Leading People to a Better Place: Interview with Allison Mullady

Allison Mullady, Ph.D.

Program Manager
Design Studio for Community Solutions
Watts College of Public Service &
Community Solutions
Arizona State University

This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Allison Mullady, a member of Live & Learn’s Board of Directors. She works at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. Below, you can read our interview.

Q: What did you want to do when you went into college? Did you change your career field at any point?

I always wanted to go into education. When I was younger as a kid, I would always make people play “school” with me. Going into college, I went in as an early elementary education major. In high school, my first job was a preschool teacher. I found that job on a bulletin board, where I worked at a childhood center. While working there, I really enjoyed it, and so I ended up pursuing it.

Q: What schooling did you go through, and what were you involved in while in college?

In my undergrad, I personally wasn’t in many clubs or organizations. I was working a lot, and am also a first generation college student. I had to work and support myself for the most part. With my major, I interned a lot and was working in schools. While interning, I was able to experience working with many different age groups and different people. I continued on to earn my masters degree in education, then my doctorate degree, and that opened opportunities to do more types of work. I was at a place where I was able to save money and not work full time anymore. From there, I was able to get more involved in the community, and even helped to develop a readiness program in different school districts. I was also involved in the graduate student counsel.

Q: Where did you first hear of Live & Learn?

I first heard of Live & Learn as an early head start director. I was a director for a program located in South Phoenix who was in collaboration with Neighborhood Ministries. When I was transitioning to that position, I knew that I wanted to hire people who didn’t necessarily meet the requirements that Head Start required. I wanted to help them find a way to get into school and pursue the academic requirements. I heard about Live & Learn directly through Alverta Mackenzie, a board member of Live & Learn. She is also a faculty member at Phoenix College. I talked to Alverta about Live & Learn, and what they were about and how I could get involved.

Q: What important roles do you play at Live & Learn?

I am on the board and am responsible for providing guidance and advice to the executive director, and the team. Whether it’s financial, marketing, or long-term goal setting, all the board members are advocates and cheer leaders for Live & Learn. While working at ASU, I advocate for Live & Learn and how important their program is. Live & Learn provides very in-depth support for women in poverty, and is very great at helping others.

Q: What is a milestone in your life that helped shape you into the person you are today?

There are so many! One piece of knowledge I received that really helped push me into the major I chose was when all research on brain development started coming out. How important the first five years of life are, and how crucial it is to help young children not only academically but also to develop the social motor skills needed. The attachments kids have are so important! And this information was very eye opening to me, and really helped push me into a profession in education. Learning how parents help influence children’s growth, I thought that people needed to know about this stuff. All these important things really have an impact on children at a young age. People need to know how we can use asset-based thinking to help build children’s brains. This was one of the biggest pieces of information that helped shift my focus into the early childhood field.

Q: What do you like most about what you do in your career?

Even though I am not a teacher currently, I work in the Watts College at ASU. The ultimate goal I am trying to do is really help people. I want to help people reach their personal and professional goals. As a leader, I always wanted the people that worked for/with me to reach their goals. Whether it’s related to work or not, I want to know people are leaving in a better place than where they started.

Q: What inspired you to get involved with Live & Learn?

I have been with Live & Learn for about three years now. Working with Live & Learn and watching firsthand how it worked, I saw how much they really cared for their clients. They would help them with the whole process of getting their education and starting a career, and really stick with them. I wanted to get involved with Live & Learn because I saw how it impacted the people I worked with. Live & Learn would have their meetings at my job, and they all worked together as a team. The clients were getting support from Live & Learn, and from the students they worked with.

Jackie Labozetta
Live & Learn Intern
Psychology Major at Arizona State University