Season 6, Episode 4

From the community, for the community: Grassroots organizing, with Naomi Peña & Akeela Azcuy

Community and education activist Naomi Peña and clinical psychologist Dr. Akeela Azcuy knew that, as moms of struggling readers themselves, they had the opportunity to advocate for not only their own children but all children. These two leaders and changemakers founded Literacy Academy Collective with the goal of one day creating a stand-alone New York City public school devoted to educating children with language-based learning disabilities as well as struggling readers. In this episode, our guests share their own families’ experiences with dyslexia, how that impacted their activism, and how listeners at home can effect grassroots change in their own communities.

Meet our guest(s):

Naomi Peña

Naomi Peña is a community and education activist. She is currently president of New York City District 1, Community Education Council. Additionally, Peña is a co-collaborator on the first-ever district-wide diversity admissions policy in New York City.

Akeela Azcuy

Akeela Azcuy her has doctorate in clinical psychology. She is also a board member for Dyslexia Alliance for Black Children and Families for Real Equity in Education, and a trustee of the Winward School and Institute.

Meet our host, Susan Lambert

Susan Lambert is the Chief Academic Officer of Elementary Humanities at Amplify, and the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast. Her career has been focused on creating high-quality learning environments using evidence-based practices. Susan is a mom of four, a grandma of four, a world traveler, and a collector of stories.

As the host of Science of Reading: The Podcast, Susan explores the increasing body of scientific research around how reading is best taught. As a former classroom teacher, administrator, and curriculum developer, Susan is dedicated to turning theory into best practices that educators can put right to use in the classroom, and to showcasing national models of reading instruction excellence.


“Leaders tend to forget that you get more out of parents if you collaborate with them, if you're honest.” —Naomi Peña
“With the level and degree of training, understanding, and privilege that I had, it was still—and still continues to be—an overwhelming battle to get your child the services that they need.” —Dr. Akeela Azcuy

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