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Meet British A. Robinson

As a proud American woman, British A. Robinson dedicates her career to serving under-represented communities domestically and abroad. Her work through the U.S. Department of State, and more recently, the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, has touched millions of lives and is all for one driving factor: America and its values. As for her work for and with women: it’s personal.  

“I firmly believe that women are truly the backbone of our families and our communities and our entire society. I’ve been blessed to focus my work on some of the most intractable problems, serving some of the most underserved and marginalized communities and often, women are the focus of that work.” 

British A. Robinson

Having served in the State Department, Robinson understands the impact her work has had on Americans and people worldwide. 

“When you work for a presidential initiative, you learn that you have to deliver. Failure is not an option. And I learned so much through that experience. When I think about the experience, I learned how much we as America and Americans are really beloved throughout the world.”  

Robinson recalls a trip during her tenure at the State Department, when she was developing public-private partnerships for PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief), to a remote part of Zambia. She was heartened to be greeted with joy and appreciation by the local community.  

“The community members in this very rural area of Zambia welcomed me by singing and dancing when my two-seater plane landed on the dirt. I asked the community leader why they were doing that. He said, ‘Welcome to our village. Welcome to our area of Zambia. We heard that the American was coming, and we just want to thank you, and we want to thank President Bush and the American people for keeping us alive.’” 

Robinson credits this experience with deepening her passion and love for America, which drives her current work as President and CEO of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. 

“I lead the foundation’s efforts around solving our nation’s literacy challenge, which unfortunately today prevents about 54 percent of Americans from fully participating in society as parents, workers, and citizens because they struggle with literacy and essentially read below a 6th-grade level.” 

Her career includes working under two different administrations of opposing political parties, but she finds literacy is a non-partisan issue.  

“This is an issue that cuts across partisanship; it’s not red, it’s not blue, but it’s a purple issue.” 

Low literacy is an issue that impacts not just children and young adults but also adults: parents and caregivers who must be equipped with the skills needed to support their children.  

“The focus on family literacy was really Barbara Bush’s vision. She chose literacy as her platform as First Lady, her life’s work, and now her legacy, based on the simple belief that if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be much closer to solving so many problems plaguing our society. It’s family literacy because it takes the whole family. You have to make sure that the parent is educated as well as the child.” 

Robinson sees literacy as being directly tied to the American Dream.  

“Barbara Bush said, ‘The American Dream is about equal opportunity, equal opportunity to everyone that works hard. If we don’t give everyone the ability to read and write, then we aren’t giving everyone an equal chance to succeed. And when you succeed, success in whatever way you define that, that is part of the American Dream.’ I believe she was right. Research continues to prove that literacy is the key to boosting our economy, fostering equity, and empowering Americans to live their lives with dignity.” 

For Robinson, her American Dream is simple:  

“My dream is big, and it’s bold. It is that together, we finish the unfinished business of our country. That is the business of ensuring that all Americans are treated with equity, respected for their humanity, and allowed to live their lives with dignity.” 

To learn more about British Robinson, head to the Barbara Bush Foundation’s website. You’re invited to LEAD and share your American Dream story here.