Miriam A. Leiva

  • 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient

    Miriam A. Leiva

    Harrisburg, North Carolina

    Miriam Leiva's passion for equity in mathematics education for all students is well known, and it continues to be the hallmark of her distinguished career. She is the founding president of TODOS: Mathematics for All, and has been highly esteemed for more than 45 years for her professional involvement in mathematics education and issues of educational equity.  

    Leiva is probably best known for her leadership of TODOS. She has been an avid, persuasive spokesperson on issues that affect the mathematics achievement of all students and in particular of Latino/a students in the United States. She is recognized as that rare person who makes everyone consider the disparities that exist in mathematics education for underrepresented, underserved students, and through her leadership, she has provided a call to action and reform of that environment. That mission-the mission of TODOS-still remains at the forefront of her leadership efforts today. 

    "With her positive outlook, her energy, her eloquence, her graciousness, and her disarming charm, Miriam has been a model of a leader and a teacher," said one nominator. "She basically desires the best for every person and project and then works diligently to support everyone in any way that she possibly can. She is an inspiration, with energy and enthusiasm, and is constantly uplifting her friends, her students, her colleagues, and the audiences in her sessions." 

    Leiva's service to mathematics education also includes significant contributions to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). She has always been ready to step up and serve the Council. Her initial efforts included membership on the early Equity and Diversity Task Force, and later she was a member of a newer Equity Task Force that established the NCTM Equity collection and initiated the Council's Equity position statement. In the 1990s, she served as editor of the K-6 volumes in NCTM's Addenda Series, developed to support the Council's first publications calling for and setting forth learning, teaching, and assessment standards for mathematics education. She has been a member of the Journal for Research in Mathematics Education editorial panel, the Research Advisory Committee, and the Nominations and Elections Committee. More recently she served on the NCTM Principles to Actions author committee, with particular emphasis on equity. Leiva has served as a member of the NCTM Board of Directors and twice stood for election to the NCTM presidency.

    "Her constant presence at all NCTM conferences and on many committees serves to remind all of us of a leadership presence that exemplifies leading by example," said another nominator. "Miriam's leadership is beyond just being asked to serve or speak at conferences. Why is she asked to do all this? That's easy. Miriam brings knowledge, willingness, and passion in beliefs and needs that are both unique and important."

    Leiva has spoken at every NCTM annual meeting since the 1980 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Seattle, including several invited sessions or keynotes. She has also been invited as a speaker in mathematics education around the world, including the United Arab Emirates, Ecuador, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Spain, Hungary, and Puerto Rico. 

    Although establishing and building the influence and success of TODOS are extraordinary accomplishments, Leiva's service to equity in and for mathematics education is much more than her work on behalf of TODOS. She has received a host of honors for her achievements, including an award from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Ross Taylor/Glenn Gilbert Memorial Award for Excellence in Mathematics Education from the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, the Iris Carl Equity and Leadership Award from TODOS, the North Carolina Diamante Award for contributions to the Hispanic/Latino community in the state, and the Rankin Award, which recognizes and honors individuals for their outstanding contributions to the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) and to mathematics education in North Carolina-the highest honor NCCTM bestows.  Leiva also received the NCNB (Bank of America) Teaching Award and was the first Bonnie Cone Distinguished Professor for Teaching at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC). Leiva is currently Cone Distinguished Professor Emerita and Mathematics Professor Emerita at UNCC.