Nine Educators Receive Human Rights Awards for Their Commitment to Social Justice, Honesty in Education

BURLINGAME — Nine exceptional educators from across California are this year’s winners of the annual California Teachers Association’s Human Rights Awards for their outstanding commitment to social justice and for promoting and protecting human and civil rights, both in the classroom and in their wider school communities.

“At a time when there are far too many outside forces seeking to stoke division and fear, these inspired educators are showing us how to tackle our past and present honestly, confront injustice, and educate with integrity and courage,” said CTA President E. Toby Boyd. “They are showing us how to create a more equitable future so that all our students can think critically, see themselves in our classrooms and curriculum and have the opportunity to succeed.”

Presented on March 5 at the CTA Equity and Human Rights Conference in Los Angeles, the CTA Human Rights Awards this year were awarded to these exemplary educators:

SAN FRANCISCO: VanCedric Williams, a high school ethnic studies teacher and member of United Educators of San Francisco, is the recipient of the African American Human Rights Award in Honor of Lois Tinson. Inspired to become an educator more than 20 years ago because he recognized the need for young black males to have positive role models, he has established a historically accurate curriculum that weaves in African American and other groups’ cultures and challenges his students to set rigorous standards. Williams was elected in 2021 to the Oakland Unified School District Board of Education and has worked tirelessly to eliminate the opportunity gap for students. Beyond the classroom, he leads a BIPOC student mentoring program.

PALM SPRINGS: Christina Alaniz, a second-grade teacher and member of the Palm Springs Teachers Association, is the recipient of the American Indian/Alaska Native Human Rights Award in Honor of Jim Clark. Alaniz, who still lives on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians’ reservation where she was raised, is committed to bringing culturally relevant education to students. She has written ethnic studies curriculum and works to represent the Native community in education and social settings. She has served the past seven years on her school site council, is a current member of an anti-racist coalition, and is creating a Native American Advisory Council to bring together the Palm Springs and Native communities to advocate on behalf of students.

LOS ANGELES: For her commitment to promoting educational equality, her work in underserved communities and her excellent mentorship of teachers and students, Guadalupe Carrasco Cardona has been awarded the Cesar Chavez “Si Se Puede” Human Rights Award. A member of United Teachers of Los Angeles and a teacher at the Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, Carrasco Cardona has been involved in developing statewide ethnic studies curriculum. She has organized community-wide support for students and families struggling to make ends meet. As chair of the Association of Raza Educators of Los Angeles, she supports teachers through professional development opportunities and helps secure scholarships for Dreamers. She also created “La Trenza” (The Braid), a YouTube channel for Latinx youth.

BEVERLY HILLS: For his unflagging advocacy on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, Telly Tse of the Beverly Hills Education Association has been awarded the Pacific Asian American Human Rights Award. Through his work as a special education teacher, local association president, CTA Board member and other roles, he has demonstrated leadership in advocating for immigrants, the AAPI community, educational equity, bilingual programs, and against anti-Asian violence. He serves as a mentor teacher to new AAPI educators across the country and has helped increase AAPI representation in CTA and NEA.

ORANGE COUNTY: For her leadership and commitment to LGBTQ+ advocacy as an educator, labor leader and community organizer, Juli Stowers has been awarded the Human Rights Award for LGBTQ+ Advocacy in Honor of Nancy Bailey. A member of the Saddleback Valley Educators Association, Stowers is active in many LGBTQ+ organizations. She has organized many events, such as Trans Day of Remembrance, and is a founding member of Newport Beach PFLAG as well as Youth First OC, which advocates for safe, inclusive and discrimination-free schools for LGBTQ+ students. She frequently works behind the scenes to advocate for students’ safety and rights.

LOS ANGELES: Gina Gray has been awarded the Human Rights Award for Women’s Advocacy for her work toward ending gender bias and racial discrimination within her union, the United Teachers of Los Angeles. Gray was a leader in creating UTLA’s “Brave Space” series, which addressed implicit bias and racism in the wake of the murders of unarmed black people by police. She has used UTLA’s social media platforms to educate the broader union workforce about the accomplishments of women of color. Most recently, Gray has worked with colleagues to organize women of color in UTLA around childcare, fair pay, family leave and other issues.

REDLANDS: For her work promoting peace, justice and international understanding through her work with students, Vanessa Aranda has been awarded the CTA Peace and Justice Human Rights Award. Through her journalism class, Aranda, a member of the Redlands Teachers Association, has guided her students to create a student-driven online social justice journal called Ethic News. Students are challenged to look at their communities through a peace and justice lens, creating relevant content that impacts their communities. She has also created a curriculum that combines literacy with social justice issues and is one of the main contributors to her district’s new ethnic studies course.

LYNWOOD: Daniel Gallegos, the special education department chair at Lugo Elementary School and a member of the Lynwood Teachers Association, has been awarded the Students with Exceptional Needs Human Rights Award. Gallegos’ goal is to shift students with exceptionalities’ views of themselves, so they see themselves as able, responsible and successful. He works to create safe and secure learning environments that allow students to achieve their goals. He and his students work collaboratively to overcome hurdles to learning. Gallegos is a staunch advocate for the inclusion of students with exceptionalities in general education classrooms and school activities.

CROCKETT: A powerful advocate for social justice, Magret Nunes has been named the recipient of the CTA Member Human Rights award. As the president of the John Swett Education Association, Nunes established Social Justice Activists, a representative group in her district that met monthly to address equity issues. From there she created district equity teams to disseminate information to school sites as part of a five-year equity plan. She also created a student branch of SJA, and has secured numerous grants to advance social justice initiatives.

In addition to honoring educators, CTA recognized the work of a chapter:

SACRAMENTO: For its work to develop and promote human rights awareness, initiatives, and trainings for its members, and help eradicate discrimination, the Sacramento City Teachers Association has been awarded the CTA Chapter Human Rights Award. SCTA bargained and created a full-day professional learning session on white supremacy culture in education and abolitionist teaching strategies prior to the start of this school year. Since 2016, SCTA has worked with the Black Parallel School Board to bring anti-bias and anti-racist professional learning opportunities to the district. This became a bargaining point starting in 2018. After hours of negotiation, educators were able to secure one pre-service professional learning day, created and led by teachers, to address systemic racism within our education system. The professional learning session received very positive feedback, led to an Equity Action Plan, and created space for essential conversations around racism in the district.

For more information on CTA’s human and civil rights work, go to


The 310,000-member CTA is affiliated with the 3 million-member National Education Association.