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Get to Know New Board Member-at-Large Kia Brown-Dudley

By Alina O'Donnell
 | May 28, 2019

A former teacher and national literacy strategist, Kia Brown-Dudley now serves as director of Literacy and Development at The Education Partners, where she works with educators and leading organizations to create and deliver transformational curricula and professional learning opportunities to improve student outcomes in literacy and early childhood education.

Brown-Dudley, who was elected to one of three members-at-large positions in the ILA 2019 Board Election earlier this month, brings to ILA a wide range of experience in both the public and private sectors. Threaded throughout these experiences is a steadfast commitment to equity—from developing literacy programs for at-risk and gifted students to leading community engagement workshops and scholarship fundraising—everything she does is rooted in her drive to make literacy accessible to all.

We spoke to Brown-Dudley about increasing representation of diverse social identities within ILA’s membership and materials, her vision for a more balanced, integrative approach to literacy education, and the importance of bringing all voices to the table.

On what ILA means to her

“ILA has such a sentimental place in my heart. When I was in graduate school for reading, it was the first professional organization that I joined. ILA was a valuable resource for me as I began my career and still is, over 20 years later. ILA feels like home. It is a safe haven, allowing me to challenge my thinking, gain new insights, and network with like-minded individuals dedicated to literacy for all."

On her hopes for the future of literacy education

“I would love to see a more integrative approach to literacy. It’s not just about reading and writing. Literacy is about communicating ideas and creating new understandings.  Reading and writing are language-based competencies. The interrelationship of speaking, listening, reading, and writing should be highlighted and taught in balance.

"One thing I often hear from secondary colleagues is ‘We weren't taught to teach literacy.’ A focus on disciplinary literacy, moving from silos toward integrative approach, will benefit all students.

"What’s also important to me is culturally sustaining literacy—hearing all voices and examining multiple perspectives. That expanding of the canon is so important for our students."

On promoting ILA’s mission of literacy for all

"What I hope to contribute—when we talk about literacy for all—is increasing the representation of our membership and materials to reflect the diverse identities that embody our global society. I want all stakeholders to reflect on and discuss how we can increase culturally responsive pedagogy and materials so that all students become excited about literacy.

“My childhood friend sent me a text recently. It was a picture of a book. It was the first time she had seen a children's book in a bookstore that reflected her Filipino American heritage. I always keep that in mind when working with students. Do the books we have on our shelves really serve as windows, mirrors, and sliding glass doors?

"As a champion for literacy for all, we need to ensure that all readers and writers see themselves reflected in resources. As an organization, it is imperative that all voices are at the table and that they’re a part of our decision-making, impacting literacy for generations to come.”

On the experience she brings to the role

"Our diverse membership is what makes the organization dynamic. My experiences working in schools and districts, nonprofit organizations, and educational publishers provide ILA with a unique perspective. I hope to leverage my relationships and experiences to connect with current and future members, establishing public-private partnerships to advance our agenda. Together, we can guarantee literacy for all."

On what excites her most about this new role

"I am just so excited about our mission to make literacy accessible for all. There are infinite ways for the organization to grow; the key is ensuring that everyone is at the table. Together, we can make a global impact on literacy for all."

Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of Literacy Daily. 

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