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Founder of LEAP Academy to Receive Advocacy Award at Cabrini

Posted on 4/18/2017 2:00:44 PM

Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, PhDRADNOR, Pa. (April 18, 2017)—Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, PhD, Founder and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School, will receive the 2017 Ivy Young Willis & Martha Willis Dale Award during a ceremony at Cabrini University on May 3.

Given each year, the Ivy Young Willis Award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions in the field of public affairs.

Bonilla-Santiago is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor in the Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She also directs the Community Leadership Center at the University and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School.

Bonilla-Santiago is a noted expert in the fields of community development, migration of women, diversity management, organizational leadership and public policy. She is considered a pioneer in the application of social capital to improve challenged schools and communities.

In 1993, Bonilla-Santiago and the Rutgers Center for Strategic Urban Community Leadership developed the concept of an independently governed, public charter school that could improve education and opportunities for the children and families of Camden, N.J. This concept led to Bonilla-Santiago’s creation of LEAP Academy University Charter School in 1997. The school is founded on the model of engaged scholarship which has created a system where the entire community, students, parents, and local organizations and businesses have a vested interest in student success.

Bonilla-Santiago is an advocate of merit-based pay for teachers which has been used to great success at LEAP Academy. Both teacher tenure and merit pay have been combined in a Professional Development and Performance Based Compensation program that rewards teachers based on their ability to help students make significant academic gains as well as their willingness and contributions to school-wide success. On February 23, 2011, Santiago appeared on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” to discuss merit pay for teachers. Bonilla-Santiago is also a specialist columnist with the Huffington Post where she discusses educational issues such as charter schools and the need for increased science, math, and technology education in elementary and secondary schools.

The Ivy Young Willis & Martha Willis Dale Award and Lecture program began in 1992 through the generosity of William G. Willis, father of Martha Dale, a 30-year employee of Cabrini who passed away in 2012. Ivy Young Willis was a pioneer in the teaching of reading on television who worked closely with The League of Women Voters and the World Affairs Council.

This series is dedicated to her memory and to her strong belief that women have a unique talent for improving the climate and conduct of public affairs.

Previous recipients include Joan Buzzallino (’66) (2013), retired vice president of human resources for IBM’s Global Industries; Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK (2014); Risa Vetri Ferman (2012), district attorney of Montgomery County; Jane Golden (2010), executive director of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program; Gloria Richardson, civil rights pioneer; Lisa Johnson Nutter (2008), president of Philadelphia Academies, Inc.; and the late Happy Fernandez (2000), former Philadelphia City Councilwoman and president of Moore College of Art and Design.

For more information, visit cabrini.edu/willisaward.

About Cabrini University

Founded in 1957 by the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Cabrini University is a Catholic institution that empowers students to become advocates of social change through an Education of the Heart, focusing on academic excellence, community engagement, and leadership development.

Cabrini enrolls approximately 1,300 undergraduates in more than 35 majors, pre-professional programs, concentrations, and minors on its serene 112-acre campus located 30 minutes from Philadelphia. The University also enrolls 900 students in graduate, doctoral, and professional studies programs at its main campus in Radnor, PA, and at five off-campus locations.