Posted on July 27, 2021 by


Claudia García-Louis, Ph.D., assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies has accepted a three-year appointment to the board of directors of the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE). Previously, board members were selected by invitation, so García-Louis says her election to the board by her peers represents a shift in the way members are selected, which is representative of a larger shift at AAHHE.

“AAHHE is also going through a rebranding of sorts; we’re listening more to our constituents and making sure that we not just recognize but also celebrate the diversity within the Latinx community,” she said.

García-Louis says plans to pay tribute to her role through her scholarship and involvement in professional organizations.

“I meet students at conferences, I meet faculty members and staff members, I’m often invited to do sessions, so I take all of that, I take what I hear from them and I bring it to the board – that really is my goal in representing the faculty position on things,” she said.

She ties this into her recent work with the Ford Foundation, exploring what it means to navigate higher education as a Latinx person, whether from the perspective of students, staff, or faculty/administrators.

It is her scholarly work that García-Louis believes makes her especially qualified for this task.

“I was one of the first researchers in the country to do research on AfroLatinx student experiences,” she said, “and so I think that’s something that has opened up my eyes to antiblackness within the Latinx community…I think AAHHE’s really looking forward to addressing those issues now.”

This progress is something that García-Louis is especially excited about.

“We’ve had difficult conversations around what it means to embrace this new change and what it means to listen to our constituents,” she said. “That’s what I’m most excited about, is that I see this genuine move towards it that’s been happening for over a year.”

She says that this change has largely been driven by AAHHE’s constituents as well as the larger social climate. These shifts have resulted in the organization being more outspoken about issues such as antiblackness and police brutality.

While this is the work that García-Louis is most eager for, she also acknowledges the challenges it poses.

“How do you heal a community that has been hurt for so long while also ensuring that you’re creating spaces for educational success for everyone?”

“How do you heal a community that has been hurt for so long while also ensuring that you’re creating spaces for educational success for everyone?” she said, noting this is a massive issue for any organization to address. In the midst of this, she also notes that the demographics of AAHHE are evolving.

“We’re also going toward a generational shift which means that we have younger board members coming onboard, and so we bring different perspectives with us,” she said. “But at the end of the day, what we’re all working towards is the mission of AAHHE… to ensure that Latinx individuals have the opportunity to be successful and thrive, not just within education but beyond.”

García-Louis’s roles on the board of directors include fundraising and grant writing. She sees this as offering benefits both to AAHHE and to herself. For the organization, her work helps keep it afloat and its mission alive. For her, the connections she develops on the board are not something she could necessarily develop as a faculty member.

“I appreciate the opportunity to also grow professionally,” she said. “These are skills and abilities I will be able to take with me regardless of where I go next.”

Ultimately García-Louis is committed to the mission of AAHHE, to represent its constituents as best as it can, and to grow and adapt as needed.

“That’s why I wanted to get involved,” she said, “because it’s the only education organization that focuses specifically on Latinx success.”

For more information on AAHHE, visit .