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Maryelis Santiago is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
Maryelis Santiago is one of the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty honorees. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Maryelis Santiago

Maryelis Santiago, Director of Family and Community Engagement for Esperanza Cyber Charter School, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty.

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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region. 

At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Maryelis Santiago will be one of the 40 honorees. 

Biography

Maryelis Santiago is a passionate leader and proud product of the Philadelphia public school system. In her current role as Director of Family and Community & Engagement at Esperanza Cyber Charter School, she works on improving the accessibility of resources for students and families of at-risk youth.

She has collective volunteer and work experience within the educational, local government, and non-profit sectors, and has assisted in the development of services and programs tailored for the Philadelphia community.

Throughout her career, Santiago has had the approach of collaborating with others to increase knowledge, engage in thoughtful discussions, and improve outreach and opportunity for members of her community. 

Santiago is a mother, first-generation college graduate, youth advocate and alumna of the Philadelphia Latino Leadership Institute. She has a Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and an Associate of Science in Desktop Application for Business from Peirce College. 

As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses. 

Here are Maryelis Santiago's responses:

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career? 

The biggest challenge that I’ve faced in my professional career has been my constant battle with imposter syndrome and the belief that I am not as competent and qualified as others perceive me to be. In the past, it has caused me a lot of frustration and confusion to think that I have only succeeded through luck rather than talent or qualifications. As someone who came from a home where education wasn't valued or required, I often had to be my own cheerleader during tough times and find the motivation that I was already lacking to continue on my journey. In addition to impairing my self-esteem, this had a significant effect on the way I perceived myself.

What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?

In the education industry, diversity, equity, and inclusion can be improved through the training of unconscious bias and constant communication on the importance of managing that bias in and outside of the classroom. Transparency and pay equity are also important factors that can assist in addressing the catastrophic American teacher shortage. Education for our youth is crucial for eliminating gender inequality, reducing poverty, and enhancing national prosperity, so it is imperative to prepare, support, and value educators as they take on the task of molding our future leaders. 

What does being a leader mean to you? 

Leaders inspire, influence, encourage, and guide others. Leaders have empathy, communicate effectively, have self-awareness, challenge others to grow, and are open to change. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

A few of the goals I’ve set for myself over the next five years include seeing my daughter graduate from high school, successfully obtaining new certificates that will help me grow professionally, and publishing a book.

The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here. 

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