Alison Suffet Diaz

Founder of Environmental Charter High School

Mrs. Suffet Diaz is the Founder of Environmental Charter High School, and Executive Director of Environmental Charter Schools. She is responsible for driving strategic development, as well as fundraising, fiscal and capital budgeting and planning, and oversight of administrative operations. This includes driving the Environmental Charter Schools (ECS) plan, which calls for establishing a network of charter schools including elementary, middle, and high schools to serve under-resourced communities in southern Los Angeles.

Suffet Diaz started her career as an education attorney, representing school districts in labor negotiations, and with personnel concerns and student issues. She decided to pursue her passion for education and become an educator. Never dreaming she would found a school, she earned her teaching credentials from Cal State Dominguez Hills, and landed a full-time teaching social science at Leuzinger High School, where she taught for eight years. While there, she created a school within a school; a California Partnership Academy called Environmental Careers Academy (ECA).

The performance of the students who were in ECA soared and in 1999, she began her path toward opening a Charter School, Environmental Charter High School. During the next period, she worked part-time as a faculty member in the teaching credential program at Cal State Dominguez Hills and as an Education Specialist at TreePeople while she assembled a team of parents, teachers and business partners to support her during the process of petitioning to establish a new charter school. The Lawndale Elementary School District approved the charter in 2000 and Environmental Charter High School was born. Originally starting with a 100 ninth grade students on a temporary, shared campus, ECHS now serves over 430 students in ninth through twelfth grades from own campus in Lawndale, California, and has become an award-winning educational institution recognized nationally for its innovative programs.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from State University of New York, Albany, and Juris Doctorate from Temple University Law School, where she participated in a program called LEAP, teaching inner city youth about their constitutional rights.