Commencement 2017 Honoree Bios

About the 2017 Honorees

Commencement Speaker U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren received an honorary degree along with two other remarkable leaders: Dr. Valora Washington and Pablo Javier Almaguer. The life's work of these three honorees are closely aligned with Wheelock's mission to improve the lives of children and families.

Senator Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Warren, a fearless consumer advocate who has made her life's work the fight for middle class families, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 by the people of Massachusetts. Recognized as one of the nation's top experts on bankruptcy and the financial pressures facing middle class families, she is widely credited for the original thinking, political courage, and relentless persistence that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. President Obama asked her to set up the new agency to hold Wall Street banks and other financial institutions accountable, and to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps often hidden in mortgages, credit cards, and other financial products.

Prior to her election, Senator Warren was a law professor for more than 30 years, including nearly 20 years as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. The graduating class at Harvard twice recognized her with the Sacks-Freund Award for excellence in teaching.

She has written more than 100 articles and 10 books, including three national best-sellers: A Fighting Chance, The Two-Income Trap, and All Your Worth. National Law Journal named her one of the most influential people in the world three times, and she has been honored by the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association with the Lelia J. Robinson Award. She is a graduate of the University of Houston and Rutgers School of Law.

Valora WashingtonDr. Valora Washington is President and CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, the nation's largest credentialing organization for early childhood educators. Throughout her career, Dr. Washington has co-created high-impact institutions targeting policy change in higher education and local, state, and federal government, including Michigan's Children, the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, and The CAYL Institute.

Frequently tapped for senior-level service, Dr. Washington served as Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Governor's School Readiness Commission, Board Chair for Voices for America's Children, Co-Chair of the National Head Start Association Commission, and as a member of numerous task forces and boards, including those of Wheelock College and the Boston Children's Museum. She was formerly a vice president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, vice president at Antioch College, associate dean at American University, and a tenured faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has co-authored or co-edited over 50 publications, including Children of 2020 and Ready or Not: Leadership Choices in Early Care and Education. She was selected for the prestigious Barr Fellowship in 2009 and has received professional recognition from Boston AEYC, National AEYC Black Caucus, United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and others. She was educated at both Indiana State University and Michigan State University.

Pablo Javier AlaguerPablo Javier Almaguer, Private Attorney Involvement Group Coordinator for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, has dedicated his career to the issues of domestic violence and employment/labor law. Born in Mexico, he migrated to South Texas at age five with his parents. He graduated in the top 5% of his high school class, obtained his BA in Political Science from the University of Texas-Pan American, obtained a law degree from Chicago-Kent School of Law, and became a naturalized citizen in 2004.

Just prior to graduating law school, Almaguer accepted an offer from Texas RioGrande Legal Aid to return to South Texas to work as a staff attorney at the Edinburg branch office and rose to Branch Manager. Today, he is part of the organization's senior management team, overseeing the program's pro bono efforts throughout a 68-county area.

He was the first legal services attorney to serve on the Board of Directors of the State Bar of Texas and in 2010 was elected as Chair of the Board, the first Mexican to serve in that capacity in the history of the bar. He currently serves as President of the Board of Directors for the Texas Civil Rights Project and as Vice-Chair of the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, which oversees the State Bar of Texas's disciplinary system.

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