A National Award-Winning Publication

Iliana Vargas


Informing better public school policies

Iliana Vargas

Age: 35

Title: Director of Planning and Data Management

Organization: Chicago Public Schools

In her role as director of planning and data management at Chicago Public Schools, Iliana Vargas leads a team of analysts to evaluate and synthesize data about district enrollment, school choice patterns, and demographic trends to help inform district planning.

Prior to this role, Vargas oversaw the creation of school quality and performance measures for over 600 district and charter schools. Her approach to working with data within the public sector draws from her training as an academic researcher at Northwestern University. Additionally, as a first-generation college student and daughter of Mexican immigrants, Vargas believes the analysis of data should be done with specific attention to the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Vargas received a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation in 2012. Additionally, Vargas was a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 class of 2016 in the science category and selected as Pacific Standard’s Top 30 Thinkers Under 30 in 2015 for her research on memory and sleep. Vargas holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Arizona, where she graduated magna cum laude, as well as a master’s degree and doctorate from Northwestern University. She credits her success to her parents who nurtured her innate curiosity from a young age, instilled a strong work ethic, and always supported her in reaching her goals.

As a resident of Lakeview East, Iliana loves to find cool restaurants around her neighborhood and try different cuisines. In her spare time, she likes to read fiction books from women authors with a penchant for wit and plot.

Words of wisdom: We do this because the world we live in is a house on fire and the people we love are burning. – Sandra Cisneros

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