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Ana Florez: Ensuring That All Children Can Fulfill Their Leadership Potential

Ana Florez: Ensuring That All Children Can Fulfill Their Leadership Potential

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs.

Hey, friends! It's Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on changemaking leaders making the world a more equitable place! I have another great interview for you this week. I have another great interview for you this week. Today, I’m excited to cruise around with Ana Florez, the head of the Americas Region of Teach For All. Let’s learn what’s happening at Teach For All and how Ana is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Ana, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through Teach For All?

Ana: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! Teach For All is a global network of 60 independent partner organizations and a global organization that works to accelerate the progress of the network. Each partner recruits and develops promising future leaders to teach millions of students for two years in their nations’ under-resourced schools and communities and to work with others, inside and outside of education, to ensure all children are able to fulfill their potential, despite obstacles like poverty, hunger, discrimination, and trauma. 

Spiffy: Wow, that sounds very impactful! What motivates you to do it?

Ana: I am motivated by our future vision, in which all children, particularly those in low-income communities, attain the kind of education, support, and opportunity that will equip them to navigate and lead the world. Propelled by 15 years of learning by 60 partners, we envision educators, policymakers, students, and families working together through collective leadership to reimagine education so that students become empowered leaders who create lasting change through their own voices and actions. I've seen so many student leaders that I have high expectations for all children to learn!

Spiffy: Indeed! What is the impact of your work?

Ana: Currently, Teach For All network partners support over 13,000 teachers in 60 countries, helping nearly one million students achieve academic success and develop the skills and mindsets needed to lead. These teachers are becoming leaders who partner with communities to tackle challenges inside and outside of education. To date, more than 94,000 alumni of Teach For All partners continue to challenge inequity as educators, school leaders, policymakers, advocates, and social innovators.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does that make?

Ana: In my role, I work with 11 partners across Latin America, and in 2023 we expect to welcome our 12th partner. Toward the end of 2022, we held our first regional in-person event since the pandemic, bringing together over 100 alumni from across the region to Ecuador to share and learn from experiences on how they are leading efforts to address educational inequity in their contexts. I am excited for the next edition of this event in 2023, which will be held in my home country of Colombia! 

Spiffy: That’s amazing! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Ana:  I would like to highlight and emphasize that beyond the teachers’ two-year commitment in classrooms, our network partners continue to foster their leadership, networks, career advancement, and collective leadership as "alumni" who partner with allies within their communities and countries to tackle challenges around inequity. As we grow our network, the potential of these alumni to impact systemic change in their communities is endless.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Ana—it’s been an honor!

Ana Florez is the head of Americas at Teach For All, working with 11 countries to support their impact. Before Teach For All, Ana was the director of global education at FHI 360, working for more than 15 years in international development across over 60 countries. She oversaw and implemented early childhood, primary, secondary, and higher education programs. She holds a degree in political science and a masters in international education policy from Harvard University. (First published on the Ladderworks website on April 27, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Lindsey Brannon. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.