Emilio Pack, a part-time faculty member and former director of SOE’s Institute of School Leadership and Administration, has received the 2017 Hart Vision School Leader of the Year Award from the California Charter Schools Association. Pack, the CEO of STEM Prep Schools, was recognized for his leadership in creating a path to careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) industries for children of color in Los Angeles.
Pack’s realization that not enough students of color had access to these positions led him to found STEM Prep, which operates public charter schools in the West Adams and Jefferson Park neighborhoods of South Los Angeles, in 2015. “Both in my research and in my own experiences, I saw heartbreaking stories about kids of color from underprivileged backgrounds who weren’t able to get the education they deserved and needed to better their lives,” he said.
In addition to leading STEM Prep, Pack is co-chair of the Los Angeles Advocacy Council, a 17-member committee of charter school leaders advocating for change on behalf of students. Before joining LMU as a professor, he served in a leadership capacity with Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest charter school network in Los Angeles.
“Emilio is well deserving of a vision award — in all of the years I’ve known him, his vision for what our students, families, and communities need from education has never wavered,” said Manuel Ponce, clinical associate professor in the LMU School of Education and current director of ISLA.
Ponce, who described Pack as a long-time professional mentor both in the charter school movement and at SOE, praised Pack’s leadership skills. “He fosters relationships with many people from different walks of education and gets people out of their silos,” Ponce said. “Beyond that, he has the ability to identify and build leadership capacity in others, which is what drew him to the work here at LMU.”
Pack said he was deeply moved by the recognition. “There are so many fantastic people doing work in the charter school sector, and in education in general across California, that it is a great honor to be singled out,” he said. “I am proud that we have an organization in which even though our goals may seem insurmountable, everyone believes this can be done. And as a Latino leading a charter management organization, I’m proud to serve a community and a group of students who look like me.”
Pack is an LMU alumnus who received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1990. He is one of eight recipients of the Hart Vision award, which was started in 1995 in honor of Gary K. Hart, retired California State Senator and former California Secretary of Education, who sponsored legislation as a state senator that established California charter schools.