The Per Scholas staff is led by CEO and President Plinio Ayala. Plinio was born and raised in the South Bronx, just as it grew into a national emblem for urban poverty and disinvestment. His experience instilled a lifelong passion for creating economic opportunity, and shortly after graduating from Wesleyan University with a degree in American Studies, he devoted his career to building “win-win” solutions to social and economic problems, first at Jobs for Youth and then at SoBro.
In 2003, Plinio became President and CEO of Per Scholas and has since been instrumental in all the organization’s achievements—from evolving its original mission, which was to bridge the digital divide by refurbishing end-of-life computer equipment, to leading its accelerating national growth. In the process, Plinio has incubated strong organizational capacities to respond to changing market conditions, pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and embrace rigorous measurements of impact. He often says that he can imagine no greater satisfaction than seeing overlooked people—many of whom have struggled with educational and public systems that seem designed to stymie rather than uplift them—finally channel all their passion and curiosity into transformative careers.
Plinio sits on the boards of the Workforce Professional Training Institute, Economic Mobility Partners, and SoBro. He has also served on the New York State Workforce Recovery Strategy committee since 2020. He has received numerous honors, including the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Community Leader Award in 2019, Newscorp’s Murdoch Community Hero Award in 2018, and Hispanic Community Leader of the Year by Crain’s New York in 2016, among others.