Elisa Villanova Beard

Elisa Villanova Beard

March 22, 2022 | secon2023

Elisa’s passion for educational equity comes from personal experience. She grew up in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and developed a deep commitment to Teach For America’s mission as a student at DePauw University, where she was one of just a few Mexican American students. Her journey with Teach For America started as a 1998 Phoenix corps member.

Elisa joined staff in 2001 to lead the organization’s work in her hometown as executive director of the Rio Grande Valley region. Four years later, she became chief operating officer, leading Teach For America’s field operations as the organization expanded from 22 to 48 regions, growing its network from 12,500 to more than 43,000 leaders in 2013 while improving student outcomes each year. 

In 2015, Elisa became chief executive officer of Teach For America. Today, under her leadership, Teach For America corps members reach hundreds of thousands of students each year in nearly 2,000 schools across 37 states and the District of Columbia. The Teach For America network of more than 66,000 leaders is working from every sector to ensure that all children have the access and opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. 

Elisa holds a B.A. in sociology from DePauw University. She sits on the boards of the Holdsworth Center, City Fund, and Leadership for Educational Equity, and on the advisory board for the AT&T Aspire Accelerator. She was named in 2021 to ALPFA’s 50 Most Powerful Latinas list. 

Elisa lives in Houston with her husband, Jeremy, and their four sons.