Your Name: Molly Ness
MyRye.com: Why are you a pRYEde founder?
Ness: I am a founder of pRYEde because I am deeply committed to making our community more inclusive of all identities and backgrounds. I’m passionate about creating safe spaces for all children, and saw a need for an organization that celebrated diversity, educated all of us, and fostered conversation and collaboration. I have an expertise in childhood literacy, and spent two decades at universities in teacher education and reading development – I believe strongly in the need for texts that serve as windows, mirrors, and doors for our children. In my work with pRYEde, I’ve helped to provide books and additional resources that celebrate and reflect diversity.
What is pRYEde-how should residents see pRYEde and its mission?
Ness: We are committed to helping our town recognize the importance of safe and welcoming spaces – when we support and embrace our children and their identities and experiences, we positively impact their mental health, development, socioemotional learning, and future success.
How did you become involved in pRYEde?
Ness: I have a long history of advocacy in equity and inclusion, and I sometimes feel frustrated by the relative lack of diversity in our town. I am particularly passionate about advocacy and equity when it comes to children, and I embraced the opportunity to work with a committee of women who were smart, passionate, and shared my fervent belief in equity. It is no understatement to say that the co-founders of pRYEde have become among my closest friends and essential support system.
What does it mean that the City of Rye now raises a Pride flag each June?
Ness: The pride flag means visibility – it is a physical representation and reminder that we are a community where all are welcome and embraced. It reminds our youth that they live in a safe space and that they are among advocates and allies.
Tell Us About You:
What do you do professionally?
Ness: I hold a PhD in Reading Education. I now serve as the Vice President of Academic Content for Learning Ally, a leading educational nonprofit. I am a reading researcher and author of five books about childhood reading development. I also run a nonprofit called the Coalition for Literacy Equity, which aims to get books to the 32 million American children living in book deserts.
Where do you live in Rye?
Ness: I live on Adelaide Street and am fortunate to live in a neighborhood where kids play in the streets, neighbors interact on a daily basis, and there are ample family get-togethers.
How long have you lived in Rye and where did you move from?
Ness: I moved to Rye in 2004, from New York City – where I was a professor at Fordham University.
Other than the June Pride flag raising, what are some of the other annual Rye events and traditions you enjoy?
Ness: I am grateful for Rye’s natural beauty – spending every morning with my dog at Rye Town Park and daily walks on the boardwalk and to Edith Reed. I am a frequent patron at the Rye Free Reading Room and the Farmer’s Market.