On Monday, Gloria Reyes, the Madison School Board's first Latina member, was sworn in for a three-year term.
Reyes holds Seat 1 on the Madison School Board, previously occupied by Anna Moffit, former vice president of the board. Moffit served one term and lost to Reyes in the April election.
Several of Reyes’ family, friends and supporters attended Monday’s meeting, and led chants of “Gloria! Gloria!” both before and after she took her oath.
Reyes was sworn in by Madison School Board secretary, Nicki Vander Meulen, who also ran a historic campaign last year when she became the first person with autism to serve on the board. Reyes attended her first meeting as a board member last week during a workgroup meeting since state law mandates board members begin serving by the fourth Monday in April.
“I am so happy to see so many supporters in the room tonight,” Reyes said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in this capacity.”
A former Madison Police detective, Reyes highlighted her experience in law enforcement throughout the campaign, which resonated with voters concerned about school safety in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February. Currently, Reyes serves as deputy mayor for the city of Madison.
Ananda Mirilli and Ali Muldrow were also present for Reyes’ swearing in. Mirilli and Muldrow, both women of color, ran for the Madison School Board in 2013 and 2016, respectively. Although their campaigns were not successful, they are excited for what Reyes’ election represents for communities of color in the district.
“I believe in Gloria’s commitment to standing up for every child’s right to learn. The work ahead of the School Board is profoundly important and Gloria's ability to contribute gives me hope,” Muldrow said.
“Being able to see her (on stage), was overwhelming as a mother of a student of color in this district,” she said. “It was a very emotional moment... she did it.
"It was a really historical moment for all of us," she added. "Having board members that know (the experiences of students of color) is critical for our community.”
The importance of representation is not lost on Reyes, whose daughter is an MMSD middle-schooler.
“(My election) sends a strong message that we need diverse representation on the School Board to ensure black and brown children see themselves in elected and leadership positions,” Reyes said. “This is also a reflection that our children can accomplish anything they want through hard work, resiliency, a community that cares, and a public school system that will not give up on them when everything around them is telling them that they can’t succeed.”