International Ambassadors

Our ambassadors are central to supporting us with UKLA's agenda, ‘for the advancement of education in literacy’

Our International Ambassadors are responsible for:

  • showcasing research from their countries;
  • encouraging new members to join UKLA;
  • supporting colleagues who wish to become part of a SIG (special interest group);
  • suggesting colleagues attend the ‘friendliest’ of international literacy conferences.


Our International Ambassadors also advise the International Sub-Committee on how UKLA can make links with other local literacy organisations, share upcoming events, and highlight key policy issues from their own countries.

Ambassador Profiles:

William Bintz, USA

William P. Bintz is a UKLA International Ambassador for the United States. He is professor of Literacy Education at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. He has extensive classroom teaching experience including teaching high school English in Chicago, Illinois and San Juan, Puerto Rico and middle school language arts in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. In addition, he has been a Visiting Lecturer in Language Education at the Armidale College of Advanced Education in Armidale, Australia, as well as an assistant professor at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky, James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. His professional interests include literacy across the curriculum K-12, teacher research, interdisciplinary curriculum, and creating a personal library of award-winning literature. Dr. Bintz has published numerous articles and book chapters, presented at many international, national and state conferences, and conducted professional development workshops throughout the United States and abroad.

Judy Parr, New Zealand

Judy Parr is the UKLA International Ambassador for New Zealand. She is a regular conference contributor and has been a member of UKLA for 10 years. Originally a secondary History/English teacher (who later studied psychology), then an academic, Judy’s research focuses particularly on writing, its development and assessment and on enhancing teacher knowledge and practice in order to improve student literacy. Much research is undertaken collaboratively with practitioners and is designed to inform practice. Judy publishes widely in areas of literacy, assessment, professional learning and school change. Recent publications include:

PARR, J.M., & JESSON, R. (2019). Relationships between literacy research and practice in New Zealand. The Reading Teacher. (invited article) doi:10.1002/trtr.1868

PARR, J.M. (2019). Noticing as key to meet the needs of developing writers. In Alyson Simpson, Francesca Pomerantz, Douglas Kaufman and Susan Ellis (eds.). Developing habits of noticing in literacy and language classrooms: Research and practice across professional cultures (Chapter 3). Oxfordshire, UK: Routledge

JESSON, R., & PARR, J.M. (2019). Writing interventions that respond to context: Common features of two research practice partnership approaches in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 86. doi: 10.1016/j.tate.2019.102902

YANG, C., ZHANG, L.J., & PARR, J. (2019). The reactivity of think-alouds in writing research: Quantitative and qualitative evidence from writing in English as a foreign language. Reading and Writing.

GADD, M., PARR, J.M. et al (2019). Portrait of the student as a young writer: Some student survey findings about attitudes to writing and self-efficacy as writers. Literacy, 53(4), 226-235 3. DOI: 10.1111/lit.12178

Jan Lacina, USA

Jan Lacina is a UKLA International Ambassador for the United States. She has worked in a range of settings including as a 2nd grade public school teacher in Texas, a 1st-6th grade pull-out ESL teacher in Texas, and as an ESL teacher in an intensive English program for college students in Kansas. For the past twenty years, she has served as a teacher educator in both public and private universities. Currently, Jan is Professor and Interim Dean in the College of Education at Texas Christian University (TCU). Jan contributes regularly to the UKLA Conference, and she serves on the Editorial Board for the UKLA’s journal, Literacy. Her teaching and research experiences are in the areas of literacy instruction for English language learners and in writing instruction. Jan has authored more than 100 publications, including four books. Routledge (2020) published her most recent edited book, Preparing Globally Minded Literacy Teachers: Knowledge, Practices, and Case Studies. She served as Associate Editor and then Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Research in Childhood Education (JRCE). She now serves as Co-Editor of the International Literacy Association’s journal The Reading Teacher from June 2015-2021. 

Jill McClay, Canada

Jill McClay is International Ambassador for Canada. She is currently Publications Sub-committee Convenor and formerly Editor of Literacy, as well as a regular presenter at our international conferences. Jill has long regarded the UKLA as her home community. She values the dynamic roles that UKLA plays in literacy education and the association’s engagement in public policy issues. 

Before emigrating to Canada in 1984, Jill’s taught English language arts at schools in the USA and Mexico. In Canada, she earned her doctorate and later took up a faculty position at the University of Alberta, from which she is now a Professor Emerita. She served as Associate Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research for the University as well as taking on administrative roles in the Education Faculty. She was a founding editor of the highly successful peer-reviewed Canadian journal, Language and Literacy. Editorial work has always blended her passion for writing pedagogy, mentorship, and contemporary scholarship.

