Dalia Avello, Executive Director

Meet our Executive Director!

After a wide-ranging search, we have found our new Executive Director.
Dalia Avello will lead our organization into 2018 and going forward. Her experience with public, private and non-profit organizations, as well as her education and training, are well-matched with what OMA needs to meet the goals and challenges that await us in the future.
In order to ensure a smooth transition, Dalia will be working closely with our outgoing Executive Director, Tammy Ulrich. Tammy has rejoined our board of directors and will continue to support our projects, particularly workshops and advocacy.
Here is a Q&A that will help you get to know Dalia before meeting her in person. Please join us in welcoming Dalia to our community.
Q & A
What brought you to Montessori?
I learned about Montessori when I was training to become a psychologist, a long time ago, and thought it was brilliant. I didn’t connect with it until later, when I had the opportunity to see it “in action”.  After seeing the children in a classroom, how complete they felt, I couldn’t stop myself from wanting to know more. I started reading books and research, then attended a course with Polli Soholt. That clearly wasn’t enough, so I finally decided to move to Portland and take the training to learn more.
What are you most excited about in stepping into the Executive Director role?
I’m excited about getting to meet and know the people who are making Montessori happen in our community. To work hard to understand their hopes and aspirations, as well as their struggles and challenges. To find ways to build meaningful bridges of communication for our members and the larger community.
Your work and educational pursuits have predominantly been internationally focused. How do you see this position relating to that experience?
I feel very comfortable working internationally, as it gives me the possibility to look globally for resources and potential answers to the problems I’m working on. However, I began to feel that all of this international focus was not making an impact for children and their families here in Oregon. I’m a true believer that quality begins at home. This position seemed like the ideal opportunity to challenge myself and embrace some of the “you know what would be great” and “you know what we should do” conversations I’ve been having with friends for years.
What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the Montessori community?
The board, and in particular our advocacy committee, have identified and begun to work on a number of important topics, especially our ongoing communication with the state government regarding licensing, which will be a priority. Another important goal is to strengthen our relationship with charter Montessori Schools and determine how we can serve them better. Additionally, teachers and parents have expressed a great deal of interest in community outreach and sharing what we have as Montessorians. 
There has also been an expressed desire to widen the scope of professional development opportunities. I think the training on Trauma-Informed Schools was a reflection of that, and I’m really looking forward to our next two trainings as well.  I’m looking forward to our training in January with Amy Lang regarding sexuality in children. I’ve been trying to attend one of her workshops for a while.
What do you love about Oregon? What are some of your favorite places in Oregon?
The weather most of all. I like the clear change of seasons and how green the winter is. I’m more of a temperate climate person, so this environment suits me perfectly.
My Oregon bucket list definitely has more items to check off than have been completed. I really enjoy the stormy weather at the coast, the multiple secret stairs you find while walking around Portland and the dramatic change of scenery as you drive through the gorge and into Eastern Oregon. I’m looking forward to seeing the Painted Hills and the high desert, as well as Shakespeare in Ashland. I have no doubt as I begin to visit our member schools my bucket list will continue to grow.
What are your reading now? What is a book you would recommend to our community?
I’m reading “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. I think he is very gracious, yet direct, in the way he describes difficult situations and circumstances.
I’m afraid my book choices tend to be quite dark and serious, because my work has focused on childhood and trauma. But, I think some Montessorians may appreciate “Consolations” by David Whyte. It’s a series of essays on everyday words and how we often overlook or fail to appreciate their power and potential source of nourishment.