1) What do you do?
I serve as the Executive Director of an organization called the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) which focuses on early childhood literacy in urban neighborhoods by re-opening formerly closed libraries in elementary schools and staffing them with skilled volunteers, donated resources and reading enrichment programs. We operate 12 libraries in some of the poorest communities in Philadelphia.
2) Tell me about your latest work or project in media literacy.
We’re about to open our 13th children’s library in January expanding the work we do to reach some 5,000 children each week. The biggest challenge has been to weed out the outdated collections that exist in these shuttered libraries and provide relevant material to these underserved kids.
3) Why is media literacy important to you?
The ability to think critically about what we read, see and hear is the first step toward understanding the world all of us are trying to navigate. The better our ability to do this (and the earliest in life we can develop this skill), the better chance we have for building better bridges of understanding among people from diverse walks of life.
4) What are you most excited about in the media literacy field?
I’m most excited about the rapid pace that media, in general, is growing and how our understanding of how literacy can determine how best to use this growth for good.
5) Why did you become a NAMLE member – what benefits do you see to membership and how will it support your work?
I believe that our ability to teach media literacy skills is one of the most important challenges before us — as an organization and as a country that is driven by media. If I can help lead us to grow in relevance and impact, I will consider my time as President successful.