Ignite Equity

Magaly Lavadenz

Founder, LMU Center for Equity for English Learners

Close up portrait of LMU’s Center for Equity for English Learners director, Magaly Lavadenz, in a polka dot shirt with her arms crossed, smiling at the camera.


Magaly Lavadenz devotes her life to improving the experience of English language learners. As founding executive director of LMU’s Center for Equity for English Learners, she is a thought leader on equity in education in California. The center trains teachers, consults with principals and superintendents, and advises on education policy, taking a systems approach to improving student outcomes.

Uplifting the needs of multilingual learners is more than a job; it’s her life’s work. “My focus has been on supporting immigrant children, refugee children, and children who are learning English as a second language to make sure that systems are in place to ensure their success,” she says.

Lavadenz draws upon her personal experience as inspiration. “My family came from Cuba, and as an English learner, we didn’t have the access or support we needed,” she says. “It wasn’t until fourth grade that I learned to read. In second grade, I learned math by adding my dad’s tips.”

As she got older, she became more aware of the disparities in school and knew that she wanted to make a difference as a teacher. “All the learnings from my educational experiences are about what I received and what my teachers and counselors said or didn’t say to me.”