Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

Dr. Raquel O. Yiengst

Commission Vice Chair 

In 1953, after graduating from St. Mary's College in Kansas, Dr. Raquel O. Yiengst returned to Puerto Rico, where she married, and then moved to Reading, Pa.

She was director of the Bilingual Education Program for the Reading School District for 35 years. As director, she designed and implemented the district's transitional bilingual program for non-English speaking students, which at the time of her retirement enrolled over 1,200 students representing Spanish and more than 10 other languages.

As far back as the 1960s, Dr. Yiengst was aware that a rapidly increasing number of Latinos were moving to Reading and Berks County. She was concerned by the absence of Latino organizations, support groups, and leadership. At the same time, other Latinos realized that the need for a Hispanic organization was imperative. Together, they formed the Spanish-Speaking Council, and Dr. Yiengst continues to be involved with this group. She served on the board of the Centro Hispano Daniel Torres for many years. At one point, when its doors were about to close, she voluntarily served as interim director until the appointment of her successor in 1998.

She has been a member of the PHRC since 1978 and presently serves as vice-chairperson. In this capacity, she continues to address the educational needs of Latino and other minority students and is extremely concerned about the low achievement of minority students in schools throughout the commonwealth.

She has done extensive teacher training and has served as a consultant for business and industry in the area of human development.

Dr. Yiengst holds a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Kutztown University and a doctorate in Urban and Bilingual Education from Temple University. Dr. Yiengst has been on the board of over 20 agencies in Reading and has received many local and state recognitions.

Dr. Yiengst enjoys her retirement with her husband Richard, daughter Sue, grandson Jamie, and great-grandson Michael Robert. She was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Amigo Award from the Hispanic Center of Reading and Berks County in April 2004. She was recently honored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania with its Take the Lead Award, which honors some of the region's most notable women of courage, confidence, and character whose leadership and achievements make the world a better place.