Cecily Relucio's profile photo

Cecily Relucio

Co-Director/Founder, Umuwi Ethnic Studies

Cecily Relucio's profile photo
Location: Chicago, IL
Start Year: 2025
TRHT Pillar: Narrative Change


Cecily Relucio is a Pinay (Filipina-American) racial justice leader with 30 years of experience in youth and adult learning, educational leadership development, and organizational capacity-building. Cecily has led transformative antiracism initiatives in nonprofit and community-based organizations and K–12 and higher education institutions, including the New Teacher Center and the University of Chicago. Her past and current clients include Google and several Illinois school districts including Chicago Public Schools.

Cecily has co-led liberatory spaces of belonging, beloved community, and racial healing for BIPOC organizers, educators, and leaders for 15 years. She co-founded the Chicago Ethnic Studies Educators of Color Collective in 2015. From 2017–2023, she was the program director for the Surge Institute’s flagship Chicago Fellowship, graduated six cohorts and built the capacity of a community of 166 Black and Latinx/e education leaders. Concurrently, in 2021, she became co-director of the inaugural Truth, Healing and Equity Fellowship for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) Greater Chicago, which operationalizes the TRHT framework for Action to shift organizational culture, practice, policy, and power. Twenty-four fellows from five Chicago arts and social service organizations successfully completed the impactful pilot cohort.

Cecily is founding a new organization, Umuwi Ethnic Studies, committed to practicing, protecting, and sustaining ethnic studies as a pathway toward facilitating the collective healing and transformation of educators and educational institutions and policies. Cecily co-authored chapters in Rethinking Ethnic Studies and The Pilipinx Radical Imagination Reader. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of two biracial daughters, Vanessa and Mia.


Our schools shape and reinforce narratives in our society, and have the potential to be sites of youth consciousness-raising and activation. This is precisely why they are a target of the “anti-woke” movement. Umuwi Ethnic Studies’ response to “anti-wokeness” is a long game, “for us, by us” strategy of strengthening, protecting, and sustaining ethnic studies and other truthful and inclusive methods of educating BIPOC and multiplying marginalized youth. Umuwi is co-designing an organizing framework and strategy, and the intended impacts of our work are to broaden awareness of ethnic studies as an alternative to traditional modes of schooling; expand, deepen, and institutionalize the practice of ethnic studies in Chicago schools and other youth-serving spaces; and protect ethnic studies through a coordinated, multitiered strategy.

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