KaiLonnie Dunsmore is the Director of NORC's Literacy Organizational Capacity Initiative (LOCI) in the Academic Research Centers. She is an educator, researcher, literacy expert, and program developer. She is a former elementary and middle school teacher whose struggles to support the literacy development of her own students prompted her to engage in action research as a teacher and then to graduate study and research. After completing her doctoral degree from Michigan State University in literacy and teacher education, her research has involved collaboration with classroom teachers to develop literacy programs that accelerated reading and writing skills for special education and at-risk student populations.
Prior to joining NORC, she was a Fellow at the National Council of Teachers of English/National Center for Literacy Education where she served as the PD/PI of Literacy Improvement through Rural Education Collaborations, a U.S. Department of Education $4.55 million Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant involving partnerships between three national non-profits (Institute for Educational Leadership, National Council of Teachers of English, and Rural School & Community Trust) and 21 high poverty rural elementary schools in five states to build capacity for sustained early literacy improvement through attention to teacher professional learning, family engagement, community collaboration and targeted support for student summer learning. She also coached for the U.S. Department Activity Unit and Council of Chief State School Officers, Instituting College & Career Ready Standards. Prior to this she was the director of literacy initiatives at The Ball Foundation.
All her work has been on projects that are designed to include mix-methods, with robust approaches to data collection that include quasi-empirical designs to examine effectiveness of school based interventions, survey research (including those drawn from national samples). Her training, however, is rooted deeply in anthropological methods to understand the meaning making processes of participants (including discourse analysis, field observations, focus groups, interview, think alouds, and reflective interviews) which allows her to coordinate research designs to nest analysis of data sets in analysis of context and culture on making meaning of findings. She has experience in managing large budgets (in excess of $2 million) and multiple staff. Much of this work involves managing staff and coordinating research and intervention work that involves use of remote technologies to monitor work and ensure effective collaboration towards clear outcome goals.