April 14, 2023

Education Forward Arizona Welcomes Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz

We are happy to announce that Dr. Teresa Leyba Ruiz has joined Education Forward Arizona as Senior Vice President and Chief Advocacy and Programs Officer.

In this role, she will be responsible for leading our education advocacy efforts and will oversee our scholarship and advising programs that serve Arizona students. Her work aligns with our goals of driving equitable access for more Arizona students to postsecondary attainment and supporting them once they enroll in a higher education institution.

Prior to joining Education Forward Arizona, Dr. Leyba Ruiz recently retired as the President of Glendale Community College in the Maricopa County Community College District.

“We are excited to have Dr. Leyba Ruiz join our team,” said Rich Nickel, President and CEO of Education Forward Arizona. “She has deep roots in Arizona and has served students and the community as an educator in Arizona for more than 30 years,” Nickel added.

Her commitment to making a difference in the lives of inner-city students from diverse cultures began as a 7th-grade mathematics teacher with the Roosevelt Elementary School District, then as a high school teacher with Phoenix Union High School District, and finally was a member of the mathematics faculty at South Mountain Community College. She taught mathematics for 23 years across all levels and served as an executive leader for ten years in higher education. 

As an executive leader, she has developed partnerships with industry leaders, municipalities, K-12 and university partners, and local nonprofits to support students and the community. Dr. Leyba Ruiz supports the community through service on several boards and recently served as the Chair of the Board for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. She is honored to be the recipient of several awards from community organizations and was recently appointed as a Commissioner on President Biden’s Advisory Commission on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Hispanics.

Dr. Leyba Ruiz is a proud Latina and first-generation college student whose parents were adamant that she and her siblings attend college. Her college journey began at the age of 16 when she enrolled at Phoenix College while still in high school. As a first-generation Latina college student from South Phoenix, Dr. Leyba Ruiz has a deep understanding of the needs of a diverse student population who are learning to navigate higher education. She is a strong advocate for student success and believes in the power of education to uplift families. At the core of who she is, Dr. Leyba Ruiz is a teacher and believes that all students can achieve great things with the right support and hard work. She has used this core belief to guide her as an executive leader and believes that supporting and nurturing future leaders will lead to great success for everyone.

Dr. Leyba Ruiz has a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Mathematics Education from Arizona State University, a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University, and a Doctorate in Higher and Post-Secondary Education from ASU.

Dr. Leyba Ruiz is married and has two college-aged daughters representing the second generation of college students in her family.