Ed.D. in Educational Administration & Leadership, 2009
School of Education
April 1, 2009
Dissertation Research Explored Relationship Between City Development and School Reform Initiatives
As a first generation Latina, Dr. Feliza Ortiz-Licon understands the critical need to improve education in communities institutionally neglected in terms of resources and pedagogy. For many low-income, first-generation Latinos, education is the sole vehicle for upward social and financial mobility. She considers herself fortunate to have the support of a close-knit family and the encouragement of family members who paved the way to higher education.
Dr. Ortiz-Licon received her dual bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, in Political Science and Chicana/o Studies with a minor in Education. After teaching for a couple of years, she continued to cultivate her intellectual curiosity at the University of California, Berkeley, where she obtained a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning.
As a complement to her academic training, Dr. Ortiz-Licon invested fifteen years in the field of education, working in various capacities that have included teaching, research, school operations, educational policy, college access, and strategic planning. In her diverse work within the field of education, she has focused predominantly on access and equity issues, specifically as they relate to Latino students. This wide gamut of experiences, and her passion for working with and on behalf of underrepresented students, moved her to pursue her doctoral degree in the CSU/UCI Joint Ed.D. program.
Dr. Ortiz-Licon earned her doctoral degree in December 2008. Her dissertation, entitled A Space of their Own: The Symbiotic Relationship Between Cities and Schools, was a qualitative case study that analyzed the intertwined relationship between the urban development of the City of Los Angeles and the reform initiatives proposed and implemented in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the second largest school district in the country. Her exploration of the interlaced relationship between the City of Los Angeles and LAUSD unveiled the institutional and social forces that segregated communities and sorted students into hierarchical academic tracks. Her research findings cast light on the factors that fostered the current conditions of urban schools and reinforced the need to engage in research geared at promoting equity for all students through system-wide reform.
During her tenure in the doctoral program, Dr. Ortiz-Licon held several full-time positions at the district-level and in the private, non-profit world. Currently, she is the Regional Director of Education for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. This current position truly enhances her passion in advocating for underrepresented youth, reforming the educational school system, and creating pathways to access higher education.
In her role as Regional Director, Dr. Ortiz-Licon collaborates with a national group of charter schools working earnestly to improve the quality of instruction and curriculum delivered to Latino students while reinforcing the cultural and linguistic assets brought forth by this student population. To accomplish the greater goal of replicating practices and scaling reformative efforts, she helped develop NCLR’s school framework, which defines the eight core qualities of a high performing, Latino-serving school site.
Dr. Ortiz-Licon’s professional goals include publishing her dissertation as a book, running for school board member in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), and, subsequently, crafting national educational policy geared at increasing the number of disadvantage students entering the public school system at the K-12 level and exiting the educational pipeline with post-secondary degrees.
On a personal level, Dr. Ortiz-Licon enjoys spending time with her husband, Roberto Licon, jogging, and volunteering at community events and political actions focused on issues such as environmental justice, immigration reform, and college access.