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Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, PhD

Manager of Education Policy and Research

Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro manages the Forum’s Education department. With a focus on birth to third grade issues, the Forum’s education agenda advocates for all Latino and English Learners to have access to high quality care and education services that are linguistically and culturally responsive in an effort to close the opportunity gap. She manages a team of four who lead efforts in three areas: family and community engagement and capacity building; equitable access and resource distribution; and pre- and in-service educator preparation.

Rebecca’s numerous speaking engagements, publications, and advocacy efforts provide thoughtful consideration about the interconnectedness of language, literacy and academic achievement. She has authored a brief series on how Illinois might prepare all teachers to education English Learners, ways to make teacher licensure exams (edTPA) more responsive to language and cultural diversity, and how a revised state assessment system can promote equity for English Learners.  Rebecca also provides immigrant parent workshops to discuss how various policy changes influence the education of English Learners.  Most recently, as a state-appointed member of the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education, Rebecca led efforts to advise the state on how English Learners are considered within the Every Student Succeeds Act.  She also published the input of more than 300 immigrant parents across Chicago about their perspectives of the new law.  

Rebecca earned her PhD from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Her academic efforts were focused on the community organizing and bi-national political incorporation of Mexican immigrants in Chicago. Along with publishing a number of academic journal articles and book chapters, Rebecca’s dissertation was published as part of a book series, The New Americans, Recent Immigration and American Society, edited by Steven Gold and Ruben Rumbaut.  Prior to her studies at the University of Chicago, Rebecca was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to support qualitative research exploring the economic and political impact of a microcredit program on its participants at a community development agency located in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Contact Rebecca via email or phone at 630-670-5777.