When Michelle Ciulla Lipkin was offered a job as NAMLE’s first Executive Director, she was thrilled. She said it felt like a perfect culmination of her personal interests and the work she had done for the past 15 years.
Lipkin is a workshop facilitator for the LAMP (Learning About Media Project) and a volunteer parent educator for Common Sense Media. She is also co-president of the PTA at her children’s public school, and worked for many years as a producer for Nickelodeon. Now she brings her multi-faceted expertise to NAMLE, in a part-time position as Executive Director.
“For me, it’s kind of a perfect fit,” she said. “The work I have been doing has sort of organically led me to NAMLE and this role.”
Lipkin first became interested in media literacy as a result of a personal tragedy she and her family experienced when she was a teenager. Her father was a passenger on Pan Am flight 103, which was bombed and went down over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. She and her family found out that they had lost her father through the media, the same way everyone else heard about the event.
Four years later, Lipkin traveled to Scotland and learned for the first time what really happened that tragic day. She spoke with people who had witnessed the events, and learned that her father’s experience was quite different from the horrific depiction she remembers from the media coverage.
“It was a much gentler story,” she said. “That was the first time I really understood, on such a personal level, the distortion in the media.”
Lipkin said she wished that she had been more media-literate as a teenager, so she might have understood how the media can twist facts and over-emphasize the dramatic. Now she has a passion for instilling young people with critical thinking skills.
Media literacy curriculum should be mandated in every state, she said, so all children and teenagers have access to it.
“We’re doing a disservice to our kids,” she said, “not to teach them these skills.”
Lipkin is very excited about her new role with NAMLE, and looks forward to helping raise its visibility with education policy makers in Washington, D.C.
“We need to expand our reach. People should be bringing NAMLE to the table for these discussions.”
In addition to working on publicity, Lipkin said she looks forward to working closely with board members, and helping the organization serve its members most effectively.
She expressed great enthusiasm about what the organization can accomplish over the next five years.
“I’m so excited about it,” she said. “It’s going to be awesome!”