The North Berwyn Park District recognized Illinois Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala, Ph.D as the 2022 Joseph C. Vallez Award recipient, at its annual Best of Berwyn Junior Citizen Recognition Dinner Tuesday, May 17, at Crystal Sky Banquet Hall, 7941 W. 47th Street, McCook.
Ayala was presented with the Joseph C. Vallez Award, which recognizes an individual who demonstrates outstanding community service, exceptional leadership, visionary guidance and dedication to improving the quality of life in the City of Berwyn. She was appointed Illinois superintendent of education by the State Board of Education in February 2019, making her the first woman and first person of color to serve as the permanent superintendent.
Ayala’s 40-year career in education includes serving as superintendent of Berwyn North School District 98, director of school improvement and programs at Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 300 and assistant superintendent and director of bilingual services in Aurora East School District 131, where she also taught. She began her career in education as a teacher in Chicago Public Schools.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Mundelein College with a focus on bilingual-bicultural education and Spanish literature. She went on to earn her master’s degree in business administration from Dominican University and her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Loyola University of Chicago.