Dr. Cile Chavez Rural Superintendent Academy Fellows

The Dr. Cile Chavez Fellowship is intended to inspire diverse, under-represented education leaders to join the RSA and bring their unique perspectives to the helm of Colorado districts. Each year, two RSA fellows are selected to receive financial assistance from the Boettcher Foundation to support costs related to their participation.  

“I believe this world is more and more diverse. And recognizing and appreciating diversity will only enhance the lives of students and their journeys in life. To value the merits of a diverse field of superintendents will only enhance the creativity of services, programs, solutions, and ideas.”

– Retired Boettcher Foundation Trustee and longtime Colorado education leader Dr. Cile Chavez.

Dr Cile Chavez Fellow emblem

2023 Dr. Cile Chavez Fellows

Christian De La Oliva

Chávez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy
Pueblo, Colorado

2023 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Christian De La Oliva has more than 20 years of experience as an educator. He has served in different capacities, from a paraprofessional, teacher, assistant principal, principal and most recently as an executive leadership coach at the San Diego County Office of Education. He has a track record of improving student achievement in a variety of school settings, building the capacity of staff to provide high-quality instructional programs, and providing equitable access and opportunities for historically underserved students. In the 2023-24 school year, Christian will be leading Chávez/Huerta K-12 Preparatory Academy as their new President/CEO. 

“In order to foster a just and inclusive society, it is imperative to support equity in developing both students and future education leaders. Equity in education goes beyond providing equal opportunities; it aims to address systemic barriers and ensure that every individual has the resources and support needed to succeed. By implementing strategies that promote fairness, inclusivity, and social justice, we can create an educational landscape that empowers all learners and cultivates a diverse pool of future education leaders.  

I believe that as educational leaders, we must take a comprehensive approach in supporting equity to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education, regardless of their cultural background or socioeconomic status. All students deserve access to a quality education that allows them to demonstrate their growth in a positive, supporting learning environment where their unique learning needs are met. As educators we must explore strategies to support equity by emphasizing the importance of addressing disparities, fostering inclusivity, and promoting collaboration.”

Margarita Tovar

Chief Talent Officer
Summit School District
Summit County, Colorado

2023 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Margarita Tovar is the current Chief Talent Officer at the Summit School District, where she serves as the district’s lead visionary for human capital pipelines and systems. Her career began in 2010 as a teaching assistant in the Houston area, and in 2017, where she became the youngest principal leading a turnaround school. Margarita is committed to achieving excellence in student outcomes through equitable adult inputs. 

“In many ways, my story relates to Cile’s journey of finding herself at tables not traditionally reserved for women with shared lived experiences as hers. Indeed, the few people of color who grew up in poverty and didn’t have the traditional trajectory toward leadership positions often bear the heavy weight of having to serve as a guide for others in their equity scope of knowledge but also to change the narrative of who we are. While it sometimes feels like a heavy burden, it is a responsibility I pridefully own. 

Throughout my leadership career, I have made it my life mission to identify inequities within the systems I serve and, most importantly, create the conditions to yield positive student outcomes. 

Dr. Cile Chavez said, “Diversity is the future,” I would be honored to be a part of her legacy through this Fellowship in the community I serve today and in the future opportunities I will embark on throughout my career by continuing to improve student outcomes for all students, and investing in future leaders, particularly those who, like Dr. Cile Chavez or me, didn’t think they could ever have a seat at the table until someone believe they could.” 

2022 Dr. Cile Chavez Fellows

Dr. Elizabeth Domangue

Superintendent of Schools
Manitou Springs, Colorado

2022 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Dr. Domangue’s experience as an educator includes classroom teaching, special education, serving as a building principal and assistant principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and that as assistant professor at the university level.     

In her application to become a Chavez Fellow, Dr. Domangue stated, “As a woman, a first-generation college student, and a Cajun from South Louisiana, I have had my own unique challenges navigating educational systems from Kindergarten through my doctoral degree.”

I share this information about myself because I think my educational and life experiences have informed my beliefs about how I personally and professionally support equity in developing students and future leaders.” 

Dr. Jesús Rodríguez

Roaring Fork Schools
Roaring Fork, Colorado

2022 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Dr. Rodríguez is the newly appointed superintendent of the Roaring Fork School District and a Colorado native, though he most recently served as the chief academic officer for the Dallas Independent School District. Rodríguez is an educational product of Weld RE3-J and 27J school districts in Hudson and Brighton. He led CU-Boulder’s BUENO Center for Multicultural Education, served as principal of Trevista at Horace Mann, and was an instructional superintendent for Denver Public Schools.   

In his application to become a Chavez Fellow, Dr. Rodríguez shared, “there are many Latinx students in Roaring Fork Schools who have never had a teacher, principal, or superintendent who looks like them or who speaks their home language. My hiring means we’ll begin to better reflect the racial and cultural diversity of the local communities in Basalt, Carbondale, and Glenwood Springs, which is important for all students. Our entire community has an opportunity, every day, to expand their understanding of cultures different from their own. For students like me, and the majority of the students in Roaring Fork Schools, seeing ourselves reflected in the educators and leaders in our schools can be life-changing and create opportunities for greater dreams to be realized.

“Every single one of our students, whether white or Latinx, English speaking or Spanish speaking, affluent or poor, and anything in between, deserve to graduate from our public school system with the resources, abilities, experiences, and access to pursue a career doing something they love, are good at, and can make a decent living from. Achieving educational equity is my personal mission as a human being on this earth.” 

2021 Dr. Cile Chavez Fellows

Cindy Lystad

Sterling High School
Sterling, Colorado

2021 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Cindy has worked in rural school settings as a classroom teacher, special education instructor and case manager, a gifted and talented teacher and coordinator, a building administrator, and even as a board of education director.   

Cindy was chosen as a Chavez Fellow because of her commitment to equity. “I see one of my most impactful contributions to my students and staff right now is to provide hope,” she said. “The bleakness of this past year has left many unmoored. Job losses, food insecurity, and very high COVID positivity rates in Logan County have taken their toll. Although our community’s losses and mental health impacts have not been equitable, our responses will be. I want to lead by example today and inspire others to lead in the future.”

“In this region of Colorado, white male high school principals are the norm. I want all of my students to see a path for themselves, no matter their gender, race, learning differences, SES, or ethnicity,” 

Luis Murillo

Skoglund Middle School
Center, Colorado 

2021 Fellow

Dr Cile Chavez RSA Fellow emblem

Luis is in his seventh year as a Colorado rural school leader. “Holding important seats of service and power are an integral part in supporting the development of equity for students and future leaders,” he said. “It is important for people of color to see people like them in those seats. This begins to break the stereotypes that people of color fill classified positions in education. Furthermore, in supporting equity for students and future education leaders, I believe it is imperative to tap into the pipeline. “

“Moving forward, I pledge to identify, encourage and mentor underrepresented students, teachers, and principals into looking at higher roles in education.”