School Boards are tasked with creating and updating policies that ensure they run as smoothly as possible, set the vision and goals, and hold their districts accountable for results. Even though the Hispanic population is growing rapidly in the state of Iowa, there are only 6 Latinos in total serving on School Boards all across Iowa. This past month the Sioux City School Board chose the first Latina to be the president of the Board for the next year.
“No female has been an officer of our board for over 12 years; there have never been 2 female officers; certainly, not 2 women of color as President and Vice-president,” Perla Alarcon-Flory, who was recently elected to lead Sioux City school board, said. “This is definitely, the first time a Latinx is the Board President.”
Monique E. Scarlett was selected unanimously to serve as vice president of the Sioux City school board alongside Alarcon-Flory.
An Immigrant herself, Perla Alarcon-Flory has a long resume of accomplishments that makes her more than qualified for this important position. Mrs. Alarcon-Flory was born in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, Mexico.
“As the daughter of a Spanish Literature teacher and an English teacher, I have a deep respect for the gift of education,” she said.
The oldest of three siblings she went to school in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. She attended high school in Mexico City and later got her bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Hispano-Mexicana University in Mexico City.
“Learning about cultures, countries and languages was always my passion,” she explained about her choice of major.
Alarcon-Flory came to the United States in 1999 when she married her husband Nathan Flory. In 2001 the pair moved to Sioux City and since then they have called Iowa home. In 2004 she became a United States citizen.
“We are the proud parents of Andrew, Nizsha and Shaiel – College Sophomore at Iowa State University, High School Sophomore and 6th grader in the Sioux City Community Schools, respectively,” Mrs. Alarcon-Flory shared a little bit about her family.
As to her professional accomplishments, the list is very long. She is a Certified Spanish-English Court Interpreter in Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. She has 23-year experience as a Federal Interpreter and translator. Also, Perla Alarcon-Flory is the owner of a language services small business. Her business name is Perla J Alarcón-Flory, LLC and it was launched in August of 2015.
As professional Interpreter she worked closely with many businesses and organizations as bilingual representative. She worked as Bilingual Income Maintenance with the Iowa Department, of Human Services, Bilingual Workforce Associate for Iowa Workforce Development, Occupational Spanish Trainer for Western Iowa Tech Community College, and Bilingual Personal Banker for Wells Fargo to name a few.
“Throughout my life, I have promoted Arts & Culture, I have been an advocate for Education, Immigrant Rights, Labor, Housing, and Healthcare access,” Mrs. Alarcon-Flory stated. “My commitment to this community is unwavering, my desire to learn, to connect needs and resources is deeply ingrained in my heart. Because of this, I have served in numerous organizations.”
To advocate for these causes Perla Alarcon-Flory was involved with the Latino Political Network, served on the Board of Directors of Siouxland Public Media, was Counselor for Boy Scouts of America-Mid-American Council, was part of Sioux City Census Complete Count Committee and National Association of Women Business Owners. She also served as President for the Board of Directors of Siouxland Unidad Latina. Mrs. Alarcon-Flory found time to volunteer as well. She has volunteered with Justice for our Neighbors Immigration Clinic and was a broadcasting volunteer for KWIT.
Perla Alarcon-Flory first got involved with the Sioux City Community School District in 2009. She served in the School Improvement Advisory, Student Achievement and Board Policy Committees.
“Our communities and school districts across the nation have changed, and the makeup of our district was not reflected in our workforce, management, or our governing body. Who was making sure that we were understanding and responding to the needs of all our students? Who was making decisions on behalf of all the kids in our District? I was a parent in the Sioux City Schools, a woman, a person of color, an immigrant. I, like many of these new families, have experienced the complexities of adapting to a new culture, a new system, and having to speak English as a second language in order to learn, connect and belong,” Mrs. Alarcon-Flory explained what pushed her to ultimately run for School Board. “I helped them understand their rights and responsibilities and shed a new light for the schools. Consequently, I decided to run for School Board.”
She succeeded and was the first Latina to be elected official in Woodbury County, Iowa. In 2013 she commenced her service on the Board of Education.
“[I was] making key decisions; always conducting myself with accountability, fiduciary responsibility, ethical behavior and absolute commitment,” she explained her guiding principles of her professional life.
Perla Alarcon-Flory explained that she understood that everyone should have a right to access to public education in the United States and in order to better serve as a member of the School Board she formed many different connections.
“I have taken advantage of the opportunities to further my understanding. I have formed connections with legislators, policymakers, stakeholders at a local, state and federal level to advocate for the initiatives and resources needed for our children. Our children are our future, and they will accomplish amazing things,” Alarcon-Flory said.
In her position as President of Sioux School Board she will face the challenge of the ongoing pandemic and budget constraints, but she is ready to face it head on. She indicated that she will be receptive and open to any comments, concerns and suggestions. She will answer any questions the public might have to the best of her ability.
“I understand the time, energy and proficiencies required for the job, and I am prepared to take on such governance responsibilities, leading with courage, strength, positivity and compassion,” Perla Alarcon-Flory said. “I am excited and grateful to have been elected as the President of the Board of Education of the Sioux City Community School District, and that Monique Scarlett was elected as our Madam Vice president. No female has been an officer of our board for over 12 years; there have never been 2 female officers; certainly, not 2 women of color as President and Vice-president.”