A Marina del Rey resident is one of only seven educators recently featured in Forbes magazine’s list of “Most Powerful Educators.”

Ana Ponce, the chief executive officer of Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, a network of five charter schools serving over 2,800 students within the greater MacArthur Park/Mid-Wilshire neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles, learned of the honor last month.

“I grew up in the neighborhood, and know firsthand the challenges our students face every day such as poverty, language barriers, and lack of access to basic resources,” Ponce said. “I also know firsthand the potential that every one of our students has and that is what we focus on to ensure that they are all on their way to be college ready and college bound regardless of where they live or where they were born.”

Ponce has a master’s degree in bilingual-bicultural education from Teachers College of Columbia University. She earned her administrative Tier 1 credential and second master’s degree from UCLA through the Principal’s Leadership Institute and is pursuing a doctorate in education from Loyola Marymount University.

She began her career in education with Teach for America, spending three years in the classroom before becoming one of the founding teachers and administrators at The Accelerated School in South Los Angeles. Under her instructional leadership, The Accelerated School was named elementary school of the year by Time magazine in 2001.

Under Ponce’s supervision, the charter organization’s schools have won the Title 1 Academic Achievement Award, the California Association of Bilingual Education Seal of Excellence, and the California Distinguished Schools award.

Ninety-six percent of Camino Nuevo’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and nearly half are English-language learners. The school’s over 400 graduates are currently attending colleges including UCLA, University of California-Berkeley, USC, Dickinson College, Brown University, and many California State University schools.

Over 90 percent of Camino Nuevo’s graduates pursue higher education upon graduation, with over 80 percent of students admitted into four-year colleges.