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Associate Director, Program Development

Sarah Kinnison is associate director of program development at Achieving the Dream. In this role, Sarah manages projects and programs that work to build institutional capabilities, broaden vision and imagination, and inspire transformative educational designs and approaches among full-time and part-time faculty and staff. Her leadership endeavors are with the teaching and learning and holistic student supports professional learning efforts that support equitable student experiences and outcomes. She is a committed agent for change around equity-minded teaching and learning practices, especially culturally responsive teaching and open pedagogy that centers Black, Latinx, Indigenous, poverty-impacted, and first-generation students.

Previously, Sarah served as an educational researcher, writer, instructor, and curriculum development consultant for over 25 years for organizations such as Stanford Research Institute, In2Books, and Cambodian Association of Illinois. Her work breaks down systemic barriers and increases access while centering student voice.

Sarah lives in Chicago, Illinois. She is a community educational activist, devoted parent, and daughter of Argentine immigrants.


M.Ed. | University of Illinois Chicago

B.A. (Fundamentals and Philosophy of Education)| University of Chicago

Past Experience

Education Researcher | Stanford Research Institute; Erikson Institute

Grant Writer| A Safe Haven Foundation

ESL Adult Instructor | Cambodian Association of Illinois

Professional Development Manager | In2Books

Graduate Fellow, Case Technologies for Early Literacy Learning| UIC

How has education changed your life/your family?              

I met Ruby Bridges in 1999, in Atlanta, at a children’s book fair, signing her new book, Through my Eyes. The adorable little girl who bravely walked through the crowd embodying systemic racism was a wonderful author standing before me. Though I began to love studying education from a young age, speaking with Ruby Bridges, hearing about her experiences, and reading her book inspired me to dive deeper into educational transformation and culturally responsive teaching. I loved her story of overcoming, but I see my role as ensuring that learners can walk their paths free from the threatening crowds and other obstacles that stand in the way of optimal educational experiences and equitable outcomes.


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