Dana Cilono is the Director of Education Strategy & Ventures for the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. She is responsible for program direction, grantmaking priorities and evaluation that help ensure every child enters kindergarten ready to learn and is reading at or above grade level by third grade.
As an educator for nearly 15 years, Dana has helped create and implement early learning solutions in Oakland schools that improved literacy attainment. Before joining the Rainin Foundation, she was the Program Director at FluentSeeds, a nonprofit that promotes early learning and literacy through the SEEDS of Learning professional development program. Dana began her career in education as a first-grade teacher in East Oakland. After teaching transitional kindergarten through second grade, she stepped out of the classroom to become an instructional coach, curriculum trainer, then program director. In all leadership roles, she worked with teachers, instructional leaders and families to support children’s literacy and emotional development through positive attachment and strategies that increase confidence and capability. These experiences helped her understand the mechanisms that drive the educational system and the steps needed to change outcomes for children. She has a deep personal and professional commitment to supporting the language and literacy of Oakland’s children to read.
Dana has a BA in Theater from the University of California, Los Angeles. She was a 2021 Surge Fellow. This yearlong fellowship through the Surge Institute supports leaders of color in learning liberatory design, negotiation, policy, innovation, equity, and board governance.