Welcome to the UI Alumni Network

Jose Antonio Rico, M ED 2002

Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

  Jose Antonio Rico (US Dept of Education)  

 From the US Department of Education web site (www.ed.gov):



José Antonio Rico is the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Named to his post on Feb. 1, 2010, Rico helps carry out President Obama's efforts to improve the academic achievement of Hispanic students. He came to the Department as a senior adviser in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education on April 29, 2009.

Born in the small town of Jeruco, México, 7-year-old José and his brother, Carlos, immigrated to the United States, where his father was a railroad worker and his mother was a housewife. His sister, Florentina, was born after the family settled in Chicago.

Rico attended public schools in Chicago and graduated from the Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, where he made the dean's list and won a full-ride scholarship to study mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois–Urbana. After a six-month internship as a staff engineer at Amoco during his senior year, Rico realized he'd lost interest in engineering and took a job as a science teacher at Chicago's Latino Youth Alternative High School, where he taught for the next three years.

From 1995 to 1997, he served as the program director for Public Allies, a Chicago nonprofit dedicated to community service, and, during this time, in May 1996, he finished his bachelor's degree at Northeastern Illinois University.

In 1997, he went to work for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant Rights, organizing its "Removing Barriers to Education" campaign, working with parents around the state to see that their children were not denied access to education.

Two years later, he was hired by the University of Illinois–Chicago's Small Schools Workshop to help develop small, innovative learning communities in public schools. During this time, he worked as a school improvement coach and on charter school projects with the Knowledge Works Foundation and the National Council of La Raza. While at UI–Chicago, he also completed a master's degree in curriculum instruction in 2003.

In 2004, while still working for UI–Chicago, Rico completed a second master's, this time in administration, at National-Louis University as a principal resident in the New Leaders for New Schools program.

As Chicago's Multicultural Arts High School opened in 2005, Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan named Rico its first principal. It was quite an achievement, considering that Rico and 13 other members of the Lawndale–Little Village neighborhood had gone on a 19-day hunger strike starting on Mother's Day weekend in 2001 to call attention to repeated delays by previous administrators in approving the school. Rico served as the founding principal of the school, which has 24 teachers and an enrollment of 350, until he joined ED in 2009.

Rico, his wife, Angélica, a registered nurse, and their daughter and two sons live in Washington, D.C., where the three children, a preschooler, a kindergartener, and an eighth-grader attend public schools.


Recently Featured:

Thomas D. Vogelsinger '73 BUS, MBA '74

2014 University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award
[ read more ]

Lynn Schreiber Price '77 MEDIA

2014 University of Illinois Alumni Humanitarian Award
[ read more ]

Fred R. Volkmar '72 LAS

2014 University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award
[ read more ]

Donald R. Scifres MS '70 ENG, PHD '72 ENG

2014 University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award
[ read more ]

George R. Carruthers '61 ENG, MS '62 ENG, PHD '64 ENG

2014 UIAA Alumni Achievement Award
[ read more ]

Dr. Scott W. Atlas

Chief of Neuroradiology and Professor of Radiology at Stanford University Medical Center
[ read more ]

Dr. Fu-Kuen Lin

Molecular Genetics Consultant
[ read more ]

Rhoda P. Erhardt

Consultant, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Erhardt Developmental Products
[ read more ]

Richard I. Morimoto

Director, Rice Institute for Biomedical Research; Dean of Graduate School; John Evans Professor of Biology, Northwestern University
[ read more ]

Erma Tranter

President, Friends of the Parks
[ read more ]

Lin N. Ezell

Director, Marine Corps National Museum
[ read more ]

Ann Cody, 2011 UIAA Humanitarian Award Recipient

Director of Public Policy and Global Outreach for BlazeSports America
[ read more ]

Lester McKeever

Managing Principal of Washington, Pittman & McKeever LLC
[ read more ]

© Copyright UI Alumni Network, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Alumni Development Software