María Guajardo is the executive director of the Mayor’s Office for Education and Children in Denver, Colorado. Focusing on the first two decades of life, the charge of her office is to champion educational advancement for children and youth in Denver. Her leadership initiated and launched the Denver Preschool Program, the 5 By 5 Project, after-school programs citywide and summits on Multiple Pathways to Graduation. She oversees operations from Head Start to providing high school students an even start to postsecondary education. A licensed child psychologist, in 2005 she received a congressional commendation for her contributions to Latino education.
Dr. Guajardo began her career as an educator as a teaching assistant in a trilingual classroom. She now serves as a trustee for two universities, the University of Denver and Soka University of America. Currently she is a board member to The Children’s Hospital, The Veterans of Hope Project, The Denver Foundation and the Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance.
Her research in dropout prevention guided her work at the Colorado Department of Education as the Dropout Prevention Coordinator and co?director of the Colorado Preschool Project.
In 2008 she co-chaired the Democratic National Convention Committee’s Education Initiative and supported the launching of American: Live and In Person.
She recently was awarded the “Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award” for her leadership and commitment to excellence in public education from Morehouse College, along with the 2006 National Woman of Vision Award and the 2008 Humanistic Award from SGI-USA.
She is a national spokesperson on topics of education, leadership, and the strength of diversity. Her publications include The Spirit of Culture and The Power of Parents.
Dr. Guajardo graduated with honors from Harvard University and earned her Masters and Ph.D. from the University of Denver. She is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government. From 1991-1994 she was a Kellogg National Leadership Fellow. A daughter of migrant parents, she currently has a son enrolled in Denver Public Schools. María is an author, a mother, a community volunteer, and a national speaker.