Educator | Storyteller | Artist
Cierra Kaler-Jones is a social justice educator, writer, scholar, and coach based in Washington, DC. She has had her writing featured in Education Post, Nia Magazine, Midnight and Indigo, and on Ebony.com. In addition, she was contracted to write a white paper, commissioned by the federal government, and had a contract writing for The National Geographic Society.
In 2014, Kaler-Jones was the second woman of color to secure the title of Miss New Jersey, and dedicated her year of service to offering free visual and performing arts lessons to students along the East Coast and advocating for equity in education. Through this platform, she traveled the country giving over 200 keynote speeches, invited talks, lectures, and hosted hands-on workshops at colleges and universities (including Rutgers University, Monmouth University, and Montclair State University), and with business executives and non-profit leaders. Additionally, she spoke at over 30 K-12 schools for over 3,000 students.
In 2015, she created and implemented the Speak Your Truth series, which has since given over hundreds of college students a space to discuss social justice issues in relation to their own experiences through monthly events rooted in a storytelling for social justice framework. She was an invited guest speaker at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans and the United States Department of Education. Her speaking credits also include the 2015 Mark Conference, a TED talk at the 2018 TEDxFoggyBottom conference, and she will be speaking at SXSW Edu in 2020.
She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Teaching and Learning, Policy and Leadership at University of Maryland - College Park studying minority and urban education. Through her research, she aims to highlight and amplify the powerful stories of women of color that are often erased, distorted, or overshadowed by dominant, stereotypical, and deficit-based narratives. She is also the Education Anew Fellow with Communities for Just Schools Fund and Teaching for Change, in which she works to help shift national narratives in education by centering youth, family, and educator organizers’ experiences and stories in education work.
She is the founder and lead storyteller of Unlock Your Story, a coaching and consulting business aimed at helping people tap into the stories that they are bravely meant to share with the world through writing coaching, public speaking coaching, storytelling workshops, and diversity and inclusion through storytelling consulting.