Nellie Reyes: Model of Resilience

With all she has accomplished in her life, it can be difficult to believe that Nellie Reyes was once a teenage mother and a high school dropout who survived the death of two of her three daughters. But knowing life’s hardships -- and what it takes to overcome them -- firsthand has undoubtedly made her an excellent advocate for education.

“Everything I’ve gotten, I’ve had to go ask for it,” says Reyes, who believes that her determination to be somebody is what kept her going.

For 34 years, Reyes held positions of leadership in the state government in Texas and in community-based nonprofits in the fields of education initiatives, dropout prevention, after-school programs, extended learning and college and career readiness. Reyes has special knowledge and expertise in at-risk youth issues, including teen pregnancy, behavior, gang activity and substance abuse.

Reyes worked for the Texas Education Agency for many years in both its Communities in Schools program (CIS) and its Division of Programs for At-risk Youth. Her hard work and dedication have won her highest accolades.

“I believe that it’s everybody’s responsibility to help these kids succeed,” says Reyes, referring to how families, businesses, teachers, government officials and volunteers need to work together to help students beat the odds and stay in school.

Currently, Reyes is continuing her work in education, but now as a consultant for the Texas Star Alliance, a public affairs firm that provides direct lobbying and strategic communications services. Reyes specializes in education reform, school district and nonprofit consulting.

Reyes is the epitome of a successful Latina female executive who has dedicated her life to bettering her community.

by Roxana A. Soto