Episode for February 17, 2023
A first-generation American who dedicated her life to service, becoming a Miami-Dade Teacher of the Year and a fierce advocate for children and teachers.
Born and raised in Hialeah to immigrants from Honduras, Karla Hernández is a first-generation American and the first person in her family to graduate from college. Growing up, Karla learned the values of hard work and opportunity from her dad, who picked tomatoes in the Everglades as a farmworker, before becoming a carpenter.
Since 2016 Karla has served as the President of the United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers’ union in the southeastern United States. Prior to becoming president, Karla served as UTD’s Secretary-Treasurer from 2013-2016. Before that, Karla worked as a classroom teacher for over 10 years teaching special needs children, and in 2010 she was selected as Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School.
In 2018, Hernandez 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 — winning more than 70 percent of the vote.
In July 2019, Hernández was recognized by Miami Today as part of its Achiever Series for her work in advancing public education throughout the Miami-Dade community. Hernandez served on the Ruth’s List Executive Board, where she worked to elect pro-choice women across Florida. She currently serves on the Florida Education Association (FEA) Governance Board, the FEA Cabinet, the State AFL-CIO Executive Board, The Children’s Trust Executive Board, The Education Fund Executive Board, the board of United Way Miami, and is the Chairperson of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Women’s Rights Committee and Vice President of AFT.
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.
Karla Hernández 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. She is happily married and the mother of two. Hernández grew up in the church and she has volunteered her time for humanitarian efforts overseas.