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Meet Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux of Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life and Pendergast District

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux.

Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux was appointed as the first bi-lingual, Latina Superintendent of the award-winning, Pendergast Elementary School District in May 2014. The District serves 9,500 students in grades Preschool – 8th grade, on twelve campuses in the cities of Avondale, Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona with outstanding educational opportunities. Dr. DeBlieux brings a strong sense of what students, families and communities need. Her goals are to focus on high achievement for students, a well-trained staff, and an engaged community. She has created an organization that is innovative, unique, solution-oriented and spirited. She is beloved by the students, staff, families and communities she serves with her warmth, trust and understanding of the diverse district she serves.

DeBlieux is active in many community organizations including Leadership West, where she serves as a board member, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, where she serves as former board chair, formerly on the City of Phoenix Youth and Education Commission, and others. Lily is sought after as a motivational speaker, and in 2015, she founded the organization Si No Yo, Quien? to provide training to empower people to reach new heights in their personal and professional lives.

Seeing a need to reduce the startling statistics of preventable deaths of children in Arizona, DeBlieux, along with Gina Godbehere from Leadership West Class XXII, co-founded the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life Conference first held in January 2017. This conference, the first of its kind in the state, was attended by over 4,500 people in January 2020 at Grand Canyon University. The conference has now become a movement that has now helped over 400,000 youth reduce bullying and teen suicide throughout Arizona. Conferences are held yearly in January.

Lily has been honored as the Non-profit Leader of the Year, West Valley Woman of the Year, AZ Association of Latino and the Arizona Administrators and Superintendents, Superintendent of the Year. Additionally, she has been chosen as the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents National Latina Superintendent of the Year and the Phoenix Business Journal’s Most Admired Leader Award, among other accolades.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to success is filled with opportunities and challenges. I grew up in a Latino family in Puerto Rico and New York, with limited financial resources but unlimited love. I have been fortunate in my life to have people who supported my dreams and believed in me and thus, I have adopted the bee as a symbol to show that I believe in others and their great potential. I am known as a “Bee”-liever with my BEE Philosophy. I have always had the bee as my trademark that I wear each day. Scientists can prove that it is aerodynamically impossible for the bumblebee to fly. Its body is too heavy and its wings too light to sustain flight. However, the bumblebee chooses not to be influenced by science’s negative viewpoint and flies anyway. When you look at the bee, think this thought – “I can BEE what I want to BEE!

Whenever an obstacle was presented to me, I chose not to let anything get in the way, it made me work harder. As a superintendent, I carry this with me and help to pave the way for others to be successful. As an example, five years ago, I created a Superintendent’s Eighth Grade Advisory Council modeling and displaying leadership and professional skills for students who might not otherwise have this opportunity. In a district with eighty-eight percent diversity and seventy-nine percent free and reduced lunch, some would look at this as a deficit model, I look at the strengths and how students can be involved as future leaders in their schools and communities. I mentor by meeting with students, helping them learn leadership skills and applying them in the schools, district and communities they serve. The students do community service and fundraise each year and culminate their year with a trip to a prestigious university to learn about college attainment and career readiness prior to high school.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life and Pendergast District – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I was fortunate to be selected as the first bi-lingual, Latina Superintendent of the Pendergast Elementary School District in May 2014, serving 9,500 students in preschool through 8th grade. All of the twelve schools in the district are Title 1 and serve the communities of Avondale, Glendale and Phoenix, Arizona. The district is approximately 79% free and reduced lunch, and 88% diverse. The Pendergast District mission is to provide a quality education for all students so they can compete globally in their future endeavors and aspiration. To this end, the district and its schools have created signature academies throughout the district including Dual Language in Spanish and English, Leadership, Environmental Engineering, Exploration and Investigation, Orcutt Winslow Architecture, Planning and Construction, Banner Children’s Health, Medical and Forensic Sciences, GCON Design and Build, Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship, Ethnic Studies, Sustainable Design, Agriculture Ecosystems and Computer Science. The academies serve students in grades K-8. I am most proud of my family including my two successful children and my granddaughter who have taught me so much and enriched my life. I have devoted my life to helping others and being part of the community. I am privileged to be a servant leader and to be given the opportunity to make a difference for the students, staff, families and the communities I serve. I have carried the values I was raised with to have faith, family, friends and a purpose and mission in life.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
As a leader and change agent, I am always looking to learn and grow. Life has taught me to celebrate each day and look for ways grow both personally and professionally and help my district by mentoring, focusing on the needs of the students, and sharing my time and talent to inspire others. I want to grow the Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life movement to eradicate teen suicide and bullying in the schools in Arizona and across the nation. I am currently writing a book to show others how they can create this movement in their own communities. I am very excited about this. I’m always looking for new ideas and ways to improve as I reach for new goals daily.

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Image Credit:

Gina Godbehere, Dr. Lily Matos DeBlieux photo, Speak Up, Stand Up, Save a Life Law enforcement attendees, Dr. DeBlieux with student

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