Staff Spotlight April 2017 – Tiffany Green-Abdullah
What is your title?
Manager of Learning Community Development in the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).
Would you like to share a little about your immediate family or family history?
I am originally from the Southside of Chicago, IL. I loved growing up in the city and its vibrant culture. I received an academic scholarship to St. Ignatius College Prep as part of the Link Unlimited Program. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. I have lived in three other cities since leaving Chicago for college. I lived in Nashville for nine years to attend undergraduate and graduate school at Vanderbilt University. I would travel to Atlanta often during that time to visit my three aunts who still live here. I then moved to Minneapolis, MN and lived there for seven years working mainly as a senior policy aide to the vice president of Minneapolis City Council and then as an educational planning consultant for world renowned educational architects, Fielding Nair International. I have been living in Atlanta for close to eight years. I met my husband here and we have been married for almost eight years. We are a blended family of four children ages 18, 10, 8, and 6. The oldest lives in Iowa. We lost our youngest son in 2014. He would have been three years old this past December. Our niece also lives with us and she attends GSU.
My paternal grandparents are from Arkansas and my maternal grandparents are from Detroit and Mississippi. I have a long history of entrepreneurial women in my family. My great-great aunt, who was from Alabama, could be called a mogul. She owned many properties in Chicago, Indiana, and Alabama. She had a hat store and boarding homes, where top musicians and artists of the time stayed. Segregation prevented Black artists from staying at hotels. She was an incredible chef and cooked for many of those artists. She is known for creating the Bean Pie most known as a Black Muslim delicacy. I have been in discussion with the National Museum of African American History to donate her cooking utensils to their archives. Most of my family migrated back to the south in the mid 90s from Chicago. My mother now lives in Nashville with my brother. She is helping raise my four nieces. We visit back and forth pretty regularly. My Dad retired from Amtrak and moved back to Arkansas to care for my grandfather who passed away three years ago at the age of 104. My Dad is an identical twin and one of 13 children. My mother is the oldest of seven children. My Dad visits often to take care of the children when I need to travel. He lives on my grandparents’ land in Wynne, Arkansas.
How long have you been working at Georgia State University?
I have been working at GSU for five years and three months.
What do you do on a typical day?
My typical day entails meeting with colleagues within CETL and throughout the university or community to discuss events, projects or programs we are collaborating on. I spend part of the day administering grants and researching new grants and then meeting with potential faculty members. I advise the leadership of PantherHackers, an incredible student organization that provides technology innovation opportunities for students. I also meet with my GRA, who is working on coordinating the details of student technology events that we produce, such as the Global Game Jam and other hackathons. I spend time staying current on innovations in technology and education by occasionally participating in professional development in fundraising, corporate engagements, speaking, etc.
How you think your job supports the university’s mission?
My role and team are new but learning community development addresses areas where I saw a gap and unmet needs. My role helps to reduce silos across the university in order to help bring about goals within the strategic plan. Developing learning communities such as PantherHackers supports Goal 1 in demonstrating students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates. PantherHackers encourages students to be innovators in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) careers as well as develop their leadership, digital literacy and emotional intelligence. Their work at hackathons touches on Goal 4 of being a leader in understanding complex challenges of cities and developing effective solutions. In addition, I developed and coordinate the Teaching for Social Justice and Democracy speaker series, which furthers CETL’s mission of excellence in teaching and learning at the university by developing a learning community among faculty concerned with social justice issues. More recently, through resource development, my role supports Goal 3 of the strategic plan in becoming a leading public research university addressing the most challenging issues of the 21st century. CETL was recently awarded a grant to study social justice and student success. As my team grows we will have increased capacity to go after more grants and will continue reaching out across the university and community.
What is your background?
I attended Vanderbilt University and received a bachelor’s degree in economics. I worked for a few years in computer training sales. Then decided to go back for a master’s degree in education. I was the first graduate in the Masters of Education in Education and Technology program at the Peabody School of Education. Professionally, I have become pretty adept at carving a niche for myself to address a need in an organization. I developed a consulting position within an architecture firm that was designing innovative schools all over the world. My expertise in policy, business development and community development was needed as the organization worked with different communities to get their buy-in for new 21st century schools. I also proposed the position of Learning Community Development within CETL.
What do you do when you are not at work?
I spend time with my family and friends. My kids all love to travel. My husband and I have been holding youth architectural workshops since we met and are developing a charter school for architecture and design.
What is your favorite thing in your office?
My white board. I love to mind-map ideas and strategy.
What don’t people know about you?
I had an out-of-body experience when I was seven years old after falling down some stairs and hitting my head. That experience continues to impact how I see the world and my role in it.
If you weren’t working at Georgia State, what would your ideal job be?
I would be writing, producing and directing television shows and films and occasionally acting.