Liza Caraballo-Suarez for Vice President 2021

Liza Caraballo-Suarez, Ed.D.

Candidate for 2021 Vice President

Principal of Magnet School of Architecture, Engineering & Design — P.S. 120 in Brooklyn, New York

“Advocacy, Collaboration, and Fostering Leadership in Pursuit of Equity and Excellence"

“Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.” — Oprah Winfrey. In my household, this was our mantra. My parents immigrated to the United States and struggled to provide us with basic needs. Many times, we did without, but we always had books and school supplies. My parents made sure they attended all my school events and ensured I went to college. As a student, my parents struggled to give me the same opportunities as others in neighborhoods that were more affluent. As an educational leader in the same neighborhood I grew up in, I have seen first-hand how detrimental the inequities can be. I have continuously fought to create an educational atmosphere that is respectful and motivating. My advocacy for equity and access for my students takes different forms.

At times, I have needed to “make some noise” to get the necessary supports. I am proud that my unwavering focus on creating supportive relationships between students, staff, and the school community have led to the success of my school. It is important to recognize that issues of equity and access are not issues that impact only some, but rather all of the professions. If education is the key that opens many doors, all of our children should be getting the same key. Equity and access are critical to our profession because they are critical to a fair and just society.  

I have served as an educator in NYC for 29 years and as a principal for 19 of those years. When you work in a school system of 1.1 million students, you experience many moments that affect the stability of our educational system. Historical events, such as 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, Sandy Hook and now COVID 19 have forced us to think about how we educate the whole child. Cases like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are becoming the norm, and have highlighted the inequities and the need for social emotional learning.

As school leaders, we are responsible to be proactive and not wait for a moment that forces us to look at inequities. We should always be looking for the best strategies, resources, partnerships, and opportunities to prepare our educational institutions for the unexpected with a focus on equity and excellence. We should always take a stand even when those around us disagree. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

For my entire career, I have fought for equitable education for all students. As Past President of the New York City Elementary Principals Association, the current NAESP Director At Large, Minority, and a team member of the National NAESP Taskforce for Race and Equity, I have the opportunity to further advance the mission in which I truly believe in. 

Utilizing my leadership skills and partnerships with other principals nationwide has allowed me to collaborate with great leaders who have stories of their own journeys, which have influenced students and their communities. These stories inspire me to fight even harder and seek to be the next NAESP Vice President. NAESP has an opportunity to increase its influence by exercising its credibility and moral authority to drive the public conversation in a direction that will serve the interests of all children, and thus the interests of NAESP members.

As your next NAESP Vice President, I would focus to increase membership and listen the voices of the field. I will use my position as a soapbox to elevate the voices of my colleagues from around the country in promoting not only equity, access and social emotional learning, but also professional interest of our NAESP members.

If given the opportunity, I would be honored and humbly serve, as your next NAESP Vice President.I look forward to the opportunity to advance NAESP’s work and my lifetime efforts on building the pathway success for all students through equity.

Professional Preparation

Ed.D., Educational Leadership, Sage College, Albany NY, 2016
M.S. Ed. Administrative and Supervision, Dowling College, Long Island, NY, 1995
Masters of Science Degree, Hunter College, CUNY, 1992
Elementary & Special Education, Education, Brooklyn College, CUNY, 1985

Professional Experience

Principal, Magnet School of Architecture, Engineering & Design, Public School 120, Brooklyn, NY, 2016-present
Principal, Magnet School of Multicultural Education, Public School 120, Brooklyn, NY, 2001-2016
Director at Large, Minority Level, National Association of Elementary School Principals, 2018-present
Interim Acting Principal, Public School 257, Brooklyn NY, 2000-2001
Assistant Principal, Public School 120, Brooklyn, NY, 1998-2000
ESL Supervisor, Adult and Continuing Education Program, Region 7, 1998-2000
Teacher, Public School 250, Brooklyn, NY, 1986-1998
ESL, Teacher- in- Charge, Adult and Continuing Education Program, Region 7, 1989-1998
Teacher, Most Holy Trinity R. C. Elementary School, 1984-1986

Professional Affiliations

NAESP Director At Large, Minority, 2018-present
NAESP National Taskforce on Race and Equity Member, 2020-present
NAESP Member since 2013
NAESP Search Committee Member, 2016-2017
Asian American Association Member
Latino Caucus Member
Black Caucus Member
New York City Elementary School Principals Association, Past President, 2014-2018
New York City Council of Supervisors and Administrators, Executive Board, 2005-2014
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Member

Professional Accomplishments

Respect for All Winning School Recipient for school years 2015-2016 & 2014-2015
Leader in Me Symposium and School Tour Participant Award, 2015-2016, 2014-2015 & 2013-2014
National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., Educational Leadership Award, May 2013
National Federation of Puerto Rican Pioneers, Community and Educational Leadership Award, 2004
Executive Leader in the Relay for Life of District 14 School Communities, May 2015
Catholic Teachers Association Diocese of Brooklyn, Msgr. Francis X. Downey Award, 2017
Leader in Me Lighthouse Champion Award, June 2017-present
Two time recipient of Magnet Grant:
1). Magnet School of Multicultural Education through Social Studies & the Arts
2). Magnet School of Architecture, Engineering, & Design