CharterFolk Contributor Malka Borrego – Great Things Happen When Charter Leaders Come Together

Good morning, CharterFolk!

Today we are pleased to share a contributor column from Malka Borrego, Founding Board Member of Latino Educators Advancing Leadership (LEAL) and Founder and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Equitas Academy.

Malka Borrego, Founding Board Member of Latino Educators Advancing Leadership (LEAL) and Founder and former CEO of Equitas Academy.

I provide Malka’s bio below.

Malka Borrego is a Founding Board Member of Latino Educators Advancing Leadership and Founder and former Chief Executive Officer of the Equitas Academy Charter Schools in Los Angeles, CA. The charter network was founded in 2009 with the mission of college graduation for all students in the Pico Union neighborhood of Los Angeles, a place where Malka was born and raised. Malka entered the teaching profession shortly after college graduation and worked in educational research and nonprofit leadership prior to entering the charter space. She earned a BS in Sociology from Pomona College and an MA in Social Science from Stanford University’s School of Education. She serves on the national board of Rocketship Public Schools, the California Charter Schools Association, and ExEd.

Today’s column contributors include Nella Garcia Urban, Yes Prep Public Schools, Myrialis King, Community Academics, Elsie Ureta Pollack, Tulsa Honor Academy, and Aide Acosta, Noble Schools.

Great Things Happen When Charter Leaders Come Together

Phone a Friend is a Real Life Strategy

Who are the 5 charter leaders you know you could call right now and you know they would answer? We hope you have more than five. These are people you have met with, connected with, and now rely on to support you as a leader and as a person.

Who do you owe a phone call, a text, or an email? Follow up, because something great might happen when you do.

Those connections matter and as charter leaders, great things happen when we come together.

We hope the examples below inspire you to connect, collaborate, and find your charter people outside of your own organization.

Start with Breaking Bread

Malka Borrego, Founder and former CEO of Equitas Academy, hosted a dinner for Latino/a leaders in Los Angeles in partnership with ed tech founder, Felix Ruano, of

That dinner provided the much needed space, energy, and support for leaders who spend their days serving the students of Los Angeles.

Reflecting on the time together, Malka shared, “It is always so inspiring when education leaders come together to connect, network, knowledge-share, and identify points of intersection in the work.”

Latino/a leaders at dinner in Los Angeles.

Mi Casa es Su Casa

We have all been on that school visit that changed the way we thought about running schools. Now that schools are fully open, consider that school visit and reach out to a colleague that inspires you.

Myrialis King, CEO of Community Academies of New Orleans (CANO), partnered with Daniela Anello, Executive Director of DC Bilingual (DCB), to launch the first 50/50 Spanish immersion program in New Orleans.  It was a unique opportunity for both organizations to work collaboratively and have a larger student impact.

Myrialis King, CEO of Community Academies of New Orleans (CANO) and Daniela Anello, Executive Director of DC Bilingual (DCB).

One of DCB’s priorities leading into the partnership was to continue to strengthen results in Spanish by investing in researching and implementing best bilingual practices before expanding to serve additional students.  DCB benefited from its partnership with CANO because it allowed this work to be further codified and implemented in other schools, such as CANO’s school, Esperanza Academy. Esperanza benefited from studying DCB’S dual language practices and decision making processes in preparation for its bilingual launch this fall.

Beyond the official partnership, the two schools became “hermana schools” and have created and fostered relationships amongst both schools’ administration and staff that ultimately benefit the bilingualism, biliteracy, and biculturalism of each organizations’ students.  At its core, this partnership proves that together we are better for all our children and communities.

Elsie Urueta Pollock, CEO of Tulsa Honor Academy (THA), has had the opportunity to visit Henderson Collegiate and connect with Eric Sanchez, Latino CEO in North Carolina. As she was planning the high school expansion for THA, she reached out to Eric who met with her and hosted her and her team to conduct an excellent school visit and learn what it takes to operate a high performing, college prep charter school with limited state funding. Over the years, Eric has continued to be a thought partner and ally through the pandemic and THA’s growth. He not only continues to open his doors for excellent school visits, but he also jumps on calls to strategize or provide overall support. 

Make Something for the Movement

Many charter leaders often think about their legacy. Will what we built last? Will it continue to improve? Will the communities we love and serve continue to have what they need?

For the Board Members of Latino Educators Advancing Leadership (LEAL), they ponder their legacy for the larger movement, and the leaders from their communities they hope to leave behind.

Nella Garcia Urban, Board Chair for LEAL, shares, “LEAL is grounded in dramatically increasing the number of Latino leaders in the charter space. We know that more and more Latino families are choosing to send their children to our schools. Our representation must increase to best serve these families.”

Malka Borrego, founding Board Member, and recent recipient of the Legacy Award from the California Charter School Association, has been dedicating her time to the startup of the organization and ensuring we are on track for success.

Other Board Members, including Dr. Aidé Acosta, the Chief College Officer at Noble Schools in Chicago, Myrialis King, CEO of CANO in New Orleans, and Elsie Urueta Pollock, CEO of Tulsa Honor Academy, all dedicate their precious time to the work of LEAL.

When these women, these charter leaders come together, they are building something lasting for the movement.

Dr. Aidé Acosta is newest to the group and describes her time with LEAL, “as truly transformative. Latino families have always been invested in the educational outcomes of their children, and we know that as our communities continue to grow, we must be in positions of power to truly determine the destiny of our communities and towards dismantling inequities. I am inspired and committed to LEAL’s vision of increasing the presence of Latino executives, which in turn, elevates the voices and perspectives of Latino families.”

The LEAL Board.

The LEAL Board

Chose Connection

In our work as charter leaders, the tasks are constant. Change is constant. Busyness is constant.

Let’s choose connection. Go to that conference. That school visit. That dinner. Get involved in something that’s going to make the movement better, stronger, more equitable for all of us.

When we do, great things happen.

For a Contributor Column from four Latino/a leaders on a related topic, read,”¿Dónde están los Latinos y las Latinas?