Conversations: Karla Hernández-Mats

Conversations: May 12, 2020

On May 12, 2020, Karla Hernández-Mats, President, United Teachers of Dade, and Xavier Cortada discussed the challenges Miami-Dade County Public School teachers and students endure during this pandemic. Specifically, the former special needs teacher addressed the barriers to online learning special needs students and students living in poverty are experiencing (e.g., lack of access to devices and/or wi-fi, parents focused on food scarcity instead of education) during this time of emergency. Ms. Hernández-Mats concluded the conversation by insisting that citizens understand the role of government in creating equitable policies that prioritize the interests of the broader community and not a select few.

About Karla Hernández-Mats

Karla Hernández-Mats is the president of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers’ union in the southeastern United States. Mrs. Hernández-Mats served her first term as president from 2016-2019 and was elected for a second term by 73 percent. Prior to becoming president, Mrs. Hernández-Mats served as UTD’s Secretary/Treasurer from 2013-2016.

In 2018, Mrs. Hernandez-Mats led the charge to mobilize teachers and the Miami-Dade community, helping to pass Referendum #362, an initiative put forth by the United Teachers of Dade to give public school teachers a salary raise and improve security in schools. To date, this is the largest pay increase in the history of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, garnering support from more than 70 percent of Miami-Dade voters.

Her goal as a leader is to have a profound impact on education policy and ensure a sound future for all children attending Miami-Dade County Public Schools. In July 2019, Ms. Hernández-Mats was recognized by Miami Today as part of its Achiever Series for her work in advancing public education throughout the Miami-Dade community.

Mrs. Hernández-Mats serves on the FEA (Florida Education Association) Governance Board, the FEA Cabinet, the State AFL-CIO Executive Board, The Children’s Trust Executive Board, The Education Fund Executive Board, The Ruth’s List Executive Board, and serves as the Chairperson of the American Federation of Teachers Women’s Rights Committee.

She often speaks to national groups about the challenges public education teachers face and is an ardent advocate for immigration reform and the protection of children’s rights. In this role, she has served as a featured speaker and presenter for the National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the Miami Women’s March, and the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C.

Born and raised in Miami, Mrs. Hernández-Mats is a first generation American of Honduran descent and is the first Hispanic officer to be elected to the United Teachers of Dade. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University in Emotionally Handicapped Education and a master’s degree in Business Management from St. Thomas University.

Before dedicating her life and career to advocating for public education, Mrs. Hernández-Mats expressed her love for public service in the classroom where she taught for over 10 years. In 2010, she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School for her outstanding work with special needs children. In 2017, Mrs. Hernández-Mats took a delegation of Miami-Dade educators to Fort Royal, Haiti to educate students and staff at Sant Twa Ti Flé school.

Mrs. Hernández-Mats is happily married and the mother of two. In addition to her advocacy and social justice work with the United Teachers of Dade, Mrs. Hernández-Mats is an active member of her church where she volunteers her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.

FInd Karla Hernández-Mats on social media:

Twitter: @KarlaMats 

Facebook: Karla Hernandez-Mats

Instagram: @karlahernandezmats

About Xavier Cortada

Click here to read the artist’s bio.