Jessica Rae Sanchez is the Superintendent of Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design.
Ms. Sanchez’s path to school leadership has been non-traditional yet is well-suited for the administrator of an exemplary arts high school that is connected to the community. She is eager to amplify students’ voices and talents to create social impact. Her interest in social justice and nonprofit service was inspired by the injustices she saw as the young granddaughter of a labor organizer who worked alongside the late Cesar Chavez in the farmworkers movement.
After graduating from the University of the Incarnate Word with a Bachelor of Arts in political science, Ms. Sanchez was so motivated by the world’s injustices that she spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Eastern Europe, dedicated to community building and developing nonprofit sustainability.
Returning home, she quickly went to work at an education nonprofit, the Children’s Education Fund, to create equity in education regardless of demography. The 10-year program successfully ended in 2008 and she accepted a project manager position to help establish the small art and design high school in San Antonio in 2009. After HFA launched, Ms. Sanchez continued on as a school administrator, initially overseeing operations and community engagement. Later, during her 5-year tenure as the Superintendent/ Principal, she successfully led the school through its charter renewal, recognition as a National P21 Exemplar School, and consistent, positive academic and financial performance for the school/district.
In 2018, Ms. Sanchez left to become the Chief of Staff for Cultural Productions in San Antonio, which is owned by CEO Henry R. Munoz III, a nationally respected voice on behalf of the LatinX community. During her two years in this role, she developed and managed strategic programs designed to lift up the LatinX community across the US through quality educational resources. She carries forward an expanded social impact network and the agency to activate cultural, community, and government leaders in support of equitable and culturally responsive learning environments for San Antonio youth.
Her service to the community also includes her long-standing tenure as an Arts Commissioner for the City of San Antonio, as well as a Finance Committee Member for Artpace San Antonio.