Erin Myers

After graduating from CIE, I continued to work in direct service and community organizing both in locally and internationally. I started as the Program Director for an organization in Turners Falls called The Brick House Community Resource Center, where Joanie Cohen-Mitchell was Executive Director in the early 2000s. Joanie pioneered a number of remarkable programs, most notably, M.I.N.D., a leadership development program for women in the community. 


As Program Director, I was involved in strategic development of programs, supervising program coordinators, interns, and volunteers, and heading up monitoring and evaluation.  At the time, we were partially funded by an in-house social enterprise called PowerTown Music, which involves youth in booking and promoting musical events at the local Shea Theater. Our other projects focus on strengthening families, developing community resilience, and increasing protective factors for youth.  


I am also developing a start-up organization called Focal Acoustics. We train communities to use music and photography as a means of community education and development of projects. Current projects include Voices of Islam (which is an extension of my Masters' thesis)—I am working with a group of women at Hampshire Mosque, Amherst to develop a body of photography that directly addresses misconceptions about jihad and the role of women in Islam. 


Another project called Feet Out of Water is a partnership with the Waranka Association in Guinaw Rails, Senegal. Youth ages 13-18 take photos in Guinaw Rails, an urban settlement created by mass migrations from the villages to Dakar. They document the annual floods that plague the community. But the project does not focus only on struggles. The children have also captured the spirit of Guinaw Rails through a series of photos reflecting Wolof proverbs and "points of resilience." The photos have been displayed at conferences such as Public Health and Innovation at Yale, where project partners have joined us in planning the building of a clinic for preventable illnesses in Guinaw Rails.  


Thanks to CIE for opening up its great network, for helping me build my foundation, and for giving me much needed intensive training. Warmest regards, and stay in touch! [02/11]


Erin recently sent an update on her activities:

I am currently a Special Education Teacher at Hilltown Charter School and doing another Masters in Animal Behavior Studies while working with some organizations to design some Animal-Assisted Education programs for children on the Autism Spectrum.  I have a very talented Border Collie who is perfect for my studies though not ready to work with children. 


During the pandemic I also created an “Unwritten School” that provided two grades of in-person instruction for neurodiverse students with special needs who experienced barriers to learning online.  The school directly addressed the Massachusetts and Common Core standards through project-based learning involving inquiry, husbandry, and interactions with animals.


My son now goes to a charter school that uses a similar assessment system.  Very exciting!  It makes a lot of sense when working with neurodiverse or gifted and talented students or those who are both. [5-23]




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