Alexza Barajas Clark, Ph.D.
Assistant Director for Tennessee
Alexza is the assistant director for Tennessee at The Education Trust. She advises the state director and develops strategic goals and key initiatives to help advance Tennessee’s mission to advocate for equitable education for historically underserved students across the state. Recognized for her leadership in education justice, she is part of the Pahara-NextGen Fellowship, an initiative that identifies exceptional senior leaders across the country working to shape the future of the educational excellence and equity movement in America.
Prior to joining The Education Trust, Alexza led the day-to-day operations of the Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition, an influential leader in the K-12 policy arena in Tennessee. She oversaw communications, research and policy development, staffing and project management. Prior to her work in the education justice movement, Alexza was a producer for some of the nation’s most high-profile television news programs, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, and The Nightly News with Brian Williams.
A daughter of Mexican immigrants and native of Southern California, Alexza earned a doctoral degree in communication studies from the University of Utah, a master’s degree in mediated communication from Pepperdine University, and an undergraduate degree in rhetoric and broadcast journalism from California State University, Long Beach.
Seeing my mom retire from her food service work at an elementary school cafeteria after 27 years, then watching her return to school to earn her high school diploma.
What are people most surprised to learn about you?
I walked on to my college debate team and became a successful collegiate debater. I attribute a lot of my success in college and motivation to pursue advanced degrees to the skills and confidence I learned while debating.
Why are you passionate about working at Ed Trust?
I am proud to advocate on behalf of the very communities I come from. I know it was not luck or happenstance that afforded me, a Mexican girl from one of the poorest areas of South Los Angeles, the opportunity to earn a doctoral degree. Instead, it was a series of strategic interventions at critical inflection points in my academic journey. It is a privilege to wake up and dedicate every day to make that a possibility for every child in Tennessee.