Director, Middle East & Asia Portfolio, Education for Development Division
GETTING TO KNOW SUSAN
Susan Ayari is Director of the Middle East & Asia Portfolio in the Education for Development Division. In this role, she directs the Afghan Children Read Project and supports business development and thought leadership related to education in crisis countries particularly in the broader Middle East and North Africa region.
Beyond your job title, please explain your role at Creative.
My role at Creative is to provide technical expertise to the Education in Conflict Practice Area. With 30 years of direct classroom experience (most of it as a primary school teacher of the early grades), I bring strong practical experience to the team of what it means to be a teacher, of the kinds of challenges teachers face and effective approaches to providing teacher support for improved performance. I hope to use this expertise support technical inputs into proposals. At the same time, my role as Project Director is critical given the size ($70 Million) and the time (5 years) of the project in a country which is both challenging and in need of the support. I also see my role as a mentor for the young women and men supporting the work in education in conflict. I love providing opportunities for young people to excel, to take on leadership roles that will strengthen their skills and help them move up the hierarchical ladder.
Do you have an accomplishment or programmatic result or activity that you are particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of being able to demonstrate to my students (30 years’ worth) what it means to be a life-long learner. At the age of 51, I had the opportunity to make an enormous career change. I had lived in Tunisia for 23 years and deciding to start a new career with USAID was both terrifying and exciting. I remember lying in bed thinking, “Susan, you don’t want to be on your death-bed thinking woulda-shoulda-coulda. You don’t want to regret not having taken a risk to do something new and different.” So, my husband and I packed our bags and left the security of our home for a new adventure in one of the most interesting countries in the Arab World – Yemen. I haven’t looked back since.
I am also proud of the work I did with UNICEF Jordan (2013-2016). When I arrived, the Education Section was just ‘emerging’ as a result of the massive influx of Syrian refugees in need of education services. There were only five people on the education team and an enormous amount of work. Over the two and a half years I was the Chief of Education, I built a strong team, encouraged leadership of local staff, and improved access to and the quality of education delivery in the refugee camps and host communities serving Syrian children.
Education, early grade literacy and numeracy, developing and implementing integrated, interactive curriculum, teacher training
M.A. in TESOL Education from Boston State College (now UMass Boston) | B.A. in Elementary Education from Boston University
Senior Education Advisor, USAID Yemen | Office Director, USAID Jordan | Chief of Education, UNICEF Jordan
Native English speaker, French fluency, proficiency in Tunisian Arabic
“I also see my role as a mentor for the young women and men supporting the work in education in conflict. I love providing opportunities for young people to excel, to take on leadership roles that will strengthen their skills and help them move up the hierarchical ladder.”