Violeta Xochitl Cerna-Prado was born and raised in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants who came to Chicago seeking a brighter future through education. Ms. Cerna-Prado attended a small private elementary school in her neighborhood before being accepted into a selective enrollment high school. It was both of these experiences that led her down the path of a career in education. She began her career as a K-4th grade self-contained diverse learning teacher before moving on to become a 9th grade multicultural studies reading teacher. Ms. Cerna-Prado has taken on a number of formal and informal school leadership roles including: reading department lead, 12th grade dean of instruction, and dean of instruction for humanities. Outside of the classroom she has led policy work on recruiting and retaining teachers of color and most recently helped create the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards for Illinois. Ms. Cerna-Prado received her bachelor's degree in community psychology from DePaul University, a masters in special education from Dominican University, and is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Outside of her professional career, Ms. Cerna-Prado was a mexican folkloric dancer between the ages of 3 to 21 and danced salsa competitively in college. In her spare time she enjoys social dancing, reading, and hanging out with her family.