After serving the Cristo Rey Jesuit community for the past six months as Interim Principal, Mayra Gradilla will now officially assume the role of Principal. Mayra will be the fourth principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit in its 27-year history.
Now in her 11th year at Cristo Rey Jesuit, Mayra served for five years as the school’s Dean of Students, and five years as a Spanish teacher. Mayra received her bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University in 2008, and her master's in teaching from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2015. Born in Pilsen and raised in Little Village, Mayra brings a unique combination of a love for language, culture, faith, and high expectations both for students and her colleagues.
President Antonio Ortiz expressed his delight for Mayra’s acceptance of the Principal position. “I am incredibly grateful that Mayra has accepted our invitation to serve the Cristo Rey community as the school’s next Principal,” he said. “It’s an incredibly proud moment for our school to now have Mayra at helm of the academic experience here at Cristo Rey. She is the first of many for this position: the first Latina, the first from the Pilsen/Little Village neighborhood, and the first mother. I’m excited to learn from Mayra, and I have full confidence that she will lean on her faith as she grows into the role and challenges us to continue to evolve in a way that best serves our students and community.”
In her own words, Mayra shares: “With a heart full of humility and gratitude, I welcome the opportunity to be Principal of Cristo Rey Jesuit High School. I am honored to serve Cristo Rey in this capacity and pledge to keep our community strong and moving forward. My family’s immigrant roots are in Pilsen, I grew up in Little Village, and I am very proud to be part of these two vibrant and hardworking communities that have formed me and the values of Cristo Rey.
Eleven years ago, I joined Cristo Rey for the unique mission that continues to impact hundreds of students in the Chicago area: to provide a Catholic, college preparatory education and professional work experience to students from Spanish-speaking families with limited financial means. Serving this mission as a Spanish teacher and empowering students to be biliterate, bicultural and proud of their heritage has been the highlight of my career. Working as Dean of Students for the last five years alongside our very talented and creative teachers and administrators has taught me to relentlessly fight for our students and present them with every available opportunity to prepare them to succeed in college and beyond.
With the love and support of my very talented husband Tony Ozuna, son “Toñito,”and my loving family, I am excited for the opportunity to continue to serve the Cristo Rey community. Driven by the mission and with the guidance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, I am committed to ensuring our students receive the best education and work experience at Cristo Rey and together walk as men and women for others."
Mayra has the full support of Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Leadership Team, Board of Directors, and the Principal Search Committee, all of whom enthusiastically endorsed Mayra for this opportunity. Let us all express our deep gratitude to Mayra for accepting this call to serve our community.