Project Manager Acts as Principal for A Day

Project Manager Acts as Principal for A Day

Perla Hernandez Lastra, Senior Project Manager at S.L. Leonard & Associates, volunteers at Wilson High School

Long Beach, Calif.—Reaching out to her community, local resident Perla Hernandez Lastra was recently Principal for A Day at Wilson High School in Long Beach.

“It was humbling to witness the tremendous amount of work it takes to successfully run a school campus and meet the needs of the students, all while fostering their growth and preparing them for college,” said Perla Hernandez Lastra, senior project manager S.L. Leonard & Associates. “My day as principal was an incredible experience. It was inspiring to observe the dedication and commitment of the school’s staff – from the math teachers, college counselors and orchestra class conductor, to campus security.”

Principal for A Day is an event that brings community members from the Greater Long Beach Area into schools in the role of principal. It is co-sponsored by the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Long Beach Unified School District and the Long Beach Education Foundation. Every school in the district participates. Each Principal for A Day is given the opportunity to interact with students, teachers, parents and administrators through classroom visits, meetings, testing and playground supervision. Participants get a birds-eye view of what it takes to be in education leadership in the third largest school district in the state.

“As a proud Long Beach resident since 2008, I felt this was a great opportunity to get involved in one of the most important aspects of our society – education,” added Hernandez Lastra. “I wanted to be able to give back by experiencing a day in the shoes of a principal firsthand, with the intention of helping improve the campus and the experiences of the students given my personal background and professional experience.”

Since early this year, Hernandez Lastra has been serving as a mentor to the Wilson High School AVID program (Advancement Via Individual Determination), working with students from all high school grades (9-12). The AVID program’s mission is to close the achievement gap by helping underachieving students with high academic potential prepare for acceptance and entrance to colleges and universities as well as overall long-term success.

Hernandez Lastra recently joined project management firm S.L. Leonard & Associates as a senior project manager. Since 2010, S.L. Leonard & Associates has worked locally with Century Villages at Cabrillo, assisting with and helping to implement its Master Plan for the 26-acre residential campus established on a former US Naval housing site. Multiple projects included building Cabrillo Gateway, 81 units of permanent housing for formerly homeless families and individuals and Anchor Place, 120 units of permanent housing for formerly homeless veterans and families; development of a new maintenance building; installation of parking lot solar shade structures, and mitigating land use issues. S.L.Leonard also renovated the social hall, career center, offices, restrooms and lobby and additionally, improved the campus roadways to accommodate a new bus line.

An instructor at UCLA Extension since 2016, Hernandez Lastra teaches Construction Technology CEE X 407.2. She taught Engineering Practices and Procedures, Field Operations, Technology and Logistics at Turner’s School of Construction Management for Minority/Woman/Disadvantaged Businesses from 2010 – 2016. She is a LEED Accredited Professional and is OSHA 30-hour as well as CPR & First Aid Certified. Additionally, Hernandez Lastra is a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Engineers for a Sustainable World, Social Economic Environmental Design, and Cornell Society of Engineers. Hernandez Lastra holds a bachelor of science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering as well as a master of engineering management degree, both from Cornell University.

S.L. Leonard & Associates is a comprehensive real estate development and project management firm based in Camarillo, but also has offices in Long Beach and Santa Barbara. The firm has worked on numerous high-profile projects, including, the California Endowment’s Headquarters and Conference Center, the City of Hope Helford Clinical Research Replacement Hospital, the Camarillo Public Library, the mixed-use Working Artists Ventura development, the Museum of Ventura County expansion, Charles Drew University’s Life Sciences and Nursing Education building, and multiple affordable housing projects totaling more than 2,500 units. Prior to starting the firm, CEO Leonard was senior vice president of project management for the Walt Disney Concert Hall. For more information, call (805) 445-4668 or visit