Hispanic Institute of Social Issues
She was born and raised in Northern Ireland. She graduated from Queen’s University of Belfast with
an honors degree in English and Education. She began her career as an English teacher in Belfast,
Northern Ireland, and like so many Irish people, she was drawn to the dream of America.
She arrived in the United States in 1987, where she eventually found work as a substitute teacher in
the Madison School District. Eager to learn all she could about K-12 education, she held a variety of
teaching positions at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. She has served in the
Washington, Madison, Paradise Valley, and Roosevelt school districts and has served as an adjunct
English instructor for Mesa and Glendale Community Colleges. She has also served as an adjunct
professor for University of Phoenix and Western International University.
Yvonne has spent the last decade working in charter schools, and is currently the principal of the
Early College High School at GateWay Community College. Since she arrived at GateWay, the
school’s attendance rate has risen from 50% to 94% and the drop out rate has fallen from 30% to
4%. Recognized for her leadership by the Department of Education Director’s Institute, she received
the 2005 Leadership award. Her early college program has been recognized by the State Board for
Charter Schools as an example of the positive impact of charter schools in Arizona.
Active in the community, Yvonne was instrumental in bringing Girls for a Change to Phoenix and
serves on the Advisory Board. Her advocacy efforts now focus on supporting undocumented
children who are in this country through no fault of their own. Since September 2007, she has
raised $86,000 in private donations to support the cost of out-of-state tuition for the undocumented
children at her school. Most recently, Yvonne received the 2008 MLK Living the Dream award from
the City of Phoenix for her advocacy for undocumented children.
She compiled and edited the book Documented Dreams.
Yvonne Watterson (right)