A lifetime commitment to education | Madeline Burillo-Hopkins

Madeline Burillo-Hopkins

President & Vice Chancellor

It’s the start of a school day at HCC West Loop campus and Dr. Madeline Burillo-Hopkins is walking the halls, talking to students waiting for classes to begin.

“How’s everything going?” she asks one student. She leans in and listens intently. Whether it’s a concern with financial aid, finding a ride to school or balancing family obligations and schoolwork, Burillo-Hopkins offers common sense advice rooted in her own experiences.

She knows first-hand what struggle is about, having once cleaned houses to eke out a living as a young student decades ago. She credits her parents – her father from Spain and her mother from Puerto Rico – for teaching her the importance of higher education and planting the values of hard work, kindness, respect, integrity and positive thinking, which she has lived by all her life.

She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Puerto Rico in 1982 and a master’s degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix in 2002. A decade later, she fulfilled her goal to earn a doctorate in Education Leadership from Sam Houston State University.

“I was taught at an early age that you have to work hard if you want to succeed,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to help people to find their passion to make their mark on the world. It makes me happy to see so many students who have made HCC part of their education journey.”

Aiming high

Burillo-Hopkins joined HCC in 1999 as director of contract training and continuing education and worked her way up the ranks to become president of Houston Community College Southwest in 2016. Prior to joining HCC, she worked in banking, a research university and a private vocational school. She now leads operations at HCC Brays Oaks, Stafford, Missouri City and West Loop campuses, the last of which is home to HCC’s hallmark Digital and Information Technology Center of Excellence. She also oversees community engagement across the college’s service areas in Harris and Fort Bend counties.

In 2020, in addition to her role as college president, Madeline-Burillo was promoted to vice chancellor of Workforce Instruction, where she is responsible for the strategic vision and administrative leadership of workforce education across the HCC system. In this new role, she provides strategic planning, leadership and financial analysis of all workforce instructional programs. She also leads Career and Technical Education that includes credit programs, dual credit partnerships, apprenticeship programs, and criminal justice corrections education partnerships.

As more people are looking for jobs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Burillo-Hopkins also works with nonprofits and private businesses to develop free workforce training for the community.

“Many people have lost their jobs during the pandemic while others had to put their education on hold,” she said. “It has been a top priority for me to find funding to help people who are struggling with financial difficulties to get back on their path of education toward a job and career.”

In 2020, Burillo-Hopkins helped the college secure a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to start a program to support displaced workers impacted by the pandemic to learn skills to get back to work. She also led the launch of a Fast-Track Training program to provide short-term workforce training. Meanwhile, she worked with the HCC Foundation to secure a two-year commitment from the PepsiCo Foundation to provide scholarships for Hispanic and Black students to receive free technical training. She was instrumental in securing over $25 million in government grants and private funds in support of workforce education.

An innovative leader

For over two decades, Burillo-Hopkins has worked to bring innovative credit and continuing education programs to HCC, including training in high-growth, high-demand fields with high wages.

She helped develop Prior Learning Assessment procedures recognized as a national model and advocated for HCC RigOne Global Oil and Gas Drilling Training Center. She also pushed for college’s selection in spring 2017 as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Two-Year Education (CAE-2Y).

Burillo-Hopkins spearheaded a partnership with Apple Inc. to launch the innovative HCC iOS Coding and Design School in May 2017. HCC became one of two community colleges in Texas selected by Apple to teach the new coding curriculum using the Swift coding language for application development.

Furthermore, Burillo-Hopkins advocated for a partnership of Apple, Lamar University and HCC to provide a K-12 Teacher Coding Education program for instructors at four Houston-area school districts using coding and design principles for app development to address community challenges.

She also helped launch the college’s first career and technical dual credit education partnerships with local school districts and STEM summer camps for students to promote diversity and equity for underserved communities. More than 650 high school and middle school students, including students with different abilities, have participated in these free camps over the past five years.

Burillo-Hopkins helped HCC to become one of the Houston region’s first apprenticeship centers for manufacturing registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. She helped secure a $4.2 million Department of Labor apprenticeship grant in collaboration with CVS Health, JP Morgan Chase, the Houston Plumbers Union Training program, and Dallas County Community College District.

A member of the leadership council of Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, Burillo-Hopkins has been recognized locally and nationally as an innovative leader in workforce and higher education. She tirelessly pursues private sector fundraising for instructional programs and student support.

Her leadership extends beyond the college system. She serves on the executive committee of UpSkill Houston, an initiative led by the Greater Houston Partnership, and works to connect Houstonians to careers to promote economic opportunity and stability. She also serves on the University of Houston at Sugar Land Advisory Board to establish public-private partnerships and expand academic programs and student services.

In addition, she serves on the American Association of Community Colleges Commission on Economic and Workforce Development, which aims to close students’ skills gap to help them secure careers.

Her accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. Over the past decade, she has received numerous accolades, including the Hispanic Women in Leadership Award, the HCC Chancellor’s Medallion for Outstanding Service, and HCC Eagle Award for Administrative Leadership. She was also recognized as one of the Top 30 Influential Women of Houston by the marketing firm d-mars.com, and named one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women by Houston Women Magazine.

‘Sky’s the limit’

“I’m deeply honored for being recognized as a successful educator committed to uplifting the lives of all students,” Burillo-Hopkins said. “I’ve always wanted to share my personal journey with women, especially those of color, who are aspiring to reach their goals in life.”

For much of her career, Burillo-Hopkins has been an advocate and mentor for women and colleagues in their professional careers. At HCC, she motivated students to launch a Women in Technology Club, which encourages women to enter the IT field and provides them with access to training and resources.

She also helped initiate the first HCC chapter of the National Society of Leadership and Success, which provides leadership to help students achieve personal growth and career success to have a positive impact in their communities.

“Women face social, cultural and economic barriers to equality, and the obstacles are even greater for women of color,” Burillo-Hopkins said. “I believe that education and mentorship are vehicles to empower young women with the skills they need early in life to help them realize their potential.

“It’s my belief that women can be the best at whatever they set their minds to. With guidance and support, the sky’s the limit for women today.”

" It’s my belief that women can be the best at whatever they set their minds to. With guidance and support, the sky’s the limit for women today "

Madeline Burillo-Hopkins

President & Vice Chancellor

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