April 19, 2017

Education policy expert Adele Robinson has been chosen as the inaugural recipient of the Karabelle Pizzigati Endowed Professorship in Advocacy. The appointment marks Ms. Robinson's entrance to the University of Maryland community, where she holds a joint appointment in the SPH Department of Family Science and the School of Public Policy. The professorship is named for Karabelle Pizzigatti, a veteran national expert, advocate, and mentor on public policy for child welfare and early education. Dr. Pizzigatti served on the Maryland State Board of Education and also served as president of the Maryland Terrapin Club Scholarship Fund.

Ms. Robinson served as the deputy executive director for Policy and Public Affairs at the National Association for the Education of Young Children from 1999 to 2014. Most recently she served as a consultant for early childhood education to the Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services. She is a recognized national leader on federal and state child care, Head Start, preschool and K-12 education policy. A native Washingtonian raised by low-income housing policy professionals, Ms. Robinson says that public policy and advocacy “run in her blood” and informed her training as an attorney and advocate.

Through this position, Ms. Robinson will implement programming in three areas of advocacy training and development. She will design an undergraduate program in child, youth, and family advocacy with courses cross-listed between the School of Public Health and School of Public Policy. She will develop programming for annual cohorts of direct services professionals working with children and families to leverage their client-based advocacy to public policy advocacy. Finally, Ms. Robinson will engage in research related to highlighting effective examples of legislative, regulatory, and media sides of public advocacy and developing model legislation for state and federal policymakers.

“Public advocacy training provides an opportunity for individuals to develop a greater understanding of the value of government to their lives," Ms. Robinson said. "This program offers people the chance to go beyond awareness of policy issues to actively becoming a participant in the process that leads to policy decisions. Additionally, it is our duty to extend conversations around privilege and color to our training programs. While many of the vulnerable populations served by advocacy are people of color, the advocacy community itself does not yet reflect this. It is our aim to diversify our professional community in order to enrich the policy process.”

“UMD is big! I did not know the language and culture of higher education directly and have found the community extremely gracious, inviting, and supportive," Ms. Robinson said. "I very much look forward to working with faculty and students on this new program.”

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Adele Robinson