Nativity Jesuit Academy has named principal Vanessa Solis as its next president.
Solis has been with Nativity since 2014, serving as its first-ever K4 teacher before transitioning to its director of elementary school education and later principal.
Nativity has evolved over the past 7 years from an all-boys middle school to a full co-ed K4-8 academy with more than 250 students. Today, 100% of Nativity students are Latino and 97% experience poverty.
In response to the growing Latino population on Milwaukee's south side, the school, located at 1515 S. 29th St., has expanded its campus and increased its enrollment in recent years.
“Over the past seven years, I have gotten to know Vanessa Solis through my involvement on the board of trustees. I am continuously impressed by her thoughtfulness, humility and intentional decision-making,” said Jay Schwister, Nativity board chair and managing director and senior portfolio manager at Baird. “As our first Latina president, Vanessa is starting a new chapter in Nativity’s history and it is a privilege to serve alongside her in our mission.”
Solis will assume her new role on July 1.
Former Nativity president Sue Smith will remain in a consulting role during Solis’s transition to her new role.
Solis, who grew up in Chicago’s Little Village and began school knowing only Spanish, went on to become the first in her family to graduate from college. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and holds master's degrees in urban education from Cardinal Stritch University and in educational leadership from University of Notre Dame.
"The impact of Nativity is possible because of the people who fiercely believe in our mission,” said Solis. “I am excited to harness the energy that surrounds Nativity and share the wonderful story we have with our current and prospective donors and the broader Milwaukee community. The world class education we offer our students is possible because of our generous donors, and I personally understand that when someone believes in your potential anything is possible.”