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Aaliyah A. Samuel

Dr. Aaliyah A. Samuel is currently the Interim Education Division Director at the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, where she works on early childhood education issues, from birth through third grade. Most recently, Dr. Samuel’s work has focused on programs and policies regarding early literacy and language development, the impact of evidenced based Family Support programs in Urban, Rural and Tribal areas, early childhood systems building, and alignment between early learning policies, program practices and education reform initiatives.

Before joining the NGA, Dr. Samuel was the Senior Director of Family Support and Literacy with First Things First in Arizona, where she co-authored Arizona’s Family Support framework which helped to address the gaps in the early childhood system and assisted with connecting programs and resources for children and their families across the state. She managed research activities to help develop and fund evidence based programs for families, provided data analysis and information about the outcomes of funded strategies and assisted with developing a statewide early literacy approach to support a birth to age 8 learning continuum.

Dr. Samuel’s early career in education began as an elementary special education and general education instructor, moving upward to assistant principal and principal. Dr. Samuel holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tuskegee University, a master’s degree in teaching with an emphasis on English speakers of other languages from the University of South Florida, educational specialist degree in educational leadership and doctoral degree in organizational leadership from Nova Southeastern University. Her research has focused on effective literacy interventions for children in primary grades.


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