The DreamPanel Series brings together speakers with the goal to further conversations related to important topics that impact our community.
Jennifer Maestas– Moderator
Jen began her career in education twenty years ago as a classroom teacher. Since then Jen’s served the urban core of San Antonio as an instructional coach, an assistant principal, and a campus principal. Jen has a heart for serving students who have been traditionally underserved. Her current role as Educator & Community Engagement Manager allows Jen to facilitate conversations with school leaders and community partners that result in new opportunities for students. Her experiences in and out of the school house have taught her that education is the great equalizer and ought to be on the hearts and minds of the whole community. Today, Jen is compelled to utilize her experience in San Antonio’s education landscape to help grow a thriving network of thinkers focused on creating the best education solutions for all our students and teachers. She is also the host of the podcast, Miss Education, and the founder of San Antonio Leaders & Teachers.
- Jennifer D. Benavides,Jennifer D. Benavides, is the Principal of Fox Tech High School for Health and Law Profession in San Antonio Independent School District and has spent the past 5 years enhancing the original design of magnet programs to create amazing educational experiences for students. In 2019, Fox Tech received an “A-Rating” from the Texas Education Agency and received 7/7 Distinction Designations. Jennifer is the founding principal of the H-TECH Program in which students can earn an Associate of Science Degree from San Antonio College within 4-5 years.Students can also continue their path in nursing to receive a BSN degree from SAC. She led the in-district charter school process at Fox Tech and has worked to expand a partnership with UTSA for a politics and law academy in which students can receive 2 years of a bachelor program in high school. She has 20 years of experience in education, 15 of those years spent in the Dallas area, and she is passionate about creating enriching and engaging opportunities for students who come from low socio-economic families. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication with an emphasis in public relations from The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Master of Bilingual Education from Southern Methodist University with an emphasis in gifted and talented and a Master of Education in Administration from The University of North Texas
- Ashley Bird,Ashley Bird is a certified Montessori educator and founder of Blooming with Birdie, a children’s media company that brings digital learning to life through Montessori-inspired educational, engaging, and entertaining content. As pioneers in digital learning, Blooming with Birdie is passionate about creating socially responsible content for both the home and classroom that teaches children to use technology as a tool for learning.
Ashley is also a digital learning consultant, manager of the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival, a Notley Fellow, and serves on the SA Climate Ready technical committee.
- Nadia Mavrakis,Nadia Mavrakis is the Chief Executive Officer of Culturingua, a nonprofit that celebrates the people and heritage of the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA). Culturingua brings education opportunities to San Antonio K-12 students to improve their global competencies and connectedness to the MENASA region. Programs include Arabic language and culture courses as well as virtual exchanges that connect students in San Antonio and the MENASA region where students work in cross-geography teams to create a social enterprise idea to solve a global challenge.
Ms. Mavrakis graduated magna cum laude from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Strategy and Finance with a minor in French. She completed a fellowship through the HOLT Values-Based Nonprofit Leadership Program at the San Antonio Area Foundation and has taken business leadership courses at INSEAD, Harvard Business School, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and HEC Paris.