Sylvia Acevedo is an award-winning entrepreneur who has earned worldwide recognition for her work in addressing one of society’s most vexing challenges – universal access to education.
Sylvia started her career as a rocket scientist at the Jet Propulsion Labs where she worked on the Voyager mission’s fly by of Jupiter and its moons and the Solar Polar/Probe missions.
As an engineer at IBM, she led the redesign of state of the art manufacturing facilities that became an international showcase. Leveraging her technical training in the technology industry, she served as an executive with Fortune 100 companies: Apple, Autodesk and Dell. She holds a Master’s degree in Systems Engineering from Stanford University where she was one of the first Hispanics, male or female, to have earned a graduate engineering degree. Sylvia earned her Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University which in 2010, named Sylvia as one of their most Distinguished Engineering Alumni.
Sylvia currently serves as a Commissioner on the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics and is a national expert in mobilizing communities to increase family engagement in education. What started as a weekly hour of community service tutoring at a low-income school while working as a technology executive at Dell Computers quickly became a transformative idea. This idea led to a community mobilization campaign that reached over a quarter of a million people across America. That “A-ha!” moment gave Ms. Acevedo the insight that there were ways that her leadership and systems engineering skills could be used to provide much-needed access to the same type of community programs, like Girl Scouts and Head Start, that she personally experienced as a young girl.
In response to the growing health disparities in children of underserved populations, Sylvia realized the linkage to access to sports and fitness activities and created the “Fitness Feria”. These campaigns successfully ran in Austin and Los Angeles, providing hands on play and sports experiences for over 27,000 children. The US ARMY recognized Ms. Acevedo for the mobilization campaign’s contributions at the US ARMY All American Bowl.
Along the way, Ms. Acevedo established distribution programs that provided over 250,000 books to families, many of which were the first books in their homes. Seeing children struggling to achieve academically simply due to dental or untreated vision issues, Ms. Acevedo led a community collaboration that distributed over 25,000 toothbrushes and thousands of pairs of glasses over a three-year period to children who needed their vision corrected.
This educational community work led to international awards and recognition including being named to the White House Commission for Educational Excellence for Hispanics by President Obama in 2011. In this role, Ms. Acevedo serves as the Chair of the Early Childhood subcommittee. The federal government of Mexico in 2011 honored Sylvia with the Ohtli Award, the country’s most prestigious civil rights recognition of non-Mexican nationals for her work in parental involvement in education.