Who We Are
Senior Director of Education Policy and programs
Gini Pupo-Walker is a native Nashvillian and Cuban-American and has been an educator for over twenty years. Through her role at Conexión Américas, Gini builds upon their strong reputation as a respected convener and collaborator, and will continue to accelerate their trajectory of growth in the education arena. Her tasks include identifying, convening, and building partnerships, locally and statewide, to develop a common education policy agenda that improves outcomes students of color across Tennessee. Prior to taking this position she was the Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships for Metro Nashville Public Schools where she worked with families, community organizations, governmental entities and foundations in order to improve education in Nashville. She also worked as a teacher at the high school and college level for over 10 years, in Seattle, San Diego and Nashville. Ms. Pupo-Walker serves on the Executive Board of Trust of the Memorial Foundation, and on the board of FUTURO. She is a Master Fellow for NCLR’s National Institute for Latino School Leaders and she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, volunteering, traveling, gardening, and dancing salsa. You can follow her on Twitter @ginipupo
Karla Coleman García
Associate director of Policy and advovacy
Karla Coleman García is the Associate Director of Policy and Advovacy at Conexión Américas where she operates as an education policy analyst and legislative liaison. Prior to joining the policy team, Karla led Early Escalera, an early intervention college preparation program for first-generation college-bound 9 th and 10 th grade students. Karla was born in San Luis Potosí, México and grew up in Dallas, Texas before moving to San Francisco, California. Her passion for education and advocacy stem from growing up with a father who is a civil rights attorney and a mother who is a teacher. Her interest in education, policy, and community involvement led her to serve with City Year, an AmeriCorps Program working to bridge support and funding gaps in high-poverty communities and increase graduation rates. Karla holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and history from Baylor University and a Master’s of Education in higher education policy from Vanderbilt University. You can follow Karla on Twitter via @K_ColemanGarcia.
Alexza Barajas Clark, Ph.D.
Research and Communications Manager
A storyteller at heart, Alexza enjoys cultivating meaningful stories about underrepresented groups with particular emphasis in the Latino/a community. She is a first-generation Mexican-American who was raised in Anaheim, California. Inspired by the stories of her community, Alexza has worked with some of the nation’s most high-profile television news programs including, Telemundo-Los Angeles, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, The Nightly News with Brian Williams, MSNBC, The Today Show, and Dateline NBC. As a native Spanish speaker, Alexza has also managed cultural adaptation, translation and interpretation projects for diverse clientele including Fortune 500 Companies, non-profits and local to federal governments. She earned a doctoral degree in communications from the University of Utah, a master’s degree in mediated communication from Pepperdine University, and an undergraduate degree in rhetoric and broadcast journalism from California State University, Long Beach. In addition to her professional and academic pursuits, Alexza serves on the board of St. Luke’s Community House and the Nashville Urban Debate League, a non-profit organization that creates and supports policy debate programs in Metro Nashville Public Schools. She currently resides in Nashville with her husband Josh and their daughter Jackie.
engagement & leadership development Manager
Vilmaris González is the Engagement and Leadership Development Manager for the education policy team at Conexión Américas. In her role she manages The Mosaic Fellowship, an innovative statewide initiative to create a strong network of education leaders of color who strive for educational equity for all students. Vilmaris is Tennessee raised, but a New Jersey Boricua at heart. Growing up in Tennessee she understands the true necessity for educational equity, and what that looks like for underrepresented groups in rural communities. Her rooted passion for education stems from her time working with youth in the US and internationally in both Spain and Romania. Shortly after graduating from the University of Tennessee, she relocated to the Dominican Republic to work at
Global Glimpse, an international nonprofit that focuses on cross-cultural educational and leadership development opportunities for American youth. She then worked at a bilingual school in Santiago for two years before deciding to return to Tennessee in the hopes of being a change agent for her home state. When Vilmaris is not working she enjoys cooking, traveling, and dancing bachata and salsa.
policy & research Manager
Alisha has joined the Conexión Américas staff as Policy and Research Manager. She came to Nashville in 2013 with Teach for America. After finishing her corps years at Glencliff Elementary School, she taught a third year at a charter to see the disparities between public and charters in Nashville. She will be graduating with a Master of Public Policy from Vanderbilt University this spring.