Newly sworn in District 1 City Councilor Gabriela ‘Gigi’ Coletta promised to hit the ground running and has been assembling a team of the best and brightest starting with the most recent appointment of Elizabeth ‘Ellie’ Sanchez to Chief of Staff.
Coletta announced Tuesday the East LA native and longtime education and civic engagement advocate in the Boston area will lead her office.
Colette said Sanchez brings a decade of experience in education, civic engagement, and Massachusetts public policy.
“I’m incredibly honored to work with Councilor Coletta and to serve East Boston, Charlestown, and the North End with passion and commitment for each community,” said Sanchez. “I have deeply admired Councilor Coletta’s work for years and know how deeply she cares for these communities. Together we will serve the district effectively by listening to community members and fighting for our students, educators, families, multilingual learners, and all residents so that they can thrive in a safe and prospering district.”
Born and raised in an urban suburb of East LA, where Sanchez grew up with her parents and two sisters in a working-class Latinx and Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community. A daughter of Mexican-immigrant parents, Sanchez credits her dad’s hard work as a unionized public transportation operator as a significant reason for her family’s security and success.
Growing up in LA Sanchez attended low-income public schools and said she saw first-hand the inequities many students have to face simply because of their zip code and race. Without government investment in college access programs for low-income students, like Upward Bound, she said she would have never been able to attend a higher education institution.
After graduating from UCLA in 2014, Sanchez said she wanted to dive deep into the public education world and moved to Boston to learn from the “best” public education system in the country. She served as a corps member for City Year Boston and worked on literacy interventions with 5th-grade students at an elementary school in Dorchester. When she wrapped up her year of service, she worked as a teaching assistant at the Orchard Gardens K-8 in Roxbury.
She spent much of her time in education working with schools in district one, including the Donald McKay K-8 in East Boston and Charlestown High School, to implement civic education programs and provide educators with adequate professional development.
Sanchez went on to receive her graduate degree in Education Policy and Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Before joining Councilor Coletta’s office, Ellie worked at Generation Citizen (GC), a project-based civics education organization where she partnered with school districts all over the commonwealth to implement GC’s action-based civics curriculum. She also helped pass legislation in 2018 that would require students to participate in a civics education course in 8th grade and once again in high school. Through this work, Sanchez realized her passion for making education equitable for low-income students of color through policy and programmatic initiatives.
She became an Associate at the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy. Through this work, Sanchez tackled issues on education with a cross-sector lens. A few of the projects she led at Rennie included supporting districts in developing comprehensive school mental health systems and developing a blueprint on how school districts can create hubs of support for students and their families impacted by homelessness and housing instability.
Throughout their career, Sanchez has helped pass legislation of Beacon Hill ensuring all students have access to quality civic education. They have also written a blueprint on how to support students and families facing housing instability through school district partnership and support districts in developing comprehensive school mental health systems of support.
“I am thrilled to announce Elizabeth “Ellie” Sanchez as my Chief of Staff,” said Councilor Coletta. “Ellie brings stellar credentials, experience, and policy expertise, particularly in elementary and secondary education areas. They have the right skill set for this moment to help ensure that we are building a vibrant and inclusive district through an equity lens.”