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Lunch for Literacy May 9, 2024 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm

You’re invited to lunch! Enjoy a bite from Fresco’s and join a panel discussion on the state of early learning and childhood in Florida. Former educator and active community leader, Ashley Bell Barnett, will moderate a discussion between Cari Miller, Chancellor for Early Learning for the State of Florida Department of Education and Sadaf Knight, CEO of the Florida Policy Institute.

Tickets: $40 per person 

Meet Our Panel:

Ashley Bell Barnett

Former educator and active community leader, Ashley will moderate the discussion between Cari Miller and Sadaf Knight. 

Cari Miller

Cari Miller serves as Chancellor for Early Learning, directing the Florida Department of Education’s (FDOE’s) Division of Early Learning. As Chancellor, Cari will collaborate with 30 early learning coalitions and Redlands Christian Migrant Association to deliver high-quality child care and early learning programs throughout Florida.

Previously, she served as FDOE’s Vice Chancellor for Literacy Achievement, implementing comprehensive and cohesive literacy policy and initiatives to improve literacy achievement for all students.

A former elementary teacher and reading coach, Cari also served in various capacities at Just Read, Florida!, . She also served as the Early Literacy Policy Director for ExcelinEd, working with state policymakers pursuing comprehensive K-3 reading policy and supporting state departments with effective policy implementation. She is a Governor’s appointee for the Council for Early Grade Success, serves on the Governing Board for Regional Educational Laboratory Southeast and is an Advisory Board Member for Region 7 Comprehensive Center. She is certified in elementary education and educational leadership and has earned her reading endorsement.


Sadaf Knight

Sadaf Knight serves as chief executive officer of Florida Policy Institute (FPI), leading the organization’s efforts to achieve broadly shared prosperity for all Floridians. She has more than 15 years of experience in public policy research, advocacy, and nonprofit management. Her areas of expertise include revenue, economic development, and community development policy. 

Prior to joining FPI in 2018, Sadaf was vice president of policy and research at Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), a community development financial institution based in Raleigh, NC. Sadaf established and led CSBDF’s efforts to advocate for the needs of underserved small businesses. Sadaf also served as a policy analyst and community leadership fellow at MassBudget, focusing on economic development and revenue policy, and as a program manager at New York Jobs with Justice (now called Align NY), where she led advocacy efforts around economic development reform. 

Sadaf currently serves on the Hillsborough/Pinellas Area Board of United Way Suncoast and on the board of The Woman Boss, which aims to foster entrepreneurship and leadership among women and girls in west Africa and beyond. 

In 2021, Sadaf was named to Reckon’s list of people fighting to build the future South for her leadership in pushing health care and Medicaid expansion to the forefront of her organization’s policy agenda. She was also one of 50 leaders from across the state invited to be part of the 2020 Influencer Project, a high-profile statewide initiative spearheaded by the Miami Herald, Bradenton Herald, El Nuevo Herald, and McClatchy to fuel in-depth discussions about issues facing Floridians. 

Sadaf holds certificates in nonprofit management and community development finance. She received a Bachelor of Science in conservation and resource studies from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Urban Planning from Columbia University. Although born and bred in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sadaf now considers Orlando home, where she lives with her husband, son, and dog.