Program Director - Chicago Student Invention Convention
Allison James is the Program Director of the Chicago Student Invention Convention (CSIC), the experiential invention education program that ignites the spark of innovation and entrepreneurship in Illinois youth.
Allison helps prepare K-8th grade students for a 21st century economy by creating opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and applied STEM through participation in the free CSIC curriculum. She oversees the planning and implementation of the CSIC program, now reaching over 50 schools, libraries, and youth groups throughout the city and its collar counties. She also recruits and trains teachers and community mentors and works closely with key partners to manage ongoing professional development and enrichment opportunities for teacher and student participants as they journey from initial ideation to prototype development. In addition, Allison plans and executes the regional Invention Convention event, attended by over 1,000 guests every April in Chicago. Along with the student finalists, she represents the state at the National Invention Convention held annually at the Henry Ford Museum for American Innovation in Dearborn, MI.
Before joining Chicago Innovation, Allison was a program coordinator, lecturer in composition/rhetoric, and departmental academic advisor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received her M.A. degree in Latin American/Latino Studies and is completing final research for a second M.A. in English Education for Secondary and Middle Grades. She graduated summa cum laude with her B.A. in English and Spanish from Augustana College, and taught English as Foreign Language (EFL) in a rural school in Nicaragua as a volunteer teacher in the Peace Corps. Her research interests include literacy studies, critical pedagogy, and community engagement.