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ILA Releases 2019 30 Under 30 List

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Jan 09, 2019

30u30-2019-report-coverILA is excited to announce the release of its 2019 30 Under 30 list in the January/February issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s bimonthly member magazine. The biennial list recognizes rising leaders in the literacy field—a cohort of young innovators, disruptors, and visionaries creating positive change in the global literacy landscape.

“The individuals on this list are solving critical issues—issues many of them have faced on their own paths to success,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “Their contributions are paving the way to more accessible and equitable literacy learning in their schools, communities, and beyond. It’s an honor to recognize these young leaders whose vision and tenacity are transforming our world.”

Representing 13 countries, the list of honorees includes educators, school administrators, nonprofit leaders, authors, volunteers, researchers, and social entrepreneurs. The list celebrates changemakers such as:

  • Gerald Dessus, 29, a middle school teacher at Mastery Charter Schools, Shoemaker Campus in West Philadelphia, who designed and piloted a social justice curriculum that has since been adopted by six other Mastery campuses
  • Freshta Karim, 26, founder of Charmaghz, a mobile library that brings books and learning opportunities to more than 200 children a day in Kabul, Afghanistan
  • Marley Dias, who, at 11 years old, started the viral #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign because she was tired of the lack of black female protagonists in the books she read at school. Now 14, the New Jersey native is a published author who has leveraged her social media platform to foster conversations about activism, social justice, volunteerism, equality, inclusion, and representation.

ILA’s 2019 30 Under 30 list also includes:

  • Patrick Burke, 27, Lecturer in Language and Literacy Education, Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland
  • Allister Chang, 28, Executive Director, Libraries Without Borders, Washington, DC, U.S.
  • Mu-Tien Chen, 27, Cofounder, Aestheticell Association, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Katie Duffy, 28, Year 5 Teacher, Mona Vale Public School, Sydney, Australia
  • Elaysel Germán, 27, Literacy Manager, NIA Community Services Network, New York, U.S.
  • Sarah Grant, 29, Head of Partnerships and Programmes, LRTT: Limited Resource Teacher Training, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Mahbuba Hammad, 29, Literacy Research Director, Center for Languages, Arts, and Societies of the Silk Road, California, U.S.
  • Farhana Hoque, 29, ELA Teacher, Midwood High School, New York, U.S.
  • Alex Lim, 29, Cofounder, MYReaders Resources, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Karlos Marshall, 28, President and Cofounder, The Conscious Connect, Ohio, U.S.
  • Yessica Martinez, 25, Poet and Teaching Artist; MFA Student, Cornell University, New York, U.S.
  • Marina Meić, 27, Vice President, Croatian Reading Association Split Branch, Split, Croatia
  • Henry “Cody” Miller, 29, ELA Teacher, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Florida, U.S.
  • Maria Morfin, 29, Dean, KIPP Sol Academy, California, U.S.
  • Danje Morris, 29, First-Grade Teacher, Indian Valley Elementary School, Alabama, U.S.
  • Nangamso Mtsatse, 27, Doctoral Student, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
  • Jean d’Amour Ndahayo, 29, President, Magirirane Development in Peace, Kigali, Rwanda
  • Hayley Niad, 29, Education Advisor, Cambridge Education, Washington, DC, U.S. and Mozambique
  • Matt Panozzo, 27, Seventh-Grade ELA Teacher, Annunciation Orthodox School, Texas, U.S.
  • Eugene Pringle Jr., 29, Assistant Principal, Odyssey Middle School, Florida, U.S.
  • Daniel Reichard, 29, Fifth-Grade Teacher, Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School, Virginia, U.S.
  • Jacob Olaoluwa Sule, 28, Founder, iRead To Live Initiative, Abuja, Nigeria
  • Kirsten Musetti Tivaringe, 29, Instructor and Doctoral Student, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado, U.S.
  • Francis Jim Tuscano, 29, Head EdTech Coach, Xavier School, Manila, Philippines
  • Michelle Valerio, 28, Assistant Principal, Randallstown Elementary School, Maryland, U.S.
  • Nandini Varma, 26, Cofounder, Airplane Poetry Movement, Pune, India
  • Shontoria Walker, 28, Instructional Coach, Empowerment High School, Texas, U.S.

To view the Literacy Today feature and read more about the honorees’ accomplishments, visit

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