Meet Gini

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.

Gini has spent the last five years working as an advocate in education in both Nashville and Tennessee, most recently at Conexión Américas, where she was Senior Director of Education Policy and Programs. There she led their education programs in schools in Nashville, as well as their Migrant Education Program that served children of migrant farmworkers across the state. She also led and an education policy team that advocated for meaningful policy changes at the state level that would improve outcomes and opportunities for students across Tennessee.

Gini currently works as the State Director for Tennessee for the Education Trust where she works with advocates, educators, students and community partners in Tennessee to increase educational opportunity and achievement among historically underserved students. She does so by providing partners and community leaders with policy analysis, research and advocacy opportunities in both the pre-k – 12 and higher education arenas.

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 Executive Board of Trust of the Memorial Foundation, the Board of Directors of Nashville State Community College Foundation. Gini also serves on the Advisory Boards of the Tennessee Educational Research Alliance, NAZA (the Nashville After Zone Alliance) and Family and Children’s Services. She previously served on the boards of the Nashville Public Library, the Nashville State Community College Foundation, the YWCA, the YMCA Latino Achievers, Community Nashville, and Conexión Américas.

Gini was in the Leadership Nashville class of 2012, and in the Leadership Tennessee class of 2018. She is also a Master Fellow for the National Institute for Latino School Leaders with UnidosUS.

Gini and Eddie are the proud parents of Eli and Sara, who are both MNPS graduates. Eli graduated from Centre College in 2019 as a Fine Arts major, and Sara attends the University of Chicago. In her free time Gini loves spending time with their dog Kiko, traveling, gardening, hiking, attending zumba classes and dancing salsa with Eddie.