For over 14 years, Mary has served Ocean County families from diverse socioeconomic, professional, cultural and ethnic backgrounds through community-based, grassroots, nonprofit organizations in the areas of education, immigration, and health. Mary has served our New Jersey Public Schools in the capacity of Teacher, Literacy Coach, Curriculum Writer and Assistant Principal. As curriculum writer, Mary contributed to the work of aligning curriculum to the Common Core Standards and building the capacity of teachers in the instruction of Reading and Writing. As staff developer, she built learning communities around a deep understanding of cultural diversity going beyond race and ethnicity. Mary believes cultural sensitivity goes beyond learning about the culture of immigrant children and families, it requires an understanding of the process of acculturation.
Mary’s advocacy work in education and social justice includes collaboration with Latin American Legal Defense Fund (LALDEF) and New Jersey Dream Act Coalition to support New Jersey aspiring college students in obtaining in-state tuition fees at Ocean County College. In addition, Mary’s public service and leadership in bridging resources to communities extends to maintaining a collaborative relationship with Central and South American embassies. Between the years 2012-2015, Mary worked alongside the Philadelphia Mexican Consulate to establish a sustained relationship with Ocean County residents of Mexican decent. For the first time, in 2011 the Mexican Embassy became directly involved in social issues and education in the Lakewood community.
Maintaining a proactive approach in addressing concerns affecting the Latino community of Ocean County, Mary, together with her husband Juan, founded Community Ambassadors in 2017. Their work spearheads the work of increasing cultural competence within Ocean County business and organizations to bring improved equitable services to all. The non-profit organization is purposed to serve as the bridge that unites municipalities to the realities of life in Ocean County for the immigrant population. Collaborative work with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Sherriff’s Office, Police Departments, Mayors, Senators, Congressmen, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement representatives continues to spearhead the advocacy effort of responding to the immediate needs of the community.
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