President Obama named Libia Gil assistant deputy secretary and director of the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) on September 9, 2013. She is the principal adviser to Secretary Arne Duncan on all matters related to the education of English learners, now estimated to be about 10 percent of the total k–12 enrollment nationwide.
As head of OELA, Gil administers programs under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which support high-quality instruction for linguistically and culturally diverse students. The office also supports professional development programs for teachers of English learners.
Gil is committed to ensuring improvement in English language education through the Department’s educational initiatives, among them Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation and the Teacher Quality Partnership.
Prior to joining the Department, Gil served as vice president for practice at the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning in Chicago. She was also a senior fellow and managing director at the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where she developed and co-led the AIR Center for English learners.
Gil began her career as a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and later was a bilingual resource specialist in the ABC Unified School District in California. In that same district, she served as a bilingual-ESL coordinator, as a desegregation officer designing bilingual (Spanish, Korean and Chinese) magnet programs for voluntary desegregation efforts and finally as an elementary school principal implementing a Portuguese bilingual maintenance program. She served as an assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction in the Seattle Public Schools, where she was responsible for bilingual education services and programs in addition to a multitude of other programs and services. Later she became superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District in California and institutionalized dual language programs in Spanish.
She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in curriculum and instruction, with an emphasis in bilingual education, from the University of Washington.
Throughout her career Gil has demonstrated leadership in education—beginning in her early career as a bilingual teacher when she created the first Chinese bilingual program south of Los Angeles. As superintendent of the Chula Vista Elementary School District she was awarded the annual Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education for her outstanding leadership in increasing student performance in the district.