In addition to her prolific career as a writer for young readers, Jane Kurtz is an ambassador for literacy worldwide, with a special focus on Ethiopia, the country of her childhood. Many people know her as well as a founding member of Ethiopia Reads, a non-profit organization with the mission of raising funds and providing expertise to bring books and children together in Ethiopia. They have built a network of libraries that grows every year — over 65 currently, with at least one in every region of Ethiopia. Their horse-powered literacy program reaches rural children with no access to schools. Jane’s vision has been a huge part of making this happen.
In May 2014 Jane was awarded a “Spirit of Achievement Award” honoring her work with Ethiopia Reads. The award “for excellence in leadership and dedication to the mission of Ethiopia Reads” acknowledged her many years and hours of work to spread literacy, specifically in Ethiopia. I’m proud to say that Jane is also my colleague on the faculty of Vermont College of Fine Arts.