Who We Are

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Gini Pupo-Walker
Senior Director of Education Policy and programs
Conexión Américas
GINI@CONEXIONAMERICAS.ORG

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

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Karla Coleman García
Policy Manager
Conexión Américas
KARLA@CONEXIONAMERICAS.ORG

 Kar­la Cole­man Gar­cía is the Pol­i­cy Man­ager 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.

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Alexza Barajas Clark, Ph.D.
Research and Communications Manager
Conexión Américas
ALEXZA@CONEXIONAMERICAS.ORG

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.

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Vilmaris González
engagement & leadership development Manager
Conexión Américas
vilmaris@CONEXIONAMERICAS.ORG

Vil­maris is Ten­nessee raised, but a New Jer­sey Boricua at heart. Raised in Mid­dle Ten­nessee just south of Nashville, she is eager and excit­ed to work with Conex­ión Améri­c­as on the Edu­ca­tion­al Pol­i­cy team. Grow­ing up in Ten­nessee, she under­stands the true neces­si­ty for edu­ca­tion­al equi­ty and specif­i­cal­ly what that looks like for minor­i­ty stu­dents in rural coun­ties.
Her root­ed pas­sion for edu­ca­tion stems from her time work­ing with youth in the Unit­ed States and inter­na­tion­al­ly in both Spain and Roma­nia. After grad­u­at­ing from col­lege, Vil­maris worked in the Domini­can Repub­lic with an edu­ca­tion­al and lead­er­ship devel­op­ment non­prof­it. Her work in the Domini­can Repub­lic even­tu­al­ly led her to stay and work at a bilin­gual school for two years. Vil­maris recent­ly relo­cat­ed to Ten­nessee and is excit­ed to work with the Coali­tion.

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Jaclyn Suffel
Regional Field Manager, Memphis
Conexión Américas
JACLYN@CONEXIONAMERICAS.ORG

Jaclyn serves as Region­al Field Man­ager for West Ten­nessee, and her office is housed at the Nation­al Civil Rights Muse­um (a Coali­tion Part­ner). She leads our efforts to expand and sup­port our Coali­tion mem­bers, iden­ti­fies key pri­or­i­ties in the region, and part­ners with the Muse­um to fur­ther their role as an impor­tant voice and con­ven­er on edu­ca­tion issues in Mem­phis.

A Hous­ton native, Jaclyn’s ties to Mem­phis began when she became an Eng­lish teacher with Teach for Amer­i­ca at Craig­mont High School. From there she worked at Stand for Chil­dren — first as a Com­mu­ni­ty Orga­niz­er, then as a Cur­ricu­lum and Train­ing Man­ager and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor. Recent­ly, Jaclyn worked for the Alliance for Non­prof­it Excel­lence, where she lead their com­mu­ni­ca­tions efforts. In addi­tion to her pro­fes­sion­al work, Jaclyn vol­un­teers in the local Mem­phis the­ater com­mu­ni­ty, serv­ing as a board mem­ber and per­former in sev­er­al award-win­ning pro­duc­tions.