Dr. Paul Hernandez joins Achieving the Dream as senior advisor to the president

Achieving the Dream is excited to welcome Dr. Paul Hernandez, an Aspen Rising President’s fellow, award-winning community college teacher and leader, and advocate for young people, as senior advisor to the president.

Dr. Hernandez most recently served as vice president for academic and student affairs at Mount Wachusett Community College in Massachusetts and as chief diversity officer at Lansing Community College. Prior to earning his degrees, Dr. Hernandez was engulfed in gang culture and deep poverty, surviving on the streets of Los Angeles. He openly shares his powerful personal story to influence and empower young people traveling a similar path.

“I am excited to join an organization that is so focused on solutions and understands that the way in which we increase student success is by committing resources and professional learning opportunities to the faculty, staff, leadership, and communities that serve students,” Dr. Hernandez said.

His experiences have helped make Dr. Hernandez a nationally recognized leader in college access and success, community outreach, and pedagogy. He is the author of the book The Pedagogy of Real Talk: Engaging, Teaching and Connecting Students At-Promise. The book’s second edition was released this summer.



Dr. Hernandez presented at TEDx Traverse City, Mich. in 2017 to share his personal story and make the case for “real talk” when engaging educators and students.

“Dr. Hernandez comes to us directly from community colleges and brings a practice-based lens to his leadership role as a faculty member and administrator,” said ATD’s president and CEO, Dr. Karen A. Stout. “He is joining ATD at just the right moment to support our hypothesis that joining equity with teaching and learning is a powerful lever for change.”

A former faculty member and non-profit administrator, Dr. Hernandez was awarded the National Education Association Reg Weaver Human and Civil Rights Award, the Michigan Education Association Elizabeth Siddall Human Rights Award, the Equity in Education Award by the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and an Honors Professor of the Year Award for teaching.

Dr. Hernandez will support ATD in advancing a broad array of initiatives from K–12 pathways and community colleges through graduate school. He will scale up his Real Talk Pedagogy in community colleges and K–12 systems and connect this work to ATD’s teaching and learning and K–12 initiatives. He will also support ATD in its work with the Aspen College Excellence program and the Belk Center and other graduate programs.

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