YES Prep Public Schools
Aaron Ledesma

To continue celebrating 25 years of impact in Houston, we sat down with Chief External Officer Nella García Urban to discuss her 20-year career at YES Prep and how it prepared her to become the next CEO of DSST Public Schools (Denver School of Science and Technology), a network of public, open-enrollment, free charter schools in Denver and Aurora, Colo. 


Originally from the Rio Grande Valley in deep South Texas, Nella always knew she was meant to be an educator. She began her career at YES Prep in 2004 as a tutor while attending Rice University. Over the years, she served in many roles, including Chief Talent Officer, Chief Program Officer, and most recently, Chief External Officer. In her work at YES Prep, she has driven jaw-dropping results alongside her team to ensure students and families have the best educational experience available to them. 

“For the past 20 years, YES Prep has been my professional home,” says Nella. “Every opportunity and defining moment will leave a significant impact on who I am as a leader and the work I aspire to do for more students and families. I hope to leave YES Prep better than I found it, as I believe I am better because of this incredible organization. To every individual who has been part of my journey, thank you, gracias. I look forward to this next chapter with my family.” 

For Nella, YES Prep is a family affair. Her husband, Pierre Urban, is the Director of Athletic Programming at YES Prep and the Honor Charter Athletics League (HCAL), which he founded. HCAL allows YES Prep students to compete in athletics on the state level with other charter schools throughout Houston and Austin. Her daughter and son are also avid members of the YES Prep community and attend athletics and community events.  

YES Prep CEO Mark DiBella spoke from the heart when sharing Nella’s exciting news with our staff. 

“Nella and I have been colleagues for almost 21 years now. I remember when we first met when I was a 6th-grade teacher at Southeast Secondary and she was a Rice student tutoring in my class. I knew from the moment we met that she was driven in her soul by our mission. All these years later, that same drive still inspires me and everyone who works with her. I’m forever grateful for Nella’s faithful service to YES Prep." 

In celebrating Nella's remarkable 20-year journey at YES Prep, we are reminded of the profound impact one person can have on the lives of our students, families and communities. Nella's dedication, leadership and unwavering commitment to educational excellence have left an indelible mark on YES Prep and the countless lives she has touched. 

As she embarks on her new role as CEO of DSST Public Schools, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to Nella for her tireless service and profound contributions to our organization. Though she may be moving on to new horizons, her legacy will forever remain ingrained in the fabric of YES Prep. 

To Nella, we say thank you for your passion, vision and unwavering belief in the power of education to transform lives. We wish you and your family all the best in this exciting new chapter and look forward to cheering you on as you continue to inspire and empower students in Denver and beyond. 

Here's to the next 25 years of impact, fueled by the spirit of leaders like Nella García Urban! 


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