Dr. Ayanna F. Brown earned her B.S from Tuskegee University in Secondary Education Language Arts, her M.Ed in Curriculum and Instructional Leadership, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Interdisciplinary Studies: Language, Literacy, and Sociology. Her career in education spans both public and private organizations, including teaching Middle-Level English Language Arts and leading college readiness planning for urban youth with a consortium between Vanderbilt University and Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. Dr. Brown served as an Associate Professor of Education and Cultural Studies at Elmhurst University and Coordinator for their Middle Level English Language Arts (MELA) major.
Dr. Ayanna F. Brown is the author of several peer-reviewed journal articles, several book chapters, and the editor of Racial literacies informed by the sociopolitical and sociocultural
contexts for youth & co-editor of Critical Consciousness in curricular research: Evidence from the field. Dr. Brown haspresented her research nationally and internationally.
Dr. Brown is the inaugural Associate Vice President for Justice Equity and Inclusion (JEDI) and full professor at Erikson Institute in Chicago, Illinois and the Chief Thought Leader for Thought Spectrum, LLC, a professional development boutique.
For over 40 years, Sonia Manzano inspired, educated, and delighted children and families as "Maria" on Sesame Street. Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm. A first generation Puerto Rican born on the mainland, Manzano’s tale is one of perseverance and courage as she overcame countless obstacles to become one of the most influential Latinas in television. Manzano was raised in the South Bronx, where her involvement in the arts was inspired by teachers who encouraged her to audition for the High School of Performing Arts. She was accepted there and began her career as an actress. A scholarship took her to Carnegie Mellon Univerisity in Pittsburgh, and in her junior year, she came to New York to star in the original production of the off-Broadway show Godspell. Within a year, Manzano joined the production of Sesame Street, where she eventually began writing scripts for the series. After forty-four years she decided to retire from Sesame Street and author books. Her book titles include a The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano and a memoir, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx (Scholastic). Becoming Maria was praised by Kirkus Reviews for its “lyrical and unflinching account of her tough Nuyorican upbringing in the South Bronx,” and calls it a “touching memoir.” “Manzano lovingly details life-changing moments,” with a “stark and heartbreaking contrast to her Sesame Street character.” She's penned three picture books with Simon and Schuster. Her latest book called A World Together (National Geographic) aims to promote unity by celebrating cultural and generational diversity. Recently, Scholastic and Manzano partnered to launch two middle-grade novels and two picture books. The first of which is Coming Up Cuban, which will be released summer of 2022. Coming Up Cuban is set in 1959 and follows the lives of four children who each represent different intersections of race and class in Cuba. Ms. Manzano has created and developed with Fred Rogers Productions an animated children's program for PBS. Alma's Way premiered in Oct 2021. One Gateway Center, Suite 751 | Newton, MA 02458 | Phone: 617.614.1600 | Fax: 617.965.6610 | apbspeakers.com Sonia Manzano knows a thing or two about determination. Now a twice nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Performer in a Children's Series, Manzano didn’t have a lot of resources as a child growing up in the South Bronx. Immensely talented, Sonia never gave up