Alison Suffet Diaz is the Founder and Executive Director of Environmental Charter Schools (ECS), a growing network of schools that provides a meaningful education for youth in the underserved communities of South Los Angeles. A teacher and lawyer by training, and mother at heart, Alison set out to create a different kind of educational experience for students, which has evolved into a model for schools across the country.
Steps from Los Angeles’ major freeways, Environmental Charter Schools campuses are oases in an urban landscape and incorporate sustainable green features in their designs. Alison’s favorite spots are the bubbling stream that trickles out to a dry river bed, the student-designed playgrounds, the classroom garage doors that open up to patios, and of course, the chickens.
With a dynamic team and under Alison’s leadership, ECS has flourished into award-winning schools. Environmental Charter High School is ranked in the top 3% of U.S. public high schools by U.S. News & World Report, and was chosen as one of three national finalists in President Obama’s Race to the Top Commencement Challenge. ECS was in the first round of schools to be given the Department of Education’s inaugural Green Ribbon Award in environmental and sustainability education and Environmental Charter Middle School – Gardena received the 2015 California Gold Ribbon Schools Award for academic excellence. All ECS schools are WASC accredited. Alison is most proud of ECS’ graduates who have gone on to complete their college education. 96% of ECS graduates are accepted into four year colleges and universities.
Alison holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from the State University of New York, Albany, and Juris Doctorate from Temple University Law School. At Temple, she participated in the LEAP program, teaching inner-city youth about their constitutional rights. After earning her teaching credential from California State University, Dominguez Hills, Diaz taught for eight years as she developed the blueprint for what would become Environmental Charter Schools. Alison also served as a faculty member at California State University, Dominguez Hills and worked as the Education Specialist for TreePeople.
Diaz was named 2011 Woman of the Year by the State of California Assembly. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Green Schools National Network, is an Advisory Board Member for the Antioch Teacher Education Program and is a Senior Fellow for the City Scholars Foundation. She was also invited to keynote the National Green Schools Network Conference and has spoken at functions hosted by Rotary International, Women’s Environmental Council and the Women in Green Forum.
When she’s not changing the face of education, Alison can be found on the slopes, skiing with her daughter, Taylor, traveling to parts unknown, or enjoying time with family and friends!