Introducing Vanessa Otero, UEI Director


In early 2020, Vanessa Otero joined our team as the first Director of the Smith College Urban Education Initiative. Vanessa graduated from Smith College in 2003. A deeply respected and accomplished non-profit leader, Vanessa returns to her alma mater after serving as the Chief Operating Officer for Partners for Community, the largest regional Latino non-profit organization in New England. As COO, Vanessa worked at the intersection of education, human services, job creation, housing, and community development while overseeing a $70 million dollar budget and a staff of 300 employees. Vanessa previously worked as a consultant to provide strategic planning, program development, and grant writing to a range of organizations including New England Farm Workers’ Council and North End Campus Coalition.

Vanessa has deep roots in the Springfield community. She serves on many state and regional boards including being appointed by the governor to the Governor’s Latino Advisory Commission. She is the chair of the Springfield Sewer and Water Commission and a founding board member of the Healing Racism Institute of Pioneer Valley.

Vanessa graduated from Holyoke High School and then from Smith College as an Ada Comstock Scholar. She has a Master’s in Public Policy Administration from the University of Massachusetts and served as an Urban Studies and Planning Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

As the director of the Urban Education Initiative, Vanessa will lead the team in our efforts to develop, scale, and strategically grow, both locally and nationally, UEI’s portfolio of programs while advancing efforts in the Education and Child Study department and the Jandon Center for Community Engagement.


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