment in education to address the “stark” economic inequality in a city with nearly 26 percent of the population living in poverty.
“The point is that we need to rededicate ourselves to the fact that our children need to have economic equity, and the only way they can be equal and meet their potential is by having an education that provides a job that can raise a family and give people dignity. And that’s what this is about,” he stated.
As part of their preparation for assuming governance of the School District on July 1, the newly-appointed board members will participate in community listening sessions around the city beginning April 25 to provide parents, students, and residents with an opportunity to voice their concerns and priorities. A full schedule of the listening tour can be found on the Philadelphia Board of Education webpage.