Estela Lopez and Margarita Benitez

Vital Supporters


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Excelencia honors and gives its Heart to the organization’s first senior associates, Estela Lopez and Margarita Benitez, for setting the standard of high achieving colleagues with the work ethic to strive for Latino student success that sustains us today. These two bright Latinas were already leaders in higher education when they brought their talents and experience to our organization to help us build the enterprise, implement programs and technical assistance to support Latino students in colleges and universities and advance our mission. They were with us during the early days when we shared, “We want to change the world, now let’s find the resources and do it.” Rolling up their sleeves, they worked with us to build and test program methods, sharing their reactions and ideas, as we all invented on a public stage.

Their efforts during our incubation was invaluable as Excelencia grew from speeches to releasing research and evidence-based practices to advance institutional change strategies. Their sustained support helped us build our national Examples of Excelencia initiative and hone our engagement of colleges and universities that led to the Excelencia in Action network. They served as key members of Excelencia’s team in our work with Lumina Latino Student Success and continue to advocate directly with institutional leaders to learn how to become part of our community of common cause. Excelencia is strong today because of their direct engagement and sustaining commitment. For sharing their insights, energy, and generous spirit that helped us translate ideas into practices, strategies, and positive change, Excelencia expresses its deepest gratitude to Estela Lopez and Margarita Benitez.