Victor De La Paz
The Broad Residency Class of 2008-2010
Chief Financial Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools
We all know the statistics of poor, immigrant and single-parent households. I am one of the lucky ones, so I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure more students who grew up like me can have the opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of.
Victor De La Paz was a rising star in financial services. He began his career at JP Morgan Chase and, after business school, worked in mergers and acquisitions at The Hartford and Aetna, Inc. Eventually, he became a senior manager at Capital One. Success in the corporate world was his for the taking. But his upbringing in a single-parent, blue-collar home fueled a desire to make his life’s work one that could build a bridge between those two worlds—one of struggle and one of opportunity—for other kids growing up like he did.
“As a first-generation immigrant and proud product of public schools, I know firsthand how powerful education can be in lifting families out of poverty and creating community leaders,” says De La Paz. “I believe in public schools and can think of no cause more critical than ensuring that they are working for all of our children.”
After joining The Broad Residency in 2008, De La Paz served as special assistant to the superintendent of Hartford Public Schools in Connecticut and led the development of the district’s first-ever strategic plan. “When only 29 percent of the high school freshmen are graduating—as was the case in 2006—there is very little time to eradicate that inequity. The graduation rate was more than 41 percent for the class of 2009, and yet there is still every reason to be unsatisfied,” he says.
He also implemented School Governance Councils at 28 schools across the district—real school-home-community partnerships that took responsibility and were held accountable for the school’s success. That effort to engage and empower parents and community members caught the eye of state legislators, becoming a model for the development of a similar effort across Connecticut. In 2010, he was appointed deputy CFO in Hartford, a position that came with a $400 million budget and student-based budgeting practice, and rose to the role of chief operating officer a year later.
Now, as chief financial officer at Baltimore City Schools, he’s applying the knowledge he gained about per-pupil funding efforts and district management from The Broad Residency and his work in Hartford on a much bigger scale.
“Outside of academics, operations is where school districts spend most of their money, so understanding the logistics and how much you can cut through red tape when it comes to procurement and purchasing is key. I’ve overseen getting the students from home to the classroom and back home at the end of the day and all that goes with that, which is critical in determining how best to fund those things,” he says. “I have to ensure that our funding formula retains its central goal of bringing equity across all of our classrooms for all of our students.”
As CFO, De La Paz is leading the fiscal efforts behind two groundbreaking projects in Baltimore: a new teacher contract that includes differentiated performance pay structures and the district’s 10-year school construction plan. Each requires the availability and reliability of layers of data that had not been employed in past decision-making efforts to show that they are producing a high return on investment, both for the city and for the students.
“Our students are my source of inspiration,” says De La Paz. “When I talk to them or their families, I see the possibilities. My challenge is to ensure everyone else sees those possibilities and sincerely believes in those students, too.”
The Broad Residency
Class of 2008-2010
Current Role: Chief Financial Officer, Baltimore City Public Schools
MBA, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia
B.A., History and Political Science, Rutgers University