Gini has spent her career focused on improving education and expanding opportunity for students and families. She grew up in Nashville and graduated from Hillwood High School. Her parents prioritized education for their daughters, instilling an ethos of hard work and college graduation as their primary goal. Bettye is from Springfield, TN, and was the first in her family to attend college, graduating from St. Thomas Nursing School in Nashville. Her father, Enrique, emigrated from Holguín, Cuba in 1957 to study and was a Spanish professor at Vanderbilt University for over 40 years.
Gini left Nashville to attend Indiana University, earning both a B.A. and M.A., and returned to Nashville to earn her teacher certification at Belmont University. She taught high school in Seattle Public Schools for five years, and it was there that she met her husband Eddie Wright-Rios, who was working in a dropout prevention program for Latino students. Gini worked as an adjunct professor at University of California, San Diego while Eddie attended graduate school and they returned to Nashville in 2004 when he was hired as a professor of Latin American History at Vanderbilt University.
Gini taught Spanish at Overton High School, implementing the district’s first Spanish Heritage classes and working both in and out of the classroom to expand opportunities for students and families from the emerging immigrant community in south Nashville. She left the classroom to lead the implementation of career academies at Overton; facilitating the redesign of the school and working with community and business partners across Nashville. In 2008 she earned her second M.A., this time in Education Administration from Tennessee State University. Gini then moved to Glencliff High School to become a Community School Coordinator, assisting the school in earning a National Community School of Excellence Award in 2010.
Her success at Glencliff led to her promotion to Executive Director of Family and Community Partnerships for MNPS, a post she held for four years. Under her leadership her department launched key programs such as Community Achieves, Parent University, Poverty Simulations, Parent Ambassadors, WatchDogs, Family Academic Success Teams, Bringing Justice to You, among many others.
Today, Gini works at Conexión Américas, where she is Senior Director of Education Programs and Policy. She and her team work to advance the success of Latino students and families, offering a wide range of culturally responsive programs, including; parent engagement, adult ESL, college access, after-school programs and services for the children of migrant farmworkers across Tennessee. In addition, she leads their education advocacy initiatives that focus on building the capacity of a statewide coalition of partners to advance policies that improve outcomes for students across Tennessee.
Throughout her career Gini has offered her time and expertise to organizations that focus on improving the lives of families and children. She was recently named to the Board of Directors for the National Association of Family, School and Community Engagement, and she currently serves on the Board of the Nashville Public Library, the Executive Board of Trust of the Memorial Foundation, the Board of Directors of Nashville State Community College Foundation, and on the board of FUTURO. Gini also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Tennessee Educational Research Alliance, NAZA (the Nashville After Zone Alliance) Family and Children’s Services, and Nashville Public Television. She previously served on the boards of the YWCA, the YMCA Latino Achievers, Community Nashville, and Conexión Américas.
Gini was in the Leadership Nashville class of 2012, and is currently in the Leadership Tennessee class of 2018. She is also a Master Fellow for the National Institute for Latino School Leaders.
Gini and Eddie are the proud parents of Eli and Sara, MNPS graduates who attend Centre College and the University of Chicago, respectively. In her free time Gini loves spending time with their dog Kiko, traveling, gardening, hiking, attending zumba classes and dancing salsa with Eddie.