Leslie Villegas is a senior policy analyst with the Education Policy program at New America, where she focuses on the PreK– 12 policy landscape for English learners.
Villegas has dedicated the last 10 years to advancing progressive policies that support marginalized communities through a variety of roles in government, academia, and think tank sectors. Starting in the California legislature, Villegas established a foundation in public policy by advising various elected officials and staffing several pieces of legislation that were signed into law .
Prior to joining New America, Villegas worked at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where she conducted research on the impact of federal education policy on state level accountability for English learner public education services and co-authored two reports, The Patchy Landscape of State English Learner Policies under ESSA, and Native Language Assessments for K–12 English Learners: Policy Considerations and State Practices. Most recently, Villegas consulted on various projects with Professor Nasar Meer at the University of Edinburgh, developing policy briefs highlighting national and local trends in integration policy for refugees and asylum seekers in Cyprus, Sweden, Italy, and Scotland for the GLIMER Consortium. She also led a COVID-specific project where she curated a set of rapid response commentaries exploring issues at the intersection of the pandemic and migration.
Inspired by her own experiences as a first-generation Mexican immigrant raised in California, Villegas believes equitable access to quality education is the key to creating a more fair, inclusive, and representative society.
She holds a master’s degree in international development from the University of Edinburgh, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from California State University, Sacramento.