Jill’s research program focuses upon two primary areas: the theory and pedagogy of written composition, and the professional development of teachers. Her research has focused on young people’s preferred literacy practices, avid writers, teachers’ perspectives and practices in new literacies pedagogies, a national study of the teaching of composition, and case studies of new literacies pedagogies in contemporary Canadian classrooms. In more recent years, combining an interest in graduate education with a lifelong passion for writing development, she investigated how Education graduate students learn to “do” scholarly writing.  Her professional interests include young adult literature and picturebooks. 

Mary Anne Wolpert, USA (East Coast)

Mary Anne Wolpert is a UKLA International Ambassador for the USA, working from the East Coast. She has been a member of UKLA for well over 10 years and has contributed regularly to UKLA International Conferences. Originally a primary English specialist, Mary Anne moved into teacher education at the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education in 2005. At the Faculty, she was an Affiliated Lecturer and Deputy Course Manager for the Early and General Primary Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) course and lecturer on the English course. She was a member of the research staff team for the Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge. Since 2018, Mary Anne has lived in New York and works at Bank Street College of Education as an Adjunct for the Graduate School of Education and as a member of the Bank Street College of Education Children's Book Committee. She has also worked on teacher education projects internationally, most recently in Pakistan. Mary Anne’s professional and research interests focus on the teaching of reading, children’s literature and teacher education.  

Dr Malai Zeiti, Brunei

Dr Malai Zeiti Sheikh Abdul Hamid is Assistant Professor with the Centre for Communication, Teaching and Learning as well as Head of the Wellness Research Thrust at the University of Technology Brunei. She graduated with a PhD in English Language and Literacy Education (Bath), a Master's of Education in Applied Linguistics and TESOL (Leicester) and a Bachelors in Education in TESL (UBD).

Dr Zeiti also graduated with a Teaching Certificate in Higher Education (Harvard) and the Women's Leadership Development Programme (Oxford). Dr Zeiti was awarded the Royal Charter Qualification of Chartered Teacher of English by the UK English Association and is also a Chartered Linguist of Education from the UK Chartered Institute of Linguists. Additionally, she is also a Fellow member of the UK Chartered College of Teaching as and also a Fellow member of the UK Society of Education and Training. She was an award recipient of the US-ASEAN Fulbright Scholarship and also received the UTB Teaching Excellence Award Special Mention. She was a Visiting Scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is also currently purusing her Postdoctoral Fellowship in Education at Harvard University.

Dr Zeiti is also President of the Brunei Reading and Literacy Association and Country Ambassador to the UK Literacy Association. She is also the Founder and Curator of TEDxBandarSeriBegawan. Her current research interests are Cultural Literacy and Digital Literacy. Her recent publications in 2021 included a chapter on 'A Case Study of language use and literacy practices of Brunei students: New perspectives on cultural literacy' in Charting an Asian Trajectory for Literacy Education: Charting Past, Present and Future Literacies, published by Routledge. Her second book chapter is `Overview of Preventive Measures and Good Governance Policies to Mitigate the COVID-19 Outbreak Curve in Brunei' in COVID-19: Systematic Risk and Resilience, published by Springer Nature.  

Rúnar Sigþórsson, Iceland

Rúnar Sigþórsson is the UKLA International Ambassador for Iceland. Originally a compulsory school teacher and head teacher he became a consultant at the School Support Service for North East Iceland in 1996 and subsequently moved into teacher education in 2000. Rúnar is currently professor emeritus at the University of Akureyri. The broad focus of his research is on education policy, the development of curriculum, classroom practice and student learning, and the internal conditions of professional learning communities, which he as connected to his research on literacy policy and the development of literacy education in Icelandic schools. Rúnar has been an UKLA member since 2014 and has contributed regularly to the UKLA international conferences with papers about his research on literacy education policy in Iceland and a nationwide initiative called Beginning Literacy and how those relate to international trends and research knowledge.  

Paul Gardner, Australia

Paul Gardner is a Senior Lecturer teaching and researching literacy education at Curtin University, Perth Australia and had previously worked at De Montfort University, University of Northampton and the University of Bedfordshire in the UK. Before moving into the university sector he was a drama teacher in primary and secondary/high schools and worked as a coordinator for the multicultural education service serving over 70 schools in the city of Milton Keynes, UK. His scholarly and research work focuses on literacy and identity with a particular focus on writer identity and compositional processes as well as process drama, children's literature and multicultural education. His PhD was on writer identity and the compositional process at the University of Bedfordshire, under the supervision of Professor Janice Wearmouth and was examined by Professor Teresa Cremin (OU) and Dr. Eve Bearne (Camb). He is a member of the Western Australian Council of the Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) and on the Executive Committee of the Western Australian Institute of Educational Research. He was appointed a UKLA International Ambassador to Australia in 2016 and also serves as a founding member of the UKLA Critical Literacy Special Interest Group.  

All UKLA International Ambassadors

Mary Roche, Ireland

Judy Parr, New Zealand

Jan Lacina, USA

Jill McClay, Canada

Veronika Rot Gabrovec, Slovenia

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