Sister Stories at Mason Square on May 17

Sister Stories: Education–Empowering Girls and Women

Saturday, May 17, 2014, 1-3 pm, Mason Square Branch Library

Despite advances, mothers, women, and girls still face obstacles to achieving all they are capable of, worldwide and here at home. How do education, reading, and writing empower girls and women and have their voices be heard? Our two speakers, both published authors, will give their global and local perspectives on this question during our panel discussion. Community members are invited to share their reactions, successes, challenges, and ideas. Light refreshments will be served.

Dr. Gwenn Meredith

Dr. Gwenn Meredith, a leading expert on women’s rights in the Middle East, speaks and writes about women in the Arab world. Her scholarship also includes writings about Welsh, English, and Egyptian women, historical gender studies, and other women’s issues. She says, “The young Pakistani heroine Malala Yousafzai’s cries for universal education for women and girls goes unheeded in Egypt; no one has heard the voices of street girls begging to be given a life, a chance.” Dr. Meredith has published numerous books and articles, including Il Binait Dol: Egypt’s Hidden Shame. Her talk today will focus on global perspectives on girls, women, and education, offering perspectives and insights on the situation right here.

Maryam Sullivan

Maryam A. Sullivan is an award-winning poet, playwright, and author of the first Urban Muslim Fiction book, The Size of a Mustard Seed. Mrs. Sullivan was also the 2009 Lorraine Hansberry Scholarship recipient for creative writing, the 2010 scholarship recipient for community involvement from The Springfield Partners for Community Action, and the 2011 Harold Grinspoon Creative Entrepreneurial scholarship recipient as well. Outside of the writing world, Maryam is a certified English as a Second Language teacher, operates her own online tutoring service geared towards homeschoolers, and is the founder and the creative director of Covered Girls Collective, a performing arts and media literacy group for immigrant girls in Western Mass. She holds a Bachelor’s degree with honors from Bay Path College and Master’s degree with honors from Regis University. Mrs. Sullivan’s talk today will focus on innovative ways she is using technology and community-building to further girls’ education and empowerment.

Our hosts are Ayanna Crawford and Jean Canosa Albano.

Ayanna Crawford

Ayanna C.Crawford is the proud mother of two children with one in college. She currently works for the Springfield Public Schools as an Educator. She also is the owner/President of AC Consulting Services. She is also the host of the Ayanna C. Crawford show Inside Excellence scheduled to aired on Focus Springfield as well as the co-host for the BLE program with State Rep Ben Swan on WTCC.


She has been a guest lecturer at Smith College’s education department on “Best Practices for Literacy Development in Urban Schools.” She is a graduate of Westfield State University with a BA and Springfield College with an M.Ed and a former member of AmeriCorps, a service program that places students in urban schools to help with closing the achievement gap.


Currently Ayanna serves on the board of directors for the American Red Cross and Total Women Conference, Inc, She is an Alumni from Leadership Pioneer Valley, which cultivates emerging leadership in the Pioneer Valley. She currently hosts the Gospel Café, a regional entertainment showcase in the New England area, as well as Tastemakers Soul, an event of the local, regional, national entertainment world to network with executives in the entertainment industry. Ayanna has been a featured speaker at numerous colleges and universities on the topic of race, women’s issues, and parenthood.

Ayanna has been awarded 2013 women in leadership (Action award) from the TWA. Also, she was honored as a Local and Regional Woman to watch in 2014 BIW Magazine online.

Her motto is, “Be the change you want to see in the world”- Gandhi

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Ms. Canosa Albano is the Manager of Public Services and the Mason Square Branch for the Springfield City Library. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, earned her Master’s in Library and Information Services from the University of Rhode Island, and is a member of the Sigma Delta Pi and Beta Phi Mu honor societies for Spanish and Library & Information Studies, respectively. She has been named a Massachusetts Literacy Champion and recognized in the Springfield Republican for International Women’s Day.

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