Dr. Cassandra Villa

Areas of Expertise:

  • Culturally-responsive teaching and instructional practices
  • Building professional learning community models


Dr. Cassandra Villa grew up in the housing projects of Pacoima, California. Her parents, with their third and tenth-grade education, were her first teachers. They taught her the value of hard work, resilience, unconditional belief, and, most importantly, what it would mean to use these lessons to navigate the world. Her road to a doctorate degree from Claremont Graduate University in 2017, with a focus on Education Urban Leadership, is a testament to the power of a village.


During her senior year at UC Riverside, Dr. Villa tragically lost her mom to cancer. This was a tremendously difficult time for Dr. Villa, but she remembered the promise she made to her mother: to never quit. Dr. Villa will never forget the incredible love her mentor, Dr. Tiffany Ana López, displayed, emailing every single one of Dr. Villa’s college professors to let them know of the loss she was experiencing while vision casting her future: honoring her words to her mother by walking the graduation stage.


Today, Dr. Villa is the TOSA of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Downey Unified School District (DUSD). At DUSD, Dr. Villa works with fellow educators to build collective efficacy and support systems in and outside of the classroom. She serves as a member of the Human Relations Council Steering Committee facilitating workshops and gathering input on the district equity plan. Dr. Villa serves as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, focusing on supporting new and upcoming teachers in the Master of Arts teaching program. Dr. Villa’s coursework teaches instructional design and Educational Foundations, Equity, & Social Justice. Dr. Villa has also served on the union Executive Board as the former high school director for the Downey Education Association.


Dr. Villa continues to walk in the legacy of her parents, her village, and our shared mission via her lifelong career commitment to serving students, creating more equitable spaces for all, and providing young people with the tools to navigate and impact society and the world. Her message emphasizes the importance of cultivating belonging for all our students via love, accountability, and ensuring every student is seen, valued, and understood.