Photo for back coverGloria Bonilla-Santiago is a Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of the Graduate Department of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. She is also director of The Community Leadership Center at Rutgers and is the overseer and Board Chair of the LEAP Academy University Charter School. Throughout her academic career, she has established a track record in coordinating large scale programs and private and public ventures that bring together external and internal stakeholders from a range of organizations, including government, business, non-profits and philanthropic sectors at the local, national and international levels.

As a leading scholar, researcher, speaker, and international cross-cultural training consultant, Dr. Santiago has over 25 years of experience in program development, fundraising, strategic planning, captial projects,  and leadership training. She writes and speaks widely on the areas of community development, public policy, education, migration, diversity management, and organizational leadership. In 1993, she received the Warren I. Susman Award for Excellence in Teaching, the highest recognition for teaching given to Rutgers’ faculty by the President of the University, and in 2008, she received the L’Oreal Paris Women Of Worth award, a national recognition that honors 10 women for their exemplary and transcending service to communities.

Dr. Santiago’s record of service and the impact of her work with impoverished children and their 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 become self-reliant citizens through education and professional development. Her work on behalf of children and their families has resulted in the development of a model charter school in Camden City that serves 1,500 students from infancy to 12th grade and has become a hub for serving the families of students through a number of LEAP portfolio schools.

Dr. Santiago has had five LEAP schools built on Cooper Street in Camden City, from the E.L.R.A. (Early Learning Research Academy) to LEAP’s S.T.E.M. (Science Technology and Engineering). Dr. Santiago is expanding her vision to include a LEAP Academy Environmental Charter School serving students K-8 in Cramer Hill Community via the Terraza Forest Garden Project. Her educational model and pioneering work is breaking grounds in the field of education nationally and internationally. Her schools have been upscaled in Brazil and West Africa.  She has fundraised over 100  million dollars to finance her projects, and has been referred to as “the Patron Saint of Cooper Street” in South Jersey Magazine.

Dr. Santiago’s work through The Community Leadership Center at Rutgers is expanding the leadership base in New Jersey’s communities and beyond. She leads and manages a number of signature projects with local and national impact in areas of educational innovation and school transformation, conflict resolution, diversity management, organizational behavior, leadership development, and community development.

As a faculty member at Rutgers University, Dr. Santiago’s agenda in the areas of research, teaching, and service provides the impetus for her tireless efforts in developing programs and new approaches to tackle fundamental social problems. She has been successful in translating her research and empirical work into real policy strategies that have garnered a number of important contributions, such as charter school legislation in New Jersey and the enactment of important legislation impacting women and the education of urban children.

Dr. Santiago is the author of numerous articles and three books, entitled  The Miracle on Cooper Street, Lessons from an Inner City,  Breaking Ground and Barriers: Hispanic Women Developing Effective Leadership and Organizing Puerto Rican Migrant Farmworkers,  available for purchase at

She is also a blogger for US World News, the Huffington Post, and is a commentator for ABC, MSNBC,  NBC, and CBS News on issues of education and Community Development.