Irasema Salcido worked for nine years in the DC public school system before founding the first Chavez School in 1998. Frustrated by the failures of the public school system, she has since become a nationally recognized expert and advocate for charter schools and underserved students. Her mission in starting the first Chavez School was to create an institution where the poorest students received the best education. Mrs. Salcido is considered an expert on charter schools and a leader in the charter school movement in DC. She received an award from the Caring Institute, designating her as one of the “Six Most Caring Citizens in the U.S.” of 1999, and in February 2001, she was awarded the “Use Your Life Award” from Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network. She holds an MA in Education, Administration, and Social Planning from Harvard University. Mrs. Salcido’s life serves as a true testament that individuals who start from humble beginnings can truly defy the odds and achieve the American dream.