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A Letter from Afi Y. Wiggins, Ph.D., Interim Managing Director

June 8, 2023|By Afi Y. Wiggins, Ph.D.


Here at the Dana Center, we’re recentered, recharged, and ready and able to continue the legacy and incredible work of Uri Treisman and those who came before us. I am thrilled to assume my new role as the lead of the Charles A. Dana Center.

During this critical time in U.S. education, I am continually amazed at the flexibility and adaptability of Center staff and leadership as we persist in advancing and expanding our impactful math, science, and literacy work. This work is transforming and sustaining education systems to better meet the expectations of each and every student across the nation.

As a Black woman from the deep south, a product of predominantly Black public schools, a traditionally trained educator, and a lifelong learner and teacher, I am honored to be in this incredible space of influence at this time in history.

Dr. Afi Wiggins at the Launch Years Conference with Dana Center staff.

When I started teaching third grade and then quickly transitioned into education leadership positions, my sights were set on moving into spaces where I would cultivate large-scale, positive change in education for the vast diversity of students, families, and communities I encountered along my career journey.

My 20+ years of research statistics and evaluation work in education, policy, and health afforded me many opportunities to effect change on a larger scale.

When I was in high school, I was sure of two things (I even wrote these goals in my senior book): I would get my Ph.D. and I would have a fancy office with a nice view. I've checked these two things off my list, yet my journey is far from over.

Although I have earned every single stripe on my journey, I feel incredibly lucky to have had amazing opportunities and longstanding relationships, including with some of you who have served as my mentors and exemplars.

My time at the Dana Center—moving from director of evaluation and research to director of strategy and impact to now the lead of this powerful organization—has made it clear to me and others that I am here to contribute my talents to even larger scale and lasting change.

Dr. Afi Wiggins and Charles A. Dana Center founder, Uri Treisman. 

I am ready to continue expanding the Dana Center’s impactful work. I remain deeply committed to creating the next generation of literate math and science thinkers, learners, and doers who will flourish under systems designed by and for them. Their success is critical for our democracy and economy to thrive.

As I fully transition into my role leading the Dana Center, I am grateful for the full support of Uri and David Vanden Bout, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, my colleagues across the Dana Center, and a host of other supporters and joyful conspirators throughout the University and nation.

I look forward to leading the next evolution of this organization, capitalizing on the Center’s unique position and influence to advance equity in mathematics, science, and early literacy education. Please continue supporting the Center and me on this demanding yet highly rewarding journey to create education systems deserving of each and every student.

With gratitude,

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About the Author

Afi Y. Wiggins, Ph.D.

As the Dana Center managing director, Afi oversees the Center’s work, ensuring that our vision and mission continue to be at the heart of all that we do. She establishes long-term strategic goals and prioritizes partnership development. Afi supervises and supports directors who lead teams enacting the portfolio of projects and activities supported by the Center.