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Lani Cupchoy, Ph.D.


The daughter of Los Angeles public school educators, and of Mexican-Hawaiian-Chinese heritage, Lani Cupchoy grew up in Montebello, California. Dr. Cupchoy is a scholar and active community member who attended Montebello public schools (Farmer Jones preschool, La Merced Elementary, La Merced Intermediate, Montebello High School) and graduated from Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, Master’s degree from California State University, Los Angeles, and Ph.D. in History from the University of California, Irvine.

She served as the Project Coordinator for the Campaign for a Healthier Bell Gardens, a collaborative enterprise comprised of 200 organizations seeking to stimulate health in the community that focuses on school-based gardening and student-run farmers markets within Montebello Unified as a means to address healthy food access and childhood obesity.

Dr. Cupchoy has worked as an educator, academic mentor, and volunteer at school districts across the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. She is a former middle school and high school teacher in the Los Angeles, Santa Ana and Orange Unified School Districts who has received honorariums from diverse universities, most recently from the University of California at Irvine and the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Dr. Cupchoy currently teaches History and Chicano Latino Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Her research focuses on public culture, oral history, gender and community engagement, particularly through social and cultural expressions espoused by people of color.

As Vice President of the Board of Education in the third-largest public school district in Los Angeles County, Dr. Cupchoy’s primary responsibilities embody prioritizing high-quality education for students and ensuring that the District finances are handled responsibly. Dr. Cupchoy continues to serve as the Board Liaison of Curriculum and Instruction with focus on aligning resources to the LCAP as well as implementing Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards and English Language Development Standards.

Dr. Cupchoy is working to bring back and strengthen many of the programs that she benefited from as a former student of MUSD, such as art, dance, film, music and athletics while fostering necessary improvements in Montebello’s school system such as technology-based instruction. One of her critical areas of focus revolves around building a global understanding through Tk-12 multilingual education and MUSD’s ethnic studies approach that will draw upon community cultural wealth to address the achievement gap for at-risk youth and prepare students for 21st-century demands. Her article, “The Fifth-Graders Who Put Mexican Repatriation Back Into History Books,” which captures the story of Montebello Unified’s Bell Gardens Elementary School teacher Leslie Hiatt and her students that championed Assemblymember Cristina Garcias’ AB 146 into a California law, graced the nationally acclaimed Yes! Magazine issue in August 2016.