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Gloria Bonilla-Santiago

Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Rutgers University-Camden

About Gloria

Santiago directs the Community Leadership Center and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School. Santiago’s record of service and the impact of her work on poor children and families, minorities, and community are exemplary by any standard. She is a passionate and enthusiastic educator, who has focused her professional acumen on helping people to be able to become self-reliant citizens through education and professional development. Her work on behalf of children and families has resulted in the development of a model charter school in Camden City that today serves 1,400 students in grades from infants to -16th and has become a hub for serving the families of these children through a number of LEAP portfolio schools in Camden City.

In the News

"Escuela Públicas Alianza: Nuevo anclaje que transforma el aprendizaje," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, El Nuevo Día, April 15, 2018.
"Puerto Rico is on Its Own," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, US News & World Report, December 31, 2017.
"What We Can Learn from Cuba (and Vice Versa)," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, December 1, 2017.
"The Puerto Rican Catastrophe, a Re-Examination of the U.S. Relationship. Puerto Rico Needs Us Now," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, September 30, 2017.
"DREAMERS are Americans Just Like You and I: DACA Must become a Law," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, September 25, 2017.
"The Woman behind the Miracle on Cooper Street in Camden," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Interview with Laura Waters, Education Post, June 2, 2017.
"No Hispanics Need Apply? Time to Rise Up!," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, February 16, 2017.
"Education: Key to Breaking Cycle of Poverty," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, January 24, 2017.
"An Insight View of Cuba," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, March 25, 2016.
"Dollars Don’t Make Sense - Time to Improve Charter School Funding," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, New Jersey Spotlight New, February 13, 2015.
Guest to discuss an alternative school for families in an impoverished city on Reason TV, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, January 27, 2015.
Guest to discuss the first charter school in New Jersey on Comcast Newsmaker, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, January 2, 2015.
Gloria Bonilla-Santiago quoted on expanding charter schools in Camden, NJ by Aaron Kuriloff, "Charter Schools Find Smarter Way to Borrow" Wall Street Journal, December 28, 2014.
Guest to discuss the reconstruction of public education to combat poverty on AL DÍA News, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, June 20, 2014.
Guest to discuss her new book on founding a successful charter school on Fox 29News, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, May 19, 2014.
Guest to discuss her new book on founding a successful charter school on The Queen Latifah Show, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, May 6, 2014.
Guest to discuss LEAP Academy on NBC10, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, April 15, 2014.
Guest to discuss scholarships for LEAP students on ABC Philadelphia, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, November 21, 2013.
Guest to discuss helping low-income students attend college on KWY-TV Philadelphia, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, November 19, 2013.
"One Dropout in Four is Still Too Many," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, June 18, 2013.
"Making the Grade in Camden Schools," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Star-Ledger, March 31, 2013.
"Advice for Puerto Rico's New Governor," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Huffington Post, November 22, 2012.
"STEM and Urban Schools: Opportunities to Escape Poverty’s Cycle," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, U.S. News, December 19, 2011.
Guest to discuss merit pay at LEAP Academy on MSNBC, Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, February 23, 2011.
"Plan de Rescate y Educación Superior: El Impacto de la Crisis en Estudiantado," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago,, October 2008.
"Obama/Biden el Cambio Educativo: Equipo Demócrata Mejor Opción a Latinos," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago,, October 2008.
"McCain Abandona a Los Latinos, en Educacion un Desastre para Hispanos," Gloria Bonilla-Santiago,, October 2008.


"Puerto Rico's Post-Maria Crisis: An Opportunity to Transform the Higher Education System for Sustainable Development and Innovation" Solutions 9, no. 3 (2018).

Argues that higher education can position itself to contribute in a leading way to address unprecedented challenges in the history of Puerto Rico. Shows how the higher education sector represents an important resource and an absolute requirement to advance Puerto Rico towards a new paradigm for economic and social development.

"Higher Education for Puerto Rico's Future Recovery and Sustainability" (with Heidie Calero, Wanda Garcia, Matthew Closter, and Kiersten Westley-Henson), in How Hurricane Maria Forges PR's Economic Future (H. Calero Consulting Group, Inc., 2018).

Proposes strategies for the rebuilding of Puerto Rico.

"Weathering the Storm — Challenges for PR's Higher Education System" (with Heidie Calero, Wanda Garcia, Matthew Closter, and Kiersten Westley-Henson), in How Hurricane Maria Forges PR's Economic Futurw (H. Calero Consuling Group Inc., 2018).

Discusses the intersection of institutions of higher learning and natural disasters to present the opportunity for those institutions to assess their role as anchors of their communities.

"The Leap Case Study— A Comprehensive Model," International Conference of Education, Research, and Innovation, November 1, 2016.

Presents a model for how to build and sustain, over a period of twenty years, one of the best urban public schools in the nation, with 100 percent high school and college graduation rates during this period of time. Shares the challenges and obstacles, potential resources, and support of fellow professionals that moved the LEAP academy from a smaller charter school to its top position today. 

"Bridge of Knowledge: Linking Intergenerational Exchange and Mental Stimulation: A Community Pilot Project for the Elderly in Old Havana Cuba," (with Alyssa Yackle, Beatrix Jackson, Ailec Vega, and Eduardo J. Gomez), Rutgers University Camden- Community Leadership Center, May 1, 2012.

Conducts research concerning the demographic and social aspects of the aging population in Cuba. Aims to meet the needs and interests of the elder population in Old Havana. Provides an example of the importance of community development, participation, and intergenerational ties in helping improve the health, happiness, and wellbeing of Cuba's elderly.

Miracle on Cooper Street, Lessons from an Inner City (Archway Publishing, 2014).

Discusses evidence of how a school leader transformed Cooper St. into a successful school that produces 100% graduation rate and college placement. Best practices around urban school reform and transformational leadership.