Leaders Who Inspire Us
The namesake for Alpha Public Schools’ first middle school campus is Blanca Alvarado, a longtime public official, community leader and youth advocate in Santa Clara County.
Blanca worked as a City Councilwoman and County Supervisor to revitalize neighborhoods and create safe spaces for families to grow. She was the first Latina Councilmember for District 5 (representing East San José), the first Latina Vice Mayor of San José, and a three-term County Supervisor. Blanca is well known for her work establishing the Early Childhood Development Collaborative, the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program, the Children’s Health Initiative, and the Juvenile Detention Reform Initiative. Blanca’s work supporting the Women’s Advocacy Initiative on services for female inmates earned her a Lifetime Achievement Award from the County Domestic Violence Council.
Blanca was the first in her family and community to assume public office. Her brave leadership provides great inspiration for our students — many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college and will pave the way for their own families and communities.
Cindy Avitia was an early supporter of Alpha Public Schools and our founding board president who tragically passed away in 2013. Alpha’s first high school is named in honor of Cindy.
A San José native, Cindy is the first person in her family to be born in the United States. Her parents and sister emigrated from Durango, Mexico and she credits her family with instilling in her a sense of responsibility to her community and for setting the example of how to use your abilities to help others.
A graduate of Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose, she earned her Bachelor of Arts from Stanford University in 1993, with a B.A. in Political Science, and received her Juris Doctor degree in public interest and social justice law from Santa Clara University’s School of Law in 2006.
Cindy was Congressional Assistant to United States Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren then Chair and now Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. Cindy was assigned to the issue areas of immigration, labor, transportation, and homeland security.
Cindy devoted 17 years of her life working on behalf of immigrants. Her experience includes being the chief paralegal for an attorney in private practice specializing in deportation defense and later working at the East San José Community Law Center as the immigration clinic coordinator/paralegal/community liaison. While at the Law Center, Cindy assisted in teaching law students how to work on real life immigration cases mostly focusing on the special immigration provisions for domestic violence survivors. This particular experience prompted her to attend law school in order to become a more powerful advocate for her community.
While a law student, she was Vice President of the La Raza Law Student Association and Co-President of the Public Interest Social Justice Coalition. In those capacities she helped train and coordinate law student volunteers to assist legal immigrants apply for citizenship as part of the efforts of the Santa Clara County Citizenship Collaborative.
In 2011, Cindy Received the ILRC’s Phillip Burton Policy Award, which is considered by some to be the “Oscars” of the immigrant advocacy community.
Most recently, Cindy served on the board of SOMOS Mayfair, a neighborhood improvement non-profit that cultivates the dreams and power of the people of Mayfair through cultural activism, social services and community organizing. Mayfair was the community in which Cindy lived for over 13 years and was raising her family along with her husband.
Cindy lived with passion, love, and commitment for helping those that had the least resources. She accomplished a lot in her short life and helped improved the lives of many immigrants in Santa Clara County. Her most important role was being a mother to Dahlia and Carlos Joaquin, her two children.
José was born in French Camp, CA to his migrant farmworker parents from La Piedad, Michoacán, with indigenous Purépecha roots. As a child, José worked alongside his family and other farmworkers in the fields throughout California, harvesting crops and moving from one town to another while attending many different schools.
He became enamored with space when he watched Apollo 17 on television as a child and decided he wanted to be an astronaut. He didn’t learn to speak English until he was 12, but once in High School, José participated in the Upward Bound program that helped him prepare for college.
After graduating from Franklin High School in Stockton he participated in MESA, an academic preparation program that provides support to students to obtain degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering or math fields. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of the Pacific in 1984 and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1986.
After multiple rejections on his 12th attempt he received the call that would make his dream of becoming an astronaut come true. Hernandez was assigned to the crew of Space Shuttle mission STS-128, which launched in 2009.